Rain Project Photojournal - Spreads

changwooahn

THE RAIN

PROJECT

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COVER ILLUSTRATION &

PHOTO (TO THE RIGHT) BY

CHRIS RUSINKO

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TABLE OF

CONTENTS

PART ONE:

Philosophy & Research

PART TWO:

Working Together

PART THREE:

Launching Day

PART FOUR:

After Thoughts

“The Rain Project has affected all of

the student participants deeply, enabling

them to form a sense of community

and allowing them to learn how to work

together with people of other majors,

opinions and approaches.”

Dr. Changwoo Ahn

The Rain Project photobook is designed & compiled by

Cameron Evans and Dr. Changwoo Ahn thanks to the

support of the OSCAR SDG grant for the project.

(Photo

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credits for the book: Changwoo Ahn, Victor Sumin,

and Evan Cantwell @ GMU Creative Services)

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PART ONE

PHILOSOPHY

& RESEARCH

“The enormously complex and more than

urgent problems humanity faces today erase

disciplinary boundaries, and provide for an

opportunity to get a hands-on, minds-on look

into other disciplines.”

Jackie Brookner, 5 EcoArtist

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Ahn, C. 2016. A creative collaboration between the science of ecosystem restoration

and art in an urban college campus, Restoration Ecology 24 (3): 291-297

A creative collaboration between the

science of ecosystem restoration

and art for sustainable stormwater

management on an urban college campus

by Changwoo Ahn

I designed “The Rain Project” as an urban ecosystem restoration model as well

as a collaborative pedagogical approach between ecological science and art

at George Mason University (GMU), Virginia, U.S.A. A group of students from

several disciplines (e.g. environmental science, art, civil engineering, biology,

communication, and film/media) participated in designing and constructing a

floating wetland for a campus stormwater pond as part of sustainable stormwater

management. The Rain Project has numerous implications for college

education, scholarship, and service while presenting a novel way of building a

sense of community among undergraduate students for ecological awareness

and literacy. This kind of interdisciplinary, campus project can facilitate the

changes we need to train higher education students to be able to both think

differently and communicate effectively. The Rain Project introduced students

to new learning strategies that connected “systems thinking” with art, ecological

science, and restoration practices.

... It is only through interdisciplinary

collaboration, particularly

in education and scholarship,

which we may be able to train

a generation of system thinkers

who can navigate through the

disciplinary boundaries to seek

answers to big, pressing questions

such as environmental

degradation and global

poverty...

... being able to quickly sketch

can be a tremendously useful

and powerful tool when used

to communicate an idea...

... Restoring impaired

ecosystems requires effective

communication skills to help

build the stewardship capacity

of the communities involved.

I believe that art can facilitate

such communication more

effectively...

... We chose a human kidney

as a shape for our floating

wetland, as wetlands have

often been called “kidneys in

the landscape” for their role

in filtering contaminants and

cleaning water passing through

them...

... Although interdisciplinary

education and scholarship are

much needed in contemporary

academia to prepare our students

to be able to understand

and build solutions for the complex

problems we currently face,

the language and professional

cultural differences make it difficult

to do so ...

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... Both artists and scientists

share a common drive to depict

and analytically explain our

experiences, and represent in

varying forms the outcome of

imagination. Innovation in

science often is linked to urges

to express oneself artistically...

... “Renaissance scientists” —

individuals with strong disciplinary

expertise, in addition

to the ability to communicate

effectively about science to

diverse audiences...

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... Artists offer communities a cultural

and visual context for engaging scientific

data and principles that can assist

with modifying behaviors, ultimately

transforming our environmental

stewardship...

... We must encourage, and strategically

position, scientists to work directly and

more actively with artists on ecosystem

restoration projects. And that can start

from a college campus. The current

crisis of the environment is a crisis of

education...


Long-term success of

ecological restoration, at

all scales from the local

to the global, necessitates

transformation of the

dominant ways humans

understand, behave, value,

and relate to natural processes and

ecosystems. Artists and scientists can do more together

to affect positive transformation than either can do separately.

It is not a matter of the scientists providing the

hard-core research and artists the soft outreach; rather,

the dynamics engendered in the space between disciplines

is full of information necessary to solve complex

problems at the systemic level…

” - The Late

Jackie Brookner

... I believe that art should be incorporated

in undergraduate curricula and

pedagogy of various college disciplines.

The Rain Project appeared to cultivate

“ecological literacy” among the participating

students. Students will be able

to better understand our relationship to

“the larger context of life” with stronger

communication skills through the

collaboration experiences they had in

this project...

https://jackiebrookner.com

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PART TWO

WORKING

TOGETHER

“This kind of project involved students in strong

collaborative training to work as a team to deliver

the outcome, which I believe is an important

…element for any ecosystem restoration practice

as well as for developing a sense of community in

higher education.”

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Changwoo Ahn

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Class Activities

“Involving art in science education can help students to enhance their intuition

because creativity and intuition are critical elements in scientific discovery and advance.”

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Class Activity with Test Beemat

con cuptam quatquaspedi tenimin etur sitiscit quis etus sed eos eos

et fugiae officipsum hicidenis dolupta nestis sum nis aut ea comnim

litium excest eumquib earchicide pratur sint fuga. Parunt, sum rae veniendam

volut quuntFuga. Menti qui blanduciis rest, si tem. Occate pro

ommo quam, non rehenis dolloreium res quisquaecea dicto iditemostia

aut unt facerov iducid quo intet, ut faceati nimus.

Um qui dolo eum id ma eaquaecto modionem. Namet aceatemquas rem

aspisti quo consenderit, cus eaquunt.

Pictur re siminve ndenihi cienis aut hitatest facipsa as excerfe ritemperum

sunt lique aut voluptat eium volorporit, cor si nonsecestrum quia ni

blandae perchillam, nimagnatio venda quam restisquis exped most adit

volupta dolum fuga. Ita alignis sundis con comnis ipites volupta volorerum

si ommosti tempore mporem. Ulpa il molore vellabores rerciditiis

estiis excepe alibuscide nulpa vit aut litatur rem exceat.

15

Tur, cust, quae di doluptatibus sit, unt omnis vel ipsundaerro comnis ad

estrum voluptatet aspelique iligend iaestibus doluptat experuntust

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17

Small-Scale Floating

Wetland Simulation

March 2015

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PLANTING SCHEME FOR THE FLOATING WETLAND

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this is our kidney

shaped floating

wetland — about 1%

of the pond’s surface

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illustrated by

Chris Rusinko

(Student Participant in

the Rain 25Project)

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Meet the Plants

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Carex stricta 29

Tussock sedge

Iris versicolor

Blue flag

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Alisma subcordatum

Water plantain

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Juncus effusus

Soft rush

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Pontederia cordata

Pickerelweed

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PART THREE

LAUNCHING

DAY

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Art, and/or

artistic, endeavors

can involve students

in exercising their

creativity, which will

contribute to

successful training

of innovative

scientists.


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41

39 40


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45 46


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Ugit quam

con cuptam quatquaspedi tenimin etur sitiscit quis etus

sed eos eos et fugiae officipsum hicidenis dolupta nestis sum

nis aut ea comnim litium excest eumquib earchicide pratur

A New Beginning

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Ecological Science

Communication & Outreach

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“K-12 participation is instrumental in

enhancing undergraduate research

and scholarship.”

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Plants are Growing...

Summer of 2015

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Harvesting

September 2015

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PART FOUR

“I see art as a catalyst for the changes we need to

make to close the gap that only science-based

ecological restoration work has been unable to fill.”

Changwoo Ahn

AFTER

THOUGHTS

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STUDENTS RESPOND

What do you think about the benefit of collaborating between

art and science in the Rain Project?

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STUDENT RESEARCH

& SCHOLARSHIP

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STUDENTS LAUNCH

FLOATING WETLANDS

ON MASON POND

MAY 13, 2015 | BY MICHELE MCDONALD

George Mason University students launched a 1,700-plant floating

wetland on Mason Pond Tuesday afternoon. The yearlong project

brings together art and science students and is designed to clean

the water as well as to spur ecological awareness.

“I learned how to think scientifically by working on this project,” said

Chris Rusinko, a senior art and visual technology major specializing

in printmaking. “Having a class that bridges the art department

and the science department is a personal experience in a lot of

ways.”

Environmental professor Changwoo Ahn was inspired to create

the wetlands, or “The Rain Project,” so students could make those

kinds of connections. Mason graduate students will monitor Mason’s

first floating wetlands for an ongoing research project. About

24 students were part of the two-semester class.

Wetlands help clean storm water that washes into retention ponds,

rivers and lakes and also aid in controlling flooding, said Ahn, a

professor in the College of Science’s Environmental Science and

Policy Department, and founder and director of EcoScience+Art.

Ahn said the goal of the project is to create sustainable stormwater

management in the era of climate change. Floating wetlands are

being used in North Carolina and other areas.

Sophomore Andy Sachs said he also learned how to appreciate artistic

aesthetics by working on the project. He originally thought the structure

should be rectangular to provide the most surface area. But with some

help from fellow students, Sachs says he learned that science projects

also need to be visually appealing when they’re in a public area. The

floating wetlands are kidney-shaped.

Combining art and science is an easy fit, in particular for environmental

projects. “Art is inspired by nature,” Rusinko says. Sachs plans to take

what he learns from the Rain Project and apply it to his summer internship

working on storm water maintenance. “This summer I’ll be able to

relate what I learned in this class to the professional world,” said Sachs,

who grew up in Leesburg, Va.

Sachs said he originally wanted

to be a marine ecologist,

but the internship last summer

changed his mind. He’s an integrated

studies major with a

concentration in ecological

sustainability.

“I probably learned more this

semester than in a year and a

half of classes combined,” Sachs says. “Hopefully we’ll get more classes

like this. We were able to see a full project through to actual finish, instead

of just theoretical.”

About 1,700 plants––including soft rush, upright sedge, duck potato, water-plantains,

pickerel weed, and blue flag––were chosen for their water

cleaning efficiency and their beauty. The prospect of combining plants

with art appealed to Rusinko, who grew up in Arlington, Va. He grows his

own food at a local community garden, especially unusual varieties such

as the Pusa Asita carrot, a dark purple carrot that originated in India.

The real benefit of Mason Pond’s wetlands will be sparking conversations

about finding different ways to clean the environment. “I think a lot

of the value is the social value,” Rusinko said.

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MEDIA

OUTREACH

STUDENTS SAY POND CLASS AT

GMU REALLY FLOATS THEIR BOATS

“And the innovative class project that George Mason University

has students hip-deep in mucky pond water. The Rain Project

is a floating wetland, designed by and involving both art and

science students. The hands-on effort creates awareness about

ecology along with cleaning the pond naturally. There are about

1,700 native plants in the floating wetlands. In August, students

will harvest those plants and remove pollution from the pond,”

reports NBC4

79news anchor Pat Lawson Muse.

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TEDx TALK AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

& SPONSORS

Thanks go to University Life, the

College of Science Dean’s Office,

Biology and Environmental

Science and Policy departments,

at GMU for their support of the

Rain Project.

Special thanks go to Mason 4-VA

Innovation Grant and OSCAR that

also sponsored the Rain Project,

as well as to the following three

classes for their participation:

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EVPP 378/BIOL 379:

Ecological Sustainability

EVPP 646/647:

Wetland Ecology & Management

EVPP 650:

Ecosystem Analysis/Modeling

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RAIN PROJECT

PARTICIPANTS

Abigail Armuth

Ashton Bandy

Khafre Barclift

Abigail Baxter

Jillian Brooks

Vinson Corbo

Charles Cressey

Suzanne Dee

Evelin Espana

Cameron Evans

Kathryn Faulcouner

Anthony Frank

Jesse Glendon

Zuhair Haleem

Bill Harper

Michael Harrier

Rebecca Jackson

Kelsi Jones

Alexander Krupp

Beatrice Laureno

Tulia MacDicken

Samar Madi

Brendan McAndrew

Mahek Mehta

Romaric Moncrieffe

Chris Rusinko

Andy Sachs

Stacey Spillman

Joanna Spooner

Victor Sumin

Victoria Van Dorn

Samantha Vo

Frances Yee

Dr. Changwoo Ahn

& many more volunteers!

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