Submitted: The Two Sides Team August 1, 2013
The Cahaba River Society has joined Alabama Innovative Engine and the Nature Conservancy in Alabama to produce the Cahaba Blueway project, a proposed trail to guide outdoor enthusiasts along the river, bring economic development and raise awareness of the importance of the river. The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Alabama Engine was awarded a $47,820 Sappi Fine Papers Ideas that Matter grant in 2012 to help fund the production of the story-book and video.
News – July 29, 2013
The Cahaba River Society has joined Alabama Innovative Engine and the Nature Conservancy in Alabama to produce the Cahaba Blueway project, a proposed trail to guide outdoor enthusiasts along the river, bring economic development and raise awareness of the importance of the river.
Alabama Engine project director Matt Leavell said the three organizations came together to get the
multiyear project started.
People have been trying to get a trail along the Cahaba for a long time, Leavell said.
The three organizations sought the help of Doug Barrett, assistant professor of design at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a team of graphic design majors to produce a logo, website, a mobile app, a book, a video and signage along the river.
The book, The Cahaba River Experience, is expected to be completed by early August. The goal of the storybook is to communicate to surrounding areas how the river impacts everyday life, according to Samantha Gibbons Design, a website of one of the designers of the project. The storybook features four themes: the river, trails, history and the community.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Alabama Engine was awarded a $47,820 Sappi Fine Papers Ideas that Matter grant in 2012 to help fund the production of the story-book and video. The grant is awarded to a limited number of designers each year who support the needs of a nonprofit organization, in this case the Cahaba River Society. Leavell said the grant paid for a few thousand copies of the storybook and a couple thousand DVDs for the video, which will also be posted online.
Leavell said the Cahaba River Society hopes the project helps improve the quality of the watershed by educating people with the storybook and video. Alabama Engine, jointly funded by the University of Alabama and Auburn University, hopes to bring economic development. Alabama Engine hopes to bring economic development. With Americans spending $646 billion each year on recreation according to the Outdoor Industry Association, the economic impact of the Blueway will be great, Leavell said.
The Cahaba Blueway will increase the people who will get out and enjoy the river and ensure that more people will understand and protect the river, said Cahaba River Society Field Director Randy Haddock.
The designers set out to talk to people in surrounding communities in order to reflect their desires for the watershed, Leavell said. He said they wanted to help the people of Birmingham understand more about living rural and help rural people understand living in Birmingham by reading the storybook. He said the visuals would help them imagine what the project could be.
This is about creating something with the community, he said.
Leavell said the river touches everyone and that the more people know about the river the less likely they are to pollute it. In that way, he said, the Blueway will draw more people.