Tag Archives: Blacksburg

A Good Cry by Nikki Giovanni

Poet, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni’s fiery, humorous, and reflective voice has long inspired artists, educated readers, and informed our national consciousness. Her newest poetry collection, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter (October 24), is deeply personal and has been described as her most intimate collection. With selections like Surveillance, she recalls the violence that permeated her early years. She pays tribute to her grandparents in Baby West, and examines the history of the objects we treasure in Heritage. A Good Cry observes and celebrates the depth of emotions that accompany the trials and triumphs we face in life.

Giovanni believes that it is important that we learn to cry and laugh. In a time when there are so many things to distract us from feeling anything right at our fingertips, we often lose the opportunity to learn from what we feel and move forward together.

“Americans don’t cry,” she explains. “Your mother will die and someone will say, ‘It will be all right.’ But it won’t be. Man or woman, black or white, you are sad and your heart got broken. You should be able to cry. We have to allow ourselves to face that pain and embrace it. Embrace the people whom we love and the people with whom we feel we can share. You get tired of people saying, ‘I’m really strong, so it doesn’t matter.’ All of our emotions matter.”

Writing about circumstances involving other people can be a tricky situation. In Surveillance, Giovanni’s mother expresses her wish for what goes on in their house to stay in their house. Finding the courage to write about that part of her life in such an open and honest way was not easy.

“I could not have written that line fifty years ago. Mommy was more interested in how she and our family were viewed. I frankly don’t care. I know I should do better, but I don’t care what people are thinking about me,” she says.

“It’s important to me that my grandmother would be proud of me if she came down from heaven,” she adds. “If mommy came down from heaven, she would say, ‘You’re exposing some of us, but it’s all right because I love you.’ It’s not important how people look at us,” she adds.

Ultimately, caring what people think about your work as a writer or artist can limit your impact. Of course, the longer you practice your art, the more chances your work has to show contradictions. For Giovanni, this is an indication of growth.

To her students, she often says, “If you’re going to be a writer or a painter, there is always going to be some contradiction in your work. If you’re always doing the same thing, you haven’t learned anything. You’re going to learn something, and you have to be willing to embrace that fact.”

A lot of meaningful work is done when you give yourself over to the joy of sharing and thinking with other people. Over the span of thirty years, Giovanni’s career has been a living testament to that idea. She wants to do good work in all of her roles, and sees that as her responsibility. The result is a unique collection that pays tribute to those who have held a special place in her life, and the reality of her own experiences—both good and bad.

“If you’re not writing, you don’t know something,” she states. “You need to go study. I’m not a novelist or a playwright. I don’t write every day, but I do read every day. I take notes sometimes. I recently pulled over to the side of the road, put my blinkers on, and wrote a poem because I could see the rhythm of a wonderful jazz piece I was listening to. I don’t put pressure on myself, but I do consider what I have learned and how I will share it.”

A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter will be available for purchase on October 24. For more information on where to purchase Giovanni’s work, visit www.nikki-giovanni.com.

 

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Extraordinary Women: Krisha Chachra

For our 10th birthday (our first issue premiered in June 2006!), we profiled 10 local women who, against odds or in the face of uncertainty, raised the bar, achieved success, and continue to inspire those around them every day.  Interviews will be posted throughout the month, and you can pick up a copy of our June issue to read all 10! Enjoy!

In local government, it is important to have strong women who represent the community and advocate for diverse interests. That’s why we love Krisha Chachra. Krisha is currently serving her second term on Blacksburg’s Town Council. In 2013, she became the first Indian-American and first under 40 professional to serve as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor. She continues to be heavily involved in the community through her duties as a council member and by serving on several committees. She also published a book of essays about her experiences while growing up in Blacksburg entitled, Homecoming Journals: Dreaming big in a small town. When she isn’t attending to her professional commitments, Krisha enjoys spending time with her husband, Derek, and their 11-month-old daughter, Mina.

What makes you passionate about investing your time, energy, and education in Blacksburg?

Blacksburg is my hometown, and I think that no matter how far you travel and how much you explore, it is always important to remember where you came from. I was very interested in community service and running for office, and there was no better place than my hometown to pursue both. The people here helped me become who I am, travel far, and experience different things. I knew I would enjoy being able to give that back to the community. 

KrishaWhat obstacles did you encounter as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor? How did you overcome them?

I felt like I had to prove myself because I was younger than everyone that has ever held the position. I wanted to make sure people knew I was the real deal and that I had a vision for Blacksburg that was shared by many people in the community. I listened a lot and asked a lot of questions so I could represent my community in a very authentic manner. When I first got elected, some people were skeptical and had the wrong impression about what I stood for, but I just stayed focused and worked hard to build relationships. At the end of the day, the criticism faded and I was re-elected as Vice Mayor. 

Making connections with local businesses is very important to you. Can you tell us more about why it is one of your main objectives?

The small business sector of the economy is Blacksburg’s future in terms of job providers and bringing the type of creative employees and professionals that we want to be the future leaders of Blacksburg. It is very important that we support small businesses so they can be successful and hire people who want to live, work, and build a life here. This will allow for a more creative and diverse economy for years to come.

What advice do you have for young professional women who are looking for additional ways to give back to their communities and better ways to manage their time?

All of us are busy. Everyone is doing things that are important to their families, communities, and career paths. Saying you’re busy is not a good excuse for not doing things that you are passionate about or not being involved in your community in a meaningful way. 

Being organized, present, and having a sense of visualization helps me get through my day. In addition to that, I think it is important for women to know they don’t have to take on everything to be successful. It is better to do one or two things really well than to spread yourself too thin and do many things for the sake of being involved. You’re not going to be your best that way. 

Krisha and DerekWhat is one thing that people may not know about your background?

My family was one of the first Indian-American families to come to Blacksburg and make this town our home. There were only a handful of Indians when we first came, but now it is very diverse. Back then, a lot of people didn’t know too much about where we came from. When I would tell people my family was from India, they would ask me what tribe! Back then I definitely stood out in my classroom, but I always took it as an opportunity to exchange ideas, learn about other cultures, and teach people about mine. I was never offended by people who didn’t know where I came from or who I was. When people are brave enough to ask, it is important to answer with respect. 

My life is richer for that experience, because I can connect with people from different backgrounds since I have enough respect to take interest in them. I think we need more people to show more interest about other cultures respectfully. The easiest way to do that is just by asking people questions about their origins. We have such a diverse community and we could really learn from each other if we just talked to each other more instead of assuming that we know people’s experiences. 

Visit to www.blacksburg.gov for more information on Krisha’s background and accomplishments!

Meet Sarah Scott

sarahSarah Scott is compassionate, driven to help others succeed, savvy in business and remarkably adaptable. Originally hailing from Chicago, she contemplated a teaching career but discovered her passion in Graphic Design. Beginning her business at the precipice of the recession (2009), Sarah drove ahead relentlessly and never looked back, building a successful company on the tenets of honesty, value and unparalleled quality. She is past President of her city’s Rotary Club, an avid athlete and a generous volunteer in her community. Sarah possesses the kind of unbridled joy that makes you love life itself.  

Nominated by Jenny Carter

Thank you for your participation this month! We want to take a moment to recognize all of the fantastic women in our area who we did not have the opportunity to mention– keep being the amazing and inspirational force that you are!

Meet Ginger Poole Avis

GingerPooleAvisMill Mountain Theatre brought Ginger Poole Avis to Roanoke in 2006, and eight years later Avis, Producing Artistic Director for the Theatre, has been married here, started a family here, and definitely considers Roanoke home.  In addition to teaching acting at Hollins University, Avis is a member of many local organizations, including the Roanoke Valley Garden Club, and serves on the Boards of the Virginia Theatre Association and Junior League of Roanoke Valley.  Ginger considers the Junior League of Roanoke Valley to be a connector for women, and through the League has met lifelong friends that share her passions and love for this community.

Nominated by Jennifer Bryant

Join us tomorrow as we recognize our final extraordinary local woman for the month of October!

Meet Betty Whittaker

bettywhittakerBetty Whittaker, a 31 year employee of American Red Cross, currently serves as the Regional Director of Volunteer Services for a 50 county, 24,000 square mile region of Virginia.  She has spent her career helping prevent and alleviate human suffering in face of all kinds of emergencies including the Flood of 1985, the Virginia Tech Shootings in April 2007 and the Pulaski Tornadoes in April 2011. Betty is fabulous in spirit, action and beauty. 

Nominated by C. Lee Clark

Join us each weekday during the month of October as we recognize extraordinary women in our area! Nominate someone you know by emailing us: bella@beckmediagroup.com.

 

Meet Lori Brown

loribrownLori Brown selflessly shared her story with the Roanoke Go Red For Women Luncheon attendees this last year.  She never thought it would happen to her.  She is a young wife and mother and after learning she had atrial fib, each day of life became more important to her.  After ablation in 2011, she feels great, but knows that further therapy might be needed.  She shares her personal heart story and “Goes Red” to help educate other women on the importance of heart health, the No. 1 killer of women in the U. S.!

Nominated by Sarah Fedele

Join us each weekday during the month of October as we recognize extraordinary women in our area! Nominate someone you know by emailing us: bella@beckmediagroup.com.

Meet Jennifer Walker

dr walkerNot only a Doctor of Chiropractic, Jennifer Walker is also the owner of Balance Wellspace, a clinic that stays true to her vision of focusing on patient care and total body wellness. Through her chiropractic, fitness and day spa treatments she inspires her patients to live healthier lives.

 Nominated by Sandy Fox

Join us each weekday during the month of October as we recognize extraordinary women in our area! Nominate someone you know by emailing us: bella@beckmediagroup.com.

 

Meet Stephanie Lohmann

StephanieLohmannStephanie Lohmann has had a profound impact on southwest Virginia through her work as program manager with Blue Ridge Literacy which helps adults in our region strengthen their literacy skills. She is an accomplished author and a recipient of the Academy of American Poets’ Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize in 2011.

Nominated by Jeff Hodges

Join us each weekday during the month of October as we recognize extraordinary women in our area! Nominate someone you know by emailing us: bella@beckmediagroup.com.