In the spring of 2010 four recent college graduates founded The Harvest Collective Inc. to launch a 3,500 mile roadside clean-up project all the way from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean in America. The four founders call their journey Pick Up America. In their first season of travel, the group of "Pick Up Artists" and more than 220 volunteers cleared 73,224 pounds of litter from 735 miles of roadsides. They are walking to inspire American communities and workplaces to adopt zero-waste policies and lifestyles. Sometime in the fall of 2012 we expect to finish our three year journey in San Francisco, CA.
On March 20th, 2010 the group began picking up litter on the coast of their home state of Maryland. Since their departure, they have traversed the large rivers and cities of Maryland, the sprawling fields of historic central Virginia, the mountains of Appalachia in wild and wonderful West Virginia, and walked along the scenic Ohio River in Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the Pick Up Artists gave presentations to students, made short videos, organized potlucks, swam in rivers, participated in community events, met the most amazing people, built Recycle Mountain at the West Virginia State Capital, played lots of music, picked up tons of litter, and inspired many Americans to question the byproducts of their own consumption.
In 2011, the group is hoping to bring zero-waste and environmental stewardship to the national stage by organizing six large environmental art projects in Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas to complement their tireless litter pick-up. We are also positioning ourselves to build local, state, and national zero-waste alliances to further the ideal in the private and public sectors. In 2011, we will continue to document our trip on a new and improved website that will host our videos, blogs, maps, photos, event calendar, and weekly webcasts.
By the end of their journey and well into the future, members of Pick Up America and The Harvest Collective hope to establish a new form of community organizing that harnesses individual empowerment with art and community wide environmental restoration projects as a means of building self-sustaining, healthy American communities.