4th graders in "First Lego League" learning about oil spill prevention

4th graders from Washington Heights in New York City prompted PortSide NewYork to create a new educational program: tankers and oil spill prevention. The kids are part of an after-school program "First Lego League" designed to grow interest in STEM topics. It's working!

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FREE TankerTours for MARY A. WHALEN's 78th Birthday Sat 5/28

PortSide NewYork is excited to welcome you aboard our historic flagship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN in honor of her 78th birthday!  

Sat 5/28/16 from 10am-5pm
Sign up for tours on-site. Groups of 20 will be admitted every 20 minutes. No tours at 1:00 & 1:20 as we break for lunch.
Can't make it? For other ways to experience the MARY, see Visitor Info 
Flat soled shoes recommended.  Directions here 
More Ships!  On the next pier at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Fleet Week will have three ships open to visit at the same time. Those ships will be open Thursday through Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. More info here.
Visit historic Red Hook, home to great restaurants, bars, cultural institutions and parks! Info

Please support our restoration of the MARY and other programs, donate to our Red Hook WaterStories campaign. Help us raise $20,000 by the end of June to match a grant. Red Hook WaterStories is funded in part by Councilman Carlos Menchaca and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

More about the MARY A. WHALEN

The MARY A. WHALEN is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world and an icon of Red Hook maritime history.  She is the last of her kind in the USA and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  She is significant for her role in the 1975 Supreme Court legal decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer, a major case in US maritime law. The MARY is a symbol of  resiliency because PortSide's crew rode out superstorm Sandy on the ship, and then brought our office equipment ashore to set up and run a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station.

The MARY A. WHALEN's story is woven into Red Hook WaterStories because she was built for the Red Hook company Ira S. Bushey & Sons and has been based in Red Hook for a good half of her life, first as a working tanker, later as a floating dock and office for Hughes Marine, and as PortSide's flagship since 2007.

The MARY was launched May 21, 1938 at Mathis in Camden, NJ and built for Bushey's, an innovative and unusually diverse maritime company which closed in the 1980s. Bushey's was based at the foot of Court Street and ran a ship yard, fuel terminal and fuel delivery fleet of tugs, tankers and barges. Bushey's built over 200 ships for the Navy and commercial service and had ships built at other yards.  Today, the Bushey property remains an active maritime site with the fuel tanks operated by Buckeye and their fuel moved by our friends at Vane Brothers. Vane runs a fleet of tugs and fuel barges and has often towed our MARY A. WHALEN for free.  Vane also introduced us to their paint supplier International Paint who has donated all the paint to recoat the decks and house.

 

Please donate now to support our restoration of the MARY A. WHALEN, public programs aboard which include TankerTours, TankerTime,
and our summer preservation internships with the WHSAD high school, 
programs off the ship such as
our Sandy recovery and resiliency work and  
Red Hook WaterStories which tells Red Hook maritime history over 400+ years.

Help us match a grant and raise another $20,000 for Red Hook WaterStories by the end of June and donate here!

Experience POW! PortSide Open Weekend, Fri 8/7 - Sun 8/9

POW! PortSide Open Weekend! 
Weekend of free programs on historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN 
In historic Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Need some POW! for a summer weekend?  You can get that the second weekend in August during POW! PortSide Open Weekend, when the waterfront non-profit PortSide NewYork opens their historic ship in Atlantic Basin for the first time in five years, offering free events from Friday night through Sunday night.  All events are on the 77-year old tanker MARY A. WHALEN in historic Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Map of location HERE.

Friday, 8/7/15 8pm-10:00pm, POW! kicks off with an “Artists for PortSide” event. Regula Küffer, flute, and Nick Perrin, guitar, were inspired to donate their “Nuevo Amenecer“ (“New Dawn“) concert after seeing the documentary “Stadt am Wasser“, featuring PortSide NewYork and the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, on European TV. The two Swiss musicians combine flamenco, chamber music, and jazz as they perform rumba, sevillana, tango, fandango and more.  They promise a turtle, funny birds and surprises to boot. All music is written by Nick Perrin.   “Nuevo Amenecer“ is the name of their new CD and what it means for PortSide NewYork to have this new long-term home in Atlantic Basin. In late May, PortSide started a three-year permit at this site, so stay tuned for future POW! events and more!

Saturday, 8/8 and Sunday 8/9, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of the MARY A. WHALEN are free to the public.  The ship is the last of her kind in the USA and on the National Register of Historic Places.  Learn PortSide WaterStories about the crew, how a Supreme Court decision about the ship revolutionized American maritime law. The huge galley is likely bigger than your apartment kitchen, the cast iron engine is a wonder, the bell boat communication system a surprise.  Play string with ship cat Chiclet, deemed one of NYC’s top mascots by Time Out NY.  

The Pioneer Works Center for Art + Innovation is partnering with PortSide NewYork during POW!  Sign up for TankerTours at Pioneer Works, located at the corner of Pioneer and Conover Street, just one hundred yards from the ship. See the exhibits at Pioneer Works during your visit, which include 'Second Sundays' open studios and performances.  TankerTours are run open-house style; you move through the ship at your own pace through spaces with docents.  Great for kids. Flat soled shoes highly recommended.  An array of maritime props will be available for you to take SaltySelfies. 

Site of all POW! programs. Photo by Jonathan Atkin/www.shipshooter.com

Site of all POW! programs. Photo by Jonathan Atkin/www.shipshooter.com

Saturday, 8/8, 6:00-10:00pm, kick back and relax, make like the tanker is your own during TankerTime aboard MARY A. WHALEN.  The deck is set with tables, chairs and hammocks for you to lounge, bring take-out or your favorite bottle. You can sketch, photograph- or sing along!  Folk Music Society of New York will have a sing along during this TankerTime. 

Regula Küffer, and Nick Perrin will perform "Nuevo amanecer"

Regula Küffer, and Nick Perrin will perform "Nuevo amanecer"

Sunday, 8/9, 6:00-10:00pm, enjoy sunset and sea breezes and a neighborhood vibe. The deck will be set with 6’ tables for communal dining. It’s bring your own, and the community is encouraged to bring pot luck dinners and share. 

POW! PortSide Open Weekend schedule in brief

    Fri 8/7, 8:00pm-10:00pm, “Artists for PortSide” flamenco jazz concert 
    Sat 8/8, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of MARY A. WHALEN
    Sat 8/8, 6:00-10:00pm, TankerTime w/Folk Music Society of New York sing along
    Sun 8/9, 12:00-5:00pm, TankerTours of MARY A. WHALEN
    Sun 8/9, 6:00-10:00pm, with Community Picnic & Potluck on deck

Directions

Location is 40°40'50.0"N 74°00'45.0"W 

Map of location is here

For how to get here by car, bikes, subway, bus and ferries, download our directions document

Walking directions from Smith & 9th Street F/G stop from hopstop

About PortSide NewYork 

PortSide NewYork brings WaterStories to life. PortSide is a living lab for better urban waterways.  We bring the community afloat and the community ashore closer together to the benefit of both through education, arts, preservation, advocacy and workforce programs, on and off our flagship, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN.

PortSide was founded in 2005 and operated for ten years as a pop-up while looking for a home.  May 29 this year, PortSide NewYork moved to its first long term home, starting a three year contract in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook.  Our first POW! concert is thus fittingly named “Nuevo Amenecer“ (“New Dawn“).

PortSide WaterStories can save lives and protect property; we refer to our resiliency work.  Since Superstorm Sandy, PortSide has been active in recovery and resiliency.  Our Sandy recovery work won us a White House “Champions of Change” award and honors from the New York State Senate.  Our President Carolina Salguero was on the Red Hook committee of the NY Rising Program and contributed many elements to Red Hook’s resiliency plan. 

Further info:

PortSide NewYork contact:  research.portsidenewyork@gmail.com 

Press photos can be downloaded from http://portsidenewyork.org/pr-photos  

 

A new berth of freedom for PortSide NewYork & tanker MARY A. WHALEN

Our ship has sailed!

Friday, May 29, 2015, PortSide NewYork and the tanker Mary A. Whalen left Pier 9B inside the Red Hook Containerport and moved to Pier 11 Atlantic Basin and started a new future, ending ten years of PortSide's operating as a pop-up while searching for a home.  (You can read the official news in our press release here.)

The event attracted people and boats. And several drones.

Early in a gorgeous morning, the noted maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin showed up with the Atkin Drone Team which included Ben Wolf as Director of Photography, and Bryson Jenkins working as Videographer/Editor.  After getting all the official permissions in order, the Three Dronesters donated time and resources to shoot and edit this  inspiring video of our move. 

The NY Media Boat was there taking photos, and John Bowie of Vane Brothers, the company which donated the towing services, thought that moving the MARY was so historic that he came out in Vane’s launch to witness and photograph it. Thank you John Bowie and Vane Brothers for the tow and the photos!

The cheerful band aboard the MARY included some board members, some donors, and several of our volunteers. Our finance guy Dan Goncharoff volunteered to be line handler; he stayed ashore to cast off lines at Pier 9B and catch them at Pier 11. The only unhappy party was the ship cat Chiclet who gets locked in the head (bathroom) when the MARY is under tow.

Councilman carlos menchaca and portside president carolina salguero soon after docking.

Councilman carlos menchaca and portside president carolina salguero soon after docking.

Vane’s tug QUANTICO CREEK had tug and tanker “nose to tail” (bows and sterns of the two boats facing different directions) so that the tug could position us in our new spot without changing how the tow was made up (how the tanker was tied to the tug).

We swung out into the Buttermilk Channel where the view of Manhattan, as familiar as it is, caused excitement and lots of smartphone photos; and then we passed under the gantry cranes of the Red Hook Container Terminal which cast big shadows across us and our path.

Another vessel was still in our intended spot due to engine problems until a tug moved them, and the two tows passed inside Atlantic Basin.

Soon after docking, Councilman Carlos Menchaca popped by on his bike.

Carlos did much to secure PortSide this new home by including us in his LOI with the EDC about SBMT. How’s that for the alphabet soup of waterfront planning! 

PortSide ended the day with a party for joyful core supporters including our volunteers, our board, prior sponsors and some elected officials.  

It was great to have aboard again Councilman Carlos Menchaca, NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and US Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.  NYS Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who has been aboard before, was represented by Karyn Broughton.

A la PortSide we often repurpose maritime stuff, and for this party we inaugurated the use of candock segments scattered around the deck as sectional seating.  

Special thanks to energetic volunteer Jonathan Miller, who thought he was going to grill for a handful and ended up cooking BBQ for hours and feeding many of Red Hook’s political representatives. The food was delicious!

Of particular joy to the PortSide crew was that the MARY was immediately visible and people began to walk up and ask what was going on, what was this ship.  

Every person answered us by saying “this is so exciting.”

Save the dates! 

PortSide NewYork is planning a fundraiser and inaugural programs for our Atlantic Basin home for the second week of August. 

Want to get involved? You can donate, volunteer, join the fundraising committee, or suggest an idea by sending us an email.

Location and directions

The tanker MARY A. WHALEN is now docked here at the south end of Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, next to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.  

Atlantic Basin is where the Red Hook Crit takes place, and we are right on the Brooklyn Greenway.

We are kitty corner from Pioneer Works, step out their door, and look to the left.

Pedestrians and bikes can enter at the corner of Pioneer and Conover Street, and vehicles enter the cruise terminal gate at Bowne & Imlay.

Nearest bus stop is the B61 stop for Pioneer Street. Exit the bus, take a right on Pioneer, walk to end of Pioneer at Conover and enter the gate.

The nearest subway is the Smith & 9th St F/G stop. Here are walking directions from that stop thanks to hopstop.

 

Sparkling renovation of tanker Mary A. Whalen galley

The transformation of the galley will knock your socks off! Decades of paint were removed from steel, bronze and Monel surfaces.  The bulkhead was painted one of its early colors, a light, bright green typical in the 1930's when the ship was launched.

What made this project so challenging (beyond the scope of work) is that we are limited, since February 2012, to just 5 visitors at a time who do not have Homeland Security TWIC cards, and 5 such visitors can only be escorted in and out by our Director Carolina Salguero who has to stay aboard (eg,  not leave for meetings) while they are aboard.

These rules have so impeded access to the ship that they have largely stopped volunteer shipwork (and programs) on the tanker.   What inspired us to take on this big project is that Erika Stetson donated her entire month of December to us (as training for her entry to SUNY Maritime Academy) which broke the back on this work (and fortunately not on her!).

Paint removal and painting volunteers included Carol Salguero (Carolina's mother), Carla and Andrea Oviedo (visiting from Spain), Max Powell (driving 3 hours each way from Waterford for a few weekends), and our advisor Paul Amico.  As this project went along, we also got assistance from The Red Hook Volunteers, FEMA Americorps members, and various individuals.  Peter Guaracci, an actor and teacher, is our latest regular volunteer.

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

Putting the space back together was a project unto itself!  Shipcat Chiclet was most engaged during the unpacking of the boxes.  She did not like the noise of the paint chipping portion of this project. Needleguns are not for her!

Metal polishing work

We all delight in the gleam!

The Porthole Challenge

Dear Workboat crew,

Never paint the polished bronze!  SO many layers of paint are on Mary Whalen's portholes and Monel porthole surrounds. 

At first, we hoped to take the portholes entirely out, but getting them separated from the ship's steel proved too much. We are sending the swing plates, nuts, hinge pins and deadlights out for dip and strip polishing. The dogs will be another tedious matter.

Getting the hinge pins separated from the cast iron deadlights, which have corroded and swollen around the pins, has been a project requiring Zen patience, regular application of PB Blaster lubricant, heat, tapping, and prayer.

You can still help! Here is what we still need:

Tile restoration: Replace missing tile. Clean and restore existing tile. The white tiles are very discolored.

Repair of the wood paneled fridge and freezer: glue down some veneer bubbles, some re-varnishing. Change of freon, gaskets and compressors from DC to AC motors (or installation of a rectifier)

7 vintage cabinet latches. We can provide dimensions and details.

Furniture restoration and upholstery work: Restoration of the table stools.  They should have backs. Some of the seats are not original. All should be reupholstered. New back and side cushion for the banquette, and re-upholstery of the banquette seat cushion to match.

Wood refinishing. Some sanding and varnishing of wood shelves and trim and parts of the fridge.

Two vintage fans. One was mounted on a wooden shelf, the other a "wall-mounted" model was on a bulkhead under the skylight. (We can provide dimensions).

Donations as ever!

Thanks!




"This-Old-Ship-Kitchen"Campaign-OR-renovating-Mary-Whalen-galley-December 2013

How would PortSide describe an "ideal" volunteer? TWIC card holder, with Merchant Marine credentials, a background in PR and journalism, asking to do ship work.

Erika Stetson in Afghanistan

Erika Stetson in Afghanistan

Donate via PayPal or make out checks to "PortSide NewYork"' and send to P.O. Box 195, Red Hook Station, Brooklyn, NY 11231, USA

Thanks to Home Depot ,QuinnCo of NY & We Strip Wood for their support of this project!

Erika's generous offer of time prompted us to launch a December campaign "This Old Ship Kitchen" to return the Mary A. Whalen galley to its 1938 glory. We are looking for donations of materials, services and funds. 

PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT THIS WORK!

Erika's offer is particularly important to us because security regulations in the Red Hook Container Port tightened last year so that our Director Carolina Salguero is now the only person who can bring in visitors who don't have the Homeland Security ID, the TWIC card, and the TWIC card limit is 5 visitors per card. In short, PortSide can only have 5 visitors at a time who don't have a TWIC card. This limitation pretty much shut down our volunteer program in March 2012 (one of the reasons we are so keen to get a home out of the port.)  Erika's having a TWIC card allows her to come and go without Carolina.

Erika is an Air Force veteran whose resume says compelling things such as "Prepared strategic communications plan for Army drawdown in Afghanistan on behalf of a four-star U.S. Army headquarters."She's changing careers and starts at SUNY Maritime College in January.We'll give her some intro maritime training before SUNY, and she's going to do major work renovating the galley of MARY A. WHALEN. 

As Erika put it, MARY’s “galley is a treasure within a treasure.” The cozy space has a Webb Perfection cast iron stove patented in 1918 which burns diesel (Our Director Carolina has learned how to use it), a wood paneled fridge and freezer, and handsome black and white tiled floors. Silver details in Monel metal; bronze portholes (in need of paint removal, fomer crews clearly tired of polishing), a large table which seats eight. It's bigger than most NYC apartment kitchens!

Supper Club "friendraiser" dinner in 2012

Supper Club "friendraiser" dinner in 2012

Carolina has started chipping paint in the galley to look at the history of paint layers to determine original colors, but stopped after shipcat Chiclet starting trying to eat paint chips. Chiclet was ushered out and chips swept up.  We've been researching 1930s kitchen photos  on line and started a rash of buying 1930s kitchware on eBay. Wait til you see the toaster!

Carolina has also posted questions to the Tugboatinformation group on Facebook, to ask for guidance. Here's part of one post:

kitchen 1930s antique homestyle,com.jpg

I have a restoration question about galley paint color. We are about to do over the galley. Any of you have memories, photos or information as to how galleys might have been painted in 1938? I've been chipping paint here and there to see underlying colors, but I strongly suspect that some paints changed their color as they aged cuz I can't believe that lots of Mary A Whalen bulkheads were painted a kind of nasty khaki mustard color. Also, since I don't think all the cabinets in MARY's galley are original, I cant count on the layers in the paint history to tell me what was original. I"m pretty sure the galley was not all white at the outset. Could cabinet doors and drawers have been painted a different color from the cabinet as was common in 1930s kitchen's ashore and as in this photo? There's a light apple green that is very typical of that time ashore as in this photo. Could that have been on a workboat? I've found it on overhead and bulkheads in one cabin. Thanks for any info!

The galley is one of the tanker’s most popular spaces during our TankerTours - whether we are showing it to elementary school kids, professors or the general public. PortSide uses the galley as office space, board room and as the site of Supper Club dinners we will revive after the renovation.

We also use it as a board room, conference room and office space, not to mention staff lunch room (when it is too cold to use the picnic table on deck)

BoatBox planning meeting  

BoatBox planning meeting
 

Services

  • Paint stripper (for metal dishrack & stove hood, 5 brass portholes, 4 steel drawers, 2 small wood shelves)
  • Chemical cleaning of tile floor
  • Furniture restorer to rebuild backs of 8 galley stools, and 5 galley seats.
  • Re-activate fridge & freezer. Change compressors from DC to AC electricity, replace Freon, change gaskets.

Equipment & material

  • Compressor and needle guns
  • Paint
  • 2 cordless electric drills
  • industrial cleaners and degreasers
  • Thinners
  • Sandpaper
  • painters’ paper to cover the tile floor
  • small number of floor tiles and adhesive to replace missing tiles
  • Tyvek suits
  • Disposable latex gloves

What donors get
Donors who give over over $500 in funds or services get two seats at Supper Club dinner in the newly renovated galley, credit on our website on the pages DONATE and MARY WHALEN PRESENT for one year.

PortSide-NewYork-wins-White-House-"Champions-of-Change"-Sandy-recovery-award

PortSide NewYork is honored to have won a White House "Champions of Change" award for our work during and after hurricane Sandy. We hope the award will allow us to continue our Sandy-aid work, launch new resilience training programs, and attract more assistance to Red Hook. Things look promising; the phone has started to ring.  Until we finish the blogpost about Part II of our Sandy story, we've added photos to a press release below to tell that story. Part I of the story, how we protected the MARY A. WHALEN from Sandy, can be read here.

 

PortSide's Story Ashore

PortSide is based on a historic ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, which the organization succeeded in getting listed on the National Register of Historic Places just days before the storm.  In the face of Sandy, PortSide’s first responsibility was to protect the MARY from damage, and to prevent her from damaging the property of others.  The sad fate of the tanker JOHN B. CADDELL, which went aground during Sandy, is an example of what can happen to an untended ship this size. PortSide assembled a crew of volunteers to prepare the MARY over five days before the surge and to ride out the storm on the vessel.

After assessing the damage to their archive of historic papers and artifacts stored in the shed, the PortSide crew entered Red Hook on Wednesday afternoon to find that the community had not fared as well. PortSide made an immediate decision to drop their own issues, decamp from the ship, and offer to help. The result was the Sandy aid station "351". 

Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn, Community Board 6, in his nomination of PortSide for the “Champions For Change” Award, said “PortSide NewYork’s innovative approach was to apply their experience with cultural pop-ups to create an immediate, inventive community-based Sandy aid station that continually changed services in response to needs and opportunities.  PortSide deployed a deep knowledge of the community to pull it all off.”

Essential to the PortSide effort was the ability to rapidly identify partners and forge agreements. On Thursday night, PortSide Director Carolina Salguero began assessing what other groups were already doing, and where PortSide could best use its capabilities. Salguero worked with Realty Collective, a community-minded real estate brokerage with offices in the Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Realty Collective donated a storefront at 351 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, complete with free electricity, internet and a phone line, despite the fact that their principal Victoria Hagman was herself a Sandy victim whose Red Hook home was flooded.

Over Thursday night, Realty Collective and PortSide secured the co-operation of Gallery Brooklyn, who shares the storefront with the brokerage.  The result was an only-in-Red-Hook blend: an aid station run by a maritime organization in a real estate office that was also an art gallery. 

PortSide gathered volunteers off the street to get six computer workstations, office furniture and equipment from PortSide’s offices on the tanker to set up at “351”. The internet was down, so PortSide volunteer and museum curator Rothenberg ran a Clear wireless hub up a tree for two days until a PortSide contact at the Port Authority, who had previously worked to establish the cellphone network in the northeast, helped get Red Hook’s Verizon internet and cellphone service reconnected.

 “351” became a haven for people -- to escape the cold, to charge cell phones, I-pads, and power tools, to check e-mail to blow up a new air bed, to start the FEMA application or an insurance claim, or to wait for an escort to enter an apartment building whose electronic doors didn’t lock without power. Sandy victims remarked that the gallery environment with bright art on the walls was uplifting. The Director of Gallery Brooklyn, Jenna Weber, was so moved by the scene that she offered to donate 10% of exhibition sales to Red Hook relief.

PortSide’s MO was to respond to initiatives or needs coming from the community, through both action and communication. Emergency information replaced real estate listings in the storefront window. “351” was the first small business recovery center in Red Hook, before IKEA’s aid center opened or the FEMA trailers arrived, and served as a hub for Red Hook residents and business people to learn about aid programs while gaining emotional support and tips from one another. Residents and businesses could use the space to set up their own meetings – one day included overlapping sessions with a restaurant supply vendor and a legal aid clinic with 20 lawyers. Realty Collective invited Katrina-savvy architect Jim Garrison from the Pratt Institute to talk to a packed house about resilient ways to rebuild. PortSide served as a conduit to and from the growing sources of outside aid: elected officials, the Mayor’s office, FEMA, and the Department of Small Business Services.

Residents of Pioneer Street showed extraordinary initiative and cooperation on their one block and brought many ideas down the street to PortSide, who helped manage them and shared them with other Red Hook residents.  One example was the coordination of the services of angel electrician Danny Schneider, who arrived from nearby Park Slope in Brooklyn and went on to inspect 60 homes at no charge and to repair many.  (He also volunteered in the Rockaways.)

PortSide closed the center in early December. During PortSide’s time ashore, the shorepower connection to the tanker MARY A. WHALEN was knocked out, and PortSide operated for 35 nights with flashlights and one 15 amp extension cord.

Today, PortSide continues providing Sandy relief work via other social media, working with elected officials and on post Sandy initiatives from the Mayor’s office, and by responding to requests from residents and businesses. Plans are being developed for programs that will help Red Hook learn from its own response and develop response plans for future floods. PortSide wants to bring its two constituencies, the world ashore and the world afloat, together. Inland people can be trained in the mariner knowledge base that enabled PortSide to prepare the ship for the storm and which might have prevented a lot of the damage.

PortSide's nominator for the award, the District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6 Craig Hammerman wrote “PortSide’s work is an example of the community-based, mutual-aid system that has caused the heavily-damaged neighborhood of Red Hook to become a model for New Yorkers looking for lessons in the Sandy story.” 

 Statement by Carolina Salguero, Director of PortSide NewYork

All of us here at PortSide NewYork are very honored to receive this White House award and look forward to meeting the other winners so we can learn from their stories. After that, we look forward to growing the post-Sandy flood preparedness programs we would like to offer Red Hook and beyond.  We would like to thank the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their support during Hurricane Sandy while we were in their Red Hook container port.  We offer profuse thanks to our partners at “351”, Realty Collective and Gallery Brooklyn, who opened their doors to Red Hook and made the aid center possible. Victoria Hagman of Realty Collective is really a gem to have given so much at a time when her own home was so destroyed by Sandy.  We would like to thank all those volunteers who came in to help, especially the angel electrician Danny Schneider who did work in Red Hook and the Rockaways at no charge.  Speaking personally, I was very moved by the collective spirit which sustained Red Hook in those first dark days.  Let’s keep that spirit alive; it takes a village, we were all it, and we need to keep that spirit going forward.

Statement by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY):

“PortSide NewYork is to be commended for their work protecting the MARY A. WHALEN and establishing relief services for Red Hook.”

 Statement by New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
“It gives me great pleasure to give my highest recommendation for consideration as a Champion for Change” to PortSide NewYork.

PortSide NewYork is headquartered on the MARY WHALEN, a decommissioned tanker ship in Red Hook, a coastal community in Brooklyn. PortSide NewYork has been working for years to preserve and communicate the seafaring history of Brooklyn to our schoolchildren and new neighbors. They have embodied community service every day of their existence, but during Superstorm Sandy, they showed exactly how deep commitment to service and community could be.

Thanks to their professional preparations, the MARY WHALEN weathered the storm and the destructive surge in fine shape, but the same could not be said for Red Hook itself. The neighborhood was devastated and lacked electricity and other services for weeks afterward.  The staff of PortSide NewYork, led by the indefatigable Carolina Salguero, came ashore and set up a communications hub and aid center in a donated space. They set up meetings between residents and elected officials, engineers, lawyers, electricians...anyone who needed something came to them and PortSide NewYork reached out to find it. I don't know what we would have done without them.”

Statement by Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services

“Immediately after Hurricane Sandy, I was out in impacted neighborhoods like Red Hook speaking to small business owners about their needs and how the City could help. It was incredible to see the individuals, organizations, and business owners who stepped up to help each other out. PortSide New York served as a strong partner, helping us get the word out about the City’s low-interest loans, matching grants, and other assistance available to small business owners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and I congratulate them for this well deserved award.

Statement by Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce “Red Hook was one of the neighborhoods hardest-hit by Sandy. It’s because of groups like PortSide that we were able to help businesses in the neighborhood,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “By housing members of our staff during those critical weeks following the storm, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce was able to help business owners fill out essential loan applications and other paperwork in order to get their stores open again. PortSide’s aid center became a critical hub for the community and a place where they could get relief. We could not have done our work in helping local businesses without them.”

Statement by Danny Schneider, Principal, Schneider Electrical Contracting
“Hurricane Sandy threw Red Hook into a tail spin.  Residents rose to the occasion and with tenacity and synergy, and strengthened their character.”

Statement by Adam Armstrong, Pioneer Street Homeowner, blogger “A View from the Hook”

In the chaotic aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, PortSide New York provided a vital and invaluable resource for the residents of Red Hook. After riding out the storm and saving their own ship, the MARY WHALEN, PortSide came ashore, quickly set up shop at 351 Van Brunt Street and proceeded to make a base - a visible and accessible storefront - from where they could reach out, provide information, resources and assistance to their land lubbing neighbors, most of us who were desperately trying to recover from the immense damage that had been done to our homes and our unique, waterfront neighborhood.

PortSide and their team of volunteers co-ordinated tradesmen to go and physically assist our residents, and they gathered and disseminated information about anything they though would be helpful - FEMA, legal assistance, insurance matters, Con Edison, National Grid, the Rapid Repairs program, etc., and provided a connection to our representatives in government. On many of these matters, PortSide organized meetings and reached out to our residents, and in the case of our street - Pioneer Street - she co-ordinated the creation of a comprehensive contact list so that everyone on our block could share information and provide support to each other. It was - and still is - a wonderful way for the residents of Pioneer Street to keep in touch and get updates on our street's recovery, with Carolina Salguero, PortSide’s Director, checking in regularly to see how things are going and, many month's later, still providing advice and information wherever and whenever she can.

Statement by Gallery Brooklyn

“Gallery Brooklyn raised over $1K from the sale of Brooklyn-born artist, Jeremy Hoffeld, whose oil paintings gave comfort to the shell-shocked residents of Red hook. The funds will be donated to the Red Hook Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides enrichment geared toward the arts for children of the Red Hook community."

About PortSide NewYork

PortSide NewYork is honored to have won a White House "Champions of Change" award for our work during and after hurricane Sandy. We hope the award will allow us to continue our Sandy-aid work, launch new resilience training programs, and attract more assistance to Red Hook. Things look promising; the phone has started to ring.  Until we finish the blogpost about Part II of our Sandy story, we've added photos to a press release below to tell that story. Part I of the story, how we protected the MARY A. WHALEN from Sandy, can be read here.

PortSide NewYork educates people about the BlueSpace, the water part of the waterfront.  PortSide works with the community ashore and the community afloat; our goal is to bring the two closer together, to foster their mutual understanding and to create synergies between the two.  PortSide programs are diverse—they include maritime preservation, visiting vessels, arts and educational programs, community service and advocacy.  What unites them is the focus on water and waterfront issues. Our mission is to bring NYC’s BlueSpace to life.

PortSide has its offices aboard a historic ship, the MARY A. WHALEN, and with her, PortSide has created the world's only oil tanker cultural center, a ship in the National Register of Historic Places. PortSide runs many programs on the MARY, and we run many off the ship as well. 

PortSide NewYork is negotiating with GBX▪Gowanus Bay Terminal for a homeport in Red Hook, Brooklyn!  At our prospective home, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN will be publicly accessible directly from Columbia Street across from IKEA.  [Note: MARY A. WHALEN relocated to Atlantic Basin May 2015]

PortSide’s electricity on the ship was repaired after 35 nights of reliance on flashlights and one 15-amp extension cord.  PortSide seeks professional conservator help with two waterlogged books from the 1850s (stored in a freezer since the flood) and restoration of the antique replacement parts for the ship’s engine which were stored in the shed.

More info

Official description of the White House Champions of Change Sandy awards

"Across the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy, ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary, innovative things in their communities to respond to and recover from this disaster. By partnering with the whole community, we, as a nation, are better positioned to meet the unique needs of communities and neighborhoods across America."  

PortSide NewYork, and the other 16 winners, were at a White House award ceremony on April 24 for a panel discussion and remarks by the head of FEMA Craig Fugate and the head of HUD Shaun Donovan.   Carolina Salguero, Director of PortSide NewYork represented PortSide on the panel. A video of her remarks is here.

FEMA handled the Sandy nomination process.  The head of FEMA Craig Fugate spoke at the White House Champions ceremony and explained that the awards were important for underlining how the public was now being viewed by FEMA as survivors (not victims) and partners in recovery (not just recipients of aid). 

Thanks to Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6 for nominating us. You can read his nomination here

For PortSide's latest Sandy relief information, see our regularly updated blogpost and follow us on Twitter