I met some amazing people in 2012.
My opportunity to meet them came after I approached central Virginia editors and publishers with an idea.
I asked them to allow me to share the stories of about a dozen people from the area’s increasely diverse communities. I wanted to spend a year introducing you to a few of the people who make up our region’s rich cultural tapestry.
I wrote to the publishers: “Central Virginia’s region continues to become more racially and ethnically diverse. That diversity is seen especially in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield counties along with the Tri-Cities area.”
For instance, in Henrico, nearly 30% of the population is black, 6.5% have an Asian heritage and almost 5% are Hispanic. In Richmond, 57% of population is black, 3% are Hispanic and about 2% are Asian. In Chesterfield, nearly 22% of the population is black, more than 7% are Hispanic and more than 3% are Asian. In Petersburg, 79% are black, nearly 4% are Hispanic and 1% are Asian.
I noted in my letter to the publishers/editors that while minority populations in central Virginia are increasing, media coverage of these key communities is not keeping pace. I offered to help them share more stories that reflected the African-American, Asian American and Hispanic communities along with the region’s Virginia Indian population.
For the past 12 months, I have shared stories. Each person that I’ve written about brings something different to our community and each one intrigued me in one way or another. As I met each one, I recalled what I would tell young reporters as I coached them about finding stories on their beat: Everyone has a story. It’s up to you to find that story.
When I started Virginia Tapestry, I had no idea that I would meet a young Chinese man who moved to Henrico County, worked in his family’s restaurants for years, and then took a leap of faith by starting his own nail salon despite the struggling economy. Andy Zhang said he did it because owning a business was his wife’s lifelong dream.
I didn’t expect to share the story of Jessica Stewart, a Chickahominy Indian woman, who was working on her masters degree in education while also dreaming of one day becoming her tribe’s first female chief.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I started the series but I knew that there were hundreds of stories worth sharing.
Along the way I discovered that any one of the people that I met while doing the Tapestry series could very well be my “Person of the Year.” But I can’t choose just one. They all deserve the honor.
Who is the most interesting person you met in 2012? Who is your “Person of the Year” ?