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For one day, we brought the Gowanus Canal to the middle of Park Slope.  On Saturday, May 21, GCC held the second annual EXPO Gowanus, a free, outdoor event where 350 community members learned in depth about problems facing the Gowanus Canal and how everyone can help to improve water quality and access to waterfront public space.

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We were happy to see and talk to hundreds of Park Slope residents at EXPO Gowanus. The upland neighborhoods of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Prospect Heights all make up the Gowanus Watershed. Each year about 377 million gallons of polluted water end up in the Canal from street runoff and raw sewage from 120,000 Watershed residents when the combined sewer system overflows during rain storms. Pollutants from Combined Sewage Overflow (CSOs) hurt water quality and biodiversity and continue to be a nuisance to the neighborhood.

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At EXPO Gowanus, visitors learned in depth about why CSOs are a problem and the many ways we can all help reduce the volume of polluted water that enters the Canal every year.

Visitors of all ages flowed through 20 interactive stations and activities exploring the Gowanus Canal, Edge and Watershed.  Each station highlighted exciting projects that are underway by volunteers, designers, schools, organizations and public agencies.

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The newest generation of Gowanus student scientists reported on their investigations into Canal water and soil quality and proposed their ideas for a cleaner Canal and waterfront, which included impressive physical models of proposed green infrastructure and public space.

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Our bioswale volunteers-in-training explained how public dollars are being invested in NYC Green Infrastructure, including thousands of bioswales across the city that will mitigate sewage overflow in the Gowanus Canal and other polluted waterbodies.

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Visitors collaged waterfront designs for Gowanus Greenscape, an emerging master plan for parks and public spaces that will center on the Canal.

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Additionally GCC led volunteers from National Grid and neighbors who deployed across the adjacent Washington Park and weeded, mulched and re-planted several areas in need of stewardship.

Don’t miss next year’s EXPO!

2016 Exhibitors: ArtBuilt; ArtLab Gowanus; Balmori Associates; Climate Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP); Decades Out; dlandstudio; Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG); Gowanus Creek Scene Investigation (CSI); GrowNYC; the Open Sewer Atlas; NYC Parks; NYC City Councilmember Brad Lander Participatory Budgeting Committee; NYC Department of Sanitation; Parsons Architecture Department; POOP Project; thread collective; and local schools: PS 32; MS 51; MS 88; MS 839 and Brooklyn Urban Garden School (BUGS);. See the full EXPO program here.

EXPO Gowanus 2016 was developed in partnership with Old Stone House and MS 51 and sponsored by AECOM, National Grid and Con Edison.

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Notice anything different on the Whole Foods esplanade lately? This past Saturday, volunteers constructed ArtLab Gowanus, to host monthly site-specific art workshops, taught by local artists, right along the banks of the Canal. The best part? All workshops are free and open to the public.

IMG_20160425_103741In 2015, we responded to a Call for Public Art “to showcase what makes Gowanus ‘Gowanus’: the history, the Canal, the culture of creativity and the diversity of the community.”  Our winning proposal reveals the creative process integral to Gowanus.  The Gowanus neighborhood is home to hundreds of artists, craftspeople, and fabricators “making” things behind walls. ArtLab Gowanus asserts that this “making” is critical to the character of the Gowanus, and needs to be integrated into public space on the evolving waterfront.

The structure was designed by a crack team of GCC Volunteer Coordinators – Wendy Andringa, Greta Ruedisueli, Joy Wang and Leah Wener. The designers developed the structure as a pentagon to best fit on the esplanade without impeding walkability. The “lab” is a steel-framed pop-up structure that provides flexible workspace for groups and individuals. There are built-in work surfaces, as well as storage for smaller drawing boards that participants can borrow for use in the nearby bench seating or around the neighborhood.  Sedums will inhabit a green roof, capturing and retaining rainwater before it makes its way into the canal; the floor will additionally feature a watershed mural.

Arts Lab_Pentagon_20160316The steel structure and floor were constructed offsite at a studio in Red Hook. GCC Volunteer Coordinators and Staff, led by Jason Mortara, worked with David Aronson, putting in many tireless hours and long nights to make sure the structure was completed for the install. Being a pentagon, the structure provided many unexpected challenges and left turns, but our crew was able to solve all issues and persevere through their weary eyes and hunger pains.

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Lo and behold, come the morning of Saturday, April 23, the structure was complete and ready to be shipped out to the Whole Foods esplanade.  Volunteers reassembled the structure, and installed the floor.  We will be installing the green roof and painting a mural on the floor in the coming weeks.
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GCC volunteer coordinator and local artist Jessica Dalrymple has curated a stellar season of workshops responding our unique site. Again, all are FREE and open to the public – see full list below. Please RSVP for workshops you would like to attend a few weeks before the event (unless otherwise noted).ArtLab Workshop Schedule_160426
None of this could have been made possible without our partnership with Arts Gowanus, the Old Stone House & Washington Park, and a generous grant by council member Brad Lander. And of course, all the hard work and dedication by our volunteers. We thank you!

We hope to see you at ArtLab soon. 🙂