“The Waterpod is a sustainable, sculptural art and technology habitat, with 4 artists living on and off it, generating food, water, and power in a contained and self-sufficient environment,” and now it’s here in Brooklyn Heights through August 17th on Pier 5. It’s open to the public on Fridays from 3-7 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm. Just walk down Joralemon Street to the very end, make a left on Furman and follow the signs.
I did on Saturday night for their benefit party. At first, approaching the pier as the sun was setting, it was all greys and blues, the area desolate with barbed wire. As I got closer, I caught a glimpse of the white dome bobbing against the Hudson River. I walked the gangplank onto the barge and noticed first of all a profusion of greenery, a miniature garden to my immediate right. I felt dizzy. Why? Then I remembered: I was on a boat and it was rocking. Then I saw a chicken coop.
The air down here was devoid of humidity, and it reminded of the days of the Floating Pool; the vast expanse of space, of water and the skyline of downtown Manhattan. All around the edges of the barge are more gardens, some hydroponic, called window farms— suspended in the air. On the right side of the barge are the living quarters. One room looked particularly inviting; a loft bed, a small window to glimpse the stars and the bright ribbon of traffic on the BQE. At the far end of the boat, the galley, people were grilling fish tacos, and serving local beer.
I thought of a Japanese garden; a precise arrangement of stones, plants and flowers. I thought of Noah’s Ark for the new millennium. I mentioned this to Mary Mattingly, the green genius, who is the founder and Art Director. She liked the analogy. I asked her, “How long from conception to realization?” She replied, “Three years.” Click on the above link and read her log entries; they are a fascinating record of the creation and journey of the pod, as well as its philosophy. I was particularly impressed that the link marked Manifesto was a long passage from Joyce’s Ulysses.
The Waterpod is both on and off the grid. Electricity doesn’t come from Con Ed, but rather from solar energy and even sometimes a bicycle. Read more on the website for how this happens as well as the process for transforming rain water into drinking water. I began a skeptic. But when I saw a white flag unfurling in the breeze that read: I Remember Earth, I was a convert. And you will be, too. Take your kids, your dogs and parents. All are welcome.