‘Where art meets sustainability’

When the rain starts to pour, people rarely think twice about it, but for environmentally—focused nonprofit Friends of the St. Clair River (FOSCR), its most recent initiative is looking to change that perspective.

“We’re using rain barrels to highlight the intersection of art and nature,” says Sheri Faust, FOSCR President. “Where art meets sustainability.”

Rain barrels collect rainwater runoff from rooftops and gutters, storing the natural resource which can then be used for a multitude of household needs. While it is generally discouraged to drink or use on edible plants as runoff can collect pollutants such as chemicals or animal waste, the harvested rainwater is cost-effective and ideal for tasks such as washing the car or watering the lawn.

“Rain barrels can lower our carbon footprint and preserve our rivers, lakes, and streams,” Faust says. “We just want to help people find a way to help their community and their environment.”

While education on protecting natural resources is at the forefront of the initiative, the effort also aims to foster more community art. Faust says several local artists will be commissioned to create a water-themed mural of their own design on the rain barrels which will then be displayed at schools, businesses, and other regional landmarks.

“We want to generate enthusiasm for the outdoors and for art,” Faust says. “When people can feel creative about those things around them they feel more passionately about it.”

Local artist Donna Mitchell-Collins poses with one of her storm drain murals in downtown St. Clair, Michigan.This most recent initiative is not the first time FOSCR has looked to bring together art and nature. Last year, the organization commissioned dozens of local artists to paint murals on storm drains bringing attention to the importance of keeping the region’s waterways clean.

To kick off this new initiative, FOSCR is hosting a rain barrel sale on Saturday, Sep. 16, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Thumb Coast Watershed Center located at 301 N. 9th St. in St. Clair. For more information about the rain barrels and the event, visit form.jotform.com/231634203260039.
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Riley Connell is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She's a frequent visitor to the Metro Detroit area where she was raised and in addition to her work with The Keel, Riley is a full-time reporter with the Cadillac News as well as a contributor to The Keel’s sister publication, Epicenter Mt. Pleasant. When she isn't writing, Riley enjoys spending time outdoors, painting, antiquing, and trying new foods.