Blue Water Baltimore is a nonprofit organization working to protect and restore Baltimore’s waterways. They do amazing work within Baltimore, but there is one facet of their outreach work that has always stuck out to me – their storm drain arts.
Baltimore is an urban watershed, with significant water quality issues due to the built environment and the amount of trash that occupies the streets. There is a disconnect among Baltimoreans between what they throw on their streets and into their storm drains and the quality of their local waterways. Blue Water Baltimore is able to begin to break this disconnect through their storm drain arts outreach work. They partner with other local groups, communities, schools, and artists to create fun works of art on area storm drains, serving as permanent reminders of the connection between storm drains and local water quality.
This is a great project that engages a diverse group throughout Baltimore to address not just an environmental issue, but a public health issue as well.
“The act of painting a storm drain has had a positive effect in every community we work with, given the multi-dimensional art and social change aspects of the projects. In the end, that’s the heart of the positive impact these stencils and art projects have. In any part of the city and in anyone’s life, the act of producing art is therapeutic and builds community when it can be done with neighbors and family. All of a sudden, a drain with rainbow crabs and oysters on it becomes a visible and tangible manifestation of the love that individuals and communities have for their neighborhoods. This love is the spark that will help our city become cleaner and more beautiful.” – Amy Dewan in a blog on her AmeriCorp experience with Blue Water Baltimore.