I was on assignment for Rocket Pop Media.  A recent video shoot for Keep Virginia Beautiful led me onto State Route 60 in Southside Richmond, Virginia.  In my Buick Park Avenue I drove slowly, first onto Hull Street, then onto Midlothian Turnpike, pacing myself at a cool 35 miles-per-hour.  With purpose and focus, I remained vigilant, in search of trash!  The goal was clear:  find and document waste to create awareness of the negative effects of roadside litter.

Continuing down Commerce Road, I found the object of my quest: a median strip lined heavily with heaps of garbage. There, in the uncut grass next to a busy intersection lay cigarettes, bottle caps, cups of Instant Noodles, broken glass, crushed plastics, bags from McDonalds, bags from gas stations, discarded styrofoam cups, flyers, worn-down print ads…a complete history of this corner of Richmond’s consumption.  I hit the brakes and parked the Buick.

As I walked along, snapping photos and shooting footage, I had a profound thought, an intrusion into my routine:

We treat our neighborhoods, our communities, like garbage.

I began to think about how, for many residents of Richmond, and the Greater Commonwealth, litter is a commonality – a view from the front porch, a functioning dysfunction within the community.

It’s incomprehensible and even dizzying to imagine the immense social, psychological & cultural impacts that litter and waste have on our communities. How is it that some areas have remained so beautifully landscaped and intact, yet other areas have been left to go to waste?  Is it possible to seriously uproot change, and initiate social cultivation and empowerment in areas that exist in so much…filth.

It is imperative that we reinvest in communal upkeep, in beautification, education and litter prevention.  It is imperative that we focus on all areas of the state, not just the state parks, by arming ourselves with attentiveness and humility.  As we begin this new year, strive to keep a beautiful state, by doing your part in not littering and investing in at least one cleanup–in your own community and elsewhere.