By Jonathan Billig, Clearwater Education Intern
The Hudson River sloop Clearwater is moving at a good clip, gently rocking as we cut through oncoming swells. The sail is full of wind and the sky is clear. There are a lot of new people aboard the sloop today, passengers on one of the public sails that we conduct from docks all along the Hudson. There are a few old Clearwater hands aboard as well, but given our focus on education, they still share in the excitement of a first time Clearwater experience.
My name is Jonathan Billing. I’m one of two education interns aboard the sloop this summer, and I’m happy I finally came aboard. The sloop Clearwater and the larger organization were ever present for me growing up in Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, NY. My friends would tell me about volunteering at something called “Revival” in Croton, or they’d embark on some mysterious local sail on a big sailboat that I had never seen. Six years after high school, Clearwater was one of the first organizations I applied to when I decided to try environmental education.
Clearwater depends on personalities, ideas, and the energy of local people to survive and thrive. Every new sail brings visitors with new questions, new observations, and new songs to share. Occasionally, a brave soul decides to volunteer for a week aboard, helping to implement the same program of education and sailing that she or he experienced as guests.
Every Hudson River Valley resident has something to offer Clearwater, and something to gain from getting involved. Our newest department is called Green Cities, where we help local citizens make plans to create greener cities and neighborhoods. Victor Pierre-Melendez, Director of Green Cities, joined us on the boat to update the crew on the most exciting new developments in protecting the Hudson River Watershed. Now, as the river is getting cleaner, the crew and staff are turning some of our focus landward, where the water that feeds the Hudson flows through city streets, across parking lots and through waste water treatment plants. There is still much work to be done in order to make our river cities greener and improve the health of the Hudson.
This year the crew and volunteers have taken excursions into the surrounding wetlands and hills to study the watershed and better understand the challenges Hudson Valley communities face with manging storm water runoff and combined sewage overflows. From the top of Mount Beacon we could observe the paths that raindrops follow on their journey to the river.
So come on a sail onboard Clearwater, tell your friends about the sloop, or come participate in environmental advocacy work with Clearwater. There are limitless ways to get involved. If music is your thing, check out our Great Hudson River Revival. It took me 20 years of living here to attend my first one, but it was worth the wait!