ERIE, Pa. — Artistry and the environment will come together in a public project unveiled Wednesday by Environment Erie and the Erie County Conservation District.
The agencies are pairing with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to present the “Don’t Give Up the Drip” community rain barrel art project. Fifty local artists will decorate 50 plastic barrels that will be displayed at 50 Erie County businesses in summer 2016.
The embellished 55-gallon containers will collect rainwater that can be used for plants or gardens at the businesses and will be accessible for the public to view, organizers said.
“We are introducing these barrels as a way to show that harvesting rainwater can be functional, yet it can also be aesthetically pleasing,” said Kristen Currier, environmental educator at the Conservation District.
She and Nate Millet, education manager for Environment Erie, hope that Don’t Give Up the Drip catches on like GoFish and LeapFrog, popular public art projects in the past.
Millet said people can participate in this project in three ways.
Artists who are at least 18 years old and live or have a studio in Erie County can apply to decorate a barrel. Millet said artists will receive a $600 stipend.
Erie County businesses can host a barrel at their sites for $200. Millet said businesses will get to keep the barrels and use the rainwater from them as long as they last.
Project officials will install the barrels and explain how they work.
Corporate sponsors can contribute to help with the project.
Artist proposals are due Oct. 30, with the barrels to be exhibited at the Home and Garden Expo in March and installed in April, Millet and Currier said.
Millet said brochures will be available at host sites with information about the businesses, the artists and the importance of harvesting rainwater.
Maps will show where barrels are located for people who want to travel around and “take selfies,” he said.
Millet and Currier encouraged people to share their photos via social media. The environmental educators said they also want the project to inspire more people to conserve and preserve rainwater by using barrels.
“We’re hoping people observe this project and then go out and make their own rain barrels,” Currier said.
She and Millet said the barrels, which are 35 inches high with a circumference of 72 inches, will fill up in a typical rainstorm. The water can then be used for purposes even beyond watering plants.
“There’s nothing wrong with using rainwater to wash your car,” Currier said.
DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNmassing.