Taking WaterFest From the Lake to the Mall

by Louise Watson | Jul 20, 2011
| 3 Comments

Summary:

Celebrating water where there is nothing but roof and parking lot in a big shopping mall is so odd that it will attract attention, and be fun to play with the ideas surrounding such questions as “where did all the wetlands go?” Just imagine wetlands anyplace you see a mall—you can bet there used to be one. What are the functions of wetlands? What can we do to mimic nature that serves to let stormwater soak into the ground and become clean groundwater resources? Look around the Mall to see what we have done already, and think of what you can do to help—at the Mal and at home.

“Transforming the American Mall” is a bold concept, but it IS happening in our Watershed District in two places. We need to creatively draw attention to this occurrence and possibility, and market these transformations to inspire others to that type of thinking.

About You

Organization: Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District more ↓↑ hide↑ hide

About You

First Name

Louise

Last Name

Watson

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

City

Little Canada

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District

Organization Website

Your Idea

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Name your idea

Taking WaterFest From the Lake to the Mall

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

Money would be used for planning. preparing training material, paying trainers implementing and following up after a WaterFest at the Mall Ambassador Training:
1. The one day training event will be held to accommodate all kinds of groups from Mall Walkers to store owners and employees both inside the Mall and surrounding the Mall, in addition to the wide variety of volunteers already working with our Watershed District on our annual WaterFest at Lake Phalen and many other projects throughout the year. Training will include paying the design and installation engineers to “show & tell” the Ambassadors the”’ secrets” behind the reasons for and construction methods use to install rain gardens, tree trenches, porous pavement, educational and art features about stormwater—where it comes from, where it goes, how it gets dirty and how to clean it up.
2. Followup of this training will require continued contact and education of the Ambassadors in preparation for the Grand Opening of the Mall with all its new stormwater control, educational and art features. The Ambassadors will have jobs to do during the Grand Opening, and will also be expected to invite all their friends to the Grand Opening. The Ambassadors will be empowered to explain the “secrets” of the new Mall Features to the Grand Opening visitors.
3. Extra costs will be incurred to replicate many of the activities and performances that happen at the annual WaterFest at the Lake. Publicity of the Grand Opening WaterFest at the Mall will also incur some costs.

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

The Community is defined as all those who shop at, or work at the Mall, or live so close to it that they closely relate to the Mall locationally. The major water issues lakes choked with algae and aquatic plants due to phosphorus-enriched stormwater, wetlands that are suffering from serving as holding sites for polluted stormwater runoff, groundwater that is being tainted by salt from winter road and parking lot ice-control, old stormsewer systems overburdened with flashy flows resulting from climate change in Minnesota.

Innovation

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Describe how your idea is creative.

Celebrating water where there is nothing but roof and parking lot in a big shopping mall is so odd that it will attract attention, and be fun to play with the ideas surrounding such questions as “where did all the wetlands go?” Just imagine wetlands anyplace you see a mall—you can bet there used to be one. What are the functions of wetlands? What can we do to mimic nature that serves to let stormwater soak into the ground and become clean groundwater resources? Look around the Mall to see what we have done already, and think of what you can do to help—at the Mal and at home.
“Transforming the American Mall” is a bold concept, but it IS happening in our Watershed District in two places. We need to creatively draw attention to this occurrence and possibility, and market these transformations to inspire others to that type of thinking.

Impact

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

The Mall stormwater, educational and art features will be unique and notable. AS long as the Mall Management and Shop Owners/employees feel ownership and pride in these feature, understand them and explain them to shopper…and maybe think of clever ways to market the concept of keeping water clean, we expect that being mindful and appreciative of clean water and taking action to keep it clean will become the “cool” thing to do. It will inspire folks not likely to go the Science Museum or even give water a second thought. It will empower and encourage those who already are valuing clean water and taking action, to take even bolder action

Since this mall is managed by the largest mall management business in the country, transforming the Mall may start a wave of other Mall transformations by the same company, and could inspire competitor malls to consider similar eco-friendly transformations.

The sheer fact that mall walkers, store owners and employees, and neighboring businesses and residents will be invited to learn about our “secrets” before the Grand Opening, and the fact that they will be asked to participate in informing visitors to the Grand Opening lends to our belief that their resulting sense of pride and ownership is expected to increase interest and commitment to taking personal action to keep water clean.

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.

1. The novelty of celebrating water where there is nothing but hard surfaces will help people realize what is missing in their landscapes—vegetation. And the fact that efforts are being made to increase the watershed-friendliness of the Mall will open eyes and minds to what really is possible. Replication of an already successful concept, WaterFest, gives the Grand Opening name recognition and a “feel good” memory of the fun time experienced in past WaterFests at the Lake.
2. The transformation of a Mall to more watershed friendliness was attempted for the first time in the USA in our same Watershed District—at Ames Lake. This story will be told at the Mall Grand Opening to reinforce thinking outside the box as to what is possible regarding bringing back nature to our cities. Where Ames Lake once stood, 90-foot pilings were shoved into the wetland and a mall built on those pilings in the 1960s’ The Mall never succeeded—just limped along and became an eyesore. Around 1992 a grad student noticed a cattail growing up through a parking lot crack, and started investigating the history of that land. Finding that it once was a wetland the student set in motion the notion of removing the mall and reviving the wetland. That effort succeeded.
3. The more we can show that such transformation benefits the general community and broader society both economically and aesthetically, many more possibilities will become visible and sought.

Tart Smith said: Waterfest is very interesting and surely very beneficial. As long as the project provides benefits and advantages to people and the ... about this Competition Entry. - 1883 days ago read more >
Louise Watson said: Waterfest is my agency's annual celebration of community actions taken over the past year. Local schools participate as exhibitors and ... about this Competition Entry. - 2793 days ago read more >
J.T. Johnson said: It would be helpful if you could give a brief explanation of what WaterFest is and the benefits it has provided to the community. Thanks! about this Competition Entry. - 2795 days ago read more >

Louise Watson submitted this idea. - 2801 days ago