John Sarvay, 39 

click to enlarge johnsarvay005.jpg

Blogger, Buttermilk & Molasses /
Director of Leadership Development, Luck Stone

What does community engagement look like?

Does it wear a three-piece suit and eat at the Commonwealth Club? Sport a Volcom T-shirt and browse books at Chop Suey? Don a Rocawear hoodie with baggy jeans busting a sag at Third and Broad?

To John Sarvay, 39, community engagement must bring all parties to the table. As he sees it, if it's only the guys in the suits talking, the conversation's just not that engaging -- and it's certainly not engaging the whole community.

Sarvay loves Richmond. Through his flagship Web site, Buttermilk & Molasses (, he's been a nonstop blogger on community issues — especially the city's downtown revitalization plans.

But he's also a doer, being heavily involved in the Greater Richmond Chamber. His curiosity leads him to lunches with guys named Jack Berry and Tom Silvestri. But he's also a walking contradiction to his lunch buddies — the salt-and-pepper hair and neatly pressed chinos do little to hide the Doc Martens combat boots that betray his not-so-secret identity as a time-warping RVA punk rocker.

Sarvay, who is director of leadership development at Luck Stone, has evolved, and he wants Richmond to evolve, too. In college, he co-founded and edited Caffeine magazine, a sarcastic strafing of everything Richmond. Sarcasm, Sarvay says, "was my MO for a long time." Now his MO is as a first-class booster: "I've realized what I'm really passionate about is building communities."

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