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Promote Rainwater Harvesting With a Rain Barrel Painting Contest

Here’s a word that was developed in the 21st century: gamification.

You may be able to deduce its definition: the process of turning a task or procedure into a game in order to encourage a certain behavior. Chances are, you’ve probably “gamified” something in your life – like challenging your children to clean their room faster than their siblings, or even tossing pine cones or other yard debris into a trash can and keeping score.

Gamification, Gamification Everywhere

These days, organizations are embracing the concept of gamification. Fitness groups are awarding points for completing diet or exercise “challenges” and letting participants keep score on a website; while the U.S. Army is incorporating video games into their online recruitment portal. Gamification also works for green living behaviors, like giving rewards points for recycling or transforming a dull bottle collection bin into a faux-arcade game with lights and sounds.

Now, there’s another way to “gamify” rainwater harvesting in your community – by hosting a rain barrel painting contest!

Wisconsin Community Loves Its Painted Rain Barrels

Rainwater harvesting
A sampling of some of the entrants in the Washburn Neighborhood Association’s rain barrel painting contest.

That’s what the Washburn Neighborhood Association in La Crosse, Wisconsin is doing again this year. They’re encouraging people to pay $15 for a rain barrel provided by the organization, and then to show off their artistic skills by painting the outsides of the barrels however they choose. All of the rain barrels are to be returned to the public library, where they will be judged and displayed during the community’s Garden Expo. And get this: the painted rain barrels will be auctioned off to those in attendance, with all proceeds going toward improvement projects in the neighborhood.

The group’s previous rain barrel painting contests have produced a wide array of artistic masterpieces. Some entrants featured cloud, farm, or meadow scenes; while others displayed depictions of Mother Nature herself. Flowers, butterflies, trees, and colorful designs were in abundance on these barrels, and artists ranged in age from youngster to senior citizen. This year’s theme for the contest is “Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees.”

Rainwater harvesting
A sampling of some of the entrants in the Washburn Neighborhood Association’s rain barrel painting contest.

A Contest With a Green Goal

The purpose of the rain barrel painting contest is not only for artists to flaunt their painting skills, but also to raise awareness about rainwater harvesting in general. Placing a rain barrel under your gutter’s downspout lets you collect the runoff water from your roof. From a spigot near the bottom of the rain barrel, you can hook up a garden hose, open the valve, and use the water for a wide variety of applications. Many homeowners rely on harvested rainwater to water their lawns, nourish their plants and gardens, and even to wash their cars.

You Can Do It, Too!

So why not promote this eco-friendly practice by holding a rain barrel painting contest in your community?

Rainwater harvesting
You might be awestruck at some of the artistic talent that exists right in your own community

Though it may take some work, organizing this event may not be as difficult as you think. If you partner with a community association or environmental group, more people can lend their efforts and promote the event via social media, flyers, or word-of-mouth. You may be able to get donated (or low cost) rain barrels from your municipality or water company, and perhaps even obtain donated prizes from area businesses for your winners. Or you can hold a silent auction with the painted barrels like the folks in La Crosse did, and then give the proceeds to a charity or environmental cause of your choice.

This type of gamification can be fun for your community as well as beneficial for the planet. Hopefully, your efforts will lead to a greater prevalence of rainwater harvesting in your area.

Written by Del Thebaud

Image credits: YouTube

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