Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Schuylkill River Project

Dear Friends,

I want to clean-up The Schuylkill River.

And this is why:

Fairmount Water Works.  America’s first zoo.  George Washington’s army at Valley Forge during the American Revolutionary War.  Olympian John B. Kelly and Princess Grace of Monaco.  Fairmount Park.  And the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  All of these things have participated deeply with the Schuylkill River-- a site that Charles Dickens once called “wondrous to behold”.

Also-- because 1.75 million Pennsylvania residents drink from the river.

As an artist, it’s a passion of mine to develop a performance project that honors the Schuylkill River. 

But most importantly, I wish to express my LOVE for the Schuylkill.  And my desire, above all, to help the river fully express herself by freeing her from some of the pollutants that blight her beauty and her health, quieting her voice.

In short, I want to turn THIS (before):

The Schuylkill River at 2:30 pm on Saturday, October 6th, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Lloyd.

Into THIS (after):

The Schuylkill River at 3:30 pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Lloyd.

The transformation documented in these photos took ONE HOUR.

The contents of those four large garbage bags (which also contain over 120 recyclable objects) took only sixty minutes for Sarah Lloyd and I to collect.

I would love to use time every day cleaning up the river.  Every day making the kind of difference that you see in these photos.  And while every day is not quite possible, it is my goal to work on the river for at least 50 – 60 hours from now until the end of 2012.

And I would love people to help me.

If you're interested, and I hope you are, these are the beginning ways we can care for the Schuylkill together:
  • Join me on the river!  As best I can, I will keep this blog site updated about when I am going out on the river.  You can also email me at, and we can communicate that way.  
  • Because I don't have the resources of money, you can donate helpful items.  Most useful: a wagon or wheelbarrow (for hauling trash bags), trash bags (eco-friendly ones if possible), a digital camera (for documenting).  Also useful, especially if a team of volunteers develops: lawn rakes, work gloves, snacks/food, reusable water bottles (non-plastic if possible).  
  • Information.  Maybe you know a convenient recycling or trash drop-off near the river?  Maybe you know the right people to reach out to?  Maybe you know specific areas of the river that need the most attention?
  • Help me document/archive.  My blog site is simple.  Maybe you can help me present this information better.
  • Donate money.  Funds will be used for gathering supplies, providing support for additional volunteers, etc.  Any surplus funds will be used wisely and generously.  You can send money via PayPal to  Or you can mail funds to:  Greg Romero, 322 N 39th St, Philadelphia PA 19104.

Of course, the Schuylkill will thank you more than I ever could, but because I believe in gift-exchange, anyone who helps me care for the river, I happily offer the following gifts in return:

  • I will happily acknowledge you in any creative project that develops from this work and also keep a running list of acknowledgements here.
  • With my finger, I will write your name (and/or a loved one’s, just let me know) into the river, thereby making you part of the river’s stories and history.
  •  I will also do my best to photo-document the process, tracking progress of the clean-up with before and after photos, positive developments, etc.  I will post as much as I can to this blog, and will also be happy to email any information to you directly.

Thank you for your care and generosity—I look forward to doing something beautiful and purposeful with you.


Greg Romero