THE Canvas BACKSTORY
As digital technology wraps humans in tighter and tighter bubbles of algorithmic self-reinforcement, and as businesses, government, and non-profits face challenges of greater complexity and urgency…
We felt we had an opportunity to create a meeting space that was not cool, nor hip, nor luxurious, but grounded. A place designed by a team of professional negotiators that would be the backdrop for humans to share their humanity. For leaders to let down their guards. For groups to gather and truly listen to each other to identify their common interests and create paths to moving those interests forward.
Canvas is designed to be simple. Minimal technology (a projector or two, and a few Sonos speakers). Spaces for conversation, debate, presentation, negotiation, connection, reflection, and the capturing of stories.
We provide groups with optional tools to think differently about problems. We have a roster of independent facilitators who can guide your meetings should you need them. And an inspiring collection of speakers who can present to your group to help shift their perspectives around a range of subjects and challenges. We have crafted itineraries to get groups outside and into the adjacent park system that incorporates hiking trails, bike paths, lakes, and the mighty James River.
We’re pushing the boundaries of sustainability wherever possible: we recycle, compost, and grow food on the grounds. We deploy solar power where we can, and carbon offset where we can’t. We have bike racks that complement the 60 miles of contiguous bike lanes that connect to us. We provide catering from local woman and minority owned businesses - food and drinks that are rooted in our community with a low carbon footprint. Much of our furniture and fixtures are up cycled and designed by local artists.
In partnership with our neighboring restaurant - Laura Lee’s - we can provide onsite private lunches and dinners, where the chef and kitchen come to you. Along with bartenders serving drinks from our favourite local distilleries, breweries, and vineyards - often cocktails with garnishes directly from Canvas’ herb garden.
We’ve focused on building a retreat center for leadership meetings at a viable price point for all types of groups, with a range of corporate and non-profit rates that reflect seasons of demand. And we’ve embraced the irony of creating a center for conflict resolution in a city - Richmond, VA - that has a torn history of liberty, revolution, secession, and enslavement. There’s something about the blue city, surrounded by red rural counties as the capital of a purple state, that makes it the perfect backdrop for conversations about the past and the future of real America.
We have a distance to go. There are upgrades we will be making, but every step will be measured by how Canvas can be the optimal backdrop for meaningful human interactions. It’s not quite Camp David or Chequers, but in a grounded way, we’ve replicated the aspects of those elite retreat locations to create a cost-effective environment for your leadership team to have meaningful collaboration. We believe that our guests and friends will continue to shape us and hope that they do. We’d welcome hearing your thoughts.