Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing waterfront access and education to the public. I’ve been involved with the club as a member, volunteer, board member, and an official representative in other community contexts since 2019. Most of our work is focused on introducing locals to the Gowanus Canal and the New York Harbor in unexpected and creative ways that center arts, culture, science and community activities.

Here’s a list of some I’ve helped organize.

A Brief Chronology of Events

These are all events I played a significant role in organizing, but they would not have been possible without the collaboration, leadership and/or support of dozens of other Dredgers and friends, but most especially Brad Vogel, Nicole Vergalla, Gary Francis, Charles Phillip, and AJ McGuire. The Dredgers website contains a complete archive of other inventive projects in which I was not involved!

Pretty/Ugly | June 2019

As a trustee with the Awesome Foundation’s NYC chapter and a Gowanus Dredgers member — I organized Pretty/Ugly, a set of short talks by creative New Yorkers who find beauty in “ugly” things, from the Gowanus to Guantanamo.

Paddle-In Movies | 2019-2021

During the summers of 2019, 2020, and 2021, I co-hosted monthly paddle-in movie nights. We showed a mix of classic monster movies, noir, and cult films, along with an annual screening of Creature from the Black Lagoon, which continues. In 2020, we also partnered with NY Silents to do a special screening of Filibus, a 1915 Italian silent film with live musical accompaniment.

Lost Islands of New York | October 2019

I worked with Tideland Institute to bring nearly more than 75 canoes, kayaks, and other boaters (plus one lucky goldfish who traveled in a takeout container) out on Newtown Creek for a paddle-in performance held on a historic tugboat as part of the annual HONK! festival.

Bridges of Brass | September 2020

In the middle of the first COVID summer, we loaded our canoes with the Funkrust brass band and invited the community to join us on the shoreline of the Canal for a socially distanced live musical performance. Hundreds of neighbors came out to celebrate and be joyful together, amid a challenging time.

Gowanus Canal Ribbed Mussel Survey | October 2020

I helped organize a citizen science event, in collaboration with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, to survey ribbed mussel populations in the Gowanus Canal, ahead of planned construction activity under the Superfund program that would remove significant habitat. We enumerated more than 4,000 ribbed mussels living along our survey area, providing scientific data to ongoing efforts to preserve and expand wildlife habitat and ecological restoration on the canal. This survey laid the foundation for a multi-year, grant-funded education and research project focused on ribbed mussel habitat in the Gowanus Canal.

Boat for the Vote | October 2020

I volunteered as part of a get-out-the-vote event on the eve of early voting that brought an opera-singing drag queen, a french horn quartet, and live-painting artists to boats on the Gowanus Canal for on-shore watchers.

Lake | March 2021

I led the Dredgers’ collaboration with Pioneer Works and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to project artworks by artist-in-residence Erin Johnson in multiple locations along the Gowanus Canal, viewable from the water and on land. I like to believe that the work, featuring images of swimmers floating in dark water, helped people imagine a future in which the Gowanus Canal could be swimmable.

Unheard-of Ensemble | 2021, 2022, ongoing

I organized a series of on-water concerts in collaboration with Unheard-of Ensemble featuring original music and artwork examining climate change and other environmental issues. Our first performance was held in September 2021, with subsequent performances in summer 2022.

Gowanus Superfund Community Town Hall

As the Dredgers’ representative for the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, I chaired the June 2022 Town Hall planning committee, a hybrid virtual/in-person event that brought EPA representatives; federal, state and local elected officials; and about 100 community members together for an educational overview and public Q&A about the Superfund program cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

Community Dock Construction Workshops | August 2022

Due to the ongoing Superfund cleanup, the Dredgers primary dock and boat launch location has been closed to boaters since early 2021. I led our efforts to secure a new launch location on Gowanus Bay, as well as our partnership with the Tideland Institute to construct a floating dock that will establish a new boat launch on the Gowanus Canal. Tideland Institute hosted a series of hands-on workshops for dozens of club and community members to help with the construction and installation of the new dock. The dock will support expanded public programming and provide new water access for the South Brooklyn community.

Official Roles

Volunteer, 2018-Present
Board Member, 2021-Present
EPA Community Advisory Group, 2020-Present

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