Friends, I am frustrated. I would guess that if you are reading this blog post, you probably are too. I think I speak for most Friends of the James River Park that the best practice for enjoying a public space is to leave only footprints and take only memories. We do this out of respect for other people and for the sustainability of the Park. The Park can only be permanent if we all agree to use the Park responsibly, and unfortunately, I have seen evidence of some pretty irresponsible Park use lately.
It makes me sad to see that so many people that use the Park choose to leave behind permanent reminders of their presence in the form of graffiti. Spray-painted and carved graffiti, especially on the rocks and trees, permanently alters the Park. We can not return rocks to their natural look once the paint has dried, and carvings can kill a tree. That damage is done. All we can reasonably do is paint over the graffiti in gray or brown paint to try and match the natural surroundings, which takes away from the natural beauty of the space we enjoy so much.
Graffiti removal uses up resources that could be used for trail improvements, or to otherwise improve our Parks. Friends of the James River Park is committed to finding solutions to the problem of graffiti in the Park, especially on the rocks and trees that make our space so beautiful. For now, that means painting over graffiti as often as we can. We are also exploring other solutions that might help us to re-enforce the “leave no trace” culture that we want to see thrive in our park.
I would bet money that if you are bothering to read this blog, you are not part of the problem, so I am asking you to be a part of the solution. We are organizing a few volunteer days in April and May dedicated to the task of painting over graffiti, particularly around Belle Isle. Please keep an eye on our social media and calendar for more information regarding those opportunities. Also please reach out to us at Friends@jamesriverpark.org if you see new graffiti in the Park. The longer we let it sit, the more people see it and think it is okay, and the worse it gets.
As always, if you would like to make a gift to support the work that we do, like graffiti removal, you can do so at https://jamesriverpark.org/