Friday, November 14, 2014

Dan and Amy Freeman at the North Brooklyn Boat Club

What an interesting evening at the North Brooklyn Boat Club.

It was an odd mix of fun and troubling.

The troubling part was the nature of Dan and Amy's mission. I think everyone there last night, and in fact most serious paddlers (especially canoe paddlers) had heard of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). In fact I think the gang last night divided neatly into two groups: those who'd been there, and those who hadn't been but think it would be neat to go.

Unfortunately there are mining companies who also think it would be neat to go, and if they get their wish, they'll be gambling with the very cleanliness that makes the area such a draw for paddlers from all over. Very sad. Mark Twain describes some ridiculous scenarios of miners staking claims in the middle of towns with zero regard to property owners during the California gold rush in Roughing It -- mineral rights superseded all prior claims, and I was reminded of those stories as Dan and Amy talked about survey drilling being done all over an Outward Bound camp near where they live and work.

Dan and Amy are wilderness guides who make their living introducing others to the Boundary Waters. If I've got the story right (they told it last night but I was momentarily distracted by one of the two sweet dogs that were there) the trip came about when Save the Boundary Waters came up with the idea of converting a large canoe to the most vivid petition imaginable. There was some discussion of how to get the canoe to DC (ideally they wanted to present it to Obama, but last night Amy said they'd be presenting it to the Secretary of the Interior instead) and at some point Dave and Amy realized that the most impressive way to get it there would actually be to paddle it there, collecting signatures and spreading the word as they go. Brilliant idea, I knew nothing about these plans. I love paddling but I don't tend to read Canoe and Kayak or any of the publications where the proposed mines would have been covered; the last 2 BWCA news items I recall were about a huge storm that leveled a huge swath of forest a few years ago, and another about some idiots who decided that it would be fun to go terrorize BWCA campers. Nothing about mines that could destroy the area forever. I was happy to sign the canoe.

We were treated to the world premier screening of Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water, a short documentary about the project.

It really seemed somehow fitting that the first screening was being held on the shore of Newtown Creek, one of NYC's most notorious Superfund sites. As one of our hosts said after the film, nodding sadly towards their beloved but deeply befouled creek, "Once you've lost it, you can't get it back".

BTW, if you missed them at the North Brooklyn Boat Club, there is one more chance to meet them and sign the canoe er petition - they'll be at Columbia University on Tuesday, 11/18. 8 PM, Hamilton Hall, 1130 Amsterdam Avenue, free and open to the public. Hosted by Columbia University Divest Climate Justice. Can't make that but want to sign on? Of COURSE there's an online version. Not as much fun as signing a boat but still valid, click here for that.

And now to the truly fun part - it was great finally seeing this place! I've seen pictures and videos and just based on those, if we had to pick a boat club to win an Urbanest of the Urban award, I seriously think the North Brooklyn Boat Club wins (and that's not just because the kielbasa pasta was delicious, which it was, Greenpoint's an old Polish neighborhood and the club shopped local).

As I said yesterday, this was my first view. I was crossing the creek on the Pulaski Bridge and since I'd already gotten turned around coming out of the subway and making a detour before getting myself properly oriented, I was running a bit late and was worried about finding the place. Then I looked down. Ah, no more worries! 

There's an enclosed shop area at the front, where they do boatbuilding and restoration. Here's a lovely old boat awaiting some NBBC TLC. 

Amy, fellow guests, and the famous petition. Love the graffiti!

Gathered around the firepit. The weather was good but it is November and the fire was a good thing. 

Amy and Dave talking about their trip

Enjoying the world premier screening

Passing tug and barge!

Signing the canoe

My signature - couldn't resist adding the blog name! 

Cozy dog. There were two pups in attendance, both very sweet. This one thinks it's past her bedtime.
Looking down Newtown Creek towards Manhattan. So pretty, but so polluted.

John and Steve show off the bumper stickers Amy and Dave brought with them all the way from Ely.

Checking out the club's ecology exhibits on the way out. Very neat, this place.

Good luck to Amy and Dave, I hope your message is heard! 

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