Based in Richmond, Va., I've worked as a general assignment reporter for both daily and weekly markets in the state, with a special focus on the environment, agriculture and rural issues. For a fuller rundown of what I've written, you can check out my profile over at Muckrack. Here, I offer a sampling of some of the more meaningful stories I've worked on over the years.
From an examination of how President Trump's proposed freezing of EPA grants would affect the Tri-Cities region to a look at how the black community is turning to the pulpit for environmental justice to a firsthand account of how the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is trying to increase Hispanic engagement, my environmental reporting goes a step beyond the science to reveal how people interact with the environments in which they live. Sometimes, as in my year-long coverage of a sand and gravel mine proposal in Caroline County (you can find the last installment of this award-winning series here), that reporting deals with how people are being affected by change, while sometimes, as in this story on a new crab pot design that helps decrease "ghost fishing," it deals with how people are effecting environmental change themselves.
A critical component of our nation's economy, and still a major driver of its culture, agriculture is all too often overlooked by the media. My work has touched on such issues as how agriculture helps the U.S. build bridges to other nations like Armenia, the increasingly high-tech nature of dairy farming, farmers' reactions to the repeal of the EPA's Waters of the U.S. rule, a 91-year-old Virginia ham operation that survived a devastating fire, and how farmers are taking another look at the old but vilified hemp crop. In my reporting, I aim to show the ways in which, far from the simplistic picture many people have of farming and rural communities, modern agriculture is riddled with complexity.
"Resurrecting Hopewell" was a four-part series on the economic revitalization of Hopewell, a once-major industrial city in the Tri-Cities region of Virginia. Founded in 1915 when Du Pont built an armaments factory in the middle of a field, the "Wonder City" became a powerhouse of industry that thrived for decades. Starting in the 1970s, however, business dwindled and the population declined, with little relief in sight—until recently. This in-depth investigation of what happened and what the city is doing to reverse its downward trajectory won a 1st place award for a feature series from the Virginia Press Association in 2016.
BELOVED STEAM LOCOMOTIVE COMES HOME TO PETERSBURG
"First the sound, straight from the movies, a single, stirring chord that seemed to have been struck from a colossal pipe organ. Then the steam, billowing clouds of it, the scent of coal and superheated water. Finally, the sight, a scrap of memory from days gone by. The Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam locomotive has pulled into Petersburg's Union Station." Story here.
In Hopewell, homeless for the holidays
"For W, the nights are the hardest. During the day, he can keep busy doing side jobs and interviewing for contract work, but after so many years of 24-hour-call work, he can only sleep about four hours a night. The rest of the time he lies awake in bed, mulling over his situation and missing his daughters — particularly his youngest, who is still in high school and was living with a friend’s family while her parents stayed at the shelter. Not seeing his girls every day, said W, is the single hardest part of being homeless. 'Everything else I can deal with,' he said." Story here.
pipe dreams: Is it an art form or just paraphernalia? richmond's glassblowers have heard it all.
"Although the pieces that emerge from [these artists'] kilns and torches sell for prices into the thousands of dollars and are sought in cities from New York to Eugene, Ore., most Richmonders have never heard their names—and many are quick to dismiss their work as drug paraphernalia. But as Morris shows in his work, things aren't always as they seem." Story here.
At eppington, a rare glimpse of the past
"To see Eppington is to see a kind of historical eclipse: a glimpse of a past era that is concealed from view almost as soon as it is revealed. Set three-quarters of a mile above the Appomattox and a half mile from the nearest road, this former plantation of the Winterpock area of Chesterfield has endured war, poverty and decay since its construction in 1768. Today, under the stewardship of Chesterfield County and the Eppington Foundation, the estate is regularly open to the public only a single day every year." Story here.