Friday, August 27, 2010


Norfologists, 2010

For a moment I felt like I was in a pub in Amsterdam. Well, I was drinking a Dutch beer. And I was surrounded by a crowd of hip young people. And it was a pub only in the respect that the hip young people were gathered around tables engaged in earnest discussion about the future of the city they call home.

Norfologists, they call themselves. Norfology is a joint project of AltDaily, a local online magazine and the City of Norfolk Department of Economic Development. The purpose of the project is to create a sense of community among young professionals that can, among other things, help stem the city’s brain drain.

Last night’s gathering was designed to give some of the project’s followers a chance to identify issues of importance to them and see if there were ways they could work together to address these issues. There were table discussions on such issues as public transportation, the local music scene, bike paths, high-speed rail and, just to keep things lively, spiritual mindfulness.

Strictly speaking, I was just there to observe (hiding discreetly behind a succession of bottled beers and peeking out only so often to grab a coconut-encrusted fried shrimp from my plate before Walt and Hannah ate them all). There’s a good thirty years of age and grizzled life experience between me and most of the people there. I don’t even live in Norfolk. But I am very interested in civic engagement and wanted to see how this group worked and what kinds of issues they raised.

I’m always impressed when I see people come together determined to work on something. Last night’s group had a sense of enthusiasm and open-mindedness that was energizing. I don’t know if all the young people there fit the “young professional” definition exactly. But they cared enough to come out by bicycle, bus, car and foot to take part in the conversation. That’s more than enough for me. Did I mention there was beer?

Oh, and the picture above? That’s, from left to right, the charming Ginger expounding on the merit of keeping sand bags around for when the Lafayette River rises, Stan politely trying to look interested and Walt trying to bring us all to our senses with a rousing read from the book of Leviticus.

More Norfologists, 2010


  1. I thought that was Walt in that photo. What a great group of people. How nice to know they're really interested in their community and engaged in it. And well, yeah--beer, too?

  2. I thought Walt was sketching. I was quite curious as to what he was sketching....

  3. Sure hope groups like this come up with some answers. It seems like most of my life was spent watching VB grow and evolve while Nawfik decayed.