City: Columbia Heights
Type: Community Grant (formerly Mini Grant)
MWMO Funding: $3,000
Partners: City of Columbia Heights Community Development Department; City of Columbia Heights Public Works Department; Columbia Heights Public Library; HeightsNEXT; artist Rebecca Krueger; Minnesota Department of Transportation; poet Cole Williams
How do you deal with lots of litter? Local artist Rebecca Krueger was concerned about the damage this pollution could cause the Mississippi River as it flowed there through stormdrains. She partnered with the City of Columbia Heights to create artistic trash can containers to be installed at two locations along Central Avenue in Columbia Heights. The containers sport a watershed-themed mural of her own design, along with the message “Help the river! Please, don’t litter.” One was installed at the northeast corner of 45th and Central Avenues and one at the northeast corner of 46th and Central Avenues.
The city applied for and received an MWMO Mini Grant to fund the design and construction of the trash can containers and an educational outreach campaign. Krueger and city staff partnered with the Columbia Heights Public Library to engage youth in the first-ever Trash Can Mural Project Camp. Youth learned how they could reduce litter, use public art as a way to protect the river, and reuse materials instead of discarding them. They also painted one of the cans’ murals and created posters and art that encourage others to help protect water quality. Local author, poet, and river advocate Cole Williams also talked with campers about how she uses her work and projects to encourage others to protect the river. HeightsNEXT and other volunteers staffed the camp and assisted in construction of the trashcan containers.
Youth art was displayed at the Columbia Heights Library through September 2017, and the installation of the trash cans was completed that fall.