Sunday, April 28, 2013

Three Months ... One Rain Barrel

Splish! Splash! Another rain drop hit my dash as I was driving to Cincinnati last week. On Thursday, April 18th I drove to the Cincinnati Zoo to check out the newest exhibit at the Go Green Garden – the Rain Barrel Exhibit and Auction. This day was the culmination of three months of planning, painting, and hard work and was an exciting day for all involved.

[see the Rain Barrel Event at the Cincinnnati Zoo]:
This semester I took on one large project through the Rivers Institute: transforming a very large Rain Barrel from plain brown to an intricate map of the communities around Dayton and the surrounding rivers that connect us.

[see picture of the Rain Barrel at the Beginning]:

 We started this project at the end of last semester with our application for a barrel and creating our design. After hearing so much about the River Mobile and getting our first glimpse at a recent River Steward class we decided to use the map from the side of the River Mobile and sketch it onto the barrel as best we could. We also wanted to involve all the stewards in this project so we planned to have the stewards paint their handprints on the remainder of the barrel – to show how we are all connected – the people and the rivers.

At the end of January our huge rain barrel was dropped off on our doorstep and we started work right away. Cue sanding, priming, priming, and painting the barrel white 3 or 4 times… Then our barrel was finally ready to receive our sketch. This was the hard part – taking a map from the side of a tractor trailer, shrinking it to 2X3 feet, and attempting to sketch & trace it onto a 3D 60-gallon drum. After several days and nights of sketching and erasing, darkening lines and redrawing buildings so they weren't falling over… we were pretty satisfied with our sketch – I would say it turned out pretty fantastic for a couple of mechanical engineers and a biology major!

[see pictures: the sketching process & the finished sketch on the barrel]:

 Next steps: paint EVERYTHING! For the next month we painted and painted and sometimes painted ourselves more than the rain barrel. We painted UD’s chapel, the 5 rivers in Dayton, the Dayton Art Institute, the headwaters near Tory/Piqua, and much more.

[see picture of finished barrel]:
Then we gathered numerous stewards into our studio and painted their handprints on the two-thirds of the barrel that were remaining.

[see picture of steward handprints]:
The final steps were to paint a thin coat of sealer on the whole barrel to protect our beautiful design from the elements [since a Rain Barrel collects rain, it has to be outside to work properly]! Then the unveiling event finally arrived – on April 18 – and I was able to see all the Rain Barrels that were up for auction at the Cincinnati Zoo. We were actually lucky and our Rain Barrel was bought / sponsored at the beginning of the whole process! A UD alum who currently lives in Cincinnati liked our sketch / plan for the barrel and purchased it before we began painting it!

[see picture of me on stage with the Rain Barrel; see picture of the other Rain Barrels up for auction]:

I had such a wonderful time working on this project this semester. I was actually cooping this semester in Troy so I wasn't on campus that much but this project was the perfect way for me to be still very involved with the River Stewards. I also really enjoyed how much fun painting the barrel was. I haven’t ever painted on such a large scale before and I would say it turned out very well! This project also really highlighted the “interdisciplinary” nature of the Rivers Institute and I hope I can be involved in similar projects like this in the future!

Can’t wait to go kayaking this summer – who knows, maybe I’ll be painting a kayak next!

River Love,
Abigail Spohn
Mechanical Engineering

Sunday, April 21, 2013

River Mobile, Water ATM, and Huffman Dam

Hello Readers!

Well, it’s official… I am no longer a “Baby Stew”!  As much as it would be nice to stay a “baby” for a little bit longer (because not being a “baby stew” anymore just means I am that much closer to graduating which is scary and exciting all in one!) I am really, really excited to welcome in the new stews, and continue my journey as a River Steward.  There are still more hours to be had along the rivers, in the River Mobile, and with my fellow stews.

Speaking about the River Mobile, if you have not seen it you need to, and if you have you should stop in again anyway because I know of many fellow River Stewards (including myself) who would be really happy to give you a tour!  The River Mobile is truly a labor of love.  It takes part muscle, part coaxing, and part patience to assemble the stairs, wrap the trailer in skirts, cover the doors with awnings, and set up the tents so that it is ready to go (plus a few more details in set-up).  It is all worth it, however, because it is an awesome way to share our knowledge, and lead others so that they can become stewards.

One of the “Hear and Now” panels in the River Mobile (found in the middle classroom on the trailer that shows the water cycle, where our water goes when you turn on the tap, and explains the aquifer) shows that in Dayton our aquifer is an excellent water resource, and elsewhere around the globe people don’t have access to such great resources.  Recently, I learned about “Water ATM’s”.  In a nutshell a “Water ATM” provides clean and reliable water for those who live in the “last mile” and do not have access to the larger filtration stations (which are a part of the same “water system”) found in town.  The whole concept, from the larger filtration units found in towns to the water ATM’s found further out, is run locally.  As a student studying engineering this design is really exciting because it is solving a problem on an appropriate local level (in other words it is great design).   As a River Steward it is exciting to see people around the world focus their attention on water, and it is a reminder that positive change is always possible!  Check out the articles below to see pictures and read about the water ATMs.  


The pictures below show my cohort, the 2015 cohort, at Huffman Dam where we went to enjoy the outdoors and reflect together as a cohort.  We visited the Huffman Dam during one of our mini courses, bringing our journey as "babies" full circle from when we began our orientation paddle at the Taylorsville Dam.

From left to right: Kyle, Saehan, Peter, Abigail (purple jacket), Hailey, Megan (red sweatshirt), Katelyn, and Jeanmarie

From left to right: Megan, Abigail, Katelyn, Hailey, Jeanmarie, Saehan, Kyle, and Peter

River Love,

Rachel Bachmann
2015 Cohort
Electrical Engineering Major