Our sister hood, Gowanus is jumping on the TEDx wagon this month, hosting the first ever TEDx Gowanus next week. With gentrification, toxic waters, and an industrial past, we have a lot in common with our sludgy Southern friends, so what can we take away from this day of presentations, lectures, and performances?

The theme is “Inspiring Communities,” so of course, that’s something we can get behind. Here are some highlights to check out:

© TEDx Gowanus Instagram #gowanusinspired

* Kate Orff will discuss rebuilding eco-infastructure through gardening i.e.  greening the Gowanus Canal with oyster beds, the theory behind her Blue Mussel Pilot Project in the Gowanus Bay.  According to a 2010 exhibit of “Oyster-tecture” (nice word play) at MoMA, these shelled sea-creatures clean millions of gallons of polluted water through their biotic processes (along with mussels and eelgrass).  We sense potential for Newtown Creek…EPA, we’re talking to you.

* Proteus Gowanus will host a talk on “Collaborative Art and Historical Inspiration” which is a little vague, but the whole “interdisciplinary gallery and reading room” idea is definitely up our alley. They also have a project-based residency (get on it, artists/writers). Proteus’ goal (the organization was created in 2005) is to “create an alternative, culturally rich enciroment designed to simluate the creative process.” We approve.

* Pete Raho will discuss “Bringing back the American manufacturing sector.” He knows first hand from creating Gowanus Furniture, which creates locally-made home products via small-scale urban manufacturing. As we know too well, Greenpoint’s origin is just that–manufacturing, yet more and more local real estate is becoming residential (urgh Greenpoint Landing). We could learn a thing or two from Pete about bringing industry and jobs back to Brooklyn.


* Natalie Loney, the EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator the Gowanus Canal,  will talked about life on the inside of an NYC Superfund. According to the EPA, “As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics.” Sound familiar?

* Sludgie the Whale will be at TEDx Gowanus, in spirit, and in skull…yes, the skull of that little baby Minke Whale who fatally swam into the toxic canal in 2007 and was lovingly named “Sludgie” by neighbors, will be exhibited at the conference. Little Sludge has since become an icon of the area. Our thoughts go out to Sludgie, may no marine life ever meet your sorry end. Watch this video of Joy Reidenberg, a comparative anatomist, talking about the skull of our beloved friend.

This is just a fraction of what promises to be an enlightening day of innovative peopleand ideas. Tickets are sold out, but the conference will be broadcast LIVE on the TEDx Gowanus website. You can also RSVP to join a viewing party. See the schedule here.

Anyone looking to organize a future TEDx Greenpoint? We’re ready for you.


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