by Sam Loth, Fund Drive Committee Member
I like the fact that my individual donation to the CHCF is linked to your donation and your neighbor’s donation and is packaged into substantial grants that each year help small, deserving nonprofits in Northwest Philly deliver good things back to our community.
In a real sense, when you donate to the CHCF, your dollars have exponential power that supports dozens of great projects throughout the neighborhood. A perfect example of your donation’s expansive green power is the Mt. Airy Art Garage Rain Barrel Project.
The Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), at 11 West Mt. Airy Ave., was the dream of co-founders Arleen Olshan and Linda Slodki, who, in 2010, made the dream come true by providing a home for the many artists scattered throughout NW Philly who lacked a collaborative voice.
In its first two years, MAAG has been strengthened by the support of the community, and the organization wanted to demonstrate its appreciation by launching various community art projects. The chance came in 2012 when the Philadelphia Water Department donated 15 rain barrels to the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District, which issued a call for artists. MAAG volunteered its network collaborative, and the Rain Barrel Project was born!
As they said at that time: “What happens when artists at the Mt. Airy Art Garage bring children, adults, and elders together to paint rain barrels? For starters, we build community. We believe in making waves for water conservation through our paintings and luscious images. We raise awareness of water as a natural resource. We demonstrate to homeowners and businesses how we can all save money, while protecting the Wisssahickon Watershed, by capturing water in a rain barrel. We use art to build a sustainable future.”
For MAAG, this was only a beginning. What was missing was a concerted effort to reach out to area schools, include the children, and also reach out to elder populations. So it launched Phase 2 of its Rain Barrel Project, creating 10 more barrels to be displayed in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, and Germantown for the community to appreciate.
MAAG recruited trainees for barrel painting from the Henry School, Germantown High School, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Homelink Senior Center, while MAAG members mentored the trainees during the application of the barrel artwork. The project involved so many ages (from 10-85), differently abled, but all bringing their view of the world to you.
The Chestnut Hill Community Fund provided a $2,700 grant to purchase supplies and market the project in cooperation with Councilwoman Cindy Bass, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the Chestnut Hill Rotary Club and others to support this artistic effort. Today there are 25 hand-painted rain barrels located throughout the area serving double duty – looking good and capturing rainwater for recycling into landscaping and gardens.
The Mt. Airy Art Garage is now poised to take the Rain Barrel Project to the next level and will schedule classes, beginning in January 2014, to educate and train others to run their own rain barrel projects. MAAG envisions our green city, capturing and using rain water to irrigate lawns, gardens and more while reducing the strain on our older storm water infrastructure.
Your individual donation to CHCF helped to jump-start this fun art and environmentally sound project. Neighbors, this is another project that helps you and everyone else around you and is worth it. Thank you for considering a donation to CHCF at 8434 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia 19118.
Next week: The Mt. Airy Learning Tree – Knowledge is Power.