The Collegian
Saturday, June 03, 2023

Richmond's TAKE 30 initiative addresses connecting with the James

Survey results showed when students were asked whether they would use a bike trail that directly led from the University of Richmond to the James River, the answer was an overwhelming yes.

Todd Lookingbill, assistant professor of geography and the Eenvironment, addressed the question "How Can We Be Better Connected to the James?" Thursday as part of UR Downtown's lunch series, TAKE 30.

The lunch series is held every third Thursday of the month at the UR Downtown building in the heart of Richmond. Area professionals, Richmond alumni, faculty and students gather during the lunchtime to discuss issues important to the city of Richmond.

"There are other universities out there that have really centered themselves around the river," Lookingbill said to Thursday's audience of about 30 people. "Why not us?"

Lookingbill discussed projects our campus members are working on that revolve around the James River and Westhampton Lake. He spoke about the Pony Express, a bus loop that transports students from campus to the river, which will be starting up again this spring.

In a survey taken last April among sophomores, over 75 percent of students said they had been out to the James River. They participated in various activities at the river including sunbathing, reading and swimming.

"Once you become aware of the river, you kind of fall in love with it," Lookingbill said during the session.

The TAKE 3O series kicked off in January 2013 with President Ayers' talk, "What's Left to Say About the Civil War?" It was launched with the Richmond community in mind, Alexandra Byrum, educational programming coordinator of UR Downtown, said.

"We wanted to offer a series of interesting and timely talks that individuals could attend during their lunch hour," Byrum said.

Students can use dining dollars to buy lunch from the Richmond on Broad Cafe, located in the UR Downtown building. Attendees are welcome to bring their meals into TAKE 30 sessions.

The program coordinators are pleased with the TAKE 30 attendance but would love to see increases as they raise awareness of the program, Byrum said.

Alejandra Garcia Narvaez, a junior at Richmond, attended the lunch series Thursday as a part of her involvement as a Bonner scholar. She was excited to learn about the shuttle service since many students struggle with finding transportation, she said.

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Next month's series will be hosted by Rob McAdams, program coordinator of Partners in the Arts. McAdams will address the question "How Do We Learn?" 12:30 to 1 p.m. April 17.

Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at

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