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Tuesday’s 75th edition of the RTD Public Square will deliver a three-part program for the first time.

First, please join us for a thank-you reception with light refreshments from 5 to 6 p.m. in the lobby of the RTD Building downtown, 300 E. Franklin St. Thousands of readers and guests have attended our civil, civic conversations on issues of importance and we’d like to show our appreciation. Without an engaged audience, there’s no Public Square.

Second, our friend Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University will share the results of an interesting survey of Metro Richmond residents linked to our Public Square goal of compiling 75 thought-provoking hopes for our region’s future.

This will start at 6 p.m.

And then, after the audience has a chance to react to Kidd’s findings, I have the honor of delivering the 75 Hopes. They will be presented in five categories, leaving time between each for your questions and comments.

Our excitement for this special Public Square grew over the summer as we collected suggestions and answers to this question:

What is your best hope for Richmond?

You’ll hear about hopes for solutions, hopes for improvements, hopes for good basics as well as innovation, and hopes for community unity.

Some of these hopes poked through the 74 other Public Squares we have conducted since our first one in September 2005. (Trivia question: Do you remember the first topic? Answer at the end.)


The questions asked by Christopher Newport’s Wason Center were meant to confirm or augment sweeping aspirations or attitudes on how the Richmond Region goes about getting things done.

The survey’s 10 questions started with this one:

Overall, would you say things in the greater Richmond Region are heading more in the right direction or the wrong direction?

The next questions probed views about the relationship between the city of Richmond and the surrounding counties, and then asked if there was approval or disapproval about the way elected officials handled their jobs.

Questions also asked participants to rate the region’s businesses and corporations, nonprofit and charitable organizations, and fellow residents in their level of community and citizen engagement.

Two questions asked respondents to pick the best description of greater Richmond now and in the future. The choices:

A place where people would like to keep things the way they are now, or used to be.

A place where people are open to change and believe it’s a good idea to consider new ideas and ways of doing things.

A place where people want to try out things, and even be a little experimental with new ways of doing things.

Finally, the survey finished with this open-ended question:

Thinking about the greater Richmond Region into the future … if you could hope to see the region achieve one great thing, what would that one thing be?

There’s no need for a teaser alert here. We’ll disclose on Tuesday what we learned from our readers. We’re eager to hear your reactions.

Now back to the topic of the first Public Square.

The discussion was about the proposal to create a new performing arts complex at the Carpenter Center downtown.

That’s one issue that went from hope to reality.

Here’s wishing more on your list of 75 Hopes do just that.

Tom Silvestri is president and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Advance registration is required for the 75th Public Square. Please visit to sign up.

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