Dear Richmond: Journaling Together

Hidden deep in the James River Park System sits an old green mailbox nestled at the foot of a granite rock covered with moss. Inside you’ll find the Dear Richmond journal, a community journaling project created by Richmond Grid and the James River Park System. It’s our hope that the mailbox and the journal will inspire Richmonders to take a moment to explore, to reflect, and to share.

While we have made it a point not to disclose the exact location of the secret mailbox, we encourage you to head to the Buttermilk Trail to find it. Once you’ve stumbled across this magical spot, grab the journal inside, find a nearby rock to sit on while you flip through its pages, and share your thoughts with others. We invite you to write about your love for nature, trail observations, leave a letter to RVA, or whatever else is on your mind. Or just sign your name. There’s no right or wrong journal entry when you’re journaling together as a community.

Here are a few recent entries in the Dear Richmond journal: 

Today, I am here. And I am happy. 

Sweating out the stress, stomping out negativity, and loving the way nature heals everything. Freedom and love to you all. 

One month, four days sober. Peace. 

Go not where the trail may lead. Instead, hike a path and be a trail blazer. 

We love Richmond so much and are lucky to live in a city with the river, beautiful trials, and so much to do. Nowhere else would ever feel like home. 

Feel nature blooming and growing around you. Know that no matter how dark things seem, the sun will rise on your life again. Be well and be good to each other.

About 8 months ago, I sat here marveling at the beauty and despair around me. On a rock, tears poured down my face as I once again read of the beauty and despair on these pages. The love that unfolded like the flowers. Yes, we are all part of this baffling and mysterious world – the dripping rocks, moss and fortitude. I love this world. I love this forest. Thank you RVA. God bless all of you marvelous people. Keep the words coming, they are so hopeful and inspiring. 

I can always count on these trails to lift my spirits and help me reflect. I love these trails and Richmond. 

Enjoy nature. Pay attention to the little things. Open your eyes and nature will fill your heart. 

Don’t be afraid to stand out! I am learning to be confident in myself. Sometimes exploring alone is the best kind of adventure. 

Last night, watching the pouring rain. Summer evening when you’ve been in the sun all day. The sounds of water dripping down the rocks as you write and read this journal. Seeing animals watching the world through their eyes. Smelling a childhood memory. Getting away from light pollution and exploring the night sky with your eyes and ears. Watching big fluffy clouds blow by.

These five things today: Support someone; Give to the needy; create something, anything; relinquish wanting; and enlist, sign-up, help those you care about, volunteer, give your time. I find happiness doing/trying to do these five things as often as I can. 

In memory of our son, who loved the Buttermilk Trail. He shot and killed himself. 

I feel at peace in my soul here. Be nice. Smile at strangers. Call your family. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that the emotional and physical health of my entire family this past year is owed to these trials. It’s no exaggeration to say that almost every happy memory from the past year is tied to these trials. I am immensely grateful to the JRPS, the creator of these woods, my body, my mother for watching my baby, my husband for watching the monitor, and the promise of new beginnings.

Taking a joy in the little moments of the day. With the warm sun and fresh air, the future seems brighter and more hopeful.

Amongst the fear, amongst the division and grief – there is hope. We need each other. Trust yourself. You have strong instincts – the earth knows just as your body knows. Trust yourself and the goodness of human nature. We are all just trying our best. The best thing we can do each day is love ourselves a lil’ bit more. I love you. The universe loves you. You are perfect the way you are. The sun is rising so must we. I want to hear you hear you sing.

It’s the simple things that make you feel connected.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep looking up. You’ll never know what you’ll find.

One year ago, I started running again, about 6 weeks after giving birth to my first child. Ever since, it has been my goal to run the Buttermilk Trail and Northbank loop. Something I haven’t done in years. At first, I had to get back in shape, and then, I was racing nap time. Today, I’m finally doing the whole loop. Such a wonderful milestone of all my body can accomplish. 

Take yourself on a date with your city. Allow Richmond to embrace you in her warm bosom. 

What an unexpected surprise to find a mailbox in the quarry! Thank you!

Another beautiful day in nature in the middle of the city. Be well and stay strong.

Today is the day we make brand new love and light shines within you. The rocks and the trees overcrowd my head but the path I chose was the Buttermilk instead it led me here to write my words.

All good things in all good time.

Never stop exploring. Be open to being enchanted by nature. 

I had left for a while, itching to get out of this city to come back a year later, missing home. Thank you for the trial and the river. I am so lucky to call this place home during such an unpredictable year. The trials are always what brings me back. 

I feel sad when someone says to me, “Humans are pets, invasive species. Disease to our planet.” I feel this idea is the root cause of the perpetuation of this destructive coexistence with the Earth. We see ourselves as separate. And we aren’t, we are the Earth, it is us. We breath the air that the trees exhale, the wind dances in our lungs, fire is in our digestion, our passions, we are mostly water, as is Earth. Our bones are like the rocks/soil we walk on. We are the elements. Earth needs us to remember that. Earth loves us. Trust your body. Trust your inner wisdom. And trust that you belong. You are wanted and loved here. As we heal, so does our planet. 

We bought my wife hiking boots for the first time ever today. Naturally, she needed to test them out. Happy hiking.

Wife, here. I absolutely love RVA and our many gorgeous trials. The only thing constant is your humble presence to the other side of the world!

Dear wanderer: Take a moment. Just one. Breathe. Look around and listen. The universe breathes with you. 

Be at home in nature, be at home in your body. Be at home with yourself. 

Two great friends and a dog enjoying the Buttermilk Trial. 

Night wanders and ponders. The new moon is high. What a wondrous trickle. All the senses are tingled. Dream all your dreamy. And wish on your stars. A new day starts tomorrow.

If as human beings, we spent more time in awe of the power and beauty of mother earth, we would better understand the need to put our own lives on the line to protect her. 

I’m grateful for my family and all I have. I am 8 years old. 

Keep fighting. Nothing worth having comes for free. 

Looking for mushrooms…no luck yet but found some cool boulders. 

I love you. I hope you are easy with yourself. This land is precious and stolen. Let’s remember and act with that in our hearts and spirits. 


Grid is a solutions-oriented news platform that celebrates makers, storytellers, and community builders. Our goal is to share stories about people inspired by a purpose beyond themselves. We are interested in hard work, humility, authenticity, and stewardship. And most of all, people who roll up their sleeves and push Richmond forward.