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UA community garden paints cistern

A+group+of+people+paint+the+cistern+in+the+UA+Community+Garden+on+April+15.+The+cistern+collects+rainwater+to+be+used+to+water+plants+in+the+garden+and+surrounding+area.
Leah Gilchrist

A group of people paint the cistern in the UA Community Garden on April 15. The cistern collects rainwater to be used to water plants in the garden and surrounding area.

Students for Sustainability hosted an event in the UA Community Garden on Saturday to paint a mural on the side of the garden’s rainwater cistern and to come together as a community.

Students for Sustainability, the SFS UA Community Garden Committee and the SFS Environmental Arts Committee planned the “Painting the Cistern!” event as a way to celebrate the community’s hard work to get a rainwater cistern into the garden. The 20,000-gallon cistern was brought to the garden through student funding and planning through Students for Sustainability. The cistern is one of the first rainwater harvesting cisterns on campus. It collects water from the top of the Highland parking garage, and the water is used to irrigate the garden and other surrounding areas.

“It’s been going on for so many years now, I think three or four years now, and finally this year is the first year that it was functional.” said Jackie Mendelson, the UA Community Garden manager and a senior majoring in plant sciences. “It’s a testament to student initiative and student commitment to water harvesting.”

At Saturday’s event, SFS aimed to bring the community together to celebrate the cistern and the work the garden has done this year.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come and interact with the garden space.” said Erin Scott, a member of the SFS Environmental Arts Committee, head of planning the Painting the Cistern! event and a freshman majoring in studio art.

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The team created the design for the mural on the side of the cistern. They wanted to create a mural design representative of the garden and community, deciding on a desert scene with the Santa Catalina Mountains, cactuses, native plants and desert wildlife.  

The mural took up just a few panels of the cistern, as the Environmental Arts Committee decided it would like to annually add to more of the panels of the cistern. The committee decided on a paint-by-number system to paint the mural to make it easy and draw cohesion from the project.The 10 a.m. event brought students out for music, food and painting in the garden. It was an event open to all in the community to join in, enjoy the weather and paint the cistern.

Sigourney Sanchez, a member of the SFS Greening the Game Committee and a junior majoring in general studies, came out to help paint the cistern on Saturday morning.

“I’ve always had a love for painting and art in general, and it really relaxes me,” Sanchez said. “After this week I kind of just needed to breathe and I feel like this is a very zen atmosphere.”

Sanchez wanted to come out to support the UA Community Garden Committee with their event while taking a moment to enjoy the nice weather and clear her mind with painting. 

She said it was important for her to come and help because she knows looking back she can say she had a hand in painting the cistern.

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The high turnout in the garden meant many hands helped paint the mural. The mural was completed with just a few small details to go in about half the time expected. The Community Garden was vandalized earlier in the semester, and with that loss still in the back of the minds of many members of the program, they look to host peaceful events in the garden with members of the community as they rebuild.

“These last couple of months we’ve been in the process of rebuilding since the vandalism, but having a beautiful mural on our cistern is just something we really need right now.” said Feibien Cheah, a garden intern with Students for Sustainability and a junior majoring in optical science engineering.

The students hope to expand on the mural in the future and to be able to add panels of ideas and inspiration for years to come.


Follow Leah Gilchrist on Twitter.


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