Real Leaders

The Artist Who Challenges City Mayors to be Water-wise

Internationally renowned marine life artist, Wyland, has painted a new building mural to celebrate Earth Month. The new piece will be added to Wyland’s repertoire of over 100 building murals around the globe.

In 1993 Wyland founded the Wyland Foundation — dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s ocean, waterways, and marine life and encourages environmental awareness through community events, education programs, and public art projects.

An innovative painter, sculpture, writer, photographer, philanthropist, and filmmaker, Wyland has captured the imagination of people everywhere by completing over 100 monumental marine life murals around the world from 1981-2008. The project, known as the Whaling Walls, remains one of the largest public arts projects to date and continues to be seen by an estimated one billion people each year.

To mark its 10th anniversary, the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation is calling on people across the U.S. to take small, daily actions to reduce water waste and promote the sustainability of our nation’s water ecosystems. The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, kicked off with a live mural painting at Tuttle Elementary in Sarasota, Florida.

The mayor’s challenge started ten years ago in Florida by a handful of mayors who contacted the Wyland Foundation to work together on positive ways to more creatively engage and inspire their residents about water issues. Participants in the winning cities are eligible to win hundreds of prizes and last year, the challenge awarded more than $50,000 in prizes to nearly 300 residents in U.S. cities.

“In the last ten years, we’ve seen climate change and shifting weather patterns affect the distribution of water, pollution impacting the quality of water, and fresh water sources that are being used at a quicker rate than they are bring refilled,” said Wyland Foundation President Steve Creech. “That’s why it’s so important to have programs like this where people can learn what they can do to help.”

Last year, mayors from 39 states encouraged residents to make over 300,000 pledges to promote drought resiliency, protect watersheds, and, ultimately, reduce stress on aging water infrastructure. Events planned for the 10th anniversary include a multi-city Florida tour of the Wyland Foundation’s clean water mobile learning center, a 1,000-square-foot science center on wheels devoted to teaching communities about current issues ranging from water pollution, biodiversity, algae blooms, water as a shared resource, and best practices to protect marine habitats. A new digital engagement tool will provide additional opportunities for people who participate in the challenge to turn their pledges into specific localized actions that can have a positive impact.

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