Philly Water Art

Pssst: Tips for the 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest

Philly students: Do you care about protecting our drinking water and aquatic wildlife? Have artistic talent? Want to win prizes for yourself, your teachers and your school?

The 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest is now underway, and the deadline for submissions has just been extended! We want you to send your best creative work showing what people can do to protect our rivers and creeks by Friday, March 17, 2017.

Three winning drawings are selected from each of the four grade groups: K-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

For the last eight years, we’ve been working with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) to organize this contest—open to all K-12 students that attend public, private, or home school in Philadelphia—and that’s given us a pretty good idea about what makes for a winning entry.

Here are a few tips to guide your creativity:

Photos and More: Big Celebration Welcomes New Rain Garden, Mural at Vacant Lot Site

We want to send out a big thank you to all who came out to celebrate the new rain gardens and mural in Hestonville yesterday! Below you’ll find photos from the event and coverage from local TV stations:

New Signs to Welcome Neighborhood Green Infrastructure Projects

New decals near Hagert and Coral streets announce an upcoming Green City, Clean Waters project. Credit: Philadelphia Water
New decals near Hagert and Coral streets announce an upcoming Green City, Clean Waters project. Credit: Philadelphia Water

With so many Green City, Clean Waters green infrastructure projects planned for neighborhoods all over the city, we at Philadelphia Water are always looking for ways to let residents know about upcoming work that will improve stormwater management in their area.

In that spirit, we created colorful new street decals that will be placed in neighborhoods where construction for Green City, Clean Waters projects is scheduled to start within six months.

Call for Artists to Shine Light on Green Stormwater Infrastructure!

Request for Qualifications Deadline: April 15
We’re looking for art that can help people understand how Green City, Clean Waters tools work and how they connect to a complex world of infrastructure beneath our feet.

Philadelphia Water is collaborating with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program for Uncover the Green 2016, a new citywide design initiative celebrating the innovative tools and systems that make up Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia’s revolutionary green stormwater management program.

Student Artists: Do You Have the Vision to Make Philly Care About Clean Water?

Erika Shrayer of Baldi Middle School won 1st place for the 6th Grade age group last year. Credit: PWD/PDE
Erika Shrayer of Baldi Middle School won 1st place for the 6th Grade age group last year. Credit: PWD/PDE

When Philly kids understand what it takes to be a good watershed steward from an early age, it can lead to lifelong habits that help to keep trash and other pollution out of our stormwater system and waterways.

That’s one reason we hold our annual Green City, Clean Waters student art contest with Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

Another reason? Our local schools happen to be packed with creative minds, and these kids seem to be especially good at communicating the basics of good watershed stewardship with art that’s both direct and fun.

Year after year, we’re pleasantly surprised at the quality of the art that comes in, and last year we had over 1,300 submissions. The deadline for 2016 is Friday, February 26.

Artists: Help Us Highlight the Schuylkill River for Art in the Open 2016

Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain, AiO 2014 Family Day (Photo: Karen Jenkins)
Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain at AiO 2014's Family Day. Photo credit: Karen Jenkins.

This spring, the banks of the Schuylkill River will be buzzing with the creative work of artists selected for the sixth year of “Art in the Open,” or AiO, a three-day event that gives the public an intimate look at the processes behind art.

Our iconic Fairmount Water Works facility will act as the starting point for the AiO installations, which will populate the riverbanks moving south toward Bartram’s Garden.

Saturday: See GSI Being Made and Contribute to Art in Hestonville

Hestonville residents and representitives from Philadelphia Water break ground at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Hestonville residents and representatives from Philadelphia Water break ground on a Green City, Clean Waters project at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

This Saturday, volunteers will join Mural Arts, Philadelphia Water and members of the Hestonville neighborhood in West Philadelphia for a community paint day that will help artists Eurhi Jones and Michael Reali complete a new mural titled “Your Hands Shimmering on the Legs of Rain.”

Set for completion in spring 2016, the mural will overlook and highlight a Green City, Clean Waters project that will bring a rain garden and storage trench to a vacant lot at 55th and Hunter Streets. The mural was designed with input from neighbors who requested that art be included in the project during community meetings about plans for the site. "Your Hands Shimmering" is also part of the citywide Philly Water Art program, which uses creative works of public art to engage residents and connect them to green infrastructure projects that tend to blend into city streets or are hidden beneath the pavement.

New Video: Philly Water Art Strengthens River Connections

A girl checks out the Waterways art at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.
Waterways art at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.

Before we started our trailblazing Waterways collaboration with Mural Arts, we hit the streets for an informal survey looking at what people in Manayunk know about our efforts to improve the health of the Schuylkill River and whether that’s something they care about.

Since the dozens of colorful vinyl pieces created by artist Eurhi Jones for Waterways were designed to act as steppingstones linking Pretzel Park to a vastly improved Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center with tons of important stormwater features, we wanted to know how many people knew about those improvements.

In that survey, a striking 90% of the people we spoke to weren't aware of all that Venice Island's stormwater features are doing to improve Schuylkill River water quality. The number was way out of whack with the percent of people—a full 100%—who support improving the health of our waterways. In other words, everyone wants healthy rivers, but not many people know how money is being spent to achieve that goal.

So, five months after the Waterways debut, we went back out to the streets of Manayunk to see if people had a better sense of how features like the green roof  and 4 million gallon stormwater basin at Venice Island are helping to make the Schuylkill better. And, we’re pleased to say that 30.6% of respondents said they knew about Philadelphia Water’s Venice Island improvements. It might not be the 100% we all want, but it’s a start!

To further highlight Waterways and other infrastructure-enhancing public art projects, we put together a cool video about Philly Water Art projects. You can find out all about Philly Water Art while getting a unique drone’s-eye-view of Venice Island and Manayunk here:

While Waterways was designed to be a temporary street art project, the Mural Arts team has been doing weekly check-ups on the integrity of the installation, and so far it’s still looking great. Philadelphia Water has also been monitoring the effectiveness of our stormwater basin, and it’s also doing its job of keeping dirty water out of the river. If you haven’t seen Waterways in person yet, we encourage you to take a stroll and soak in the art while checking out amazing Manayunk green spaces like Pretzel Park, the Manayunk Canal and Venice Island.

Student Street Art Spreads Important Message

Juliette Kang, a 4th grader from Germantown Friends who took one of the top prizes, installs her art at Penn's Landing with family and friends.
Juliette Kang, a 4th grader from Germantown Friends who took one of the top awards, installs her art at Penn's Landing with family and friends. Credit: PDE.

Our Green City, Clean Waters 2015 Art Contest is a gift that keeps on giving.

Throughout August, we’ve been working with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to turn hand-drawn art submitted by local students into street art that's being placed near stormdrains in select locations across the city.
These fun, eye-catching installations, which originated from 1,300 student submissions, help spread an important message: only rain should go down the drain.

It might seem obvious to many of us, but for a long time, people thought of stormdrains as just another place to get rid of trash and, worse, unwanted household chemicals like motor oil from at-home oil changes, old paint and cleaning fluids. Because these sewers empty directly into the rivers and streams that provide wildlife habitats and our drinking water, that kind of dumping can be very harmful.
With their art, these students are helping to turn the tide on that kind of behavior and reminding all of us to make sure our street inlets are treated like what they are—direct links between our neighborhoods and waterways—and not like Dumpsters.

You can already find student art near Penn's Landing (in the Walnut Street Plaza, near the parking lot); at our Saylor Grove wetland installation in Fairmount Park; at Gifford Park (by the main park entrance) in the Far Northeast; at Picariello Playground (inside the playground) in the Morrell Park neighborhood; and at Lanier Park at 30th Street and Tasker in South Philly.
Over the next week, the creative output of these students will be affixed to the streets, sidewalks or other hard surface near drains in the following places:

• Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center, Catharine Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway
• 30th Street Station, Market Street and 30th Street
• Ralph Brooks Park, Fernon Street and 20th Street
• McPherson Square, E Street and E. Indiana Avenue
• Philadelphia Protestant House, Tabor Avenue and Martins Mill Road
• Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, West Chelton Avenue and North 18th Street
• Max Myers Playground, Hellerman Street
• Lanier Park, Tasker and 30th Street
• Guerin Recreation Center, 16th and Jackson
• Moss Park, 5700 Torresdale Avenue

 If you see some, take a photo and share it on social media with the hashtags #PhillyWaterArt and #CleanWaterArt and help spread this important message! As we do the installations, we’ll take photos and share them, so be sure to follow along on Twitter at @PhillyH2O and @DelawareEstuary

Do You Know What's Happening at Venice Island?

No? Come out to Main and Lock streets in Manayunk tonight at 6 p.m. and get the inside scoop along with a free scoop of ice cream. 

Cyclists in Manayunk stop to ask about the new Waterways artwork. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Cyclists stop to ask about the new Waterways artwork in Manayunk. Credit: Philadelphia Water. 

While we were working with Mural Arts to install artist Eurhi JonesWaterways, a 10-block string of colorful steppingstones in Manayunk, our public engagement team took the time to do an informal survey of people passing through the neighborhood.

During the first two weeks of May, we spoke with 113 people at Pretzel Park, on Main Street, and at Venice Island–all places now featuring the temporary street art of Waterways

What we found reinforces our motivation for creating Waterways in the first place, and shows a definitive gap between what people want for the Schuylkill River and what they know about the work being done to make that desire a reality.

First, we asked people if they knew about the Philadelphia Water improvements that debuted at Venice Island in October 2014. Those improvements include a massive stormwater basin that keeps as much as 4 million gallons of untreated water from entering the Schuylkill as well as Philadelphia Parks and Recreation’s Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center.

Of the 113 people we spoke to, just 11 said they knew about Philadelphia Water’s work at Venice Island. 

That lack of knowledge is precisely why we wanted to use art as a means of highlighting infrastructure. The work we do can be a little hard to wrap your head around if you aren’t an engineer or environmental scientist. Waterways uses compelling imagery to draw people toward the somewhat hidden grounds of Venice Island, where signs help to explain what the infrastructure–much of it shielded from view beneath the ground–is doing to make the Schuylkill a cleaner, healthier river.

And, if our informal little survey tells us anything, it’s that people really do care about making our rivers healthier places where both people and wildlife can thrive. When asked whether they support improving the health of our waterways, all 113 people said yes. People were also unanimously positive when asked if they think waterways can be incorporated into our city’s public spaces for recreation.

So, people want cleaner rivers and they want them to be a part of our recreational lives: places where we can fish, hike, go boating and more. Yet very few people seem to know what a huge public effort has been made in the pursuit of those goals.

Tonight, people will have a chance to learn about what Philadelphia Water is doing for the Schuylkill as we unveil  Waterways at a 6 p.m. ceremony and ice cream party (the treats are on us). Join us at Main and Lock streets, tour the artwork with Eurhi Jones, and educate yourself about how we’re working to make the Schuylkill the river we all want it to be.

If you can’t make it tonight, find us on Venice Island this Saturday during the PLAY Manayunk festival, and help spread the word about Philadelphia Water and Waterways to your neighbors. After all, it’s your informed support that makes fighting for the health of our rivers possible.

Follow along on social media: @PhillyH20 on Twitter  and Instagram and and use #phillywaterart to see what is being posted about Waterways!

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