Not too long ago, we were sitting on the Metro North railroad, headed back to NYC, sore from hiking, reeking of campfire, tired as hell, and feeling just a little bit depressed knowing that around the next sunset would be a week filled with meetings and subways, instead of camping and waterways. Quite a shock to the system, it would be, if not for that massive and stunning Hudson River guiding the train all the way home, like a series of awnings bracing the fall from a roof.
Now that fragile river has been in the news a bit recently – subject of a study by a group called Riverkeeper, and an editorial in the Times – reminders of the impact that that city will have on anything it touches. It was also the subject of a recent American Masters on Pete Seeger, one of that river’s first defenders.
In 1966, Seeger started to build a 106 foot sloop called Clearwater (photo above), to sail down the Hudson, sing folk songs and heighten awareness for a river left for dead. That ship and Pete Seeger have since sailed 400,000 students up and down the river, fought polluters, and made a heck of a lot of progress.
As Pete’s daughter says in the film, “He made a promise to me, when I was about 12 years old. He said when you grow up, you’re going to be able to swim in the river. And I did.”
Catch the documentary if you can – the man was black listed for 17 years, hand built his home, and continues at age 87 to fight for his music, his river and the greater good.