Constructing a Better Future
by Vincent Reynolds, ENGL 336.002
She left her native city to the Washington, D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland at the age of 14. She lived there with her sister. The experience was life changing. “It was a culture shock,” she explains “in Richmond you we were either black or white. But in Silver Spring there were people of all sorts of mixes, and from Africa and Asia - all over the world....When I was younger, all my friends were black. That's so much different now.”
In her first year of college, LaVonne was interested in fashion design, but wanted to pursue something more “practical”. After a conversation with a friend, she realized something about her goals, “Anything can be creative. Designing a building can be just like designing clothes.”
Fashion is about creating in order to transform someone, and LaVonne wants to apply this to her current discipline. One of her many dreams is to one day build a homeless shelter; one that not just houses and feeds people, but also improves their lives. “I saw some bad things in Richmond, though there are a lot of good people there. I saw a woman and her child living on the streets. I gave her all the money I had. I want to help people like that.”
Looking back on her life so far, LaVonne states, “From where I started, to get this far in life, it’s a blessing.” She points to her phone, to a picture of an African symbol. The Egyptian ankh is only one of many symbols that LaVonne is drawn to. There are also adinkras, symbols that originate from West Africa. She adorns her apartment with one that is often translated as “god is everywhere”. It is a fitting symbol for LaVonne, not only because of its meaning, but because it is sometimes illustrated as a toothed circle surrounding a shape suggestive of circular energy, reminiscent of a piece of machinery.