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Laughing Brook


Laughing Brook Wetland, Public Art
and Environmental Education Program

May 29, 2008 Public Dedication


On Thursday, May 29, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek sponsored a public dedication and celebration of the Laughing Brook wetland, public art and environmental education program at Salway Park, located across the street from the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. The event was open to the public. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Cincinnati Board of Education Member Catherine Ingram, and New York-based artist Jackie Brookner spoke at the dedication.

Laughing Brook is an important work of public environmental art, with a functioning wetland that will cleanse stormwater runoff from a portion of Salway Park. The wetland contains one hundred Biosculptures of human hands, fish and salamanders, created by Brookner. The project demonstrates sustainable design and eco-friendly stormwater management practices, including beautiful rain gardens.

Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek Executive Director Robin Corathers said €śLaughing Brook is located in the Mill Creek floodplain, and we hope the project will serve as a magnet for drawing visitors to Mill Creek and encouraging them to care about this wonderful natural resource. This little gem of a river flows through the geographic heart of our City and it can become again an incredible asset for our City and region. €ť

Laughing Brook is part of the City of Cincinnati €™s Mill Creek Greenway Program, lead by Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek. Salway Park is a heavily used recreational facility that serves over half of the City €™s neighborhoods.

The constructed wetland includes plants and rock layers to cleanse stormwater runoff from the park €™s large paved parking lots and an adjacent ball field. The sculptures will eventually be covered with mosses and liverworts that will help clean the water.

Visitors can walk on a boardwalk and pathways winding over and around the wetland to observe all components of the project. Rain gardens surround the wetland and are planted with Ohio native trees, shrubs and prairie plants. The gardens will help to absorb and filter stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, and serve as native species nurseries for the City €™s Mill Creek Greenway Program. Corathers said that over 300 students and community volunteers helped to plant the gardens.

In addition to the wetland water filtration system and the installation of native plants, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek Executive Director Robin Corathers said Laughing Brook incorporates other green or sustainable design features including:

  • Use of porous concrete, asphalt and pavers that allow rainfall to percolate through their hard surfaces and into the soils of the park.
  • Renewable solar energy, including three solar panels that will power a pump to circulate water in the wetland from an underground cistern during dry weather.
  • Reused and recycled materials and products including a boardwalk made from plastic lumber and an educational kiosk mounted on reused power poles. The kiosk panels will be made from recycled plastic created from about 4,000 plastic milk jugs

Corathers said that Laughing Brook will serve a number of public purposes. It will become an important outdoor environmental education resource for students, a demonstration site for sustainable design and eco-friendly stormwater management strategies, and a public amenity and focal point for thousands of park visitors.

The interdisciplinary team responsible for creating and nurturing Laughing Brook over the past five years includes: Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek; artist Jackie Brookner; Reece-Campbell, general contractor and volunteer construction manager; and Human Nature, landscape architecture services. ArtWorks apprentices and local artists Tony Luensman and Gordon Strain helped Brookner to fabricate the Biosculptures.

Major funding for Laughing Brook has come from Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek donors; Reece- Campbell, the City of Cincinnati, the Compton Foundation, the GE Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, Cognis Corporation, Cognis Oleochemicals, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek still needs to raise $28,000 in €śfinishing money €ť to complete the project this fall and to build a restricted maintenance fund to ensure future stewardship of the facility. Donations can be sent to Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek, 1662 Blue Rock Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45223.