Oliver Kellhammer "Post Industrial Ecologies of the Hudson River Estuary"

 

Oliver Kellhammer "Post Industrial Ecologies of the Hudson River Estuary"

The Sanctuary for Independent Media

April 22, 2017 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Stretching from Troy to the New York harbor, the Hudson River’s estuary has played an integral part in the rise and fall of America as a vast industrial power. Its waters and surrounding landscapes have been heavily impacted since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution and there are troubling legacies of persistent pollutants such as the the PCBs left behind by the General Electric manufacturing plant at Hudson Falls. Yet there are signs of regeneration, if one knows where to look. Abandoned factory landscapes called brownfields harbour surprising biodiversity as the man-made habitats they contain mimic prairies and savannahs, cliffs and gravel banks. The post-industrial flora and fauna that thrives in these disturbed sites comprises a ‘hyper-ecology’  - a fascinating mix of natives and exotics, pioneer species, habitat opportunists and a range of other organisms that benefit from conditions that are significantly hotter, more alkaline and less fertile than the primeval ecosystem so long ago obliterated. With the decline in industrial activity and the enforcement of laws governing the discharge of pollutants, aquatic ecosystems too are showing signs of recovery, despite significant challenges. Who would have thought even a few decades ago that humpback whales could once again be seen feeding in the East River just off Gracie Mansion?

 

In his talk and workshop, ecological artist, writer and activist Oliver Kellhammer will frame post-industrial ecologies as sites of renewal and the emergence of novel processes. In collaboration with artist Kathy High, he has been compiling a field guide to the biodiversity of the brownfields of Troy and has been experimenting with strategies for bioremediating contaminated soils in the area using a combination of fungi and plants. His work can be seen at www.oliverk.org

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