‘City of Creeks’ debuts March 27, launches KEEPING WATCH second year


What creek is in your neighborhood? Where did it come from, and where is it going? Why was Charlotte settled amid so many creeks? Are urban streams important? Where does rainwater go? Can we do anything to help with pollution or flooding? Why should we care?

The three-year KEEPING WATCH initiative enters its second year with KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks, and it aims to challenge the public to understand our “City of Creeks.”

Events begin this month, with an online series of articles and an exhibition opening Friday, March 27, at the Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City.

Organized by UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, KEEPING WATCH seeks to foster collaboration across disciplines and interest groups to engage the public in local environmental issues. Through the work of artists, historians, writers, environmental experts, and scientists, KEEPING WATCH is connecting community partners and projects to raise awareness around three concerns: plastic waste and recycling (2014), water quality and urban streams (2015), and air quality and the value of trees (2016). For more information, please visit keepingwatch.org.

The KEEPING WATCH Alliance is a broad coalition of more than a dozen partners representing city and county government, the nonprofit cultural sector, environmental groups and UNC Charlotte (see list below).

The goal of KEEPING WATCH is to educate diverse communities in Charlotte about local ecological issues and to inspire “citizen scientists.” The initiative will use a wide range of integrated programs and presentations: contemporary arts, narrative nonfiction, photography and video, public exhibitions, film screenings, lectures and panel discussions, neighborhood-based events, and curricular activities. More than 14,000 people engaged with KEEPING WATCH on Plastics in 2014.

KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks

The focus of KEEPING WATCH in 2015 is urban streams. Charlotte’s waterways have shaped the development of the city and played important roles in resident’ lives. While the expanding greenway system has brought new recognition of and appreciation for some creeks, many remain covered by streets and parking lots. And throughout the county, streams are polluted.

At the foundation of KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks is a body of local research coordinated through the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute that ranges from oral histories to geographical mapping to scientific data. Arising from this research is a collection of integrated work – multimedia journalism that will be simultaneously displayed at PlanCharlotte.org and at keepingwatch.org, art exhibitions, and public educational art installations.


Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City
(March 27-June 17)
Works by artists Lauren Rosenthal, Stacy Levy, Marek Ranis, and Nancy Pierce explore our waterways in diverse media and from a range of perspectives – geographic, scientific, aesthetic, and spiritual. A vast and elegant cut-paper map, Mecklenburg Creeks Drawing, by Rosenthal shows the entire watershed of Mecklenburg County. Levy’s Watershed Pantry exhibits jars of water from local creeks. Stunning photography by Pierce documents the beauties and the troubles of our massive creek system. STEWARDSHIP, a video installation by Ranis, with Tina Katsanos, examines how our beliefs define our perceptions and actions toward the natural environment.

Interactive and educational experiences

Passage of Rain: How do you learn where rain goes after it falls from the sky and onto the sidewalk or street? Stacy Levy’s installation in west Charlotte’s Revolution Park neighborhood will reveal the path of rain and runoff along a .8-mile stretch, from street to storm drain to stream to a final destination in Irwin Creek.

Home Basin: Charlotte / An Interactive Guide to Urban Creeksheds: Detailed online story maps of Mecklenburg County creeks and streams by Lauren Rosenthal give residents a way to identify with and investigate their home creekshed.

Additional activities for KEEPING WATCH on WATER include film screenings/panel discussions and organized creek walks led by KEEPING WATCH Alliance members in April and May and an exhibit of historical maps and photos at the Charlotte Museum of History. Details on these and other happenings can be found at keepingwatch.org.


Organized by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture with Lambla artWORKS, the KEEPING WATCH Alliance includes community partners and sponsors.

Community Partners: Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, City of Charlotte, Charlotte Ballet, Charlotte Museum of History, Clean Air Carolina, Discovery Place, Greater Mount Sinai Baptist Church, Integrated Network for Social Sustainability, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Mecklenburg County Solid Waste Department, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, North Carolina Science Festival, Slow Food Charlotte, STEM Early College High School, Sustain Charlotte, UNC Charlotte Center for STEM Education, UNC Charlotte Office of Sustainability

Sponsors: Arts & Science Council, Blumenthal Foundation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, Foundation For The Carolinas, Olga and Jay Faison, The Graduate School at UNC Charlotte, The John L. and James S. Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, WFAE 90.7fm.