For Project 012 we asked you for your ideas on improving local schools. Daniel sent us this chronicle from Victoria, British Columbia. Working on a city stormwater management project in Seattle, Daniel realized that adding natural features to a public space made it more inviting to children. That insight led to a community-wide effort to transform a barren local courtyard into a dynamic play space and classroom. Daniel gives us the play-play below.
Project Urban Rain Garden
Two years ago, I was in Seattle looking at a recent stormwater management project for work purposes. The project was Seattle Street Edge Alternatives (also know as SEA streets). The objective of the SEA street project was to redesign streets to be smaller, traffic calming and incorporate more natural features such as planted bioswales to manage stormwater rather than using more traditional pipe systems. The result was a 99% improvement of stormwater retention. Unexpectedly, however, to my colleagues and myself, there was a social benefit. As my colleagues and I were standing on the corner photographing the area, an elderly resident asked us what exactly we were doing. We explained and a discussion ensued. During that conversation with the elderly resident, the gentleman was notably not interested in the expected increase in property values due to the conversion of the street, or the downstream benefits to the receiving stream, but rather he was shocked at one unexpected benefit; children began to play in the street again. What came out of this discussion sparked an idea that I would propose six months later; an idea that came to fruition and remains exceptionally successful.