Stream Lines | Butler Stories

Stream Lines

Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

The Impact of Water

Walk in Holcomb Gardens these days and you’ll see a series of red lines, mirrors, backwards words, and a pedestal in the center where visitors can stand. There are poems written on the mirrors, as well as facts about the Indianapolis water system. And there are even jokes: What is a tree that looks different on both sides? Asymmetry. 

They’re all part of StreamLines, an interactive project that merges art and science to advance the Indianapolis community’s understanding and appreciation of its waterways. 

StreamLines—in place for the next two years—was unveiled in September 2015. It’s the result of a $2.9 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University. 

The project features a collection of dance performances (choreographed by Butler Dance Professor Cynthia Pratt), musical recordings, poetry, and visual art tailored for sites along the six Indianapolis waterways—White River, Fall Creek, Central Canal, Little Eagle Creek, Pleasant Run, and Pogue’s Run. The art created for each site invites the community to learn, explore, and experience the science of local water systems. 

Also incorporated into the project is an interactive website (streamlines.org), smartphone app, and related programming to increase access, enhance interpretation, and provide expanded opportunities for learning. 

Spokesperson Ryan Puckett said the objective is to inform Indianapolis about its waterways, to understand the impact water has on us, and to recognize the impact we have on water. 

“We’re not trying to get somebody a PhD in the science of water,” he said. “We’re trying to go for things like getting people to understand that we all live in a watershed. In Indianapolis, we live in the White River Watershed. When a drop of water hits the ground here, it eventually flows into the White River, which ends up in the Mississippi River, which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, which ends up in the ocean. So that connectivity to all those different waterways shows we can have some impact on the ocean.”