The James River got a bit of attention on the UCI bicycle race course this past week. “Arts & Cultural District Drains to the James,” the 4’x4’ raindrop posters proclaim. To let people know why it matters what goes into the river, each poster has a photograph of someone (or some ducks) enjoying the river.
One image shows Jack Martin running whitewater rapids on his stand up paddleboard boasting the slogan, “7 miles of rapids run through RVA.” Riverside Outfitters rafts through downtown asking people to “Follow the raindrops to the river.” Amanda Gibson looks like she’s loving life high in the sky at Jump Rock declaring, “Clean Water, Clean Roads, Clean River.” Lauren Morris dances on the bank for “RVA Love, Arts Love, River Love.”
Thanks to the Arts & Cultural District Micro Grant Program, along with CultureWorks, I received funding to place 14 PSA posters in storefront windows in the ACD. The James River Association and Bike Walk RVA lent a hand in the project, as did Storefront for Community Design. Michelle of Mtouchettemedia.com designed and helped place the posters, and Richmond Signscape printed them on static cling material so no harm would come to any of the windows.
The idea to have a map of downtown showing that the river borders the area was long in the making. Originally conceived as a response moving to Richmond eight years ago only to discover no one knew if they were “up river or down river” when asked for directions, the timing was right to put the posters up during Richmond2015 with so many visitors expected to the city.
Not many cities have a swimmable, kayakable, paddleboardable, playable river running through the heart of downtown. The project involved getting that word out, letting people know Richmonders get IN the river so we need it to be clean. Hopefully, seeing the connection of us playing will trigger a better response as to why land actions matter to water quality.
The posters will be up during the races and through the fall First Friday season. Richmond on Broad (University of Richmond) café wants to keep theirs up indefinitely. “I see no reason to take it down. It speaks to what we want to do and our involvement with the city,” said Chef Manager Matt Lee. The variety of businesses sporting a raindrop also speaks to the vast community that cares about the James.
Keep an eye out for the big blue posters while wondering around downtown and thank the store owners for caring about the mighty, majestic, and mysterious James River. You can find the posters at: Bunkie Trinite Trophies, Hilton Garden Inn, Mama J’s Kitchen, Moore’s Auto Body & Paint Shop, Pediatric Dentistry, Richmond Public Library, The National, Candela Books & Gallery, Hummel Associates, Steen Wear bicycle apparel popup storefront, and a for-rent storefront at 208 E Broad.