Paint the Pavement

Oral Histories of Water and Community

by Drew Mons | Jul 19, 2011
| 1 Comment

Summary:

Many public awareness campaigns rely on billboards, brochures, TV or bus stop ads, and other traditional media to get their message across. But since water issues can be seen everywhere in our communities, why not employ more fun and innovative ways to get people thinking about water conservation and related issues as a part of their community's identity?

About You

Organization: Cretin-Derham Hall High School Visit websitemore ↓↑ hide↑ hide

About You

First Name

Drew

Last Name

Mons

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

City

St. Paul

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Cretin-Derham Hall High School

Organization Website

Your Idea

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Name your idea

Paint the Pavement: Oral Histories of Water and Community

Describe how you would use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota.

Paint the Pavement (PtP) is a program that promotes community building and “placemaking” through creating neighborhood art. Their primary focus is in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they support groups of neighbors to organize to create their own public mural on low-traffic residential streets.

As a Social Studies Department Co-Chair at Cretin-Derham Hall in Saint Paul, I would work with our department's historians (teachers and students alike) to use the Minnesota History Center's Oral History Project framework to go out amongst neighborhoods and collect their stories of water and community life.

Our next step would be to collaborate with the art programs at local high schools, colleges, Intermedia arts, and Twin Cities Artists to develop the oral histories into murals that reflected and brought together the shared identity and experiences of the neighborhoods.

Our historians would come together with the neighborhoods and the PtP organization to gather support, create a design, petition for approval by the City of St. Paul, and hold a “paint day” to create and celebrate their own community square that would tell the story of their relationship with water as a natural resource that has shaped our past, present, and future.

If we were to be selected as the winning entry, we would use the money for transportation, to solicit the collaboration of each of Saint Paul's 17 neighborhoods, the purchase of paint and art materials, and to branch out to surrounding cities. The benefits of street painting are multiple: awareness of water-related issues and our relationship with this natural resources; strengthening neighborhood identity, development of relationships and social networks; creation of a community gathering place; calmed traffic.

How do you define your "community"?. How are water issues affecting your community?

My family and I live in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul. However, we have friends and family across the metro so we consider the Twin Cities to be our community. This idea was inspired by my students at CDH, but I foresee a broader range of residents in the Twin Cities who could participate in creating and/or viewing the street art.

My wife and I have two small children. Every day my family and I see how water issues affect our community, since we live not far from the Mississippi River and we spend a lot of time outdoors. We're concerned that our tap water remains clean and pure, and we try to take steps to conserve water so that it will be there for the next generation. Although we do some things - like using a rain barrel and trying to limit the length of our showers - we could do much more. I think that other people living in my community are like that -- they care about water issues, but they are busy and overwhelmed with the problem, so they don't always take the steps necessary to make changes in their lives.

Innovation

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Describe how your idea is creative.

Many public awareness campaigns rely on billboards, brochures, TV or bus stop ads, and other traditional media to get their message across. But since water issues can be seen everywhere in our communities, why not employ more fun and innovative ways to get people thinking about water conservation and related issues as a part of their community's identity?

Impact

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Describe how how you expect your idea to make a difference in your community.

A growing understanding and awareness of how water has shaped our lives can lead to a newfound relationships between neighbors and increase the ability of the community to respond to the issues of water as a valuable resource. The benefits of street painting are multiple: awareness of water-related issues and our relationship with this natural resources; strengthening neighborhood identity, development of relationships and social networks; creation of a community gathering place; calmed traffic.

Sustainability and Growth

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Describe how your idea will "stick" in your community and how you think it could be repeated in other communities.

Paint the Pavement has a long history of success in Minnesota. Over the summer of 2006, Julie GebbenGreen and another resident, Molly Cave, gathered their neighbors, created designs, gathered signatures, submitted petitions, all in preparation to paint two intersections. In the fall, over 250 neighbors and some folks from farther afield painted two intersections -- and Paint the Pavement became a reality! Since then, over 8 more sites have been painted in St. Paul, and several farther afield in places like Rochester, MN and Brooklyn, NY.

This project could easily be replicated in other communities as a model for collaboration between the local school's history departments, historical societies, neighborhoods, and a given community's department of public works.

Lowell Jones said: I think this is a great idea and surely that would make the pavement looks presentable and appealing. - United Faith Church about this Competition Entry. - 1881 days ago read more >

Drew Mons updated this Competition Entry. - 2802 days ago

Drew Mons submitted this idea. - 2802 days ago