As part of a unique interdisciplinary project with environmental advocacy group Clearwater, SPURSE and area students from the Poughkeepsie High School partnered with SUNY New Paltz’s MFA program to study the local ecology of the Fall Kill Creek in Poughkeepsie by visualizing and traversing the path of the creek, examining its history and re-imagining its future as a dynamic part of the city. This project provided an important opportunity for the youth of Poughkeepsie to become stewards of their local environment and stakeholders in the future of their city.
Utilizing cartographic techniques, participants were able to locate the urban systems that affect the Fall Kill watershed such as combined sewage overflow, agricultural pollution and asphalt run-off and compare them with factors like plant species distribution and income demographics. The students began their collaboration with a foraging workshop in which they identified and collected edible and medicinal plant life along the creek while posting biodegradable moss graffiti and wheat paste posters. Writing their memories, local histories and wishes onto the geography of the Fall Kill, the participants came to understand the river as a vibrant site where cultural production entwines with ecological systems.
A lengthy discussion with the participants suggested that the pleasurable navigation of the creek and the cultivation and harvesting of edible plants were important first steps towards claiming the Fall Kill as a commons for the people and critters of Poughkeepsie. The event culminated in the launching of a temporary ice sculpture into the Hudson River that visualized the 100 gallon per capita daily water use for Poughkeepsie, the preparation and eating of a foraged meal and a meeting with Department of Environmental Conservation educators.
Additional projects involve creating a map and regional ecology guide for the Fall Kill that indicates edible plants and suggests ways to conserve and reuse water. Indiscrete Flows/Common Currents was documented by the Children’s Media Project as part of an extended media campaign. The video can be seen here:
Indiscrete Flows / Common Currents is a collaboration between
Masters of Fine Arts Students at the State University of New York at New Paltz Taylor A Bisanzio, Christian P Little, Katalin Pazmandi, Kaitlyn D. Gesel, Maia S. Leppo, Katherine Itter, Rosary C. Solimanto, Sara E. Henry, Allora J. McCullough, Francesca Urciuoli, Mengnan Qu, Lena C. Grabher, Maria V. Rigden, Jessica M. Longobardo, Paul P. Van Atta, Tony J. Carlone, Anna-Katharina Drexel, Jana Weaver
With generous support and assistance from:
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
State University of New York at New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach
State University of New York at New Paltz Department of Art
Carolyn Klocker, Sr. Water Resource Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County
Ryan Palmer, Greater New York City Area – Director, Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak
Deborah Brooks, Poughkeepsie High School
Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Director Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.
Chris Bowser, Education Coordinator, Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve
Science Education Specialist, Hudson River Estuary Program
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in partnership with the NYS Water Resource Institute at Cornell University