By Kat Sawyer
Over the years, The Watershed Project has put much effort into the Richmond Greenway – building swales, planting rain gardens, increasing the urban canopy with trees and providing habitat with native plants. With the help of talented artist Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez and a Neighborhood Public Art (NPA) grant, we’ll soon have a visual element on the greenway that highlights our work and puts the focus on WATER. Rebeca is helping The Watershed Project tell our story with a colorful painted mural that will accompany our newly constructed bioswale on the Greenway at 17th. Rebeca’s leadership has made the process fun and empowering for everyone involved.
We began with planning meetings in April and May to develop the concept for the mural and share ideas. We invited neighbors and local high school students to participate. Rebeca led the process and encouraged everyone to give input. The group decided to emphasize the connection between cities and the natural environment. Our goal was to portray a landscape that shows how urban runoff can be directed into rain gardens to filter pollutants as the water makes its way to a natural body of water, placing the city within the watershed. We wanted to show how a rain garden works and feature plants, butterflies and birds that live in Richmond. Rebeca skillfully took our ideas and synthesized them into a drawing on top of a grid.
Painting began in June and extended into July. It’s been great fun to work together and engage with people passing by on the Greenway. The mural will be mounted on the building adjacent to our bioswale between 17th and 18th, recently constructed with funding from a partnership with the Trust for Public Land. Stay tuned for an opening celebration when we’re all done!