Urban parks, community, and water: life extenders

The continuing saga of Water for Riley (W4R)

W4R is pleased to report that Heavy Industries has now assigned a Project Manager. On November 8, 2018, Amy Ghalambor and Michelle Reid meet with W4R at the proposed installation site.

Michelle Reid, City of Calgary, and Amy Ghalambor, Heavy Industries Project Manager, meet in Riley Park to discuss logistics at the drinking fountain site.

The stamp of approval on the project’s fabrication gets closer with each meeting and discussion about design. There are still complications to work out, and Amy is committed to finding solutions.

W4R in the news

As well as the interview on Global Calgary TV, Nov. 25th, W4R volunteers appeared at City Hall Nov. 26th, to speak in support of the Parks Foundation Calgary’s funding.

Today, Nov. 27th, Audrey Neveu, CBC Vidéojournaliste / reporter, interviewed W4R volunteers.

Audrey and Gena Rotstein (Karmaandcents.com) had a great discussion about the non-profit sector, fundraising, and finding solutions to social issues.

The story will be aired sometime early in December.

Audrey toured the site where Riley Park’s drinking fountain will be installed.

People need nature and parks for many reasons

It’s been a long process since the project began in April, 2015; much longer than the volunteer committee imagined. Those five principles, articulated November 20, 2015, remind us why the drinking fountain is such a priority. The vision still inspires W4R volunteers.

One of W4R’s five principles is health, as evidenced in new research published in Lancet Planet Health 2017; 1: e289–97, Urban greenness and mortality in Canada’s largest cities: a national cohort study, by Dan L Crouse, et al.

… as the amount of greenery increased, people’s risk of premature death decreased by eight to 12 per cent.

… exposure to and interactions with green spaces are associated with improved psychological wellbeing and have cognitive, physiological, and social benefits…

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.

The origin of Water for Riley

At the Big Reveal on 18 January, people asked what inspired the idea of Water for Riley. Here’s how the concept of a student designed drinking fountain in Riley Park originated.

In summer of 2010, a White West-highland (Westie) puppy named Trail was 11 weeks old and just adopted into a Hillhurst family.

Trail at 11 weeks old.

While walking in Riley Park, Trail let it be known he was thirsty. Very, very thirsty. With typical “Westitude” (the Westie breed is famous for attitude), Trail demanded water. When he wanted something, he was as ear splitting loud as a shrieking child.

There was no water to be had anywhere in the park

Trail and his humans had to forego the rest of their walk. Partly to get water and partly because other park visitors looked at Trail as if his terrible humans were abusing him.

This experience had us think – if a puppy got thirsty enough to stop a family’s outdoor activities, how much more important was it to keep children happy, hydrated, and healthy? We know the negative health consequences of sedentary children and the need to get them in nature. Supplying drinking water to keep them playing in Riley Park was obvious.

With ACAD and SAIT so close, the idea of making the drinking fountain a community-building, student engagement project was born from that dog walk.

There were many pieces to bring together in the collaboration. Slowly, it gained momentum until it’s half way to reality.

Trail attended all the Water for Riley committee strategy sessions that took place in Riley Park and the student walk-around groups with City of Calgary Parks Department staff.

Trail was happy to tour Riley Park with Ron from Parks Dept and student designers.

However, Trail usually slept through Water for Riley committee planning meetings,

Bored to sleep at a meeting.

Trail’s now eager to be the first dog to drink from the Reflecting Bloom that is specifically designed at his height.

Trail can dream big

And, for the record, Trail is a calm six year old who loves Riley Park and doesn’t scream anymore.

To volunteer for Water for Riley call 403 862 1923.

Help make the dream come true, donate to the drinking fountain in Riley Park. Designate your donation the Water for Riley project and receive a tax receipt.

To donate through the Parks Foundation, click in the button and specify your contribution is for the Water for Riley project.

 

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

 

 

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