Lifestyles of the YP and Y it matters to Lynchburg

Commercial Real Estate Agent with Central Virginia Realty

Greetings to all.




I’ve been thinking about writing this blog since I first heard about the ‘Big G Generations Conference’ that the Lynchburg Chamber would be hosting about trying to attract and retain young professionals to our fair city.

Yesterday was the day if you missed it.

I realize that it is always a more dangerous position to say anything that can be considered negative, even if you are only trying to bring about improvement, but once again I will take the risk, because when all is said and done, I love Central Virginia. I love the people. I love the history, the buildings and I the land. I’m willing to take the risk of being considered a little negative if it can help bring change. And none of what I’m about to say is meant negatively, it’s just human nature.


Here is the short bio on Rebecca Ryan, the keynote speaker for yesterday’s event, which was highly and entertainingly informational.


The founder of Next Generation Consulting (NGC), a research and consulting firm that helps clients engage the next generation. NGC has conducted interviews, focus groups, and surveys with over 8,500 young professionals since 1998. Cities, states, arts organizations, and companies use NGC’s research and applications to attract and develop the next generation of citizens, patrons, employees and customers. Rebecca was named the 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Richard Florida, author of the best-seller, The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class says, “I am a HUGE Rebecca Ryan fan,” and considers “NGC one of the most reliable sources for CEO’s, mayors, legislators, economic developers and non-profit leaders who want to attract and retain the next generation of creative workers.” For more information go to


So, young professionals, 20-35… According to Ryan, “The motto of the young professional today is ‘Live first, work second.’” (paraphrased)


While I don’t personally qualify any longer for the young part — except that if 30 is the new 20 then 40 must be the new 30, and so on, so that would qualify me no matter how old I got. Right? I haven’t forgotten what it was like moving here years ago, from what was, in many ways, my dream location. At that time, the general consensus among my age and peer group (20-35 college educated and town or city raised) was that there was very little interesting going on in the area. Unfortunately, that is still — with some happy and slowly increasing exceptions — the case (for that age group).


The main problem, then and now, is that – the people who make a lot of the decisions about what activities will be available — have forgotten what it was like to be who they were then. Now, the activities that are mostly available are tailored to who we are now.


The best way to illustrate this is with lists. Here is a list of things-to-do that I and my friends at that age were passionate about when I was between 20 and 35. Some of these things I would still really like to do, but find my time is constrained by family obligations and my body won’t recover from the pounding that it used to.

  • Physically demanding indoor and outdoor sports like, mountain biking, soccer, orienteering, white water kayak and canoe, rock climbing… oh for the local crag 5 minutes away again or a climbing gym where I could fit an hour or so into my afternoons after work again. (Left this love when I moved my family here)
  • Working out at with weights or resistance training.
  • Music and dancing — Nothing against country music, but I’m not talking about Cattle Annie’s. I haven’t done the market study, but I would guess that the young professionals would still not figure highly among the clientele there, though I stand ready to be corrected. The new ballroom dancing, swing, shag, latin, alternative, rock, none of these are consistently available activities, but attend any dance function like the Realtor Christmas Gala and see if you don’t think there is a demand. Who are all those people anyway? Most of the people who go aren’t even in real estate. J
  • Movies, plays, art, museums, reading. Isn’t it nice that there is some cross over?


What are we interested in now? (If you are in your mid-30s or later)

  • Things we can do with the family.
  • Things we can still do and not injure ourselves. J
  • Things we can fit into the tiny facets of spare time that we still have.


Another part of the obstacle to providing the lifestyle choices that will attract young professionals to come and stay here is that most of the people who make the decisions about what activities will be available have NEVER been like the majority of the young professionals today. The people who rise to that level of clout generally tend to be workaholics who are mostly interested in working, playing and socializing in networking environments… like squash, tennis, golf or racquetball — the ultimate businessman’s pastime — where you can discuss a deal and gracefully win or lose depending on your position on the totem pole. Don’t get me wrong, I like racquetball too, but when I tried to talk the YMCA into using just one of the racquetball courts to outfit into a rock gym ten years ago they wouldn’t even consider it, they had never even heard of a rock gym, (The burg has a tendency to lag behind the cutting edge of activities) but that was when racquetball was popular here… Now the courts are mostly empty, and the new Y doesn’t even have courts. But climbing gyms are still growing in popularity … maybe the time has come.


‘Live first, work second.’


I could get behind that one myself. Maybe I’m younger than I think…

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