“All drains lead to the river.”

The words wrap around a painting of what — at first glance — appears to be a large blue fish. In reality, the mural depicts a water bottle with fish-like fins, floating among several blue and pink fish.

The sidewalk mural, located at the corner of Jefferson and 5th streets in downtown Goshen, is part the 2019 Storm Drain Art Project, which aims to celebrate Goshen’s water resources and find ways that residents and visitors can work together to protect them.

“Many, but not all, of the city’s storm drains flow directly to our local waterways, like the Elkhart River and Rock Run Creek, which means whatever falls or washes onto our roads can end up in a waterway with little to no treatment,” said Jason Kauffman, Goshen’s stormwater coordinator. “Stormwater pollution is the only growing source of water pollution in our country today. It includes ordinary things like soil, trash, oil, grass clippings, fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste. When these pollutants enter local waterways they not only pollute the water but also make it difficult for fish and other aquatic wildlife to live or even breath.”

The role of storm drains in Goshen became very clear in early June as a hailstorm caused many drains to become clogged with storm and trash, causing flash flooding in Goshen.

Direct support professional Petrana Petkova helped spearhead the project for ADEC. She brainstormed with the individuals she serves at Day Service at Goshen to come up with an art concept that would fit the 2019 theme: “Our rivers are worth protecting.”

After submitting a design proposal to a selection committee of city staff, elected officials and local artists, ADEC learned it was one of 10 projects selected to complete a mural.

“We were honored to be selected to participate in this important project,” said Donna Belusar, ADEC’s CEO and president. “Not only does it give us a chance to display the incredible artistic talent of the individuals with disabilities we serve, but it allows us to fulfill our mission of helping the people we serve become active members of their communities.”

ADEC’s project was sponsored by Abonmarche Consultants.

The City of Elkhart also coordinated a storm drain art project, in which ADEC sponsored artist Leah Borden for a mural.

Art by ADEC isn’t just found on storm drains. One-of-a-kind creations by the individuals ADEC serves in its five day service locations can be purchased at Gaining Grounds Coffee Shops in Goshen and Bristol. The paintings, wood carvings, jewelry, ceramics and more make perfect and unique gifts or home decor options. Half of the purchase price of every piece of ADEC goes directly to the artist as a paycheck while the other half goes to support ADEC’s art program.