Sunday, August 25, 2013

Eye River

Eye River

Eye River sits in front of the Portland Community College CLIMB building at SE Clay St. & Water Avenue, part of something they call the "Stormwater Education Plaza":

The Eye River is a sculpture that refers to the working waterfront of the past and looks toward an environmental future. It functions as an autonomous icon within the Storm Water Education Plaza and as a link to the flow of water and people toward the Willamette River.

The form references the historic ‘log dog,’ a tool used to bind together log rafts that floated down the river to the Inman Poulson Lumber Mill on the nearby riverbank. Although the mill is no longer there, the Central Eastside continues to have a vibrant commercial and industrial component that mixes residential, recreation, and business.

Eye River is not simply an historic marker; it is also integral to the citizens with a vision of a sustainable future. This particular sculpture is the first in a series of three to be placed along the SE Clay “Green Street,” a corridor that leads bicyclists and pedestrians to the river. Each sculpture in the series will have the same cast steel form but the central oculus is specific to each site. The Water Education Plaza is the closest to the river and the pattern of blue and green fused glass alludes to the flow of water with its flickering light.

This project was a joint effort of PCC and Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services. The latter is the polite-society name for the local sewer agency. I was going to say it's more "tasteful" but I'm pretty sure that's not the word I want to use here. In any case, they obtained a federal grant under the the EPA's Innovative Wet Weather Program (which seems to have since ended) to turn SE Clay between 12th and the river into an educational "green street". And because this is Portland, a certain percentage of the green street money goes to art that's sort of related to the concept of rivery greenness.

Eye River

BES provides one of the core services that allows modern civilization to even exist. Pretty much everyone acknowledges this; it's just that for the most part we'd rather not think about it at length, lest we end up thinking about the composition and sheer volume of what's gurgling along under our feet, and what it probably smells like. Eew. Typically people don't want to hear from BES at all about any topic, because it's rarely a good sign when you hear from them. With any luck, they're merely raising sewer rates again. Otherwise it's because your basement is filling up with... something... and hopefully you didn't have anything valuable stored there.

Anyone who's lived here for a few years has already gotten the memo about stormwater, which is what this Green Street PR effort wants to teach us about. The city and the media harp on it roughly every time the sewers overflow, which still happens every so often. It seems the BES agency's distant forebears back in the 19th century did a very silly thing, and designed our storm drains and sewers to flow into the same pipe, because it was cheap and they didn't know any better. This design sort of works ok until there's a rainstorm, because when one overflows, both of them overflow, and they both overflow straight into the river, untreated and unfiltered. And it turns out we're in a part of the world where it rains every so often, to put it mildly. The BES just spent two decades on the $1.4 billion Big Pipe project to kinda-sorta address the problem. But they'd still like us to know that if less rain went into the sewers, that would be awesome, and they'd like to share some Important Tips about how you can be a better person, at least where stormwater is concerned. I'm not sure they offer actual sewer rate discounts for being a better person though.

Eye River

Anyway, here are a few items about the project as a whole, and where Eye River fits into it:

Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River

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