Not Curbing My Enthusiasm



By Carolina Salguero

This blogpost is a response to Curbed’s 1/28/16 article about Red Hook which carried only parts of several long conversations with Nathan Kensinger.  Here is more of what I said so that my position, and PortSide NewYork’s, on changing Red Hook is better rendered.  

The Curbed article looks back; my waterfront work, from my photojournalism to founding the forward-looking non-profit PortSide, focuses on the growing maritime sector, making change and shaping the future. At PortSide, we use history to further Red Hook's development. All images, except the rendering above, are copyright Carolina Salguero.

How I would frame the future of Red Hook?

Red Hook has evolved from a place perceived by 1990’s national media as a hopeless crack den to a peninsula that in 2014 was the announced recipient of a "first in the nation" plan for urban flood protection..  Hello IFPS! That is our future, example to the nation.

Est4te Four

I understood Est4te Four to be the core of Nathan’s intended story. Thus, I said that, given that Red Hook was going to change, hugely change, it was better that we have Est4te Four, with a curated vision and their standards, than have the building boom of “luxury”’ housing such as occurred on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope/Gowanus. That left us with a hodgepodge of dreadful buildings like the yellow brick one looming over the historic Old Stone House.

We all fall in love with the Red Hook we first met

Yes, we talked nostalgia.  We talked a lot about Red Hook changes and my personal markers for the stages of evolution.  

This led me to remark that we all seem to fall in love with the Red Hook of our first contact, and the point of that remark was not to say that my first experience of 1997 (as a visitor, I moved here in 1999) was better or more valid than that of someone arriving in 2002 or the 1980s, but to convey how Red Hook triggers a deep love that is very nostalgia based.  

All newcomers to Red Hook love Red Hook, that’s why they come (you don’t come here for the great transportation), and their love starts in, and connects to, the era they arrive.

I said that was one of the great things about my being involved with Red Hook, it has an engaged community that cares about this place. 


My view of Red Hook is so NOT nostalgia-driven that I had a lot positive to say about IKEA.  IKEA’s Sandy recovery work (done with Swedish modesty that did not tout what they did) was so significant that PortSide honored them for it.

I said the IKEA waterfront esplanade was very well designed, one of the best in the city. I said all that despite saying that closing the graving dock was a policy mistake by the city and a personal loss to me; it was my photographic muse for 5 years.  I had unfettered, permitted access to it and could come by land or sea, day or night; and I had the run of the old shipyard too. 

NYCHA, The Red Hook Houses and the new Red Hook

The Curbed piece concludes with the quote “"It's not going to be the same Red Hook for a lot of the people who live here now."”’  whereas I talked quite a bit about the people who are likely to stay in Red Hook, the overwhelming majority of Red Hook’s residents, eg the residents of the NYCHA development in the Red Hook Houses East and Red Hook Houses West.  I said that for all the problems faced by those folks, they had a large measure of residential stability.  

I said that one of my hopes for Red Hook was that, with all the change, wealth and resources coming to the Red Hook around the Houses, more resources would be focused on helping those NYCHA residents. Some of that was visible in the great number of homegrown non-profits on this small peninsula. I said that entrenched, urban poverty was a tough challenge, but that we should try. It is certainly part of PortSide’s mission.

090708 RH street life 003.jpg

Same old, same old with new people

I said that even with all the new people moving in, much stayed the same:  Red Hook the close knit community where gossip and rumor are big.  Gary Baum, the friend of the pick-up truck sledding mentioned by Nathan, used to joke that if you sneezed, in 10 minutes people know that 7 blocks away.

All of which led me to remark that what I wish Red Hook would get better at research and negotiation since so many of our land use issues were characterized by “did you hear that?!!” shock that was not necessarily based on fact; and that, as a community, we had yet to negotiate benefits from any major real estate development.  Segue to NY Rising, a change in that dynamic.

NY Rising and the future of Red Hook

Once Nathan and I got off the nostalgia beat, I spent a lot of time talking about NY Rising, my voice starting to crack with emotion when I talked about how beautiful it was for me to see that the disaster of Sandy had germinated something that augured such good for Red Hook.

NY Rising is a NYS program, and its Red Hook committee members (including me) were appointed by the State to craft a resiliency plan for $3MM in funds the state would provide.  

It was a helluva lot of work over some 9 months, but we had the benefits of the region’s best consultants, paid by the state, to support the effort. I said it was a new model worth remembering:  government paid to give grassroots community members planning resources (as opposed to Community Boards in gentrifying areas that are overwhelmed by trying to respond to Land Use permits and variances and that are not funded in proportion to that workload. Hint, hint, NYC.)  

Official NYS webpage for NY Rising statewide
Official NYS webpage for NY Rising Red Hook committee
Blog of Red Hook’s NY Rising committee  
Final resiliency plan of NY Rising Red Hook committee, shorter executive summary and mini brochure version.

Red Hook's NY Rising committee has gone well beyond the State-appointed mission.  We proposed programs exceeding that budget. The committee has already sought and secured outside funding to further some projects, including the microgrid. The committee has continued to meet and is becoming a non-profit to further work in Red Hook.  It is also looking to expand members.  GET INVOLVED!  It sought the support of the Municipal Art Society to host the Red Hook Summit about resiliency projects in Red Hook.

COME TO THE RED HOOK SUMMIT! It is Saturday, 1/30/16, 10am – 1pm at Summit Academy, 27 Huntington Street. Full disclosure, I am presenting for PortSide there.

I talked to Nathan about my role on NY Rising where I tried to raise NYCHA issues (I proposed the solar-powered emergency lights in the final plan) and my big focus was activation of the waterfront (the waterways, really) and ensuring that the wisdom of NYC’s 2011 waterfront plan Vision 2020 (embrace and activate the waterways!) was not drowned by Sandy (water is destructive, let’s build walls!). 

As a result, I was very moved when at the IFPS (Integrated Flood Protection Study) meeting last week, community members very strongly supported the idea of waterfront access and maritime activation that were on the sheet of NY Rising “values” had the room discuss.  

Listening to the IFPS room, with the report-back from each break-out table echoing PortSide values for the waterfront, I felt that I, and PortSide staff and interns, had really made a difference preparing  advocacy papers, blogposts, webpages, walk-to-ferry-landings studies, etc  for NY  Rising, all of which is shared on our website.  Our NY Rising work and waterfront vision was embraced by the room without our having spoken up for it in that room.  Given that the IFPS is a “first in the nation” program, the eyes of the world are on us in Red Hook, so it was powerful for me to see PortSide’s harbor advocacy work picked up by the IFPS process.

090809 kayak into Van B apt window 001.jpg

Changes in Red Hook – growth of maritime sector

The thrust of Nathan’s Curbed piece is displacement, new replacing the old, but I also talked about what NYC’s real estate driven press (Ahoy, Curbed!) does not cover very much: the growth of the maritime sector.  So I rattled off some Red Hook increases in maritime activity since I moved here in 1999: New York Water Taxi (a new company, and headquartered in Red Hook), Vane Brothers tug and barge company expanding two times beyond the footprint of the old Ira S. Bushey yard at the foot of Court Street (where the MARY A. WHALEN started work in 1938) to GBX and Port Authority piers, a new cruise terminal, and Red Hook Container Terminal expanded business (despite hiccups of lawsuits, Sandy and more), and the founding of PortSide NewYork, to create a maritime hub that would foster the community revitalization of Red Hook along a water and maritime theme, combine working waterfront, public access and community development and be a test lab and advocate for expand that model harborwide. 

PortSide NewYork services to a future Red Hook

I told Nathan that in September, 2015, PortSide asked the EDC for the space inside the Pier 11 warehouse next to the ship that had been promised to us in 2009, 2010, and 2011 – space that the EDC had also promised to the community as the home for PortSide.

I concluded by sending Nathan two renderings of what PortSide plans for Pier 11, a forward-looking vision for Red Hook. Here is what we are working towards!  #GetOnBoard and join us!

Waterfront Assets info for NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program (CRP) Red Hook Committee

Our Director Carolina Salguero is on the Red Hook committee of the NYS resiliency planning process "CRP."  That process has stressed that the planning exercise is about more than recovery, or flood prevention and mitigation.  It is supposed to take a long and broad view which includes economic resiliency years into the future.

This emphasis prompted Carolina Salguero to make some suggestions regarding Red Hook's waterfront assets, both their potential and the impediments to reaching their potential. She wrote a document to cover what was not being said in the CRP discussion that seemed essential to get into "Needs and Opportunities" document that was due on 10/28, a document that was first described as "a conceptual plan for Red Hook" and then later as a guide for issues to be discussed.  PortSide shares that document below.

Many of the themes about policy, permits and pier design reflect citywide issues, so this blogpost has relevance beyond Red Hook and beyond Sandy issues.

The document is marked DRAFT as it was done in a rush due to a NYS deadline of 10/28 for that  "Needs and Opportunities" document,. DRAFT signifying that it will be updated. After discussion at PortSide, we decided it was important to get this information out and shared without further delay given the pace of the CRP process -- also given the pace of the Bill de Blasio transition team. 

PortSide, along with many other waterfront operators and advocates hopes that the impediments described will be lifted. NYC created a great road map for activating the waterfront, and the water part of the waterfront, in its new comprehensive waterfront plan "Vision 2020."  Many of the changes proposed here would move the city towards fulfilling the great promise of that plan.

Download document Carolina Salguero waterfront suggestions for Red Hook CRP Committee 10/23/13

Some excerpts

“Understanding Red Hook waterfront options means understanding a lot of arcane regulation and policy, so I have written up the following observations and suggestions to help Red Hook committee members of the CRP who are not waterfront people. “

“Red Hook is a peninsula. Water is therefore our greatest resiliency challenge due to the risk of floods, but water is also the defining feature of this place and our greatest economic asset.”

“If nothing else, consider the clout: the largest land owner in Red Hook looks to be the Port Authority, and Red Hook’s relationship with the Port could be grown and improved. The Committee should be sitting down with the major property owners.”

“Understanding and capturing the potential of Red Hook’s waterfront involves understanding and engaging a constituency that is not usually at the table in Red Hook planning discussions, the maritime community.”

Action Items

Use CRP to improve NYS & NYC policy regarding pier design & use:

1.    Change State Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) policy regarding permits to install or repair a pier
2.    Change NYC policy, to go beyond just “access to the waterfront” to promote use of the water itself.
3.    Change NYC policy regarding pier design & management

Longer Term Improvement Opportunities

o    Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Shed
o    Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Parking Lot
o    Atlantic Basin
            Reality Check: limitations on Atlantic Basin waterspace use
o    Valentino Park
o    A Home for PortSide NewYork


A.    A Home for PortSide NewYork
B.    DEC Impediments to pier repair and construction

Testimony to New York City Council
Committee on Waterfronts
Re: 6/15/05 Regulatory Obstacles to Waterfront Development

C.    Frequent impediments to boat use of piers in NYC



Red Hook got walloped by Sandy on 10/29/12, but the spirit that was most visible at the one-year anniversary, the Sandyversary, was moxie and mirth.  Cheeky illustrations popped up in a few places.   

Waterline with fish at the home of Chief Urban Designer of NYC's Department of City Planning. He is designing a way to flood-proof ground floors in the future.   

Waterline with fish at the home of Chief Urban Designer of NYC's Department of City Planning. He is designing a way to flood-proof ground floors in the future.  

 There are a lot of chicken coops in Red Hook, and chicken jokes and costumes abounded.  References to the Great Chicken Rescue conducted by the gals of the winebar home/made, Monica Byrne and Leisah Swenson, appeared on their store window, on Heba Deli's next door, and the bartender’s costume at the Red Hook Volunteers Party.

Barnacle Parade

An underground parade, the Barnacle Parade, was organized on short notice. Satirical costumes ridiculed the insurance industry, referred to blown out transformers, jerry jugs, diesel oil spills, and Gowanus Canal overflow. A float depicting a generator loomed over it all. A huge, blue tarp, shaken by a dozen people, was a lo-fi illustration of Sandy’s flood waters. 


RHI - Sandy One Year Acknowledgement Anniversary Dinner

We were pretty busy with the parade and our role in the Light up the Shore, so we missed most of Red Hook Initiative's event. If anyone wants to send photos and copy our way, we'll post them!  The proceedings concluded with a visit by Bill de Blasio, now Mayor of New York City, who had a lot of media in tow.



Coffey Park candlelight vigil

A vigil organized by Monica Byrne, Rachel Forsyth, Martha Bowers and others started near 7pm. A pleasant twenty minutes or so of chatting and candle-lighting occurred while the crowd gathered, some of them from RHI's event above. Reginald Flowers asked everyone to form a circle  ("this is a Red Hook circle," someone quipped looking at our misshapen round in the park) and to have a moment of silence. The silence ended when the Hungry March Band, invited by PortSide NewYork with the help of Dan Wiley of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez office, struck up a tune and stepped out to head towards IKEA.



Light Up the Shore

PortSide NewYork was the Red Hook organizer for Light up the Shore, a harborwide event including NY & NJ, where people lined up with candles and flashlights at 7:45pm, the hour the waters started hitting our city.  On this, we coordinated with The Brooklyn Long Term Recovery Group, who was helping to arrange gathering spots all over Brooklyn.

The Hungry March band led a group of about two hundred people, New Orleans style, towards the waterfront with teens on skateboards and bikes dancing and popping wheel out in the front.  As the throng turned on to Van Brunt Street at Pioneer, a big cheer erupted from the rump remains of the Barnacle Parade partying in front of Bait & Tackle

IKEA graciously invited the community to come to their waterfront and donated 200 candles, hot Glogg (a Swedish beverage that tastes a lot better than it sounds!) and cookies. Fairway donated hot cider and cookies. Father Claudio Antecini of Visitation Church spoke followed by Carlos Menchaca, now our Councilman.  Carolina Salguero of PortSide said "there is a request for group hug, hug someone you know and some one you don't," and after a bout of hugging and more chatting, the crowd filtered away into the night.


Red Hook Volunteer

The dynamic duo of Monica and Leisah hosted a party at their new venue Atelier Roquette, to honor the recovery work of the Red Hook Volunteers and help them raise money. Over 50 attended what felt like the relaxed after party for a day of Sandyversary events, with some people shuttling back and forth between the Bait & Tackle party and the Volunteers.  The Mother Earth Band (made wholly or mostly of Volunteers) played.  Red Hook is truly blessed to have had this contingent of young people make their way to NYC after the storm and find Red Hook and stay to  help us out. Three cheers to the Red Hook Volunteers!



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