Conservancy with a Splash of Color

Conservancy with a Splash of Color

To think, an eight-year strong conservancy movement all started with one woman’s desire to spruce up a plain, ugly, rain barrel.  Mural artist Linda Zolten Wood’s creative artwork has caught our attention, and her passion for spreading her love of environment conservation has caught our hearts.

Rain barrels capture water that drains from a roof and store it for future use on outdoor greenery, for washing your car, and, most importantly, for helping to keep Lake Erie clean. The use of rain barrels can repurpose the water that runs off of your property and ultimately reduces water costs and use. The investment is also cost-effective, as a barrel can last for ten years or more.  Additionally, homeowners with two barrels on their property can apply for a credit on their bill with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

In an effort to conserve rain water at her home, Linda requested a complimentary rain barrel from the City of Cleveland Office of Sustainability. When the barrel arrived, she thought, This will never do and quickly got to work, hand painting an inventive mural on its surface.  That same year, she launched a workshop and aided 30 people in designing barrels for their respective properties.

Conservancy with a Splash of ColorOver the past eight years, Linda has partnered with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in an effort to spread water conservation awareness throughout the city of Cleveland.  The team has created a fun and creative platform, known as The Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project, for families and community members of all ages. The North Collinwood community is known for its direct access to the Lake Erie shore.

The 55-gallon hand painted barrel murals that result from the community’s dedication and effort have been displayed at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Great Lakes Science Center, Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, and more businesses and storefronts around Cleveland.  Linda  has dedicated over 30 hours of love, time, and attention to each unique barrel, but community painting activities shave off about 10 hours of her labor time. Plus, according to Linda, “It’s much more fun that way.”

On June 1-2, those who are interested in starting a community garden, in artistry with a cause, or in joining this sustainability movement can bring their own barrel and link up with other family-friendly festivities at this all-day community project.

Linda is also partnering with Friends of Euclid Creek and City of Beachwood in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the final Cuyahoga River Burning to host a rain barrel painting competition for applicants from all Northeast Ohio counties. The top ten professional contestants, as well as amateur and child entrants, will earn an assortment of prizes.  Selected contest winners will also receive the opportunity to paint a 55-gallon rain barrel to be displayed at the Beachwood Community Center August from July 31-August 22.

Friends of Euclid Creek and City of Beachwood are sponsors of the competition,  thanks to a grant awarded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

If you are interested in entering the competition, design proposals guidelines can be found on Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project Facebook page. Applications are due Friday May 3rd.  You can email Susan Merdler at for a PDF application form.  City-approved barrels can be purchased at the City of Beachwood facility.

If you want to support this delightful cause, Linda is accepting donations of clean food-grade barrels. Visit The Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project Facebook page for more information on all upcoming events.

We are eager to see how our local artists will add a splash of color to our city’s canvas this summer. And to think, it all started with one drab rain barrel and one woman’s imagination.

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