Written by Holly Broderick
Brandon Ballengee creates transdiscoplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been the occurrence of developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians. He extends his work into local communities teaching mainly youth, about certain environmental changes hazards and how to make a change through verbal and visual activism.
The main focus of Brandon’s visit was to educate the youth on how to advocate for the clean up of the Hudson River. The Hudson, has a history of devastating pollution dating back to the Industrial Revolution.
Brandon’s lecture explained how PCBs were commonly used as coolant fluids in transformers, capacitors and electric motors. Polychlorinated biphenyl is a synthetic organic chemical compound that contains chlorine and biphenyl. From 1947 to 1977, General Electrics manufacturing facilities located at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward discharged between 209,000-1,300,000 lbs of PCB’s into the Hudson River. Other pollution issues that are impacting the Hudson include: sewage discharges, heavy metals, furans, dioxin, and various pesticides.
Employees were then encouraged to come up with content to put on signs raising awareness about toxicity of the Hudson. Many amazing signs came out of the project and were later installed on a trip to a Hudson beach area.
These were some signs generated from the workshop:
The signs were then put into action next to the Hudson:
The signs were installed in wooden stakes and surrounded the beach area that had been planned to be used as a park in 1924. Sadly the park was never built.
While the signs were being installed Brandon lead an exploration catching fish in the Hudson:
THE FINAL DAY WITH PAUL TONKO
Paul David Tonko is the U.S Representative for New York’s 20th congressional district, a post he has held since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 21st for his first two terms, is located in the heart of the Capital district and includes Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. (source Wikipedia)
Tonko opened up his discussion to the Sanctuary’s youth with a beautiful quote regarding the Hudson River:
“Water ways are the ink of our history. We need to respect them as a historic resource.”
Tonko stated that people are entitled to have safe food. However, people need to know that the Hudson is not a safe place to swim or gather food until there is a massive clean up. The discussion with the Congressman continued with questions surrounding where to put the waste from the water, how to hold big businesses accountable for pollution and who has authority to make these changes.
Tonko said that US House is currently discussing the issue. In the mean time the advice that was given to the Youth was to make “good trouble”. Meaning, take advantage of making Public service announcements, print media and have instructive and constructive dialogue that catches the attention of those who are able to instill the changes legally.
Sadly, the day after the signs were installed they were taken down by Troy city officials. The Mayor is currently looking into why the signs were taken down. Hopefully, the signs being taken down will alert the Troy community and other communities that share the Hudson as a home that there is something being covered up that needs to be exposed.