Student Outreach!

Thank you, Jamilah Grizzle, for tabling for HarborLAB at CUNY LaGuardia Community College! Thank you Holly Porter Morgan and the environmental science program for putting the event together and for advancing the LIC Greenway effort! Thank you Scott Sternbach and Rich Furlong for supporting Jamilah’s efforts!

If you’d like HarborLAB to come to you school or university, drop us a note at edu@harborlab.org!

Patagonia NYC Grant!

A huge thanks to Patagonia NYC for reaching out to HarborLAB and then selecting us for a grant and other material and volunteer support! We have exciting news coming this spring and this backing will be a huge help in making the most of it!

Women’s History, Women’s Futures in STEM

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a cue from the Smithsonian’s #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit to highlight women who are driving progress right now, in this critical moment. Women are bringing their brains and dedication to bear against climate chaos, cancer, ignorance, and mass extinction while also pushing the boundaries of cosmic wonder and computing. Walk among them — or at least their 3D printed avatars — from March 5 to 27 in Washington, DC. Or read about their exciting paths online.

Most importantly, celebrate those girls, young women, returning students or professionals in your life who is curious and committed to using the tools of science, technology, math and engineering to build a better world.

New Boat Fleet!

HarborLAB Boathouse Project Infrastructure Manager Elsie Perez-Ingabire with her wife, leading the 2021 Pride Paddle aboard a Sea Eagle 385ft Fast Track.
HarborLAB Boathouse Project Co-Director Kamala Redd on the 2021 Candidates Paddle with now-City Council Member Julie Won aboard an Advanced Elements Strait Edge 2 Pro.

We are happy to announce HarborLAB’s new boat fleet! Thanks to the generosity of The New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP)/Hudson River Foundation, NYC Ferry, Investors Bank and other supporters, HarborLAB purchased 12 new tandem kayaks! We will be adding branded sponsorships, so we welcome new supporters to be recognized on the boats themselves and in other media.

After testing the Sea Eagle 385ft Fast Track and the Advanced Elements Strait Edge 2 Pro on NYC waters in volunteer outings — even Manhattan circumnavigations! — and public programs, we are the first nonprofit boating group to make the leap to the next generation of higher tech, drop-stitch inflatable kayaks. The proven advantages over rigid plastic sit-on-top models include:

  • Higher performance with sharper bows and stern skegs.
  • Greater safety (multiple inflated chambers vs one rigid).
  • Greater comfort thanks to vastly superior seats (three for the Sea Eagle, two for AE).
  • Safer, more sustainable transportation within a dense urban environment.
  • Easier repairs (patching rather than welding).
  • Local customer support, with Sea Eagle based on Long Island.
  • Half the weight of rigid boats but more carrying capacity.
  • Compact storage (freeing up boathouse floor space for other off-season educational programs).

Our old, rigid sit-on-top tandems were getting brittle from UV exposure and other weathering, plus the wear-and-tear of thousands of users over the course of a decade. The manufacturer told us that their rotomolded plastic boats “weren’t meant to be repaired.” Given their size, storage was a challenge without a boathouse, so we also suffered theft and vandalism. Transportation was exhausting for volunteers and not safe or sustainable, requiring trucks and trailers.

We have kept those of our original kayaks that remain in safe working order. The others we are repurposing. A local company expressed interest in converting them into planters for native species on a parking lot.

We hope you come try out our new fleet, which we’ll be expanding! You’ll see them on the water, in a boathouse, in small electric vehicles, and on our backs and luggage carts on the subway!

Tandem kayaks in backpacks! That’s seating for 8 right there: 3 for each Sea Eagle and 2 for each Advanced Elements.
That’s 12 tandems, or seating for 34! 3 for each Sea Eagle and 2 for each Advanced Elements

Honoring MLK, Jr. through Water.

MLK circa 1965 Courtesy of Malcolm Lauredo/Hampton House / colorized by Dayana Ibara

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” But he knew as much as any that while nature looses water, humanity binds it. We commodify it, channel it, and decide who can have access to it. A bit too much like justice.

The top two points of HarborLAB’s mission statement are:

  1. To foster estuary and NYC watershed-themed ecological and natural science education, especially for underprivileged NYC youth and underrepresented community members.
  2. To foster estuary ecological restoration and NYC watershed conservation as a justly shared legacy.

Systemic racism for generations kept African Americans away from public pools and beaches and made many private options financially unattainable. New York City is no exception. HarborLAB volunteers are working to help restore a venerable cultural legacy from which the whole world has benefited. The second oldest discovered boat in the world is the 8,500-year old Dufuna, Nigeria canoe, predated by about 2,000 years by only one dugout canoe unearthed in Pesse, Netherlands. Maritime archeologists have determined that the Dufuna canoe’s sophistication indicates a boatbuilding tradition that reaches much deeper into ancient prehistory than is likely for Europeans. The Dutch boat was preserved by hypoxic peat, which are common to Northern Europe, while very few wooden structures last very long in tropical Africa.

While HarborLAB focuses on environmental STEM education using kayaks and canoes, just the act of actively welcoming diverse communities to paddle is an action against racist structures. Being on the water quickly feels natural, and participants understand that they can return to the water with HarborLAB, on their own, or with others because the water belongs to them. This goes for the estuary and reservoir system alike at a time when disparities in sewage processing and drinking water infrastructure make for deathly headlines. Our boat choices, public programs, and “Partner Paddles” with NYCHA resident groups, public schools, organizations with community pools, and CUNY all aim to reduce barriers to entry. We’re even exploring ways to celebrate natural hair styles that make participation easier.

We welcome your suggestions as to how we might be of even greater service to all. Please email us at volunteer@harborlab.org.



2022 Public Programming!


As we hold a steady course through waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect a more active public paddling season in 2022. This is thanks to vaccines, therapeutic advances, and good public health policies produced by the same philosophical method that undergirds environmental stewardship: science.

Please understand that at this early date our event schedule — based on NOAA‘s astronomical tidal current calculations — is incomplete and tentative pending permits, partners, pandemic conditions, and the usual weather and water quality concerns. We will be adding and amending events bit-by-bit over the coming months. Please keep checking our Facebook Events Page and the Calendar tab here to keep up, and email volunteer@harborlab.org to be added to our periodic outreach.

Our public paddles and educational programs are FREE and we gratefully accept donations and information about potential sponsors and donors. Events marked as “Volunteer Reward Paddle” are special invitation adventures to hone staff skills and to thank those who labor with us to provide wonderful experiences for all.

Before we even hit the water for public events, this spring we’ll be scheduling safety training, planting trees and native flower seeds, gardening at our Newtown Creek site on Vernon Boulevard, and making upcycled shelters for indigenous animals on dates to be determined in discussions with park administrators. Some volunteers may paddle year-round with cold water safety gear for stewardship work and habitat and pollution documentation.


Recurring Events

First Mondays monthly at the Neversink Reservoir for NYC Public Schools and other youth groups, often preceded by Sunday events.

Wednesdays and Fridays, July and August at Gantry Plaza State Park and/or Governors Island: Harbor Camp introductory embayment paddles for NYCHA resident youth groups referred by United Neighborhood Houses.

Thursday morning water sampling at the Hunters Point South Park kayak launch and the Gantry Plaza State Park dock for quality testing at CUNY LaGuardia Community College’s lab.

Monthly second Thursday evening Green Drinks Queens environmental happy hours organized by HarborLAB.

Friday evenings from June 24 to September 2 at Hunters Point South Park: Friday Night Chill Paddles for all who want an introduction to the estuary through a mellow skyline-viewing East River tour.

May
5/7 Newtown Creek Sweep with Riverkeeper (WEATHER AND WATER QUALITY CANCELATION)
5/21 Newtown Creek Sweep with Riverkeeper
5/22: Water quality student tour with the Islamic Learning Center of NYC.
5/28 Neversink Reservoir Season Opener. Moving and cleaning boats that are in winter storage.

June
6/4 Family Fun Day Paddling at MacNeil Park with Coastal Preservation Network.
6/4: Guardians of Flushing Bay tour.
6/5 UN World Environment Day and World Oceans Day Paddle at Gantry Plaza State Park.
6/11 Pride Paddle for brunch at Brooklyn Bridge Park, launching from Hunters Point South.
6/18 Randalls Island cleaning and seeding, launching from Hunters Point South.
6/19 Juneteenth Paddle at Gantry Plaza State Park.
6/25 Mannahatta Paddle for SUNY ESF.
6/26 Manhattan Resilience Paddle.

July
7/2 Green Energy Independence Paddle at Gantry Plaza State Park.
7/3 Volunteer Reward Paddle to the Statue of Liberty, launching from Hunters Point South.
7/4 Volunteer Reward Paddle to view fireworks, launching from Hunters Point South.
7/13 Manhattanhenge Paddle at Gantry Plaza State Park.
7/13 Cinema Paddle to Socrates Sculpture Park, launching from Hunters Point South.
7/16: Guardians of Flushing Bay tour (small group).
7/16-17 City of Water Day Circumnavigation of Staten Island (small group).
7/27 Cinema Paddle to Socrates Sculpture Park, launching from Hunters Point South.
7/30 Randalls Island Park Waterfront Festival, launching from Hunters Point South Park.
7/31 Deaf Community Manhattan Circumnavigation, launching from Hunters Point South.
7/31 Safety support for Swim Across America cancer research fundraiser.

August
8/6 Green STEM Student Paddle to an innovative tech incubator.
8/10 Cinema Paddle to Socrates Sculpture Park, launching from Hunters Point South.
8/13-14 Volunteer Reward “Perseids Paddle” Manhattan Night Circumnavigation, launching from Hunters Point South.
8/20 Community Paddle (theme TBD) at Gantry Plaza State Park.
8/21 Vegan Dim Sum Run tour to Chinatown for sustainable food systems awareness, launching from Hunters Point South.
8/24 Cinema Paddle to Socrates Sculpture Park, launching from Hunters Point South.
8/27: Guardians of Flushing Bay tour.

September
9/3 Power Paddle tour of the East River’s history of energy generation.
9/10 Paddle to Earth Matters and Billion Oyster Project on Governors Island, launching from Hunters Point South (small group).
9/10: Guardians of Flushing Bay tour (small group).
9/18 Peace Lanterns Festival and Community Paddle at Gantry Plaza State Park.
9/24 South Brother Island Cleanup, launching from Hunters Point South.

October
10/1 Wisdom Day Paddle honoring environmental elders and teachers at Gantry Plaza State Park.
10/8 Guardians of Flushing Bay tour.
10/9 Neversink Reservoir season closer. Moving boats back to storage.
10/10 Algonquin history tour of Newtown Creek.

Photo by Jeffry Lim.

Omicron Variant Safety Notification.

Dear Volunteers, Students, Supporters, and Friends:

We updated our policies and programs earlier in 2021 to contend with the COVID-19 Delta variant (as explained here), and now we must do the same for the Omicron variant.

As of January 1, 2022 and until pandemic and endemic conditions have passed, all public-facing HarborLAB volunteers and students must evidence that they have received a COVID-19 booster shot on top of full vaccination. Our booster requirement will keep pace with any NYC Health and federal CDC recommendations for additional boosters or novel vaccines.

HarborLAB’s suspension of all in-person indoor programming will continue until further notice, but we expect to resume a busy outdoor schedule this spring with masking and distancing practices that meet or exceed NYC Health and CDC recommendations. We look forward to your company in gathering seeds, building houses for mason bees and bats and birds, gardening, cleaning shorelines, producing the Peace Lanterns Festival, and — of course — kayaking and canoeing!

New Board Members!

On October 15 the HarborLAB Board voted to add three new members. We are honored and grateful to include these outstanding people in our community!

167178376_10106731867869676_5323807531660959015_n

Jamie Ong
Environmental Protection Project Manager,
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.

Prior to joining the board, Jamie Ong worked with HarborLAB volunteers for the benefit of the habitat of South Brother Island, a Harbor Heron Preserve.

veras_ingrid

Ingrid Veras, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology,
CUNY LaGuardia Community College.

Prior to joining the board, Dr. Veras came out with HarborLAB on Newtown Creek, a waterway she’s monitored for years alongside her colleagues and students.

download (4)

Ebony Young
Nonprofit leader, CSR executive. Update: Appointed Deputy Borough President of Queens.

Prior to joining the board, Ebony Young partnered with HarborLAB for Instruction for Inclusion winter pool sessions at the LIC YMCA and supported our work as a corporate executive.