Transforming Chicago – One WEFTEC at a Time

August 23, 2017

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Volunteer for the 10th WEF Community Service Project

During WEFTEC 2017, service project volunteers will help install a green classroom and bioswales in this playground area at the Manierre Elementary School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of Nick Woboril, Nature's Perspective (Evanston, Ill.).

During WEFTEC 2017, service project volunteers will help install a green classroom and bioswales in this playground area at the Manierre Elementary School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of Nick Woboril, Nature’s Perspective (Evanston, Ill.).

Leave a lasting mark on Chicago during WEFTEC® 2017. When registering, attendees can sign up for the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Service Project to help build an outdoor learning space for students at Manierre Elementary School (Chicago).

“Our mission is to not only make an impact on the local water environment but also to educate the community about the value of water and water quality,” said Anthony Giovonnone, the 2017 Service Project chair. “This project inspires us to inspire the next generation of water quality professionals.”

On Sept. 30, volunteers will spend 4 to 6 hours building a green classroom and bioswales that surround a playground area. The project helps transform a paved playground with poor drainage that makes it susceptible to flooding into a permeable gathering space for students that helps capture and filter stormwater, alleviate flooding, and improve local water quality. After excavation has been conducted, volunteers will help fill the area with gravel and soil needed for drainage and then plant native vegetation.

Currently, the school’s paved playground has poor drainage that makes it susceptible to flooding. Photo courtesy of Woboril, Nature's Perspective.

Currently, the school’s paved playground has poor drainage that makes it susceptible to flooding. Photo courtesy of Woboril, Nature’s Perspective.

In addition to transportation between the project site and the convention center, volunteers will be provided with lunch and a t-shirt. Numerous local-, water-sector-, and WEF-leaders will attend to volunteer and speak at the event.

WEF’s Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) hosts the project. This year’s project integrates with another project being completed by Green City Market (Chicago). The local nonprofit plans to build raised gardens to help students learn agricultural concepts and how to, in an adjacent building, cook the food they grow.

“The assistant principal is very excited,” Giovonnone said. “The school and our partner, [the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago], have been helpful working alongside SYPC.”

Volunteers will spend 4 to 6 hours helping transform this paved playground into a permeable gathering space for students that helps capture and filter stormwater, alleviate flooding, and improve local water quality. Photo courtesy of Woboril, Nature's Perspective.

Volunteers will spend 4 to 6 hours helping transform this paved playground into a permeable gathering space for students that helps capture and filter stormwater, alleviate flooding, and improve local water quality. Photo courtesy of Woboril, Nature’s Perspective.

During the 10th year of a WEFTEC service project, volunteers will work in the same city as the first project. The event has grown in both volunteer participation and project scope. In 2008, about 60 volunteers helped build an 18.5-m² (200-ft²) rain garden at Pulaski Park in Chicago. In 2016, nearly 200 volunteers helped build a 112-m2 (1210-ft2) bioswale and a 17-m2 (180-ft2) rain garden, and they planted native vegetation. And in 2017, volunteers will help convert about 232 m2 (2500 ft2) of pavement into green space, Giovonnone said.

Read more about the status of the WEFTEC 2016 service project site in the YP Connections article, “NOLA Grows Green Takes Root.” Watch the interview with Past SYPC Chair Haley Falconer, “Quick Question: What is the WEF Community Service Project?” to hear about the project’s importance.

Support the service project by volunteering or donating. For more information about this year’s project, contact WEF staff member Caroline Pakenham at cpakenham@wef.org or Anthony Giovonnone at giovannonead@cdmsmith.com.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

WEFTEC 2016 Service Project Thrives

New Orleans city hall is shown before (left) and a year after (right) the WEFTEC service project. Volunteers constructed a bioswales to help manage stormwater. Before photo courtesy of Tyler Antrup, New Orleans City Planning Commission. After photo courtesy of Danielle Duhe, Dana Brown & Associates (New Orleans).

New Orleans city hall is shown before (left) and a year after (right) the WEFTEC service project. Volunteers constructed a bioswales to help manage stormwater. Before photo courtesy of Tyler Antrup, New Orleans City Planning Commission. After photo courtesy of Danielle Duhe, Dana Brown & Associates (New Orleans).

During WEFTEC 2016, nearly 200 volunteers spent their Saturday helping build and plant bioswales at City Hall in New Orleans. The bioswales help manage stormwater onsite and provide community education on the value of water.

After more than 8 months, the NOLA Grows Green project has taken root and added beautiful color to the grounds of City Hall. Read more in the YP Connections article, “NOLA Grows Green Takes Root in New Orleans.”

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