Earlier this year, Waller Creek Conservancy and The Contemporary Austin joined together on a one-of-a-kind public art initiative to bring the internationally-renowned known artist, Orly Genger, to downtown Austin to create Hurlyburly––the site for our upcoming performance Panorama Playground.
The Conservancy is working to restore a blighted Waller Creek in downtown Austin and create authentic places for Austinites to experience parks, green space, and art. We sat down with the Conservancy’s Communications Manager, Dana Efthim, to learn more about their mission and the parks district they are working to restore.
What is Waller Creek?
Waller Creek is a waterway running in the heart of downtown Austin that is often forgotten as many Austinites don’t even know it’s here. But the Conservancy is working to change that. We are focused to restoring and revitalizing a mile-and-a-half stretch of Waller Creek, from 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, into an ecologically sustainable waterway. The creek connects to multiple park spaces, Waterloo and Palm Park, that are being renovated into places for education and free programming.
How and why was Waller Creek Conservancy formed?
The Conservancy is a 501(c)3 founded in 2010 by three visionary leaders––Melba Whatley, Tom Meredith, and Melanie Barnes––in an innovative public-private partnership with the City of Austin. Our goal is to bring awareness to the natural beauty, public gathering spaces, and restored vitality of Austin’s Waller Creek.
Why is it important for the community to care about Waller Creek?
Waller Creek is a great place for the people of Austin to come and enjoy green space. Our mission is to create a restored creek that will renew the natural environment, promote play, health and wellness, economic vitality, and mobility. We also aim to engage the community through education, cultural events, and the arts.
What is the Conservancy’s vision for Waller Creek? What are you currently doing to achieve this vision?
Once complete, the Waller Creek parks district will include more than 37 acres of newly designed and connected urban parks and public space, along with more than three miles of revitalized hike and bike trails. Neighbors and community members have already been helping to shape the park spaces through community engagement activities and programs in the parks.
What kind of opportunities does the community have to get more involved with Waller Creek Conservancy?
There are so many ways to get involved! Opportunities to volunteer span from creek clean-ups to family and kids’ programming. We also have a young leaders group, GenWaller, focused on advocating and bringing awareness about the Conservancy’s mission and the project. We encourage the community to check out our free programs and sign-up at wallercreek.org. We are a non-profit, so we rely on funding from people within the community–– every dollar helps!
Why is the Waller Creek Conservancy excited about for the premiere of Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly?
As an interactive installation, Orly Genger’s Hurlyburly has welcomed Austinites and visitors to experience art along Waller Creek in such a unique way. The installation invites play and movement and this combination of art, music, and dance will ignite such a dynamic evening. We can’t wait! We also look forward to Panorama Playground bringing new energy and interest to Waller Creek.
Dance Waterloo is extremely thankful to partner with such an amazing Austin initiative. We thank Waller Creek Conservancy for their efforts in cultivating an environment that inspires Austinites to always show love to our beautiful planet. To find out more about Waller Creek Conservancy and their new parks district, visit wallercreek.org.
And don’t forget to check out Dance Waterloo’s Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly on December 3 & 4.
By Ally Wheeler
November 22, 2016