Residents Forward and Port residents work together to keep our waters clean
At the end of February, two DIY (Do It Yourself) Clean Up Stations were installed at Bay Walk Park in Port Washington. Residents Forward project began last year to help keep litter off walkways, away from beaches and out of the waters. Port resident Marlene Friedberg approached Residents Forward with the clean-up station idea to honor her son Brett, who passed at 22 in 2018.
Residents Forward is a non-profit organization based in Port Washington that supports projects that make the Port Washington area more sustainable, resilient and beautiful.
Friedberg approached Residents Forward Executive Director Patricia Class with the idea for the clean-up stations, which Class supported and helped make a reality. Last year, one DIY Clean Up Station was installed in Sunset Park. Now two have been installed in Bay Walk Park, and three more are waiting for approval to be installed elsewhere.
Friedberg’s son Brett went to Hobart and William Smith College for a double major in economics and environmental studies. Brett loved to sail and was really passionate about climate change and lowering CO2 emissions.
“That’s why I came up with this idea in his honor. I wanted to do something that would have longevity,” said Friedberg. “And he loved Port Washington.”
The beautifully designed DIY Clean-Up Station is a blue box with instructions on the top, information about local wildlife on the front and sides, and a panel with a loving tribute to Brett. Inside the boxes are gloves, a bag and bag ties for people to take out, collect trash with, then deposit in a nearby trash can.
“Either use it when you’re carrying too many things in your hand or you use it to pick up litter around you to help the water stay clean,” said Friedberg.
The box in Sunset park is managed by the Nicholas Navigators, individuals with autism at The Nicholas Center. The Nicholas Navigators visit the box to replenish it with gloves, bags and bag ties.
Residents that walk through Sunset Park or Bay Walk Park can spot the DIY Clean-Up Boxes easily. Port resident Michelle Shain designed the beautiful and informational box.
When designing the boxes, Shain had a four-part plan. One was to make the box aesthetically pleasing and follow a theme, two was for the box to be educational, three was to provide easy instructions and four was to provide a memorable memorial for Brett.
The boxes are different shades of blue, following the theme of the water and keeping the water clean, which Brett was passionate about.
“The second thing was it had to be educational,” said Shain. “We wanted to educate people about the wildlife that was native to the Long Island sound. We highlight all different kinds of animals, like the egret, the perch and the sandbar shark. All different kinds of things and we wanted to write a little bit about them so that people could really understand what the point is; to keep the trash out of the bay. The trash doesn’t get picked up and our garbage men can’t do everything. It just floats around and it ends up in our bay.”
The third aspect of the design was for easy instructions on the top panel. Shain shared that some walkers might confuse the box for a trash bin, which it is not. Gloves, a bag, and bag tie are inside the box for walkers to take with them and collect litter they see as they walk. When your walk is done or the bag is filled, you deposit in a trash bin.
“The last but certainly not least part of this project is we wanted it to be memorable,” said Shain. “Brett loved the water and then keeping it clean, and so this is dedicated to him. I was trying to come up with an image that was sort of youthful because he was a kid and spirited and positive because this is a wonderful thing that she’s doing. I have chills when I think about the project.”
From what Shain learned about Brett from his mom and read a lot online, she was able to come up with the panel art and include some beautiful phrases. Shain read some of Brett’s obituaries where friends and family commented things such as ‘Sail On’ and ‘Forever Friend,’ which inspired some of the phrases on the panel.
It took about a month for Shain to get approval for the designs for all the panels, as there was a lot of back and forth and tweaking to make everything perfect.
“But actually the least back and forth was the Brett panel. [Friedberg] was right away on board with it and really liked it,” said Shain.
It’s been four and a half years since Brett’s passing and talking about it hasn’t gotten any easier for Friedberg, she shared. “When [the designs] were done I was as happy as I could be considering that I’m devastated. But for this project, it’s taken me a really long time to get it going.”
Since the boxes are DIY, donations from residents who want to support the cause help produce the boxes. Resident Forward’s Executive Director Patricia Class, said her husband volunteered to make and install the boxes. Toward the bottom of the side panel, the Residents Forward logo is printed along with the sponsor’s name (if there is one). Co-President of Residents Forward, Dawn Serignese, sponsors one of the newly installed boxes in Bay Walk Park.
As a Port resident, Shain walks by the DIY Clean-Up Stations all the time. “I’ll check up on it and make sure there are bags in it. My husband is a big garbage picker-upper, more than I am, and he believes in this project too.”
“It was a very meaningful project and working with Marlene [Friedberg] made it more so,” said Shain. “I do a lot of design around town. I do murals and a lot of graphics work for Landmark on Main Street and the library. But this one was really special because it was so personal and bittersweet.”
The DIY Clean-Up Stations are a beautiful way for Friedberg to memorialize her son and help share his passion with the Port community.
To donate to the DIY Clean-Up Station project, you can visit residentsforward.org or email Marlene Friedberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) to specify that your donation should go toward the project.