GREEN STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE WITH PUBLIC WORKSHOP
The Philadelphia Water Department has been working on an initiative called Green City Clean Waters, a program aimed at keeping stormwater runoff out of Philadelphia’s sewers. A key part of the initiative is educating residents about issues of local water quality. Enter Public Workshop, an organization that “works to create uniquely engaging opportunities for youth and their communities to shape the design of their cities.” I’ve worked with Public Workshop since 2012, starting as a volunteer, then getting hired to work on specific design-build projects across Philadelphia, and most recently, working as their in-house graphic designer. In June of 2017, the Philadelphia Water Department asked Public Workshop to come up with ways to engage citizens in the process of making the city’s water infrastructure more sustainable. As the graphic designer on staff, I toggled between a number of projects but focused primarily on helping the Philadelphia Water Department to achieve their goal of educating people about Philadelphia’s water quality issues and what they can do to help the water departmentmake a difference. Philadelphia is a historic city with an antiquated sewer system, where both the wastewater from buildings and rainwater drain into a combined sewer. During times of heavy rainfall, the system gets overwhelmed and overflows this wastewater into the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, polluting the water and violating EPA regulations. This issue of stormwater overflow is being aided by the installation of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Some of these GSI improvements include giving out free rain barrels to city residents, installation of ports paving, planting rain gardens and green roofs with specific plants that will soak up rain water before it reaches city sewers.
- The finished pop-up rain garden in South Philly. I designed and
laser cut each coroplast animal then applied vinyl cut quotes from local middle school students encouraging the community to keep the vacant lot clean.
- I worked with local elementary school students to build the rain garden planters. A big part of working at Public Workshop is teaching people of all ages how to use power tools.
- In addition to the work we did in South Philly, we also facilitated
activities teaching youth from around the city about
green stormwater infrastructure using custom-made “built-it” disks in the shape of raindrops. Here students build structures in an attempt to visualize how much water a rain garden keeps out of the sewers each year.
- Participants in these activities received t-shirts and stickers featuring mascots from each of Philadelphia’s tributaries. Here citizens of Point Breeze received stickers declaring “otters love me”. The stormwater that residents of this neighborhood keep out of the sewers keeps the nearby Schuylkill river clean for the otters that live there.
OTHER PROJECTS WITH PUBLIC WORKSHOP
ROLLING HANGOUT PODS
AT THE OVAL
Over the Summer of 2016 I spent a few weeks outside working with a group of volunteers to build rolling hangout pods for the Fairmount Park Conservancy in “The Oval” – a pop up park adjacent to the Philadelphia Art Museum. These pods were designed to act as a launch point for visitors of The Oval to explore Philadelphia’s much larger Fairmount Park.
Some of the design gems of West Philadelphia are the custom man hole covers along Lancaster Avenue featuring a covered wagon heraldic symbol. While at Public Workshop I designed a t-shirt featuring this symbol which is now available on the organization’s website.
In between working on the rolling hangout pods at The Oval, I prototyped guerrilla way-finding signage along Lancaster Avenue in West Philly.
AT AMERICA’S OLDEST PLAYGROUND
Over the Summer of 2013 I worked with a team of individuals to build an adventure playground addition to Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.
While working with Public Workshop’s sister nonprofit Tiny WPA in 2017, I designed, vinyl cut, and applied window graphics for their shared makerspace at 4017 Lancaster Ave in West Philly.