Our 25th award goes to Ann Payne and Kristen Reynolds, two graduate students of Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability. Their vision is to grow and diversify watershed stewardship by increasing awareness of the human-water relationship as well as promoting lifestyle choices that support a healthier watershed.
Their vision will come to life through The Drop Project, an interactive exhibit designed by Payne, Reynolds, and their faculty mentor, Dr. Molly Mehling, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Sustainability at the Falk School. The award-winning project idea will include a month-long series of exhibits and activities held at Assemble, a community space for arts and technology, in Garfield’s Penn Avenue arts district. This project serves as their master’s thesis and it is the first exhibit of Water Connects, Mehling’s long-term, art-science project to improve water quality in the region.
Ann is a visual storyteller, marketer, and wordsmith. Kristen is a geoscientist, avid kayaker, and water nerd. Dr. Mehling is an aquatic-landscape ecotoxicologist, photographer, and sustainability professor. Together, their goal is to demonstrate the plausibility of a collective sustainable future for all. The Drop Project will allow the participants to have a sensory experience that draws them into a stream ecosystem. Visitors will bump their way through stream rocks made from used fabrics and will learn about the visible and invisible pollution that stress our waterways, which includes everything from plastic to pharmaceuticals. They will engage in creative, unconventional approaches to allow visitors to understand the problems, but also the personal practices, or “little drops” that can truly make a difference.
A major objective for The Drop Project is to connect stakeholders and provide a playful experience to learn about water. Water is a valuable and contentious resource in the Pittsburgh region and around the world. The Drop Project seeks to connect communities to action organizations, government agencies to non-profits, artists to scientists, and recreationalists to resource managers. Ann and Kristen plan to use goods from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and make as much by hand as possible, thereby using the grant money to go towards the purchase of additional materials for the April exhibit at Assemble, as well as toward web site and basic project promotion. The Drop Project is to be completed by mid-summer of 2014, with the exhibit in April.