Julia Rendleman

Julia Rendleman is a freelance photojournalist who loves telling stories in her own backyard. She is particularly drawn to stories a…


About Down the Pike: Life on the Jeff Davis Highway

Down the Pike: Life on the Jeff Davis Highway tells deeply personal stories of American poverty in a region outside of Richmond, Virginia. It is a story about highways, community displacement and long-term consequences. Poverty in this region can be directly linked to an infrastructure decision from the 1950s, a time when the major north/south highway on the East Coast was the Jefferson Davis Highway. Toward the end of that decade, I-95 was built, draining the lifeblood from the Jeff Davis artery. The Jeff Davis corridor, or “the pike,” as it is known to residents, is an area under special study by the local government. “With the completion of I-95, business demand along the corridor declined,” the April 2017 Northern Jefferson Davis Area Plan reads.

The goal of Down the Pike is to show fringe communities in a compassionate, relatable light and highlight the challenges that impoverished communities face. Down the Pike is central to Blue Earth’s mission to educate the public on critical social issues. So much of poverty journalism in 2017 has been about Appalachia and a bitter white working class threatened by changing demographics. It seeks to explain Donald Trump. Down the Pike is not this. It is not fly-over journalism but a deep embed in a community close to home that has struggled for decades.