Young creatives produced this story about waterways in Troy, New York, highlighting the critical importance of the Erie Canal in American history and industry. They interview Bill Sweitzer of the New York State Canal Corp. and discuss ongoing threats such as pollutants and how everyone can contribute to protect waterways. The Arts Center of the Capital Region hosted Stories: YES as a summer workshop on digital story production with Desiree Bailey, Marissa Evans, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Emma Greenblatt, Jayden Lozada, Owen Romano, Alice VanEtten and Derek Zieske.
Speaker 1 (00:11): Water is 50 to 65% of your body. It takes up 71% of the earth. Water is everywhere. It's in the air, you drink it, you need it. It is beautiful and necessary to live.
Speaker 2 (00:25): Water is very important to everyone. It's in plumbing. It's in your cup. It's coming from the shower. It's all around from the clouds to the ground and right back up again. You'd die without water. Your body survives longer without food than without water. Three weeks is way longer than three days.
Bill Sweitzer (00:46): The air, our bodies, the earth is two thirds or more than water. If we don't protect it and if we don't realize it and appreciate it, it's going to affect our life because it is our life. Every day I work on a waterway or I work for a waterway, but really when you wake up in the morning, your body is just keeping itself alive, it's all about water.
Speaker 4 (01:11): Americans made a long iron chain called The Great Chain to put across the Hudson River to block British ships from sealing up the river to Albany.
Bill Sweitzer (01:19): New Yorkers decided they were going to dig the Erie Canal. They were going to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, which would have been a 300 mile ditch. They had to dig through forests and hills and valleys. Well, we did it. New York state did it all by ourselves and it changed the country eventually, changed the New York state. It was the mother of cities, they said. Little tiny forts and outposts like Buffalo and Syracuse, Chicago and Cleveland turned into huge cities and it made New York state really the financial capital of the world and New York state, the empire state.
Speaker 5 (02:01): From 1947 to 1977, the company General Electric dumped PCBs into the river. It heavily contaminated the water and the things inside of it. These PCBs spread cancer and more diseases.
Bill Sweitzer (02:16): But in the old days, they just spit the byproducts of their company right into the waterways. The Hudson that's right behind us is a really good example of that. These days you don't see like the nasty sewer pipe that's coming out with green sludge coming into your waterways, but what else is happening? All the cars that are on the road, the oil and the gas and the debris from the tires and that, that eventually gets washed off and goes into our ground and eventually goes into our waterways somehow.
Speaker 6 (02:45): For now, there hasn't really been a conclusion to this, but what can we do?
Speaker 1 (02:50): If we make small changes to our daily habits, start by putting trash in the right places, by bringing bags to the store, by using reusable things.
Speaker 6 (03:00): Another thing is to spread awareness. A big way to do this is using the arts, like the Hudson River School artists. We cannot let this helper humanity and landmark be ruined.
Asset ID: 8587
Themes: Water, waterways, conservation, history, industry
Date recorded: 2019
Length of recording: 3:36 m
Related traveling exhibition: Water/Ways
Sponsor or affiliated organization: The Arts Center of the Capital Region, New York
More information: https://museumonmainstreet.org/blog-node/young-innovators-merge-history-and-digital-arts