The Path of Water: Community Art Contest & Show in Georgetown, KY

By: Danny Woolums
Bluegrass Greensource
Environmental Educator

Growing up in a city like Georgetown comes with many different perks. When you have a small community, you often find yourself able to walk from home to your favorite coffee shop (oh how I miss Lock & Key!) or to the elementary school playground to play on the swingset. I reflect on catching my first bluegill at Royal Spring Park, canoeing along the Elkhorn at Great Crossing or catching bugs by the Elkhorn near Bi-Water Farm for my 7th grade science project.

All of these cherished memories were behind developing a stormwater walk as part of our contract with the City of Georgetown.

Living in Lexington for the past 8 years means that I have enjoyed watching as stormwater murals have popped up all over town and I wanted to be able to give the same kind of experience to the city that raised me. I wanted to be able to share art with my family and protect the same waters I once loved for the future generations. Because of a fantastic partnership with the Scott County Arts Consortium and Girl Scout Elise Marion, I am thrilled to see such a project coming to life.

The stretch of Broadway in Georgetown between the Indian Acres Shopping Plaza and Garth Elementary houses 22 stormdrains. We will be inviting Scott County artists to develop art that will be digitally printed to cover each one of those stormdrains. The local community will have an opportunity to select their favorite submissions at the Scott County Public Library between April 22nd and May 6th; a public reception will be held on the 22nd at 5 pm at the library. Once the finalists are selected, the will be printed an installed throughout May and June. A panel of judges will select the top 3 for cash prizes.

The goal of the City of Georgetown’s ‘The Path of Water’ project is to increase public awareness about stormwater, and city residents’ role in keeping the local environment clean and safe. This project aims to be an exciting way to engage many members of the Georgetown community and leave a lasting, positive impact on the city that first stole my heart. 


Getting Outside with PokémonGo

By: Danny Woolums
Bluegrass Greensource
Environmental Educator

For many young adults like myself, PokémonGo has been the realization of a dream we’ve had since we were children. Becoming a Pokémon trainer and catching all 150 of the magical creatures excited me and my brother while we battled it out on our GameBoys. Almost 2 decades later, I get a text from my brother asking when are we going to meet up so he can show me all of his supposedly more powerful Pokémon.

Beyond the nostalgia that the app brings me, I have found it a truly rewarding experience. On a more professional note, as an environmental educator, I am pleased and interested in how this game invites individuals of all ages, including those who aren’t nature-inclined, to get outside and engage with their local environment in the quest to catch them all.

If you aren’t already familiar with this phenomenon sweeping the world, I recommend reading this article from USA Today. By interfacing with real world through Google, integrating local landmarks, and then using the camera on your phone, Niantic has engaged users with the world around them in a way they’ve never before experienced.

PokémonGo has been a fantastic tool of getting people outside and talking to one another. Perhaps you’ve driven past a city park and seen a far higher number of people congregated together anxiously staring at their phones followed by a moment of shared joy. I have walked by so many people who I make eye contact with, laugh, and then continue walking because we’ve just exchanged a knowing look that says we’re all on the hunt for a nearby Pikachu.

PokémonGo is not without its naysayers. Some may argue, how does this interface encourage social interaction and engagement with the local environment, when you’re staring at your phone? I would only point them towards several individuals and organizations who are harnessing the power of this global phenomenon to educate and do good work for the earth. There’s the guy from Reddit, who decided to also pick up litter in the parks he was walking in, and encouraged other users to do the same. That post has more than 5,000 views on the Reddit platform. Biologists are using the game as a research tool, and are encouraging users to submit upload photos of real animals they find to Twitter using the hashtag #pokeblitz, so that the online scientific community can identify wildlife the game players didn’t previously have knowledge about.

Above all, I think about all of the people who are outside despite the weather, ignoring their televisions, not blasting the A/C, not turning on the lights, and the people just really enjoying playing outside for the first time in years. We can lament and condemn all we want about what it means for us as a society that it takes a game to get us outside, and I’d be more than happy to engage in that conversation, but right now I see that there’s a bulbasaur nearby and I am about to go outside, enjoy some sun, and catch it. Maybe I’ll see you there.


Tour showcases the beauty, benefits of Central Kentucky rain gardens

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A rain garden is a shallow depression that captures runoff from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, patios, driveways and parking lots, before it enters the storm water system. A rain garden uses natural processes to improve water quality by filtering pollutants and reducing the amount of storm water runoff. The water easily infiltrates into the soil because of the deep roots of the native plants and recharges the groundwater supply.

Rain gardens:

  • Significantly filter and reduce runoff before it enters local waterways and groundwater
  • Decrease drainage problems and localized flooding
  • Conserve water and reduce pollution
  • Attract pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies, and provide habitat for other wildlife
  • Recharge the groundwater supply
  • Enhance the beauty of yards and communities

Over the past two years, Bluegrass Greensource has held a series of workshops to provide Central Kentucky homeowners with the grants and guidance needed to install rain garden at their homes. These workshops educate homeowners about what they can do to help prevent stormwater issues at home and in their communities.

Bluegrass Greensource invites you to attend the ninth annual Rain Garden Tour series this July. The tours are a culmination of recent efforts to promote the use of rain gardens in Central Kentucky, and will showcase how rain gardens can be an attractive addition to your yard and help improve water quality.

The tours will be held on:

  • July 10 in Midway from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., starting at Midway Christian Church
  • July 11 in Berea from 1-4 p.m., starting at Union Church
  • July 12 in Georgetown from 1-4 p.m., starting at Scott County Public Library

Tour participants will view a variety of beautiful, established rain gardens varying in size, and design. They will also learn how to design and construct a rain garden of their own. Residents of Scott, Woodford, Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine and Madison counties will be eligible for a $250 reimbursement grant upon completion of a tour.

For additional details about rain gardens or the tour, visit our rain gardens page.


Kara Sayles is an environmental educator at Bluegrass Greensource, focusing on middle and high school grade levels. In addition, she serves the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance as rain garden project coordinator. Kara holds a bachelor’s degreefrom The Evergreen State College. She also received an associate’s degree from Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

This article appeared in KY Forward on July 1, 2015.


Rain gardens go with the flow, helping reduce runoff, improve water quality

As spring shapes up here in Central Kentucky, early flowers are in bloom and trees are starting to bud. For many of us, this sparks an interest in gardening.

One gardening option to consider this year is a rain garden. If you have water issues or just want to enhance your landscape, rerouting stormwater from impervious surfaces around your home into an eco-conscious rain garden.

A rain garden is a garden planted in a shallow depression in the path of stormwater. It allows the water to infiltrate the ground as close to its natural path as possible. One of the most important things to remember when considering a residential rain garden is that it is a garden—plain and simple.

Layout and plant selection are key features in a rain garden, just as in any other garden. Once your site, size and shape are determined, focusing on flowers and other plants is important in making the rain garden an attractive landscape feature for years to come.

There is not a specific model to follow in creating a rain garden. If you have done any gardening at all, you know that the basic recipe for success is preparing the soil and placing the plants in conditions where they will thrive.

Rain garden plants should tolerate standing water for brief intervals, as well a drought conditions. One way to keep a rain garden attractive all year is to make sure the different varieties of flowering plants bloom at different times. Also, adding a variety of heights and textures of plants to your garden will create a sense of depth and visual appeal.

Another consideration for your rain garden is adding garden accessories such as rock or garden benches. This can help incorporate the rain garden into your existing landscaping, as well as give you a nice place to sit and enjoy nature.

If you would like more information about constructing a rain garden, Bluegrass Greensource is offering residential rain garden presentations in Central Kentucky (see below). For more information, check out our rain garden webpage.

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Kara Sayles is an environmental educator, focusing on middle and high School grade levels. In addition, she serves the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance as rain garden project coordinator. Kara holds a bachelor’s degree with a focus on Ecological Design and Sustainable Agriculture from The Evergreen State College. She also received an associate’s degree in Environmental Technology at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 9, 2015.


Rain Garden Events Offered in September

Bluegrass Greensource will be hosting several Rain Garden Workshops this fall in Clark, Madison, and Woodford Counties. Each workshop is FREE and open to the public.

Fall workshop dates include:

September 4, 2014     Madison County Extension Office

September 6, 2014     Midway Christian Church

September 20, 2014   The Generations Center (Winchester)

September 27, 2014   Sustainable Berea


“Bluegrass Greensource is so excited to host these rain garden workshops in Central Kentucky,” said Kara Sayles, rain garden project coordinator. “We are also offering a limited number of $250 grants to eligible residents who want to build their own rain garden.” Only residents of Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford counties who attend a workshop are eligible to apply for these grants.

A rain garden is a garden planted in a shallow depression which is strategically located on a property where it captures stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, patios, and driveways, before it enters the stormwater system. The soil and plant roots use natural processes to improve water quality by filtering pollutants, the overall amount of stormwater runoff is reduced, and the groundwater supply is recharged.

The workshops are designed to educate homeowners about the benefits of installing a rain garden and improving water quality, and the best management practices for stormwater. Participants will learn how to determine the right location for a rain garden, how to build and maintain a rain garden, and what types of plants are most successful and environmentally beneficial. Additionally, the participants will have the opportunity to take part in planting native plants in a rain garden near the workshop.

“We are proud to educate Kentucky homeowners about the numerous benefits of rain gardens and to demonstrate a tool that virtually anyone can use to manage runoff on their property,” states Kara. Space is limited for workshops, so to register or learn more details, please visit Bluegrass Greensource’s website.

Additionally, we are offering a Rain Garden Tour in Fayette County on Sunday, September 14th from 2-5pm. Participants will tour several residential rain gardens in the Meadowthorpe neighborhood. The tour will begin at the Meadowthorpe Community Center at 333 Larch Lane, Lexington. Contact Kara Sayles for more information.

This work was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under §319(h) of the Clean Water Act. Bluegrass Greensource (formerly Bluegrass PRIDE) is an environmental non-profit organization that offers resources and educational information to foster positive environmental change in their communities. Founded in 2001, Greensource provides outreach to schools, community groups, businesses, local government, and citizens in Central Kentucky.


Rain gardens have many benefits for your yard and the environment

What if all of our neighborhoods incorporated stormwater that drains from the roof into the natural landscaping around our homes? Plants would be watered naturally, the groundwater recharged, and excessive curbing and stormwater systems could be eliminated. Instead of this modern, lackluster, concrete-filled, suburban environment, we could have flourishing ecosystems in our own yards, as well as better water quality in our creeks and streams. Utilizing rain gardens can help with many of our stormwater issues.

 (Photo provided)

A rain garden is a shallow depression that captures and treats runoff from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, patios, driveways and parking lots, before it enters the stormwater system. Rain gardens use natural processes to improve water quality by filtering pollution and reducing the amount of stormwater entering the storm sewer system. They are specially designated a BMP, or best management practice, which means rain gardens are among the most environmentally conscious ways of handling our stormwater.

As Bluegrass Greensource’s Rain Garden Alliance coordinator, it is great to see the number of rain gardens across Central Kentucky grow and be successful. The ultimate goal for me is helping others see rain gardens as the standard, and routing the water into a stormdrain as an alternative to be used only if needed.

The issue goes far beyond the environmental impact, however; designers also have to join in this quest. Early neighborhood designers had the right idea, incorporating gardens and community areas into the design. Somehow, in the American standard today, that gets left out. It’s mostly left up to the homeowner and community groups to reclaim land for those things.

For some, the concern about building a rain garden in the yard is the wild/weedy look that planting native perennials can give the landscaping around a house.  If the gardens are thoughtfully designed, however, the appearance can be determined by the homeowner and can be attractive.

Another benefit of building these gardens is the habitat and ecosystem they provide. Native plants attract native wildlife. Bees, butterflies and many other pollinator species are in decline, and it is in part because of lack of habitat. By planting native plants we can help provide more space for wildlife, bringing interesting visitors into our own yards.

If this type of garden is something you would like to learn more about, I encourage you to visit our webpage. We have several upcoming educational workshops this fall, as well as grants for homeowners in Jessamine, Clark, Bourbon, Woodford, Madison and Scott counties to build rain gardens at their homes.

Kara Sayles is an environmental educator, focusing on middle and high School grade levels. In addition, she serves the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance as rain garden project coordinator. Kara holds a bachelor’s degree with a focus on Ecological Design and Sustainable Agriculture from The Evergreen State College. She also received an associate’s degree in Environmental Technology at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

This post appeared in KY Forward on July 31, 2014.


Water Week Activities to be Held June 3 – 6, 2014

Grab your goggles, LiveGreenLexington Partners, because we’re diving into Water Week from June 3rd – 6th!  The water stewardship season of this year’s LiveGreenLexington Games runs through June 30th, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up and work on your scorecard. If you’re getting a late start (or just really want that water stewardship award), Water Week is the perfect opportunity to earn a little extra credit.

Water Week activities include:

  • Lunch-and-Learn on Water Conservation in the Workplace – Tuesday, June 3rd, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
    Eliminate waste, reduce your water bill, and help make Kentucky’s streams a little cleaner with these simple tips on water quality and conservation.  We’ll be focusing on easy, practical fixes – indoors and out – to help your business use water more efficiently, even if you lease your space and you don’t have as much control over the big picture as you would like.  Lunch and coffee are on us!  This event will take place in the Plantory’s conference room at 560 E Third Street.  Please RSVP to by Friday, May 30th to ensure there’s a lunch waiting for you.
  • Tour of the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant – Wednesday, June 4th, 10:00 – 11:00 am
    Where does the water you use wind up once it goes down the drain?  60% of Lexington’s wastewater (up to 64 million gallons per day) runs through the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the water you use at home and at work is cleaned and treated before being discharged back into our streams.
  • Stream Clean-Up at the Park Hills Shopping Center – Thursday, June 5th, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
    We don’t always think of litter as a water quality issue, but it is, and nothing makes that more apparent than seeing just how much litter washes directly into streams through our storm sewer system.  Help us clean up the stream behind the Bluegrass Greensource office in the Park Hills Shopping Center at 3120 Pimlico Parkway; we’ll provide gloves, bags, and litter pickers.  Be sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes that you don’t mind getting wet (just in case…we won’t ask you to dive in).  Sign-in runs from 2:00-3:30 pm.
  • Storm Drain Stenciling – Friday, June 6th, 2:00 – 4:00 pmStorm drains carry pollutants and litter straight into our streams every time it rains.  Remind your fellow Lexingtonians to respect our water by marking storm drains along National Avenue with the city’s “No Dumping – Drains to Stream” stencils.  If you’ve always wanted to do a little graffiti for a good cause, this is your chance!

For businesses participating in the water stewardship season of the Games, each activity will earn you one extra point; if your business is represented at all four activities, you’ll earn an additional point (for a total of five possible points).  Water Week activities are free and open to all LiveGreenLexington Partners, even if you’re not participating in the Games.  Email Beth Oleson with any questions, to register for any of our Water Week activities, or to find out how your workplace can become a Partner!


Roll Out the Rain Barrels 2014


Bluegrass Greensource will host its 11th Annual Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, June 20th. The event will take place at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Lexington’s Cheapside Park and, for the third year, will be a part of Gallery Hop.

The barrels are painted by local artists and serve as a reminder of the importance of proper stormwater management. They are seen by thousands of people throughout Central Kentucky, both in person and online. Visitors can cast an online vote for their favorite rain barrel and the artist who receives the most votes will win the coveted ‘Earth Artist Award.’

Join us for this year’s Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception to see all of this year’s artistic rain barrels, meet the artists, buy a painted rain barrel, and enjoy live music from the Big Maracas.

Click here to view this year’s artistic rain barrels and to vote for your favorite!