I’ve got James River Park System on the brain these days, spending time re-writing the Friends of James River park Web site that I won’t link to now since the current one is so inadequate…but wait till September when some beautiful and useful information will be at users’ fingertips and the typeface will be readable by someone over the age of 35.    

On Friday morning the Friends and I will be out along Riverside Drive between Pony Pasture and Huguenot Flatwater picking up trash. Meet at Pony Pasture at 8:30 a.m. if you’d like to help.  Gloves are a good idea as are water shoes if you want to scout for trash along the shoreline. Almost the most fun kids can have while knocking out some community service hours. More fun than poking around in poison ivy.

And in a matter of moments, I’ll be meeting with John Kneebone, Professor of History at VCU and Ralph Hambrick, co-chair of the James River Advisory Council and a member of the Falls of the James Scenic River Committee and now one of the participants in the James River Park System Oral History project, a collaboration between VCU and the Friends.  It’s been a privilege to connect some of the storytellers and shapers of one of Richmond’s very best ideas with those dedicated to keeping the stories safe and making them known. It’s a shame we were too late to listen to John “Jack” Keith, one of two Richmonders who worked to bring orphan islands and shoreline in Westover and Forest Hills to the city for use as a park back in the 1960’s. It was his death a couple of years ago that spurred the project. Listening to Louise Burke, one of the saviors of South Side from an expressway that would have made the river and Pony Pasture the underside of a highway, say sweetly yet firmly, “I was not the ideal person to lead anything” was one of many treats.  In fact, she was the ideal person because she and her band of conservationists didn’t let studies, plans, moneyed brokers, county and city fathers and regional authorities push through what they thought they wanted.  So thanks, Louise. Check out the marker in her honor the next time you’re at Pony Pasture. It’s on the right not far from the boat put-in. And pick up trash along the river and road in her honor.