Great Opportunity for Students!


Details from Waterfront Alliance:

Greetings from the Waterfront Alliance, a civic organization working to protect, transform, and revitalize the New York and New Jersey harbor and waterfront. We are writing to ask your help in inviting your students to apply to attend our annual Waterfront Conference as part of a group of 100 Waterfront Scholarssponsored by Arcadis. This year’s Waterfront Conference will explore how the public can deepen its sense of ownership over local waterfronts, and how we can reach new voices toward the future of a waterfront that balances local, regional, and global needs.


Waterfront Scholars will be invited to attend the Waterfront Conference, held May 12th aboard the Hornblower Infinity at Pier 40 in Manhattan, free of charge, and will be recognized during the day’s activities.


We are looking for students who can answer, in 250 words or less, the following prompt:


What does it mean to live in a coastal city in the 21st century? What do we need to do to make sure that our waterfronts are accessible, resilient, and ecologically healthy?


Interested applicants are asked to fill out this survey by Monday, April 18, including the option to post a summary of their response on social media network(s) of their choice using the hashtag #WaterfrontScholars. We would be grateful for your help in distributing this survey to students, classes, and student organizations in fields such as urban planning and design, architecture, engineering, environmental science, environmental journalism, political science, and environmental education. The attached flyer can be posted online, shared on social media, and/or printed and distributed to help spread the word.


Following the Conference, Waterfront Scholars will be invited to submit a 500-word essay, a three-minute video, or other multimedia entry documenting what they learned. Five entries will be selected for publication in our biweekly WaterWire newsletter, with more than 10,000 subscribers, and will be invited to joinWaterfront Alliance President and CEO Roland Lewis and other notable waterfront leaders for a luncheon.

“Estuary Escape” to a “Living Dock”


HarborLAB’s outing with the Van Alen Institute visits the Newtown Creek Alliance’s “Living Dock.”

On November 8, HarborLAB was privileged to provide a Newtown Creek tour to the Van Alen Institute. Billed as an “Estuary Escape,” we also hope that the time afloat was a reminder that we live within a water wilderness that’s both marvelous and in need of better care.

We shared a bit of local lore and history gleaned from authors who are also our friends, Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman and founder of the Center for Algonquin Culture, Evan Pritchard. Other highlights of the trip, however, were glimpses of a green and blue future. That’s fitting for an organization like VAI, which started as Society of Beaux-Arts Architects but evolved into an advocate for design and architecture that serves public interests.

HarborLAB Founder and Executive Director Erik Baard walked participants through our GreenLaunch, a waterfront strip that we’ve cleaned and cleared for three years without machine aid, owing to soft ground, and planted with more than 30 native trees and bushes so far. We’re also cultivating goldenrod, pokeweed, and milkweed, which are important native food sources for birds and beneficial insects. Simultaneously we’re creating large amounts of fresh soil through composting. Coming soon will be more plantings, green structures, solar power, our larger dock (thanks to Pink Sparrow Scenic and in part a Harbor Estuary Program grant via Waterfront Alliance), and eco-educational installations.

We paddled out in two waves, totaling 24 participants. We discussed the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and the ongoing combined sewer overflow problem, and the huge Sims Metal Management (a founding HarborLAB sponsor) recycling facility. Baard noted the presence of morning glories, which help remove lead from soils. The greenest stop on our tour was the “Living Dock,” an educational project of the Newtown Creek Alliance. The dock is fitted with modules growing spartina, our region’s salt marsh grass, a cornerstone of estuarine ecology. Other life then just showed up — sea lettuce, killifish, shrimp, and more! NCA Program Director Willis Elkins explained the project as providing both the immediate benefit of nature observations, and the broader message that we shouldn’t give up hope and turn away from blighted waterways — a phenomenon Baard coined “biodecathection.” Recovery is possible, and is slowly happening. The “Living Dock” helps render the data more visibly.

It was a beautiful and meaningful day, one that we’ll look back on with fondness and gratitude for a long, happy while.

Many thanks to volunteers Thomas Dieter, Diana Chang, Becky Chipkin, David Pugh for their help as safety escorts and to Patricia Erickson, Phillip Borbon, Scott Wolpow, and all others who helped ashore! We also thank VAI for its donation in lieu of a speaker’s honorarium for Erik Baard.