Thank you volunteers!!
It was a gloomy, rainy Saturday, but on May 12, more than 150 people joined the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Greater Brunswick Charter School, Esperanza Neighborhood Partnership, Friends of Mile Run Brook and Elmwood Cemetery for a multi-site community clean-up and celebration of New Brunswick’s Mile Run Brook.
Friends of Mile Run Brook
The clean-up was enlivened by our roving “Trash Troubadour” – Dave Seamon – who engaged our volunteers with song and stories as they cleaned-up the stream. Our Trash Troubadour traveled with a large sculptural bread-and-puppets style bottle (made from trash found during prior clean-ups) that clean-up volunteers covered with messages of environmental hope.
The clean-up was followed by a free community celebration and picnic in New Brunswick’s Boyd Park – with delicious contributions of dishes donated by Panico’s Brick Oven Pizza, La Poncena, Harvest Moon, Pizza Mia and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen.
At the end of the clean-up we joined together for a picnic and celebration, the Trash Troubadour created and performed a new song from the messages received.
Filmmaker Jessica Dotson is working on a music video story of the day – a gift for our Mile Run Brook and New Brunswick Community. But for now, click on the photo of our Trash Troubadour to enjoy a youtube video of his riverside performance:
With tremendous thanks to New Brunswick Department of Public Works, North Brunswick Department of Public Works and Rob Hughes, our Americorps Watershed Ambassador for helping with planning, coordination, supplies provision and arranging for disposal of the trash and recycling. Thanks also to the Highland Park Ecology and Environmental Group and Central Jersey Stream Team for bringing your muscle to the clean-up for the day!
Trash Collected at the Hamilton Street Site
Esperanza Neighborhood Project Volunteers!!
The Elmwood Cemetery volunteers (coordinated by the New Brunswick Environmental Commission), removed 14 bags of trash and 6 bags of recycling.
The Greater Brunswick Charter School removed approximately 1,275 pounds of trash and 720 pounds of recycling.
The Esperanza Group removed an estimated 875 pounds of trash and 390 pounds of recycling.
The Friends of the Mile Run removed about 400 pounds of trash and 210 pounds of recycling.
In addition, 20 bulk items and 6 tires were removed as well.
Collectively volunteers removed approximately 2 tons of litter and bulk items from Mile Run Brook!
~VOLUNTEERS NEEDED~ Please join the LRWP, our Americorps Watershed Ambassador and community partners including Friends of Mile Run Brook, Greater Brunswick Charter School, Esperanza Neighborhood Project, the New Brunswick Environmental Commission, Elmwood Cemetery and the New Brunswick Department of Public Works for a multi-site clean-up of Mile Run Brook, culminating in a community celebration in Boyd Park!
WHAT: a clean-up of Mile Run Brook, followed by a community picnic and celebration
WHEN: Saturday May 12
9:00 AM to noon – clean-up of multiple sites.
12-1:30 pm community gathering / picnic in Boyd Park.
WHERE: Multiple sites in New Brunswick
Site 1: Friends of Mile Run Brook / Corner of Hamilton Street and Woodbridge Street
Site 2: Esperanza Neighborhood Project / Corner of French Street and Sandford Street
Site 3: Greater Brunswick Charter School (closed group)
Site 4: Elmwood Cemetery / Entrance at Commercial Avenue
Please wear closed toe shoes and clothes you are willing to get wet and dirty. Gloves and bags will be provided!
5.12.2018 MRB clean-up waiver, English
Permission and rights granted to LRWP to record and use image and voice, English
For more information
Heather: hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org
or Americorps Watershed Ambassador Rob Hughes: wsamb AT raritanbasin DOT org
Article by Allie Oross, photos by Johnny Malpica
Rutgers Raritan Scholars Interns Justin So and Allie Oross join New Brunswick Environmental Commission Chair Erin Connolly to hand out milkweed seeds at the New Brunswick Food Forum
On a bright morning at 10 AM in the hallways of A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School, tables from multiple community groups lined the halls in anticipation of the 7th Annual New Brunswick Food Forum organized by the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance (NBCFA). Most of the interest groups were related to food and health within the local community and, as the first visitors started to file in, it was evident that these were topics of both concern and interest. Soon the hallways were bustling with adults and children alike from the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership (LRWP) table was promoting the importance of pollinator plants (plants that attract pollinator species) as we handed out milkweed seeds and vegetable seedlings. Children could choose to plant their own milkweed seed at one of our tables and many of them enjoyed the opportunity to get their hands dirty.
Pollinators are animals that assist in the fertilization of plants by transferring pollen from the male anatomy of the flower to the female parts. Pollinators can include bees, butterflies, bats, and birds and are essential for plant biodiversity. The number of pollinators in an area has a direct and positive correlation with the general health of an ecosystem. When these biotic vectors rifle around within the flower looking for nectar, pollen gets stuck to their legs or bodies and when they go to the next flower they take that pollen with them. This allows for diverse genotypes within plant populations that would not be seen without the assistance from pollinators.
The LRWP’s goal in handing out milkweed was not only to encourage an increase in pollinator populations in our urban community, but to also increase public awareness and involvement. We asked that people tend to their milkweed plant and watch it grow for two months, then join us and the New Brunswick Environmental Commission for a “pollinator planting day” on Sunday June 17. At that time the plan is to plant the milkweed seedlings and other pollinator plants in New Brunswick’s Buccleuch Park Pollinator Garden. Though most of the people who visited our table were initially unsure what a pollinator was, many took an interest in the health of our environment and were enthusiastic about the prospect of taking an active role in its prospective remediation.
The ability of our environment to efficiently and cohesively function is of drastic importance to every single person that lives within it. Conveniently enough, that same environmental ability depends mostly on the decisions made and actions taken by our very own species.
As Earth day rolls around, it is vital that we reflect on anthropogenic interference in nature and take responsibility for the consequences of over-development and urbanization. If most of the damage to the planet is caused by humans, then it is a logical conclusion that humans also possess the solution. Events like the Food Forum that engage community education and interaction are integral for the remediation of our planet and decreasing the prevalence of apathy and ignorance within our population.
We applaud the following Lower Raritan Watershed towns for securing Sustainable Jersey status in 2017!
East Brunswick – bronze
Edison – bronze
Monroe – bronze
New Brunswick – bronze
Plainsboro – bronze
South Plainfield – bronze
Woodbridge – silver
Hillsborough – silver
Somerville Borough – bronze
Warren Township – silver
Berkeley Heights Township – bronze
Summit City – silver
Extra kudos to New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge for securing 20 points in the “Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk” action. This action is designed to help communities: 1) identify their vulnerability to flooding impacts (both coastal and inland) and 2) identify ways to improve their overall resiliency. This action focuses on the various causes of flooding that could impact a community, either now or in the future, including increased precipitation, increased frequency of heavy precipitation events, sea level rise and storm surge.
Climate change, population growth, urbanization and industrialization are all putting pressure on our communities and their access to safe and secure water supplies. Sustainable Jersey now awards points for Green Infrastructure Planning and Implementation Actions that can directly improve the water quality of our rivers and streams. Read more about these water-friendly actions on the Sustainable Jersey website.
In November the New Brunswick Community Arts Council invited the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership to participate in the inaugural “Windows of Understanding: We see through Hate” project. Windows of Understanding seeks to:
• Counteract the negativity and hate perpetuated in the headlines – by installing community art interventions that illustrate the compassion and love being exercised around us.
• Promote awareness about the vast array of social justice issues being addressed in New
Brunswick, connecting organizations with the wider community and each-other.
• Transform our “Main Street” spaces into literal windows of understanding.
The LRWP was paired with Kim’s Bike Shop (111 French St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901). Working with Kim’s and our coLAB Arts National Endowment for the Arts resident artist Jamie Bruno, the LRWP has developed “Listen to your neighbor, listen to the land” – which will be installed at Kim’s from January 15-February 28. “Listen to your neighbor, listen to the land” reflects the way the LRWP sees through hate as well as the way we hope to connect to our communities. The installation incorporates shoes filled with soil and plants. The shoes represent people, travel, and change. The soil represents our origins in the land.
From Jamie Bruno’s artist statement:
Across religion, race and culture we all spring from the earth and its water and soil. The plants give hope for survival and sustenance: hope to grow new roots and make new connections. The title asks the viewer to listen to their neighbors over the din of every day life. Our neighbors are people who live near us. People who live on the land we live on, yet whose stories we often do not know. In urban environments it can be difficult to know land too, yet she is everywhere: Under the pavement, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe.
• The shoes represent the human element, the “neighbor” through travel, labor and economic change in addition to empathetic connection across class, race and culture; an admonition to “walk in another’s shoes.”
• The soil represents land: absorption, filtration, and contamination. Soil health effects human health though the quality of our fruits and vegetables as their roots gather nutrients and the quality of the water in our watersheds as water either filters slowly through healthy soil becoming clean or flows quickly above compacted soil carrying waste.
• The plants represent the hope to grow new roots in new places and to make new connections. Plants store and slow water as it moves through the landscape, further cleaning it, thereby increasing the landscapes inherent value to local wildlife and to neighbors, whether they pass through or decide to stick around and plant their own seeds.
The LRWP and Kim’s invite you to join us from 2-4 PM on Monday January 15, 2018 for the “unveiling” of “Listen to your neighbor, listen to the land” and for refreshments. We will be outside in front of the store planting milkweed for participants to take home, and handing out seed packets for summer gardens.
For more information contact Jamie Bruno: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the most common type of litter in Boyd Park? Is there more paper or plastic in the grass? How many cigarette butts can you find? How many bottle caps? What is the most unusual item hiding in the bushes?
Join the LRWP and coLAB Arts on Sunday September 10, 10-noon for a River Health Workshop and “Scavenger Hunt” Clean-up of New Brunswick’s Boyd Park!
This event is coordinated in conjunction with the DIY MARKET at Rock New Brunswick. DIY Market is an open air marketplace that celebrates the creativity and spirit of the New Brunswick music scene. It is being held in Boyd Park, alongside a day-long homegrown New Brunswick music festival.
Message and photos by Jamie Bruno.
Editor’s Note: The LRWP and coLAB arts are pleased to welcome Jamie Bruno to our work in New Brunswick. Jamie will join us for the next 9 months as our National Endowment for the Arts Resident Artist.
Hello Dear Reader. Happy to be writing to you today.
As the new Resident Artist with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership my work is to bring people to the river and bring the river to people. Increasing that knowledge and access increases people’s value of a healthy river and watershed. Much of my work will be dedicated to CoLAB Arts and LRWP’s existing programming such as Rail-Arts-River and Trash Troubadour, within which the already incredible experience of cleaning up a stream also becomes an experience in arts and culture.
I live in Newark, NJ. My most recent work has been focused around urban agriculture, food security, food waste management, and organizing for urban agriculture alliance development. I manage a small farmers market for a local nonprofit once a week at a hospital in Newark. My most recent artwork, “And all our dead can live again,” is a functioning geodesic dome that, in many ways, is a reaction to doing urban agriculture and local food development work in a post-industrial inner city.
All Our Dead Can Live Again
As a graduate of Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, I am already familiar with New Brunswick though I am still orienting to this new position and a changed city. My eyes see the river differently from the scientists, geologists and academics who study it. Slowly I will see more. For now I notice the strange interactions between humans and the human built riverfront. On my first trip re-visiting Boyd Park I see moments of departure in the landscape by an uncooperative nature, consistently unconcerned with our good intentions. And neglect by us, to simply sit and listen to her. I can’t wait to tell you more about that visit.
You don’t know me and I will only be with you, officially, for a short nine months. But within that nine months I hope that we can make sweet, passionate earth caring goodness together. Earth Care. People care. Future care. In the incredibly succinct lyrics of M.I.A.’s song “Meds and Feds”: We just “give a damn,” and, another inspiration, Y.A.L.A. (You Always Live Again as opposed to the formerly popular phrase, Y.O.L.O., You Only Live Once)… Earth karma.
Thank you for reading. If you’d like to see more of my work please visit tothedirt.net
Please join the LRWP, New Brunswick Environmental Commission, New Brunswick Parks & Gardens Commission, Rutgers’ Collaborative Center, and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture to help plant milkweed in our pollinator garden in New Brunswick’s Buccleuch Park. At this event we will focus on planting hundreds of milkweed plants started from seed by community members!
This effort is an outgrowth of the LRWP’s effort to improve habitat connectivity in our urban watershed, and we have been working on this project for 2+ years. Please plan to bring (if you have them) garden gloves, trowels and smaller hand tools, shovels and rakes, compost, watering cans. PLEASE LABEL YOUR TOOLS!
We will be working across from the gazebo next to the wood chips in Buccleuch Park (321 Easton Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901) from 10-noon.
The LRWP, coLAB Arts and the Raritan Headwaters Association are co-hosting a special Earth Day clean-up of New Brunswick’s waterfront on Saturday April 22.
Please park in the New Brunswick Landing Parking Lot, located at the crossroads of Route 18 and New Street (see directions below). There will be signs up to direct folks to the clean-up site, where there will be a table set up with sign-in forms, bags, gloves, etc.
Volunteers should dress for the weather, and be prepared to be outdoors.
From Route 1 :
• Take Route 18 North
• Pass through the first light at Paulus Boulevard
• STAY TO THE RIGHT after this light Follow signs towards New Brunswick Exits/Route 27
• Continue through two (2) traffic lights (DO NOT TURN AT THE SIGN FOR BOYD PARK)
• Pass under New Street
• Make the first right into the New Brunswick Landing – ENTRANCE IS BEFORE THE EXIT FOR ROUTE 27 NORTH/HIGHLAND PARK
From New Jersey Turnpike:
• Take the NJ Turnpike to Exit 9 (New Brunswick)
• Follow directions for Route 1
The LRWP is partnering with the Esperanza Project for a stream clean-up of a portion of Mile Run Brook (in New Brunswick), as well as a street litter clean-up in the area.
We will meet at 253 French Street (parking lot of Corona Bar) at 10:00 AM. The clean-up will run from 10:15 AM-noon.
Portions of this clean-up will be in the water. Please dress appropriately if you plan to enter the water! Rain boots or waders and warm clothes are recommended.