How does Richmond define “powerful”?

Style Weekly has published their annual Power List, getting people in a huff all over the place. We joke about how it’s just the rich people in town, and the MashUp folks interpret it as a list of people who Style thinks are “influential or cool or something like that.” But nowhere does Style really […]

Style Weekly has published their annual Power List, getting people in a huff all over the place.

We joke about how it’s just the rich people in town, and the MashUp folks interpret it as a list of people who Style thinks are “influential or cool or something like that.” But nowhere does Style really define “power” or how they rate folks (unless I’m missing it), so maybe the reason everyone’s panties are in a bunch (including mine) (NOT LITERALLY) is that we’re expecting different things from this list because of what the word “power” means to us?

Therefore, let’s hear some answers to the following questions:

What does “powerful” mean to you, Richmonder? I think it’s important to note that Style didn’t try to pretend they were publishing a “List of Supercool RVA Citizens Who Do Neat Things.” They specifically say “powerful,” not “creative,” but what kind of power are we talking about here?

How do you think this city in general defines it? And do you think that it’s different from how you personally do?

What would be your criteria when assigning someone a number that gauges their Greater Richmond Metro Area power? Or power in any city, for that matter. How would you weight the categories?

Just curious…discuss!

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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  1. Justin on said:

    I think they must mean powerful in the city, because I think there are high-up people who are powerful on a national scale in their respective corporations who are not on the list, just because they aren’t all up in Richmond’s business.

    But I really don’t know. I didn’t read the list because I don’t care except to notice that #75 is awesome.

  2. Surely they must define power as “dudes and dudettes who don’t shower regularly and say ridiculous things sometimes.”

  3. I haven’t seen the list, but I would imagine it contains the names of most of the “usual suspects” – the ones who seem to be on the boards of every local nonprofit, get their picture (in color) in the Richmond TD on Sundays dressed to the nines at some worthy fundraising soiree, and generally manage to maintain a high profile, whether there’s any substance behind all the hype or not. “Powerful” is an exclusive club you can only join by invitation of the right sponsor.

  4. Justin on said:

    No way, Ross. You’d be #1 on that list.

  5. NL in NY on said:

    Hi. I’m not a Richmonder so feel free to kick me to the curb on this but it clearly says beneath the title of the Style Weekly article just where these powerful folks are culled from:

    “Our fifth annual ranking of the people who run this town.”

    So I guess “power” to Style Weekly means politicians, real estate moguls, wealthy corporations and the like- that’s who runs my town.

  6. I’m hardly getting in a huff. I’d just like to see some names out there that aren’t Wilder and Ukrop for once.

    To me, “power” means creating change. You don’t have to be rich, white or on some elected board to do so. And the people I listed are definitely doing that. No, they’re not “running this town” but they are making changes in the community.

    Just my 2 cents. We’re all entitled to our opinion.

  7. I think it’s important to look at Style’s list for what it is — a stab at a large handful of people who own much of the political and financial space in the Richmond region — and remember what it isn’t — a comprehensive look at people or organizations who are making a significant difference in other ways. As I’ve posted previously at my site, I’d love to see a broader look at the genuine change agents in the region — store owners and principals and gallery/event organizers and on and on and on. It’s pretty clear to me that there are multiple power hubs in the region, and the 75 people listed in Style this week only represent one of them.

    Maybe RVANews needs to launch a search for Richmond’s 75 more interesting change agents.

  8. I think that my definition of power is similar to John’s: who in town are making the biggest difference. I’m not sure who I’d put on there, other than my previously bearded man crush Ward.

    Maybe that sweet dude from the GRTC? Ms. Flynn would definitely be on there. The folks from Recycles seem cool, and have a cool vision. The First Friday’s people. Whomever got the Brand Center revamped. Also, that dude from the UPS commercials.

  9. Our Power List should be a gold mine for change agents in Richmond.

    Andrew of MashUp Infamy: Here’s the challenge in your wish: Merely wanting different people to be on the list is like saying you wish there were different news. Or you wish there were more women on the list (where are they?). Or that the Top 10 were younger or more diverse. The point is, sometimes reality can be uncomfortable. But isn’t it often the impetus for change?

    You can wish all day that person A were more powerful than person B, but that doesn’t make it so. Perhaps you wish that you were more powerful than your boss? Than his boss? Than Tom Silvestri? Isn’t the change you want to make in your corner of the world dependent on who has power over you? Who can help you make that change, and who can be a hurdle to that change?

    Taking that analogy a step further: Let’s say the “change you want to make” is to redesign the Times-Dispatch and move its offices, and hire more people. Can you do that? No. Who can? The person that controls the resources. They have the most potential to make that change happen. It’s not really a matter of opinion in that case.

    Obviously people all across Richmond are creating change. Thank goodness. Fortunately you can read fascinating stories about those folks on, or pick up any of our weekly issues, or any monthly issue of Home Style, or bimonthly issue of Belle, or quarterly issue of Richmond Giving, our magazine on volunteerism and philanthropy. (How’s that for a pitch?)

    Anyway, to Susan (the most powerful blogging movie critic in town): I’ll send you a copy of our “To the Reader” note on our Letters page. In it we give a brief reminder of how we define power and what we consider in analyzing it to come up with the list. The best way to see how we define it is by reading the 75 profiles.

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  11. I like the idea of 75 change agents list, but to Style’s credit, they do do the Top 40 Under 40, which I would liken to the same thing. Several Richmond bloggers have been listed in that over the last few years. It would be good to see some of those Top 40 graduate to the Power List and although I haven’t compared the lists over the years, I know Ross was on the Top 40 list last year and is on the Power List this year. Coincidence?

  12. No, conspiracy.

  13. i think power is defined by being able to rip someone’s throat out. like john rambo does in the new rambo movie.

  14. So…Brock, then, is what you’re saying? I watched Brock carry a huge desk with one hand. All the boys went “Oooooooo…”

  15. mattwhite on said:

    oh fantastic. he’s helping me move tomorrow. maybe i’ll invite the 75 most powerful people to help me move and see how they stack up and make my own list.

  16. Carol Wolf on said:

    Maybe Style could consider doing a list of 75 people they would like to see running this town. A list of “Famous” and “Not Famous,” a list of those who make a difference as well as a list of folks who are different than the rest of us simply because they have more money.

    I would like to see Style explore the deeper meanings of power and how we need to tap it in order to transform Richmond into a place where people choose to remain and raise their families, a place where young and old alike are valued for reasons beyond their bank balance or social contacts, a place where people understand that teachers, principals, police officers, fire-fighters, bus drivers, waiters and waitresses daily have the power to make life better for one another.

  17. Scott Burger on said:

    Keep your eyes on the prize:

  18. Immy Ture on said:

    power means youre recession proof, POWER is MONEY

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