The Details on the Rain Harvest Festival in Providence

It's a free, outdoor, family-friendly celebration of water, life, science, art and community.
Courtesy of Stormwater Innovation Center/Wolf Matthewson.

The Rain Harvest Arts Festival is a free, outdoor, family-friendly celebration of water, life, science, art and community in Roger Williams Park on June 12 from 2 to 6 p.m. The festival’s theme is caring for water, and home base is the area around the Boat House. The park has long been plagued by contaminated storm runoff, which fouls its lakes and ultimately flows into Narragansett Bay. Over the last several years, more than forty green infrastructure projects have been implemented in and around RWP; if you’ve walked through the park lately, you’ve probably passed berms, bioswales and other installations — some of which look like patios and gardens — whose function is to combat flooding and water pollution. The festival is sponsored by the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center, and will teach kids and adults about the science behind reducing stormwater runoff. “It’s making the invisible systems visible,” says Providence teaching-artist Andrew Oesch, one of the event’s orchestrators. Oesch and fellow artist and organizer Holly Ewald note that storytellers, musicians and artists will help forge these links. “The goal is to connect the dots about where the water goes,” says Oesch. Among the artists are a team from Central High School’s New Urban Arts Knights program who will paint a mural designed by local students. Hands-on activities include a scavenger hunt, chalk-drawing and decorating flags adorning a trail that links activities. Renewal figures strongly in the day’s events, which will also include water-quality testing, a ritual power-washing of the previous year’s mural and a finale mixing science, art, conservation and a bit of magic.