Great Shiplock Park and Urban Exploring

I recently had the pleasure of exploring Great Shiplock Park in Shockoe Bottom. My mother was born and mostly raised here in Richmond but moved to Northern Virginia. I never really got the chance to come visit or see anything more than the VCU campus and a brief view of the University of Richmond.

Of course, when I first started this semester, my roommate and I did some urban exploring but our feet couldn’t take us to the places I wanted to go. So this past weekend I my mom visited and showed me the sights. Specifically, Great Shiplock Park on Pear Street in Shockoe Bottom.

There's a beautiful panoramic to be seen here. The day was beautiful and the water was still. There's a view of the warehouses and water tower that sums up the city for me.

The skyline at the park. November 8, 2014

There’s a beautiful panoramic to be seen here. The day was beautiful and the water was still. There’s a view of the warehouses and water tower that sums up the city for me. When I stepped out of the car, there was a guy reading on a bench and a couple getting ready to kayak on the James River. It was a little windy and the sounds of the city were a little more muted than normal. All that existed was the water running through the canal and the passing of cars a few yards back on Dock Street.

Behind where I stood there was a bridge of rusted copper and steel rafters. I took this photo in my car before stepping out into the beautiful weather.

Bridge from the car.  November 8, 2014

Behind where I stood there was a bridge of rusted copper and steel rafters. I took this photo in my car before stepping out into the beautiful weather. After looking around the park, I stepped onto one of the small bridges built on a small lock. A man jogged past me and my mom stood in the parking lot. It felt a little strange that somewhere so quiet when just the day before I was overwhelmed by sirens and loud voices. It was peaceful and I needed the break.

The small lock seemed well kept and it was exciting to feel the cool metal as I stood across the small canal.

A small metal bridge and lock.  November 8, 2014

The small lock seemed well kept and it was exciting to feel the cool metal as I stood across the small canal. The feeling of being near water was invigorating. As a former rower and kayaker, being near any type of water is rejuvenating in a way that many can’t understand. It makes me remember the times I spent rowing, slicing through the water, and enjoying the feel of sea mist on my face when kayaking off Tybee Island in Georgia.

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As I peered off the side of the bridge there were turtles in the water making brief appearances. I was actually pretty surprised by that. The water didn’t seem the cleanest. I know the water will feed into the James so it’s going to disperse but it still didn’t seem like it would have so much life in it. How did they even get in there anyway? The James is further down an dammed by a lock. Upstream is a tiny creek. It was something for thought.

The view downstream at Great Shiplock Park November 8th, 2014

The view downstream at Great Shiplock Park
November 8th, 2014

When I got to the other side there was a jogger resting and a lot silence. It was peaceful in a way campus can never be.

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November 8, 2014

If you turn around and look up you can see the lucky strike building way up the hill with it’s smoke stack splitting the sky.

A view of the water but without the view of the turtle from earlier.

A view of the water but without the view of the turtle from earlier. November 8, 2014

The water could honestly be cleaner.

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My favorite picture of the whole trip is this view of the lock.

I love this photo. It captures the mix between man-made and nature. The bricks are overgrown but they still stand. The water pours through but the dam does its job. It makes me wish there was an outdoor study area on campus that has running water. A place to hangout that is a mix of industrial and natural. No, the fountains in Monroe park do not count. Something bigger! Something more inviting! A canal!

Ten Chairs at the Safety Meeting

Creative Commons Licensed

Creative Commons Licensed

 

This past Friday I got a knock on my door from my RA encouraging my roommate and I to attend a safety meeting with the VCU police. Under the impression of the meeting being mandatory as well as a chance to get important information, we both attended. It was quite informative and aimed specifically towards women’s personal safety in the city. What was slightly alarming was the fact that only six people showed up and they were all young women who were confused as to the purpose of the meeting.

As a young woman myself from a suburban area just outside of Washington D.C., it shocked me that the attendance was so low. With the amount of students coming from less populated areas, I thought there would be more concern for safety around the city. The room was set up for about ten people and  when I asked my RA if anyone else was going to show he said they had planned for low attendance. While I realize it was a Friday afternoon and many people were on their way to whatever party was hopping that night, I figured most would stop in for a moment. A friend of mine in a different hall had also gone to the same meeting when it was held in her community room and claimed that nearly her whole floor attended. So what difference was there for my building?

The officer who ran the meeting was well spoken and focused on subjects that are pertinent to safety in the city. There was discussion of security in buildings, constant vigilance of your surroundings, walking in groups; important topics but not entirely what I was expecting the speaker to touch on. General safety is common sense. A large portion of the discussion was on toxic relationships and domestic violence, but where was the warnings about Jungle Juice? What about the dangers of going to a frat party by yourself? While there was talk about recognizing signs of having too much to drink in others, there was a hazy explanation of how to recognize it in yourself. What about when you have to deal with someone who is suicidal, what advice do the police have for that situation?

Overall, I felt the meeting was very important and at least well organized. The pamphlets on local resources were especially helpful for those who did not want to outright ask the officer sensitive questions. I just felt that the sense of community I was expecting was simply absent. Even my RA looked like he had accepted that nobody, none of these new to adulthood freshmen, honestly cared about what useful information could be gleaned from an officer of the university who has probably seen it all by this point.

So I ask, was the attendance low because the students in my dorm like to party unlike the other dorms who seemed more than willing to learn about reporting stalking or how to protect yourself from harmful relationships in college? Is knowing how to keep yourself alive as a newly minted adult not important?

I care for my own safety in the city but the low attendance makes me wonder if I should be worried about my safety around my fellow peers. If they don’t understand consequences for themselves, what happens when they affect someone else around them?