Spirit and Soul festival aims to revive downtown

The seventh annual Spirit and Soul Festival filled downtown with the rhythmic beats of jazz musicians and the enticing smells of fried chicken and barbecue. Put on by the Richmond Main Street Initiative, a nonprofit organization that works to reinvigorate the downtown, the festival drew about 800 people this year–and there would have been more, organizers insisted, were it not for the sizzling heat.

Free workshop offers classes in healthy eating and exercise

In a bare classroom at the Coronado YMCA in Richmond, a small group of women—and one man—dance around in a misshapen circle as they imitate activities from running to praying. The instructor, Sonjay Odds-Eggleton, sings out, “My name is Sonjay and I like to squat,” as she squats down and pops back up twice. The other people in the circle copy her movements and improvised lyrics. They move a bit slower, but after a couple times around they nearly have…

“Miss Richmond” heads to pageants

Alexis Pickins, otherwise known as “Miss Richmond,” will be representing her hometown in two upcoming beauty pageants. The 22-year-old senior at UC Berkeley will compete in Miss Black California Dec. 28-30 and Miss California Jan. 12-13, and she may well be the first “Miss Richmond” the city has ever seen. But for the community, Pickins isn’t just a pretty face – a star student in high school and the first who will graduate from college in her family, she’s a…