Photo by Stephanie Breijo
According to the James River Association, the James affects lives of more Virginians than any other landscape feature in the state.
The James River Association is making it very, very easy for all of us to support our primary drinking source this month (and no, that isn't Hardywood). The James is Virginia’s largest river at 340 miles long, with a watershed that encompasses almost 25 percent of the state — and one thing you can do to help keep it clean, visitable and drinkable is go out to eat by the end of September. Thirteen Richmond restaurants are participating in JRA’s Water for Water project, as well as one in Lynchburg and one in Scottsville; they’ll be asking you if you’d like to add a $1 donation to your bill in exchange for your icy glasses of tap water. Yes! Only $1! You can’t say no to $1. There will also be specials on select menus that benefit Water for Water, so be sure to get the delicious details from your server.
The JRA’s year-round activities and programs aid in the river's conservation, habitat restoration and trash cleanup, plus the association offers educational courses and expeditions. It keeps tabs on the quality of river water, wildlife, plant life and pollutants. Watershed restoration, education, outreach and monitoring comprise the bulk of their riverside work, in addition to organizing fundraising events like the James RiverFest, the Westover Lawn Party and various paddling, tubing and foot races. On the Web, they’re a river-fact resource of encyclopedic proportions. There’s even a webcam for watching shad spawn from March to June, but I feel strongly that it could be improved with the addition of the Shaft theme song. Shad! Can you dig it?
Participating Richmond restaurants and food vendors include Amour Wine Bistro, Comfort, Deco Ristorante, Heritage, King of Pops, Mama J’s, Mbargo, Pasture, Secco Wine Bar, Shoryuken Ramen, Southbound, Star-lite and The Camel. The much-loved frozen treat vendor King of Pops kicked off the project by crowdsourcing the new James River Pop flavor, which is a coconut blueberry confection brimming with Swedish Fish that is now available at all KoP carts. Ad agency Big Spoon helped coordinate the restaurant partners on the JRA’s behalf.
“As a mission, Pasture is trying to have as low an environmental impact as possible," says restaurant manager Dare Jearman. "We’ve always only brought water to the table when people ask for it; we don’t just bring it automatically. We hate dumping out perfectly good water all the time. It’s an issue that we feel strongly about, so [the James River Association] is definitely a charity we wanted to be on board with.” Consider that the next time your glass is about to be filled, because if we’re all on board, we can make a big impact.
Aside from dining out this month, you can also spread the word about Water for Water using the hashtag #waterforwater on social media. Check out more of the JRA’s good work, online.