Hot Off the Presses

Governors Island from the Battery

After…months and months, and much badgering of students, and and many trips out to Governors Island, and just an enormous amount of support from many, many people at the New York Harbor School, this past Friday at Graduation, we debuted Vol. 1, Issue 1 of the Harbor Current, the most swashbuckling student newspaper EVER!

Harbor Current Issue 1

It’s an actual paper, printed in smeary b&w on newsprint by a guy called Brian at an offset printer’s in Queens; I had to go pick up the goods, and it’s this sort of medium sized warehouse full of clanking presses, with stacks of various community newspapers and school papers and advertising supplements and club newsletters, waiting to be picked up.  So I wrestled the 1000 copies into my housemate’s rolling suitcase and sweated it through the subway system and onto the ferry, and nagged a friend into being a newsie with me, and we passed them out to all the families and friends of graduates who were gathering in chairs set up in front of a stage on the green on Colonels’ Row.

Graduation was interrupted by a squall– huge big scary lightning strikes; the last time I saw weather like that was three years ago, sailing on the Harbor while two little tornado/waterspout things were touching down in Park Slope and Forest Hills.  It seemed fitting, somehow, that graduation for this particular school should be marked by extreme weather.  You want to go to sea? the storm asked –This is what you’ll be up against.  And of course the kids rose to the occasion.  The valedictorian, who had just started speaking, was extraordinarily poised– “What’s the matter, you’re afraid to get wet?  YOU guys?”  but eventually everyone made a run for the caf and the speeches finished there.

I’m just so blown away by these kids, and so proud of what they’re doing, and so pleased to be able to be a part of it.

One more maritime h/t: this is the beginning of Seafarers Awareness Week in the UK.  We don’t have anything like that here– we’ve got Fleet Week, which just finished up, and which was, natch, extra awesome this year because it was an OpSail year.  (I crewed in the flotilla, on Clipper City, a local schooner; the tall ship fleet picks up local boats of respectable size and degree of gaff-rigged coolness as it goes from port to port, and includes them in each local parade.)

But Fleet Week is focused on the military: we don’t have an equivalent for the merchant service.  HOW do we not?  Do we not APPRECIATE the fact that we would not have our iPods if they did not hitch rides on container vessels?  I mean.  If we’re going to have globalization let’s at least take a week to reflect on what that physically means, and on the fact that a plastic lid for a Starbucks cup for a hedge fund guy in lower Manhattan is the direct result of a mariner risking kidnapping by pirates on the other side of the world.

How cool would that be?  Merchant Seafarers Week, NYC!  Sounds like a job for the usual suspects: the  Working Harbor Committee, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and the Seamen’s Church Institute!

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