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A fun and enriching "water literacy" playground for a public school in Central City, New Orleans.
A fun and enriching "water literacy" playground for a public school in Central City, New Orleans.
546 backers pledged $73,017 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$73,017

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We are Ripple Effect, a New Orleans based organization that brings together designers, water experts and teachers to establish water literacy programs at schools. We're redesigning a New Orleans public elementary schoolyard into a "water literacy campus." Rain gardens, large cypress trees, and a giant play mound will not only solve the school's flooding issues, but create a joyful and fun environment that teaches students about their place in the Mississippi River Delta. Construction starts this summer. We need your help to get this built!

Courtyard/ Playground today
Courtyard/ Playground today
Campus courtyard redesign vision, showing play mound and rain gardens
Campus courtyard redesign vision, showing play mound and rain gardens

The Campus Today

At the heart of New Orleans and in the shadow of downtown and the Superdome, KIPP Central City Primary (KCCP) sits just above sea level. Of the 527 students, 98% receive free- or reduced-price lunch, and 98% are minority. The campus takes up an entire city block and is organized around a central courtyard. Today, this hard patch of dirt, concrete, and asphalt floods each time it rains. There are few trees that provide shade and even fewer amenities for active play and learning. Yet all outdoor activities at this school take place in this environment.

Students playing on the field
Students playing on the field
Ponding in the courtyard after a storm
Ponding in the courtyard after a storm

New Design & Curriculum Connections 

This campus redesign builds directly on the innovative Ripple Effect “water literacy” curriculum that science and ELA teachers at KCCP are implementing this year. Using their own courtyard as a microcosm for citywide flooding issues, students are learning about flooding, erosion, soils, and local ecology as they propose design solutions to reshape and re-imagine their courtyard. 

Ripple Effect science curriculum in a KIPP Central City Primary classroom
Ripple Effect science curriculum in a KIPP Central City Primary classroom

At the same time, Ripple Effect designers are actually redesigning the courtyard to curb flooding and use water in playful and enriching ways. Rain gardens planted with native irises and cypresses will teach students about local ecology; a grove of trees will offer quiet spaces for reading and shade; a giant play mound will give students a new vantage point and illustrate the interplay between the flow of water and topography.

Courtyard Redesign
Courtyard Redesign
The courtyard will feature rain gardens, a grove of trees, and a play mound
The courtyard will feature rain gardens, a grove of trees, and a play mound

Your Contribution

Your tax-deductible donation will ensure that we can break ground this year and make a difference for every child that passes through the school’s front doors this July. Your impact will last for decades, and be seen in the contributions of the scientists, architects, engineers, policy makers, and ecologists that start who careers here in this courtyard. 

Companies like Waggonner & Ball Architects, Spackman Mossop Michaels, and OPA Signs & Graphics are already contributing their services. Both the Meraux Foundation and the Kabacoff Family Foundation are contributing funding as well. But we will only be able to reach our $150,000 goal with your contribution. 

 Here’s what various donation levels would mean for this project:

  • A $100 donation will help us demolish asphalt.
  • A $250 donation will buy us one cypress tree. 
  • A $500 donation will allow us to buy 40 Louisiana irises for the rain garden. 
  • A $1000 donation will allow us to bring in fresh soils, mulch, and other surfaces to replace asphalt and concrete. 
  • A $2,500 donation will allow us to build 100 square feet of the rain garden. We are planning a 2,000 sq. ft. rain garden that holds over 20,000 gallons of water. 
  • Donations that help us surpass the $65,000 mark will allow us to build a play mound, and provide outdoor furniture, and educational signage that will further enrich the courtyard as an environment for learning and play. 
Comments from KCCP teachers on proposed courtyard
Comments from KCCP teachers on proposed courtyard
Comments from KCCP teachers on proposed courtyard
Comments from KCCP teachers on proposed courtyard

Project Background

We live in the Mississippi River Delta, a dynamic environment with distinct patterns of water flow, soil formation, and erosion. The region and the city are characterized by flowing water, unstable ground, and also abundant natural resources. Learning about water resources, water management, and ecology are especially critical in an era of climate change, sea level rise, uncertain weather, and diverse environmental stresses. Nowhere is that more important than in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, levee failures inundated the city with brackish water from the Gulf of Mexico. This school, KIPP Central City Primary, was flooded with over 4 feet of water.

Mississippi River Delta
Mississippi River Delta
KIPP Central City Primary days after Hurricane Katrina, 2005
KIPP Central City Primary days after Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Spurred by the tragedies of 2005, planners, designers, and engineers working on the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan and related projects have started to shift the regional paradigm from fighting water with pipes and pumps to a more sustainable and resilient approach in which we reshape the urban environment to reduce flooding by safely storing stormwater in green spaces, balancing groundwater levels, and enhancing local ecosystems. None of this work, though, will be possible without an informed and water literate citizenry with a deep understanding of natural resources, ecology, and infrastructure, and with the ability to work collaboratively towards stronger, safer, and healthier communities.

In 2012, one teacher and three designers in New Orleans created a water workshop for 30 fourth graders at KIPP Central City Primary, as part of a three-week study of the city’s geography and topography, subsidence, flooding, infrastructure, and international “water cities.” Students then proposed design-based solutions to the flooding they regularly experienced in their own schoolyard.

Today, that same teacher and a designer from the original team have formed Ripple Effect, which consists of teachers, designers, and water experts, all working on "water literacy" curriculum for grades K-4 at this same school. Next year, we are expanding to schools across Greater New Orleans, and building upon partnerships with the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board and Waggonner & Ball Architects to improve the quality and the reach of both our curriculum development and our site remediation programs.

As we expand to additional schools in the coming years, the curriculum we develop will always be paired with an actual built project on that campus. Doing so will allow us to connecting learning in the classroom to what the kids experience and can learn from the school environment themselves. 

Risks and challenges

This Kickstarter campaign comes at a critical time in the life of this project. In January 2015, we began design and fundraising. With seed funding from KIPP New Orleans, and through private donors and foundation grants, we have been able to raise $70,000 to help cover fees for professional designers working at reduced rates, as well as some construction costs. Kickstarter funds will allow us to continue the project through July, completing construction before school is back in session in August.

This construction schedule is ambitious, but thanks to our experienced and talented design team – including our Project Manager, who hails from Auburn University's Rural Studio, and whose background is in design/ build projects – we feel confident that we can build all major elements this summer, in time for the start of school.

In addition to our Project Manager, the team consists of an Art Director from Ralph Appelbaum Associates, an Urban Designer from Waggonner & Ball Architects, and a Landscape Designer from Spackman Mossop & Michaels. Combined, they have over 20 years of experience in designing and building client-focused, innovative, and sustainable projects.

Additionally, all team members are part of the larger organization of Ripple Effect, which began one year ago, funded by the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans. With that program, we have brought together 9 designers, 7 teachers, and 7 water experts, to create curriculum for over 300 students at this same school, KIPP Central City Primary. Ripple Effect will expand to additional school communities throughout New Orleans in the 2015-2016 school year.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A personal email from Ripple Effect co-founders Claire Anderson and Aron Chang with a construction update and a picture of the construction process.

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    Thank you postcard signed by students, with photograph of Ripple Effect students learning about local water issues.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of the above, plus a large format (12" by 16") Ripple Effect poster, designed by Aki Carpenter and Chris Huban.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Postcard from students, plus an original print, drawing, or photograph based on student work and water resources, created by Ripple Effect designers.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of the above, plus a Limited edition canvas tote bag bearing the Ripple Effect seal.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Your name on a donor recognition sign at KIPP Central City Primary, plus all of the above, and a guided visit to KIPP Central City Primary.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Your name on a donor recognition sign at KIPP Central City Primary, plus a guided tour of New Orleans water infrastructure sites, including a drainage pump station, with Ripple Effect co-founders Claire Anderson and Aron Chang.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Naming rights to a key component of the new courtyard, name on a donor recognition sign at KIPP Central City Primary, guided tour of New Orleans water infrastructure sites, and an invitation to a dinner on Bayou St. John cooked by TSAI pop-up chef [https://tsainola.wordpress.com/] and Ripple Effect co-founder Aron Chang. Those outside of New Orleans will receive a gift bag of New Orleans delectables, including Cajun rice, hot sauce, and pralines.

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Funding period

- (21 days)