That's the first thing 14-year-old Heather Meece thought when she heard about our contest to develop the cover image for this special issue of PUBLIC WORKS: your one-stop-shop for the companies, services, and associations that serve the nation's public infrastructure industry. We announced our search for a picture of public works as seen through the eyes of your youngest customers (ages five to 15) with full-page advertisements in our December and January issues and electronic newsletter.
But as her art teacher explained the contest requirements, Heather got nervous. Entries had to represent at least three elements of “public works,” and she wasn't sure what those would be.
Once she hopped on the Internet, though, she quickly learned what the 14 categories of this buyers' guide amply demonstrate: that “public works” touches everything she does every day:
- The sidewalks and roads she travels to and from Pequannock Township High School in New Jersey
- The traffic lights, street signs, and crosswalks that ensure she travels safely
- The trees, flowers, and grass in medians and boulevards, parks and playgrounds, and along highways
- The tap water she chugs after soccer, basketball, and lacrosse practice
- The paper, glass, and plastic her family separates from the rest of their garbage
- The snow plows that clear her street
- The water she bathes in and flushes down the toilet.
Researching your world forced Heather to see her world in a completely new and different light. “I didn't realize public works was such a wide variety of different things together,” says the aspiring artist and teacher.
No one in Heather's family is employed by a public works department. But her art teacher is married to someone who is: Bill Murphy, a staff engineer at the award-winning Two Bridges Sewerage Authority. The tertiary-treatment facility in Lincoln Park, N.J., serves 40,000 residents nestled between interstates 287 and 80. (When I called to tell him his entrant would be featured on our cover, Bill was stranded at home, his 7½-mgd plant having been flooded by heavy storms that hit the East Coast in April.)
Bill's been reading PUBLIC WORKS for at least two decades. He saw our ad and gave it to his wife, Lauren, who shared it with Heather.
Since Pequannock is one of the cities Two Bridges Sewerage Authority serves, Heather is one of Bill's customers. In giving Heather the opportunity to explore his world, he opened the door to a relationship with infrastructure that most people don't have. For Heather, “public works” is more than a concept; it's two human beings: Bill and Lauren Murphy. Just as we hoped, our cover contest connected readers with future customers.
We've included as many of the entries as we could in this issue, but we weren't able to fit them all into our pages. To see the rest of the submissions, click here Thank you to the readers who shared this opportunity with their constituents.
Editor in Chief