Now that the semester is nearing a close, we can now proudly stand back and observe our journey and the progress we have made so far. In the beginning, we set out to fabricate an experience with the purpose of promoting the public’s learning and engagement of urban ecology and environmentalism as a whole, through the exhibit centered around Waller Creek and its interactions with the city of Austin. As far as the UT community goes, we hoped that people would come out of the experience with more knowledge about Waller Creek and it’s role in our urban ecosystem, as well as new, imaginative ideas on all the ways one may change their lifestyle in order to be more environmentally sustainable. In addition, the exhibit would have emphasized the importance of mental wellness and how benefits can be found even in the simplest of things, whether it be taking a yoga class, or even taking a moment to listen to the surrounding environment.
Throughout the project, we hoped our work would bring a change, no matter how big or small, to everyone that participated in the experience. For example, most people don’t even realize Waller Creek has a name or even exists on campus, and how important it is to the wildlife around the area. Just bringing more publicity to the creek is enough. Usually the saying goes that people don’t usually care unless it involves them. Once people make the connection between themselves and Waller Creek and the surrounding environment, this serves as the catalyst for change, whether it be a small change in mindset or a massive call to action. Through the support of the Office of Sustainability, and many others, we were able to work as effectively as possible with our stakeholders and collaborators in order to achieve our goal.
It’s impossible to talk about our experience and not mention the sudden halt to our affairs right before we were able to reach our peak. However through the hard work and dedication of the Social Engagement team, we were able to translate our message from the physical exhibit and experience into the online one. From the character of the monster we fabricated, we were able to effectively promote interest in our message, as the slogan “Waller Creek is Calling” resonates through the minds of the curious.
With our caricature of the monster, throughout the whole experience, I have learned that everything, no matter how small, whether it be the smallest rain puddle,the creek, the albino squirrels, to the cars commuting every day, all play an important role in Austin’s urban ecology and we must promote it to our best ability. Even through the smallest of lifestyle changes, we can all take a stand and see the effects that an increase in sustainability may have on the world around us, and on those who live in it, like the monster of Waller Creek.
The monster we have created is very real; all you have to do is look in the mirror. For this place is our home, and we should do the best to take care of it.