Earth Day Course Review

The story for this project begins with Karen Maness and Texas Performing Arts being presented with an opportunity to participate in the Waterloo Greenway 2019 Creek Show by creating a site specific art installation. 

This opportunity led to the formation of a course in the Fall which designed and realized a Creek Monster Habitat over the course of the semester which was experienced by 60,000 people during the Creek Show. (That’s the photo Below.) The project is still ongoing and we’ve been working this semester to bring an iteration of the installation to UT campus for a celebration of Earth Day 50. 

Our focus through all of this has been on engaging the public in natural urban spaces, revealing aspects of our riparian habitats and that often go unnoticed, and all while taking into account sustainable design and fabrication methodologies. 

I’d like to mention here that this work is a reality because of a collaboration with the Sustainability Office and support through the Green Fund.

The first and most central goal we have is to raise awareness of the environment and our responsibility to it. As storytellers our approach has been to empathize with the creek ecosystem and use the installation as a space to bring people into connection with the spirit of the creek. We want to create caring connections across our community; for ecosystems and critters, for ourselves and our mental wellbeing; all the while connecting with the researchers and organizations on campus that are working for a sustainable present. We believe art is a powerful means to bring compelling new perspectives to light that can bring about healthy change and community action.

Community engagement is at the heart of this project and over the course of the last year we have had the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse set of people and organizations. 

We’ve gotten to learn about and share work being done by researchers and student groups across campus and even beyond UT. 

The physical creation of installation has necessitated and allowed for guest artists and experts to come and engage with the courses to help realize the vision. Creating new connections and opportunities for students. 

All aspects of the work have been dreamed up and created by students from a diverse set of departments and colleges.

I’d like to share with you a little of what we had planned for our Earth Day installation, which would be up and glowing on 24th and San Jacinto along Waller Creek right now. We have three main areas of engagement we are working with.

Our installation team has been working to create physical manifestations through lighting and sculpture in order to express the story of the creek and  to generate curiosity from passing pedestrians.

The social media team is working to spread the word by gathering stories from our local heroes, making infographics, and by creating fun filters for social media platforms. 

The mental wellness team has been in charge of putting together activities that engage the community in positive practices.

Like all events… we’ve had to put a pause on our physical encounters for the time being, but we plan on bringing the installation back next Year! Luckily, social media has been a part of our plan from the beginning so we are now focusing on sharing the stories of sustainability and growth we’ve gathered from students and local heros. We’d love your help and voices in amplifying the Call of Waller Creek. If you are interested in participating the sustainability office, on their website, has shared the call we are putting out to gather personal stories and testimonies of sustainability being done throughout our community.  

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