SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Sunni Purviance is president of the Southeast Neighborhood in Roanoke, Virginia. She has worked hard to improve the reputation of her neighborhood.

"Our reputation is based on our worst neighborhoods in the quadrant, which unfortunately are riddled with slums and blight and littered and all that comes along with that," said Sunni.

With no funds to do big projects and no paid staff, Sunni was looking for positive ways to express love of the neighborhood outwardly.

"I was taking a walk in my neighborhood with my neighbors, I was doing that with one, and we said, "Gosh, we should bring a grocery bag to pick up some of this trash while we're out here walking around"," said Sunni.

So next time, they invited some people to join them in picking up litter. That turned into this idea of Southeast plawking. 

Plawking is picking up litter while walking. 

"We did not come up with that term, there's a Swedish fitness trend called plogging that started some time ago. We said we are not going to be running around picking off the litter. We'll take a walk and do it, so we called it plawking, and it's taken off," said Sunni.

Sunnis says people will honk and wave and say thanks and ask how they can help.

"I will say that picking up litter is not the most important thing. Getting out there shows people that there are people who care and bring neighbors together. When you take a walk with your neighbors, you're just at a slow pace and have the opportunity for conversation and to look around and see where you are and who you're surrounded by. It's opened up the opportunity for us to meet neighbors that are outside, too," said Sunni.

The keys to getting started with plawking is to pick a day that you can commit to and promote it in a neighborhood newsletter, fliers or social media.

Sunni says to get started by setting a date and inviting some neighbors to come along and pick up trash. A group does not need a lot of supplies, some grocery bags will do, some gardening gloves. 

“Even if people don't show up like you're still going to be picking up litter and doing your good work anyway. Hopefully you can rally some friends to help you, but either way, you're going to get the work done," said Sunni. "If people see you doing it and you start inviting people to do it. People just need a leader to step up and invite them to do it with them."


Neighboring is the art and skill of building relationships with the people who live in the closest proximity to you. Being a good neighbor offers tremendous health benefits, leads to reductions in crime, reduces loneliness, improves communities, and improves your quality of life.

University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement that recognizes the importance of neighboring in community development. MU Extension is offering classes like "Neighboring 101" and "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" along with two annual neighboring events as a way to raise awareness and encourage others to focus on neighbors.

To learn more about our "Engaged Neighbor" program or the impact of neighboring, go online to or contact David Burton by email or telephone at (417) 881-8909. "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" can also be found on Facebook.


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