For many years, Beaver County residents and institutions have assumed that their regional identity is rooted in their past and not their future. Though their past is iconic, and their heritage is rich, the future of Beaver County is brimming with possibility.
RiverWise is a regional nonprofit established in 2018 who is using sustainable development to create a regional identity around the rivers of Beaver County. RiverWise recognized the need for the community to exercise agency over their future and established the organization to engage residents to dream, learn, and collaborate about the future of Beaver County’s rivers and the region. In addition to implementing projects and programs throughout the county, RiverWise established ecodistricts in three communities (Aliquippa, Monaca, and Beaver Falls) and has engaged residents in conversations, education, and projects to promote sustainable development.
To assist RiverWise in accelerating ecodistricts in Beaver County, evolveEA reviewed and refined existing efforts while setting the stage for future collaboration and funding opportunities. evolveEA analyzed past documents and engagement initiatives, and performed technical analysis and mapping to distill community assets, challenges, priorities, and ecodistrict vision statements for each of the six quality of life areas (equity, food, water, energy, air, and mobility). These efforts are summarized in the document Sustainable Steps Toward a Regional Identity for Beaver County, which positions the organization for future funding opportunities, clarifies the organization’s history and intent, and details clear priorities and next steps for RiverWise on their path to empower the residents of Beaver County through sustainable development.
Following this engagement, evolveEA worked with the Neighborhood North Museum of Play Children’s Museum and Beaver County stakeholders to advance a key catalytic project that was identified during the ecodistricts process. The Beaver Falls News Tribune Building sat vacant for over three decades and was finally acquired by the Beaver Falls Community Development Corporation in 2014.
After initial stabilization, engagement, and planning work, evolveEA developed a conceptual design for the building, reimagining it as a children’s museum that incorporates elements that represent each of the six ecodistrict quality of life areas. The design incorporates stormwater management practices, solar energy demonstration projects, green space, and more.