2011-01-07 / Community

RAA Sets Clearwater Presentation For January Meet


The mast of the Clearwater. The mast of the Clearwater. According to writer, lawyer and former teacher Vivian Carter, “Many may not know that the Hudson River is the location of the largest contaminated toxic waste site in the United States, and that Jamaica Bay is a critical part of the same tidal system, the Hudson-Raritan Estuary.”

At the January 10 monthly meeting of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Carter, a local environmental activist, will present a slide show about her October 2010 sail as an education volunteer on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the 40-year-old flagship floating classroom that launched a major environmental movement by “inspiring thousands of Americans to become involved in efforts to clean up pollution in the Hudson River.”

The meeting, open to the public, is 7:30 p.m. in sTudio 6 (Building T-6) at Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA), Fort Tilden, Gateway National Recreation Area. She will also speak about volunteering at the annual Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, the country’s largest music and environmental festival.

Carter says, “Shortly before Christmas, the General Electric Company, historically one of the largest polluters of the estuary, publicly announced that it would carry out its responsibilities for the final phase of dredging and capping the wastes it generated, under the supervision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through the Superfund program. Although many advocacy groups and elected officials participated in achieving this milestone, history will show that the true heroes in this effort were a committed group of artists, who began, forty years ago, to sing about the river and raise funds to build a beautiful sailing ship to draw attention to the plight of the river. This compelling story of committed civic activism is a tale of hope worthy of being spread far and wide.”

Carter is a member/ volunteer of numerous local community organizations, including RAA. She writes a monthly Wave column, “Rock Solid,” focusing on not-for-profit organizations located on and around the peninsula, and in August, 2010, launched “Oy Vey Rockaway,” a Word Press blog about local events.

The Hudson River Revival, says Carter, has occurred at various locations in the New York City metropolitan area, rain or shine, each Father’s Day weekend since 1969.

The non-profit, member-supported, Clearwater organization was founded by folk singer and civic activist Pete Seeger, writer of the classic folk standards “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “If I Had a Hammer.”

The Sloop Clearwater, a 106-foot replica of the 19th century sailing sloops that carried goods up and down the Hudson River, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the 1960s, funds to build the vessel were raised through grass-roots collection efforts at festivals and picnics held throughout the Hudson Valley.

The growing interest at that time in the river, the environmental movement, and the folk musicians who fostered it, also led to the launch of Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival. The two-day outdoor festival brings together top crafts vendors, environmental activists, and world-famous musicians on seven outdoor stages set up at Croton Point Park in Westchester County (the Revival’s home for the past decade). The spectacular riverfront setting also offers opportunities for festival-goers to sail on the Clearwater and her sister ship, The Mystic Whaler.

The public is invited to attend and learn more about the Clearwater organization and its mission.

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