Family and Youth Initiative Storm Drain Painting

EcoTopic / Project Category
Water, Education & Awareness, Habitat & Wildlife
Project Goal Summary
The vision of the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) vision is “to make the Anacostia River and its tributaries swimmable and fishable for the health and enjoyment of everyone in the community.” Residents are not always aware that storm drains empty into local streams and, eventually, the Anacostia River. AWS incorporates numerous methods to spread awareness of this process, and one of the projects through which environmental awareness is enhanced and community members are engaged is through Storm Drain Mural Painting.

This project will continue the ongoing AWS storm drain mural projects in the Anacostia neighborhood while also bringing a conservation message and career exploration element to teens and young adults in Washington DC’s and Maryland’s foster care systems through DC Family and Youth Initiative (DCFYI). DCFYI is a compassionate community for teens and young adults in foster care and who have “aged out” of foster care. DCFYI is the only DC-area organization “focused exclusively on helping teens in foster care make lifelong connections with caring adults.”

The storm drain mural designs for this project will reflect the high quality of Evan Johnson’s signature, graphic style, yet will be simple enough for the DCFYI teens and volunteers to be able to paint/fill in the majority of the design. Evan will then finalize the piece with detail/edgework for a professional product.

The storm drains will be painted with a base layer by David and Ariel on May 17, 2019, and will be outlined by Evan in the morning of May 18, so that the teens and volunteers can easily fill in the design without smudging the outline. Evan will be present while the teens and volunteers paint to provide assistance and to paint final details of designs. As specified by AWS, the designs will not incorporate the drain entrance as a “mouth” for any animal/creature/person/etc.
The designs will incorporate one or more of the following themes and will focus on both educational value and aesthetic value for the community:
  • Reducing storm water pollution: e.g., “Only Rain Down the Drain”
  • Environmental Protection: e.g., “Trash Free DC”
  • Water Cycle: e.g., “Water is Life”
  • Local Ecosystems: e.g., Local wildlife and natural beauty.
David will be responsible for providing touch up to each of the three murals for one year following their completion, and AWS will provide the materials for both the day of painting and the following year of periodic touch ups, including environmentally friendly paints, a clear sealant, and paint rollers and brushes. Unused materials will be returned to AWS.

After the murals are completed, we will be having lunch with the teens to discuss the mural project, as well as careers in art and conservation with Evan and Ariel.
Project Location
Bangor St SE
Washington, DC 20020
United States
Project Goals and News

Target Audience:

There are two primary target audiences:
  • Residents of the Anacostia neighborhood – the residents of the Anacostia neighborhood will be engaged through their elected ANC and through the murals, themselves. The neighborhood residents will learn of the connection between roadside storm drains and their local waterways, and they will be empowered to take measures to reducing runoff pollution in their own neighborhoods.
  • Teens and volunteers of DCFYI – the teens and volunteers of DCFYI will be engaged on the day of painting through the actual painting of the murals as well as the opportunity to talk with both the artist and AWS representatives about possible careers in the arts and the environment. Many of these teens and young adults are not aware of the opportunities within the local economy, and the more exposure they have to professionals from a variety of backgrounds, the more informed their own career plans can be.

Project Timeline:

  • Week 1 – David will complete project proposal and plan. David will discuss design themes with Evan and provide storm drain dimensions to Evan.
  • Week 2 – Ariel will contact the local ANC to apply for a construction fee waiver and permit. Evan will work on design. David and Susan will identify volunteers and teens from DCFYI to participate and begin handling logistics.
  • Week 3 – Evan will continue to work on design with input from David and/or Ariel, as needed. David will identify and secure a nearby location to have lunch on the day of the event.
  • Week 4 – Evan will continue to work on design with input from David and/or Ariel, as needed. David and Susan will continue coordinating logistics with the teens and volunteers.
  • Week 5  – Evan will submit designs to David and Ariel for review, suggestions, and ultimate approval.
  • Week 6 – Ariel will coordinate with David to plan for the delivery of materials on time.
  • Week 7  – Final logistics with DCFYI will be determined the week of the event to deal with volunteer and/or teen cancellations or late registrations. DCFYI will provide lunch for after the painting is complete. 
The murals were completed on September 16, 2019 after several delays due to both weather and getting all of the various governmental agencies and groups to agree on timing and design. We had three teens from DCFYI participate, and six volunteers as well. While the group was smaller than planned, it helped to allow deeper conversations about conservation and employment with the teens, the artist, the volunteers, and the Anacostia Watershed Society representatives. Some of the lessons learned were:
  1. Don't hesitate to follow up over and over again, especially with governmental agencies that are likely overburdened.
  2. Have very clear guidelines for payments of contractors, as there were several hiccups with processing artist payment.
  3. Engage youth early and consistently. We had an additional two teens that participated in painting a rain barrel on one of the days that we had hoped to paint the stormdrain who unfortunately couldn't participate in the storm drain painting. Additional engagement may have encouraged more follow through.
  4. Relax and have fun! Planning events is a lot of hard work, and it is easy to get swept up in the details and issues, but stepping away and painting a butterfly or egret was a great way to deal with some of the stress of the day.
Tag Your Project
Stormwater, Awareness, Mural, Art, Children
File #1
DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 1DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 159 KB
File #2
DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 2DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 268 KB
File #3
DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 3DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 364 KB
File #4
DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 4DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 455 KB
File #5
DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 5DCFYI Storm Drain Mural 564 KB


Form Details

Average Rating:
Date Added: Nov 5, 2019
Date Last Modified: Nov 5, 2019

Certify Your EcoLeader Project

Are you ready to certify your project with National Wildlife Federation and share your positive impact on the environment?