The HarborLAB East River Ferry!

HarborLAB's morning crew of volunteers and supporters. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

HarborLAB’s morning crew of volunteers and supporters. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

HarborLAB is very grateful to NY Waterway for its exceptional generosity in providing a special City of Water Day ferry for our boats and volunteers to reach Governors Island in time to provide services. Storms threatened to disrupt the day, according to forecasts earlier in the week. Because we were to commence the public kayaking program on Governors Island at 11AM, we didn’t have the scheduling luxury of “playing it by ear.”

NY Waterway is a sponsor of both HarborLAB and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which produces City of Water Day. The company also runs special ferries from Manhattan to Governors Island in support of City of Water Day.

When HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard called NY Waterway CEO Arthur Imperatore and Operations Chief Alan Warren to explain our worries, they kindly offered a special East River Ferry to get our volunteers, educational literature, boats, tables, canopy, and other needed items to the island before 10AM. This also saved us the trouble of delivering some items to City of Water Day producer Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s offices in Manhattan. HarborLAB extended this offer to Green Shores NYC, LIC Community Boathouse, Newtown Creek Alliance, North Brooklyn Boat Club, and other waterfront and environmental groups. We were happy to bring longtime Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point Library community leader Mark Christie among our fellow passengers, along with Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association (thanks to NYCHA Community Outreach professional Howard Hemmings).

The ferry captain and crew members were very courteous and kind, and quick!  Our gratitude to them too!

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HarborLAB Operations Manager EJ Lee exults in the morning sun and breeze aboard the special East River Ferry provided by NY Waterway. Somewhere Celine Dion is smiling. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

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HarborLAB Facilities Manager Patricia Menje Erickson shows her Con Ed pride! Not only is Con Ed a HarborLAB sponsor and a City of Water Day sponsor, but it’s also her employer. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

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A beaming Mrs. Coger represents NYCHA residents, specifically the Astoria Houses. We’re very grateful to Howard Hemmings for helping HarborLAB learn directly from the community about needs and goals.

 

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Boats below deck while volunteers enjoyed fresh morning air. Photo by Erik Baard.

Western Queens Green Resources Fair

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HarborLAB was a hit at the packed Western Queens Green Resources Fair! It was a happy, busy gathering at the Queens Library Broadway branch in Astoria, with lots of kids and fellow environmental groups like Transportation Alternatives, Recycle-a-Bicycle, GrowNYC, Green Guerillas, Bucky Buckaw, Smiling Hog’s Head Ranch urban farm, and neighborhood groups like Green Shores NYC.

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Organizer Lynne Serpe calls out another raffle round.

HarborLAB’s table was staffed by volunteers Danushi Fernando, Erik Baard, and Ricardo Grass. We displayed and explained navigation lights, safety signal strobes, current and tide charts, a children’s life vest, and other materials. We especially emphasized our coming New York City-based children’s programs in safer and cleaners waters than can be found in western Queens (an issue we continue to address — Hallets Cove is physically the most suitable spot but quite frequently has unacceptably high bacteria counts) and autumn’s inauguration of Catskill Watershed Wonder Tours. The latter will let kids experientially learn about their drinking water sources by kayaking and canoeing on the Neversink Reservoir.

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Over the shoulder view of volunteer Danushi Fernando teaching kids about safety lights for navigation and emergency signalling.

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Mental note: Like crows, kids really go for the shiny stuff! 😉 Maybe we’ll raffle lights next year!

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A family at the Transportation Alternative display. We shared a table. Paddlers and pedalers unite!

The entire event was a huge success. One dramatic moment was when a young boy began to choke on his candy. Unfortunately, his mother began slapping his back to help him, which can do more harm than good. Proper first aid education is vital, especially given that choking is a leading cause of death in kids under fives years old. Erik rushed the boy and his mother to the next room because he happened to know that Queens Library event staff member Chiamaka “Chi Chi” Onyejiukwa (who has volunteered for future HarborLAB events) is also a nurse. As luck would have it, interrupting the back slapping allowed the boy to clear his throat just as Chi Chi swung into action. The boy cried for a bit, clearly traumatized, but we were all comforted that a nurse was on hand for an event with kids — these kinds of things can happen anywhere, anytime.