On Tuesday Mike Marek led his 12th training of the MMSD Fresh Coast Interns. This partnership with Clean Wisconsin and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has been a long running success story with now close to 100 student interns trained on the basics of Green Infrastructure. This was a group of 8 students that are studying civil engineering, environmental engineering, environmental geography, economics, and a few other combined focus areas.
We do a ½ day in the classroom and a ½ day in the field of rain barrel and rain garden installation. These students get a ton of information and always ask great questions and leave pretty charged up about Green Infrastructure. Mike of course shares a few old stories about how he got into this and where we can go from here with green infrastructure. That includes the important conversation about social, environmental, and economic justice. This project has focused the installations in the 30th St Industrial Corridor neighborhood that has been hit by disinvestment (until recently) and has been affected by historic flooding due to its position in the watershed. Much of this flooding has been alleviated by the Green Infrastructure work and the 30th St Wet Weather Relief Project that Marek helped design in 2016 and was constructed in 2017).
The best part of the classroom portion of the day is the Soil Test in which students participate in a comparative experiment of 4 different soil medias used in Green Infrastructure. This is a hands-on demo that we learn so much from our direct observations and it re-teaches us to think about these things as high-performance systems. This year we included a tour of some of the residential sites built in the past years. We finished with lunch at the Wet Weather Relief project basins that are now maturing and performing quite well. It was a lovely day!
This project and teaching students about Green Infrastructure and how we can fix our urban watershed is always a huge inspiration to us here as the students bring big energy and informed passion to their study and their work.