"I wish every family knew what watershed they live in and that all drains lead to fish and wildlife habitat," says Louise Towell, Stream of Dreams Murals Society
Note to Reader:
The award-winning Stream of Dreams program had its’ genesis in a fish kill along an urban stream in the City of Burnaby, which is in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia. This was the catalyst for a citizen response which led to creation of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, co-founded by Joan Carne and Louise Towell. Stream of Dreams today provides a variety of programs, in particular the ‘fish on fences’ project, to schools in four Canadian provinces.
STREAM OF DREAMS: ‘All Drains Lead to Fish’
“The Stream of Dreams Murals Society mission is to change environmental behaviour through education and the creation of public art,” says Louise Towell, Executive Director and Chief Inspirational Officer. “Our vision is for every family to know where their local watershed is, where the water comes from, where it is going, and what they can do to prevent water pollution.”
“The ‘fish on fences’ program creates awareness of a school’s local watershed through experiential learning. Awareness and stewardship is promoted through the integration of science and public community art – that is, fish on fences.”
“You can’t paint a fish until you hear the story! Stream of Dreams began as a citizens response to a 100% fish kill. No one knew that the forested ravine at the end of the road was the riparian zone of a stream called Byrne Creek. No one could imagine that salmon and other fish lived in a city waterway.”
“One day in 1998, when the creek was full of Coho, Chum and trout, someone poured what is believed to be wood preservative into a storm drain somewhere in the Byrne Creek watershed. Before the end of the day 5000 fish were dead; the poison disappeared into the Fraser River, leaving a trail of carnage.”
“My then 9-year old daughter Chanel and I believed if more people knew about Byrne Creek and how storm drains work, maybe the creek would not die again.”
“Collaborating with the local streamkeeping group, City of Burnaby, all elementary schools in the watershed, 3000 fish were painted and installed onto a fence at the headwaters of Byrne Creek.”
“To date, Stream of Dreams has told this story and brought ‘fish on fences’ to over 140,000 participants in over 500 schools,” concludes Louise Towell.
To Learn More:
Stream of Dreams murals are calls to action to take care of water! To read a story posted on the Green Infrastructure community-of-interest, click on Stream of Dreams: Watershed education through community art