Opinion of the design

Community engagement is part of Water for Riley (W4R)

W4R encourages community input. This comment came through this site’s contact page, as well as The Parks Foundation Facebook page. W4R shares it in hopes you will join the discussion.

What do you see in the drinking fountain design, “Reflecting Blooms?

The writer, Dave, raised two main concerns, and gave a compliment:

  1. The drinking fountain design. The city is experiencing an opiate crisis and you are putting a fountain that resembles opium poppy heads in a family friendly park?  Beyond the fact it may trigger addicts, it is terrible metaprograming for the kids. I object to a design that references opiates.

W4R replies: We should all be concerned about opiates. However, not all flowers with petals are opium producing poppies. There are over 50 varieties of poppies, according to https://www.britannica.com/plant/poppy, many looking little like the fountain design aside from having petals.

Nor was opiate-bearing poppy in the mind of the student designer. In her description of the design, she stated she took her inspiration from the floral beauty of the park flower beds, and opiate poppies aren’t planted there, so her design’s intention doesn’t reference opiates.

  1. Shading from the sun. This is the problem with the existing fountain, the water is warm because it is often in direct sunlight.

W4R repliesThe City of Calgary decided on the site for the drinking fountain in Riley Park. The City of Calgary has to connect the fountain to a water line that already exists. Also, the drinking fountain should be accessible to the open areas and playground and the new bandstand for the health of the children and music lovers. Fortunately, lovely mature trees shade the site selected.

And now, Dave’s compliment: I love the idea of fountains in parks. Thank you for this initiative, this is a great opportunity to add value to the community through functional art, just please be mindful of the subconscious message it conveys.

W4R replies: Thank you, Dave, for the insightful comments. We hope this addresses your concern, and are glad you like the idea of a drinking fountain in the park, especially where no potable water source currently exists.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for The Water for Riley Project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

A standard contract in non-standard parts

Like NAFTA negotiations, Water for Riley (W4R) is a tri-party contracting effort, which was supposed to be fast and simple, until complications happened.

The unexpected complications

The standard contract that Heavy Industries (HI) usually signs with its clients just didn’t apply to this project. Because W4R is unique, three of the contract clauses needed revisions.

Fortunately, W4R’s amazing partners at the City of Calgary Parks Department and HI understood the issues that W4R had with the contract and worked hard to make the necessary changes. Back to the NAFTA metaphor, we parsed legal language from October, 2017, to July, 2018.

W4R is an ad hoc group of volunteers

W4R owns nothing and has accomplished much. W4R exists to:

The solution in two parts

HI and the City of Calgary really came through for us.

First, HI revised some clauses in the contract. HI is a world-class company, whose clients include well-known artists, municipalities, and corporations although it has never before worked with The City of Calgary as a client. Yet, HI gives our small, local drinking fountain the same consideration, attention, and time it does to its multi-million dollar international projects.

Second, HI and the City of Calgary agreed to (a) split HI’s standard contract into two phases with known start and end dates; and (b) HI will sign the City of Calgary’s standard documentation for any work it undertakes for the City of Calgary.

The first phase contract, which W4R signed, starts now. It ends when the drinking fountain is fabricated, in a crate, and loaded on the truck on HI property, before the loaded truck’s wheels roll.

The contract was signed 9 July, 2018, setting the stage for HI to begin its work.

The second phase contract, which HI and the City of Calgary will sign, starts when the loaded truck’s wheels roll. Phase two covers installing the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

Water for Riley is incredibly grateful for this flexibility in the standard practices of both HI and the City of Calgary.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for The Water for Riley Project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

See the W4R story in ACAD’s video

ACAD’s creative W4R story

ACAD captures W4R in video

W4R followed its own unique structure and process. ACAD’s Director, Marketing & Communications, Marion Garden, thought W4R had a great story. She found the right, amazing people to tell it.

W4R’s story is now online

Kenzie Webber

Kenzie WebberACAD‘s talented Digital Content Coordinator,  shaped the story of how W4R brought institutions together, engaged community, and gave students a real-world, client experience.

At several stages, ACAD videographers filmed W4R’s special events. Kenzie features that ACAD footage and this blog’s images in the short video.

Steven Hodges, ACAD‘s Community Engagement Strategist, liaised with W4R volunteers during the editing process.

Please share the link to the video about W4R’s story https://youtu.be/1ZKjAIab3Bs

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.



How a great community grows

Why are Water for Riley (W4R) volunteers working so hard to bring a drinking fountain to Riley Park?

Simple answer: Hillhurst Sunnyside (HS) is a terrific community, in every sense of the word community. While the community grows in population, with new developments and densification, it isn’t adding services. W4R aims to add one service to Riley Park, to accommodate the growth in HS residents.

As a member of the Federation of Calgary Communities, our HS community, especially the volunteers, live the “resident-led solutions” motto. W4R is a totally resident led effort.

W4R volunteers too often let social media slide, spending valuable hours on guiding the fabrication of the drinking fountain, dealing with finances, interpreting contract language, and fundraising. Social media fell to the bottom of the to-do list.

Thanks to W4R’s relationship with HSCA, we gratefully piggy back on HSCA social media to have this reach:
HSCA Website Page Views: 6734
Facebook Likes: 1718 increased 20
Twitter Followers: 3589 increased 25
Instagram Followers: 857 increased 25
Newsletter Subscribers: 1936 decreased 7

Social media is important for staying connected to the people who will benefit from the drinking fountain. Here are some interesting statistics about how to connect:

What can you do? Join a local community association for the connections and the other benefits, like discounts at local businesses, taking programs, and making new friends. Better yet – donate to W4R.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision a reality at the Parks Foundation Calgary. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to volunteer. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, thank you from the volunteers of Water for Riley.


Continuity and change

Water for Riley (W4R) has many moving pieces

How W4R works partly explains our successes so far. A few members of the organizing committee have been involved from the start. Other people have contributed skill and time as tasks required. W4R has been blessed with the right people offering the right skills at the right time.

On 27 April 2017, Jen Dobbin of The Dobbin Group met with Michelle Vincent and Natalie Back, stalwart W4R volunteers.

The Snowball Methodology

The method is called the Snowball. Like a small ball of snow rolling downhill that collects more snow as it gathers speed, we collect and network with people as we move forward. One person leads to more people. At every meeting W4R volunteers ask, for example:
who else should we talk to?
what contacts do you have that might introduce us?
when can we meet with those others?
where should we go for those connections?

We have a core committee that holds the vision and provides continuity. Fresh ideas and energy come from a cast of changing volunteers who share the vision and offer their time as they have some available.

Community minded people share contacts

Michelle and Annie MacInnis, Executive Director of Kensington Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), met to discuss mutual interests on 10 May, 2017.

We’re very grateful for these cross-fertilizing, idea-sharing meetings. It’s like shortcuts on a long journey; we learn from their wisdom and experience so we don’t have to build a road they’ve already walked.

 You can join the snowball effect, even in Springtime

Follow this Water for Riley blog and on Twitter @waterforriley.

Please contribute to Riley Park’s beautiful drinking fountain project through the Parks Foundation and – at the instructions to seller page – specify that your contribution is for Water for Riley.

To volunteer call 403 862 1923.


Water for Riley presented at Annual General Meeting

Speaking to the bosses in public

Water for Riley has many bosses. At the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 25, most of those bosses were in the room.

Water for Riley presented its successes to date at the HSCA Annual General Meeting
Lisa Chong, Community Planning Coordinator, arranged Water for Riley display at AGM

The Chair of the HSCA Board of Directors, the Executive Director, the Chair of the Community Planning Committee, Councillor Druh Farrell, and the real bosses – residents and members of the community – expressed their approval of the winning design, congratulated student designer, Michelle Lazo, and encouraged the W4R organizing committee to keep going.

HSCA members and Board discussed community sustainability and other important issues

Water for Riley, as a project, fits in the goals and mission of the HSCA and community residents. The drinking fountain aims to achieve the shared community goals of sustainability and accessibility.

Councillor Druh Farrell, centre of front row, spoke about accessibility, development and good planning for growth.

 To stay in touch and receive updates

Follow this Water for Riley blog and on Twitter @waterforriley.

Please contribute to Riley Park’s beautiful drinking fountain project through the Parks Foundation and – at the instructions to seller page – specify that your contribution is for Water for Riley.

To volunteer call 403 862 1923.


The jury selected a short list

On May 11, 2016, a jury of five experts in the fields of arts, engineering and public spaces, deliberated together under the excellent guidance of Sally Truss, as Chair, and Michelle, the representative of the City of Calgary Parks Dept.

Nulli Identity Solution Architects provided the boardroom meeting space, Sunnyside Natural Market and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery lunch for the hard working jurors (who worked through lunchtime). Water for Riley is so grateful for all the contributions of time, space, goods, and services.

Sally Truss, Chair, facilitated jury deliberations through the day.
Sally with the comments on each design.

The result is that three student designs are short listed. The jury’s decision for the short list was based on criteria such as accessibility of design and overall esthetics. Because the designers were students, the experienced jury members made excellent comments on each of the short listed designs.

Those three designs will go for technical review. The professionals at IBI Group will report on how feasible, durable, functional, affordable, and conforming to best industry standards the designs are. That report will be available sometime this summer, depending on the complexity of the review.

The short list will be announced at a special free festival on 18 June, at 10:30 AM. Join us and 20 local artists on Neighbour Day at our sponsor Framed on Fifth. 1207 5th Ave NW, between 10 AM and 5 PM.Art for the Artist in You



After we have the IBI Group report to guide the jury in its final deliberation and decision, the jury will select the one design to be constructed. We won’t have a date for the final jury meeting until we receive the IBI Group report.

If you want to contribute to Water for Riley through the Parks Foundationdonate buttonplease click the button and specify you are donating to Water for Riley.

To volunteer, email or call 403 862 1923 for details.

Cumulative impacts of Water for Riley

Two good questions
1. Why didn’t the City of Calgary install a drinking fountain in Riley Park instead of this lengthy, volunteer-driven, Water for Riley process?

2. What makes Water for Riley’s drinking fountain costly?

Both questions came up as the 21 amazing designs shine in the exhibit at Blank Page Studio during the This Is My City Festival from April 7 to 24, 2016.

The answer to both excellent questions is similar: Water for Riley wants more than obtaining a squat concrete public drinking fountain. The jargon for our vision is cumulative impacts. A beautiful, artistic fountain was the mechanism for attaining those cumulative impacts.

Now for the long answers.

  1. Why not a plain, simple drinking fountain?
    A drinking fountain in Riley Park is an unfunded priority. More jargon meaning there’s no money and won’t be money in the City of Calgary budget although Riley Park’s need for drinking water is known. If there were money for it, the drinking fountain would have one nozzle without regard to users’ disabilities, height differences, artistic merit to attract visitors, canine needs, or the other criteria the college students considered in their thoughtful designs. And no cumulative impacts:

    photo: www.theparkcatalog.com
    photo with permission: www.theparkcatalog.com

    We will have fixed costs no matter which design is selected to build: Buy the structure for $$, transport it to Riley Park for $$$, dig a trench for $$$, pour a foundation for $, install hook up to waterline for $$, cover trench for $$, and turn on the water for $. The City’s estimate for installing any fountain is $20,000.00

If we have to fundraise for a plain, simple fountain, we saw an opportunity to acquire a beautiful, student designed, drinking fountain and forge new and strengthen existing networks of relationships, establish connections among neighbouring institutions, and build community.

In the past 100+ years, Riley Park’s neighbours didn’t collaborate if they had an idea to share, a problem to solve, or an interest in common. Water for Riley wants Riley Park’s neighbours to get acquainted and build social capital together. Social capital creates trust, and trusting neighbourhoods have less crime, higher energy, more caring, and better economies.

We’ve already achieved some cumulative impacts
These are quotes from our conversations with Water for Riley’s partners:

School Administrator: “We’ve always wanted to work with the colleges and never had a reason to call them.”

ACAD Administrator: “I’ve been looking for an excuse to call my counterpart at SAIT.”

Faculty member at ACAD: “My students are so excited about this opportunity to work on a real project in the community.”

Faculty member at SAIT: “The students had a bidding war for the chance to work on Water for Riley instead of the other projects we offered them.”

ACAD Student: “None of my other classmates had a chance to work with a real client and solve a real world design problem like we’ve had with Water for Riley.”

SAIT Student: “Water for Riley is a valuable part of my learning about how to apply design to the world around me.”

This Is My City Art Society partner: “Water for Riley is a true community based, volunteer driven project. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”

Students at both Colleges admitted that, until Water for Riley, they’d never wandered down the hill to see the natural jewel of an urban park at ACAD and SAIT’s feet.

The last word on cumulative impacts goes to Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association: “As the nearest neighbour to Riley Park, the HSCA is inundated with park visitors asking to use our building’s facilities. Water for Riley provides needed water, and enhances HSCA’s mandate of increased volunteerism and community engagement. HSCA had no relationship at all with ACAD or SAIT prior to this initiative. When neighbours identify projects that better our community, the whole community, present and future, becomes more resilient, adaptive and resourceful. The lessons learned through this project are transferable and trans-generational. Projects such as this demand the attention of funders, to collectively encourage and promote grassroots innovation that strengthens neighborhoods to overcome complex challenges in the future. Our employees come and go, but stories of residents turning ideas into action live on for decades. This initiative will be inspirational to many, and will serve as a roadmap for what can be accomplished through multi-partner collaborations in a community.”

2. Budget: What does Water for Riley’s fountain cost?

How much do shoes cost? It depends on design, materials, labour, etc. After our jury selects a design we’ll know. Our best guesstimate to build an artistic fountain is somewhere between $40,000.00 and $60,000.00, about double the cost of a plain fountain, not including installation costs.

We anticipate incidental costs of $7,000.00 for the design selection process, $5,000 of which is for technical expertise to review the short list of designs for feasibility, durability and affordability.

So far, we’ve had no (zero, nada) administration costs or incidentals. Everything has been donated; meeting and display spaces, lunches, photocopies, and time volunteered. Framed on Fifth donated the posters for all the exhibits. The wonderful Diana designed our fabulous logo, named Water for Riley, and constructed this website. Here is our still-expanding list of incredible partners.partners logos as of 2016-04-06We’re very grateful for all, and hope this answers some questions. All questions, comments and offers to help are welcome. Email or call 403 862 1923.

To donate to the fountain project through the Parks Foundation click the button and specify your donation is for Water for Riley.donate button




Design challenge: connecting community to curriculum

Let’s recap two reasons for a drinking fountain student design challenge. The obvious first reason is to obtain a drinking fountain near the Riley Park children’s playground and band stand.

The second important reason is to create a stronger bond among Riley Park’s neighbours. Water for Riley is a collaborative, community building project. Drinking fountain designs were accepted from ACAD and SAIT students, and comments on the designs from Hillhurst School students and Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association members. In the hundred+ years that those major Calgary institutions bordered Riley Park, they had never collaborated on a project – until now.

When the Globe and Mail, (Alberta Edition) logo published an article about the few educational institutions where “a community connection is built right into the curriculum” we were pleased to be a community-based connection built into ACAD and SAIT curricula.

The Globe and Mail wrote about this exciting new way that students learn about design, and how they apply that design to making life better for others, and the experience they gain from working in the community with real life clients. As we read it, we thought, hey, Calgary does that too.

Way to go ACAD and SAITWater for Riley is your proud collaborator, especially during SAIT’s centenary year.

To participate in Water for Riley activities, email, or call 403 862 1923.

To contribute to the drinking fountain,donate button click here ⇒

Donations made through the Parks Foundation; specify your donation is for Water for Riley.

Now, here’s the full text of the article:

Building a bet­ter ap­ple slicer
by Simona Chiose, 2015-12-24

McMaster engineering students take on real-world assignments – helping residents of a seniors’ centre – and learn some life lessons.

When engineering students dream about the global problems their skills will solve, designing a better apple slicer is unlikely to make the top of the list.

Yet, that is precisely one of the pedestrian issues that preoccupied hundreds of first-years in an engineering class at McMaster University in Hamilton. Their job seemed simple but, as they learned over the course of the term, it was as difficult as any larger project: to make life easier for the residents of a nursing home in the city.

“We sketched three different designs but they did not work, or they were too complicated,” said Zain ul-Abadin, one of the students in the class. After much trial and error, the group designed a mechanism that does not rely on the strength of aging hands, reversing the usual mechanism and pushing the apple into the blade.

“We tried it many, many times,” Mr. ul-Abadin said.

An increasing number of university programs offer experiential courses, but what makes McMaster’s unusual is that a community connection is built right into the curriculum. Taught by Robert Fleisig, a professor who also works as an engineer, the course has previously taken on the problems of one individual.

One year it was a burn victim with mobility issues, another year a senior with rheumatoid arthritis. For its fourth edition, the course ramped up and partnered with St. Peter’s Residence at Chedoke, a long-term care home. The approximately 200 residents at the home face multiple problems, from not having the muscle power to operate an apple cutter to wanting a door barrier that prevents other residents from wandering into their rooms but is unobtrusive.

“We never picked one specific intervention we wanted the students to work on. If there was an opportunity for innovation and ideas, we wanted to be able to support that,” said Janine Mills, the director of resident care. Ms. Mills visited the class multiple times and allowed small groups of students to meet some of the residents.

As the term progressed, there were many failures and disappointments. Some designs were rejected by residents during a first test run at the home.

“The designs may work from a tech and biology perspective, but users have preferences you don’t know about,” said Monica Salib, who took the course four years ago and is now one of the teaching assistants.

One resident, for example, rejected a barrier that would have to be placed in the room when not in use. “She said: ‘I don’t want anything in my room, my room already has a lot of stuff.’ So they had to think about storage,” Ms. Salib said.

By the end of the term, the student teams had come up with many solutions, from a transparent half-door to one made out of cardboard that can be folded easily.

“At first we wanted to make something cool,” said Patrick Frankiewicz, one of the students who had come up with a folding barrier. “We learned that we could attain something that was functional but not cool.”

The best eight teams presented their final designs at a Dragons’ Den event attended by professors from other departments, nursing home staff and students (the winning team came up with a foldable cane to help a resident get in and out of a car and walk to her wheelchair). And some teams could well see their ideas implemented at the home.

Sandi Mugford is still using a hand-held portable gas pump designed by the 2013 students. As a result of rheumatoid arthritis, Ms. Mugford could no longer use a self-serve gas station. The students’ invention gave her back that independence.

Since she received it, Ms. Mugford has retaped the pump a couple of times but the design was so ingeniously simple that “it’s nothing I can’t do,” she said.

She remains impressed with how much the students learn over one term.

“They’re engineering students; they’re not taking medicine, they have no prior knowledge of the human body except for their own. When you extrapolate that, that’s a huge learning curve,” Ms. Mugford said.

Ms. Salib agrees. Taking the class in the first year prepared her for the teamwork expected in upper years and for life as an engineer, where big problems can be attacked only in small steps.

“As a student, you want to solve everything, you want to feel that you accomplished the mission, but there is only one problem out of many that you can solve,” Ms. Salib said.

“You have to decide, ‘which can I solve?’ That’s the hardest problem.”

© Copyright The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved


Bring on SAIT

Thanks ACAD, and 3D Object Design course instructor, Kerry Harmer, and students; we have your 19 amazing designs.

Now, we await the designs of the two SAIT teams who were assigned designing a drinking fountain for Riley Park as their Capstone Project. We expect those two designs on March 25th.

Team Capstone event final

Read the announcement of the first time all 21 designs are exhibited.

Email to volunteer with Water for Riley, or call 403 862 1923. Help build whichever outstanding student design the jury selects. Riley Park is our community park, and good design improves quality of life, creates community, and boosts the economy.

To donate through the Parks Foundation, click the button and specify your donation is for Water for Riley:

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