My belief in the need to protect Powhatan’s open spaces has never been lip service, but I also feel more connected to it than I have before.
I recently moved from an apartment in Midlothian, where I had no outdoor space at all, to a rented place here on a little bit of land in Powhatan County. The transition has been illuminating.
I should put a disclaimer at the beginning of this column, which is not about bashing suburban/city living. When I hear people talking about coming to Powhatan in more recent years, the phrase “to get away from Chesterfield” or similar communities is not uncommon.
Meanwhile, I had a great six years in my previous home and enjoyed some fabulous amenities that made my life much easier – 98 percent reliable broadband, close proximity to restaurants and entertainment, and no yard work at all, to name a few. Having grown up in Texas in both rural and suburban settings and lived in both cities and suburbs in other places throughout my life, I look on my time in Midlothian while commuting for work to Powhatan as another season in my life and not one I regret at all.
That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed the more rural life I have experienced since moving to Powhatan in May. I love sitting on my back deck and listening to the deer clomp through the woods nearby (they are way noisier than I ever imagined) or speaking on the phone with my sister as I walk around my neighborhood and having her remark on how clearly she can hear the birds singing.
While I am not an astronomer, I have always loved being in places with wide open skies where you can just look up in wonder at God’s creation unencumbered by glaring lights or tall buildings. It may sound a little fantastical, but it is so peaceful to gaze up at the night sky on a clear summer evening when the fireflies are flying around above you and making you feel like the stars are floating down to earth for a visit.
That sounds a little silly when I say it out loud, so it is not usually something I would bring up in conversation. The only reason I was thinking about it today was that I was reading back over the draft Vision and Mission statements that came out of recent strategic planning workshops held by the board of supervisors. These statements are not official and have not been voted on by the board. They are drafts that the board and staff members will soon be asking the public to become involved in vetting. The Powhatan Today will share more information about those public opportunities as the information becomes available.
When he led the supervisors through the exercises to start creating vision and mission statements back in March, Ken Peterson, president of Good Government Ventures LLC, told the Powhatan supervisors to consider that a county’s broader strategic plan starts with an overarching vision statement for the future, but the county’s mission statement is really what is the role of the local government.
With that in mind, the current draft of the vision statement reads: “We are a vibrant Community that loves its relaxed rural lifestyle and is proud of its excellent Public Services. We are located at the edge of the metropolitan area with urban amenities close at hand. We are a place where Business can prosper and the Stars are visible at night.”
The current draft of the mission statement reads: “To provide excellent public services in an efficient, effective and accountable manner, and to defend the rights and freedoms of our citizens.”
Both from my remembrance of those spring workshops and a brief mention of the vision statement at the June 29 board meeting, the language in the “rural lifestyle” and “Stars are visible at night” were the phrases that stood out most to me. For our readers, the same may be true, or something else might stand out as more important to you. Or maybe there is some aspect of Powhatan County living you would like to see incorporated in these statements that is not near there.
Whichever it is, I hope that when the county starts asking the public for more input on these statements – which are really about laying the blueprints for how you want to see Powhatan develop (or not develop) in the coming decades – that residents will speak up. Powhatan is your home, and that means you have as much right as anybody to help shape its future.