Stream of Dreams: Watershed education through community art

Stream of Dreams_Edmonds fence

Creating a Community Art Legacy

ECO-EDUCATION through community art helps people understand their connections to water and to make changes to protect streams, rivers, lakes and our one ocean. Stream of Dreams murals are CALLS TO ACTION to take care of water!

“Stream of Dreams” – The Story

In the City of Burnaby, in 1998, someone dumped toxic material into a storm drain. It killed everything in Byrne Creek, including 5,000 fish. Within a year, buildings at Edmonds and Kingsway, in the headwaters of Byrne Creek watershed, were demolished. A chain link fence was installed around the rubble. It looked like a war zone.

The Vision

“Long-time area resident Louise Towell and her daughter Chanel were horrified,” states Paul Cipywnyk, President of the Stream of Dreams Society. “Then inspiration by way of a wooden fence mural near the Broadway Skytrain station struck.”

“A similar project could help improve the appearance of the Edmonds corner. Louise felt she needed to bring the most beautiful part of the neighbourhood to the attention Stream of dreams society - paul cipywnyk (120p)of the community, and decided that Byrne Creek fit the bill. She would bring Byrne Creek to the fence. The Stream of Dreams was born.”

“Louise called Joan Carne, chair of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, to see if the group could offer technical support, maps, or information.”

The Creek Under the Street

“As we talked, Louise remembered the 1998 fish kill and knew what she wanted to see on the fence. Bring those fish back to life, symbolically, by making 5,000 Stream of dreams society - joan carne (120p)wooden fish, have them painted by local children, and put them on the fence to tell all who pass by that there is a creek in the neighbourhood,” recalls Joan Carne, Executive Director and Co-Founder.

“Because the creek is right under the street in pipes leading from each storm drain, Louise coined the phrase, The Creek Under the Street.”

Rivers Day 2000

“Joan jumped on the idea as a perfect opportunity for Byrne Creek watershed education and as a possible Rivers Day 2000 project for the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers,” continues Louise Towell, Artistic Director and Co-Founder.

Stream of dreams society - louise towell (120p)“The Streamkeepers proceeded to produce wooden fish. The City of Burnaby bought the property early in the project and gave full support to the mural.”

“By Rivers Day, September 2000, the first 1,300 painted fish, painted by students at Clinton, Stride and Edmonds Elementary Schools, were attached to the fence along a painted blue wavy streak.”

Formation of the Society

“Before long the Stream of Dreams program was invited into other watersheds to help educate other communities about their local streams and to share the dream of healthy creeks and the beauty of community art. In 2003 the Stream of Dreams Murals Society was formed to facilitate providing the program,” states Paul Cipywnyk.

“Our focus, however, is on the rest of the watershed, since it is how people act on the surrounding land that mainly determines the health of the streams, and few people understand that,” adds Joan Carne.

Stream of Dreams_leadership team_2010

Across Canada Delivery

Since that local beginning in the year 2000, Stream of Dreams Murals Society founders Louise and Joan have successfully educated and delighted thousands of people in communities throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and have trained and licensed teams in Victoria, Horsefly, Lumby, Nelson and Kamloops, BC; at Conservation Halton, Quinte Conservation, Credit Valley Conservation and the Bay Area Restoration Council in Ontario; and in Calgary, Alberta to present the program.

The Educational Impact

Children, adults, politicians and media have been introduced to their watersheds, creeks, rivers, storm drains, have experienced the magic of painting a dreamfish, and have seen their artwork displayed in one of the many public Stream of Dreams “galleries” along a chain-link fence in their neighbourhood.

To Learn More:

Many people do not know the name or location of their local creeks or rivers. Even fewer know where the water comes from or where it is going. Many are also unaware of the importance of keeping chemicals out of the water system. Creating the mural allows the students to work together toward a common goal, while enhancing the beauty of their neighbourhood.

Click on or visit the Stream of Dreams on TWITTER and FACEBOOK .


Posted September 2010