Community Project: Art and Stormwater Management
In 2009 a group of middle school students from a group called “Ship for Change” met to discuss possible projects with Shippensburg Art Professor Ben Culbertson. They settled on a project to install handmade ceramic storm drain markers on all 300 storm drains in town. As his specialty is ceramics, Professor Culbertson offered his help. They wanted to educate the community on the common misconception that the storm drains go to the sewerage treatment plant instead of directly into streams. Professor Culbertson designed the tile and produced the molds and the middle school students pressed hundreds of tiles. Each tile had to be glazed and decorated by hand. Before installation could begin, the project had to be presented to the Mayor of Shippensburg and to the Borough Council for approval. The mayor and council were very supportive and students made plans for the first markers to be installed. Installation took over a year to make tiles, map the storm drains, form teams, gather materials, and schedule install days. In later years, groups of college students participated in a “Day of Service” event that involved replacing missing or broken tiles around town.
Today, with the financial support or Shippensburg's local “Corn Festival” committee, they are redesigning the tiles for the ten year anniversary. These new markers will be designed and prototyped on a CNC machine. Shippensburg's local Middlespring Stream Association is sponsoring this project. Professors at Shippensburg University are selecting a list of aquatic creatures to put into the tile designs. The hope is that the markers will also serve as a learning tool for children to learn about all the aquatic life in local streams and the importance of clean water.