GOSHEN — “It all starts here,” said Jason Kauffman, stormwater coordinator of the city of Goshen. “Stormwater pollution is the only growing source of water pollution in our country. That comes from all hard surfaces — streets, parking lots and driveways.
“What we do here not only impacts our local waterways, but waterways further away.”
Every individual action has an effect on a grand scale, as residents of Goshen are realizing.
“A resource worth protecting” is the theme for the 2019 Storm Drain Art Project Goshen — a project to address water pollution through interactive artwork.
Most storm drains connect directly to rivers, meaning any garbage billowing around in the streets will eventually end up in the river. That’s how wildlife gets caught up in plastic and trash pollutes lakes, streams and oceans.
“This is an education project and an important education tool,” co-owner of My Community My Water Theresa Sailor commented. “One of the challenges is helping artists understand what the topic is. That’s one of the reasons we do this, because it’s hard for people to wrap their brain around water quality, protecting it and how it relates to stormwater.”
Water is a necessary resource for life, something that should be cared for and protected. Goshen is taking the issue into its own hands by capturing the public’s attention in a fun, unique way.
Local artists are recognized through the project and are directly gifted $150 from local sponsors for their ideas and efforts. Compensating artists for their talents is an important priority, something the city and MCMW sees as a win-win situation for both the community and the artists.
The city also provides paint and brushes so artists won’t have to dip into their personal equipment. The artwork won’t last forever, especially with sidewalk restoration projects and Indiana weather, but it can bring awareness to passerbyers and create community discourse.
Since artists have spoken with the general public while painting, they’re trained and taught information regarding the water issue so they have a hand in educating the public and answering questions.
“The last time we did this, Chandler Elementary did walking field trips with their students,” elaborated Kauffman. “We talked about water quality, how stormwater impacts our quality of water and what we can do as residents of Goshen to prevent stormwater pollution.
“That was a chance to interact with students who are still learning and are able to make changes in their own lives. A lot of times students can change the views of their parents. This project allows us to reach both adults and children.”
The ultimate goal is for the message of “only rain goes down the drain” to stick with the public and to never lose its importance. Goshen would also like to see other cities join it, Elkhart and Warsaw in the effort to decorate the sidewalks with demonstrative, informational artwork as it continues in the future.
Michelle Kercher, co-owner of MCMW, added some murals by teachers and alumni will be placed near their schools, driving home how important local artists are and how they can be anyone.
“It’s been a fun way for artists to put their stamp on a sidewalk for many people to see,” said Holly Hathaway, a local artist. “I think artists in general have strong passions and being able to help educate the public through art, concerning our local and distant waterways, is helpful to the community.”