Excremen-tainment!

Dearest Poopers, There are big things in the works--POOP Project events in NYC on Sept. 10, 15, and also Oct. 1 and 19th. More info coming PRONTO!

But a little teaser for the day: are you a woman in New York interested in asking Dr. Oz about your pee or poo, Tuesday the 30th? Allow me to explain...

This past week I was visiting my folks in Denver (even a Puru's got to have parents!), away from Brooklyn just long enough to miss Aunt Irene. In truth, I was a little glad to be away but more sorry not to be standing with my city--especially in what New York Magazine warned might be a literal shitstorm from combined sewer outfalls (CSOs) in the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. Based on the pictures in one local blog, it doesn't appear to be much of an issue, and the worst my block got was a big fallen branch. She IS a big one though!

So Friday, I'm at the Denver Zoo with the first family of feces (j/k Mom and Dad!). Like all zoos, they love poop. They sell their poo to gardeners in a can, have an online game where you can guess Whose Poo?!, and they're soon to open Asian Tropics, a multi-million dollar exhibit powered by biogas--utilizing 2,700 pounds of animal poo and 4,200 pounds of their visitor's trash EVERY DAY. I am impressed.

So I'm eating an ice cream alongside a free range peacock, and I look down at my phancy phone to phind (too phar?) an email from Dr. Oz.

That's right. The guru of positive poop talk himself. THE Dr Oz.

...or a Production Assistant from his show whose name was Sheena. It was hard to tell. But we all know that down deep he loves The POOP Project.

Anyway, my understanding is that they're taping a show Tuesday, Aug. 30th from 1-5pm about poo and pee. Any New York ladies out there who:

a) have been diagnosed with something because of/related to poo or pee and wanna sit in the audience and represent?

b) wanna ask a question that pertains to what the shape or color of poo means, why their pee is colored/smells a certain way or what the quantity of the pee signifies?

If you're ready for your 15 minutes of fecal fame, email me at shawn@thePOOPproject.org and I'll give you the low down.

That's all for now, poopers. Wishing you inphamous phoeces and peaceful pooping.

Shawn

Newtown Creek: Past, Present and Future

Dearest Poopers, The next panel conversation is almost upon us!  In fact, it's TODAY at 6:30pm!

 

 

A century ago, Newtown Creek had more cargo careening down the banks of Greenpoint and Long Island City than did the Mississippi. Now her docks are used to park cars, and her bottom--soiled by a century's worth of industrial pollution and oil spillage--has earned this toxic creek federal Superfund status. Learn more about the rehabilitation process now under way, and the economic/environmental advantages of once again utilizing our waterways instead of our highways.

Featuring Mitch Waxman (Newtown Pentacle) and Kate Zidar (SWIM Coalition, Newtown Creek Alliance).

NOTE: Due to the birth of a wee miracle, Mike Heimbinder (HabitatMap) will not be able to join us.  Alas, nor and Paul Parkhill (Place in History). I know, I know...excuses!

Looking forward to seeing you there and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

A Day for Pee-On-Earth

Dearest Poopers, While we normally extol the virtues of that brown stuff from behind, today we're turning around to wish you a very happy Pee-On-Earth Day!

But, please, hold it for just one more minute, and mark your calendars for Newtown Creek: Past, Present, and Future, a panel conversation happening this Thursday, June 23, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, and moderated by The Puru.  Join experts Michael Heimbinder (HabitatMap), Kate Zidar (SWIM Coalition, Newtown Creek Alliance) and Paul Parkhill (Place in History) for an enlightening and engaging conversation about one of New York's most polluted water bodies--and what we can do about it.

And now...

It's always been good to be Number 1, but did you know that the yellow stuff flowing out of your urethra is actually liquid GOLD?  That's right!  Your very own urine is brimming with the nitrogen and phosphorous that plants crave to make them green and healthy. And today is the day to start spreading the love. (Unless you started last year like The Puru...)

Carol Steinfeld, wastewater expert and founder of the holiday, tells you how to do it:

PEECYCLE either directly or by depositing your contribution in a container you take outside and apply to: - Soil, wood chips or the forest floor (not pavement) - Your composter or compost pile (makes brown leaves and woodchips compost faster)

Or dilute it with 9 parts water to 1 part urine, and pour around plants! (Dilute or distribute widely: Lots of urine deposited in one spot on your lawn can result in nitrogen burn!)

She's even created this delightful decal to help you remember:

Now go out there and spread the love!!

Wishing you purposeful peeing and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Waste Not, Want Not: Recycling Rules in NYC

Dear Poopers, Thank you to all who came out yesterday to the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek for the panel on Art and Sustainability. Through the natural, meditative works of George Trakas to Mary Mattingly's futuristic, floating Waterpod, I hope we scratched the surface of how art can promote sustainability in personal, communal and planetary planes. Stay tuned for the next panel, "Newtown Creek: Past, Present and Future" coming up June 23 (more info here).

At that very same Visitor's Center this past Thurs, May 19, I was found sifting through the garbage with a bunch of my Brooklyn neighbors. No, we weren't dumpster diving again (excuse me, "urban foraging"), but taking part in a recycling workshop run by David Hurd and Jae Watkins from the NYC Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE).

The OROE is one arm of GrowNYC, which is not exactly a government program, but a non-profit which, in their words, "improves New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations." After a little context from the quick Mr. Hurd (in regards to both wit and pace--just try to keep up with his jam-packed 5 minute intro to the economics of recycling in NYC), we were treated to a showing of the Emmy-winning NYC TV production The Green Apple: Recycling (click the title to watch). Our group scored highly in the "Choose Which Bin" game Ms. Watkins facilitated afterward, and we challenged Mr. Hurd's encyclopedic knowledge with a barrage of questions. And then we ate snacks.

Here are some of the highlights of what I learned, followed by a few tips on how to be a stellar NYC recycler.

  • From 1947 to 2001, solid waste from all five boroughs was shipped to Fresh Kills on Staten Island, at one time the world's largest landfill. Since Fresh Kills is now getting made over into a sprawling park (with a composting toilet!), the 25,000 tons of trash that New Yorkers and their businesses create each day is trucked away at a total cost of around $300,000,000 each year. Generally speaking, Manhattan's waste is incinerated in New Jersey at a Waste to Energy facility (WTE), while most trash from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx will wind up in nearly full or at-capacity landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio or Virginia. (For a complete breakdown, download this Concerned Citizens report. Also check out this great NYC recycling overview from Baruch college.) Paper recycling, on the other hand, happens at Pratt Industries paper mill on Staten Island and makes the city a profit of around $35,000,000/year. In similar economic terms, the cost of carting metal, glass and plastic to a landfill is over $100/ton, while transporting the same ton to a recycling facility costs only $58.

  • In 2004-05, NYC conducted a thorough study of the waste found in both residential and street bins. They learned that 35% of the waste NYC residents produce can be recycled at the curb as pictured on the above pie chart. Of that 35% potentially-recyclable material, only half of it actually makes it to an appropriate bin, leading to a 17% "capture rate." In other words, New York City creates a resource from 17% of its waste.
  • 13% of NYC waste is composed of "other plastics," some of which are indeed recyclable but not collected by the city. (It is possible that the range of plastics NYC can recycle will increase in Fall 20012, when a "materials recovery facility" in south Brooklyn is expected to be completed.) Another 28% is organic matter that could be composted. As it is, all that rotting fruit makes landfills feel gassy, releasing harmful methane and CO2 into the atmosphere if not captured.

So what can we do, humble and concerned citizens, to see that more of our trash doesn't just go to waste?

  1. REDUCE! Let's face it. Much of the stuff we buy is, well, just stuff. The best way to prevent our lives from becoming cluttered is not to accumulate stuff in the first place. Consider also how you might reduce your intake of materials; you could buy a fruit with its own packaging (like an orange or banana) instead of something in plastic, carry a reusable coffee mug or water bottle and, for goodness sake, bring your own bag.
  2. REUSE! The city has a number of programs to help businesses and individuals pass on materials--from furniture to fabric--that they no longer need, preventing landfill waste, raw material manufacturing, and reducing cost. For small-scale, interpersonal trading, consider holding a swap meet or posting on Craigslist or Freecycle. Get creative! Here are 6 ways to reuse that plastic bottle, from crafty coin purses to designer lamps!
  3. RECYCLE! Let's face it: one only needs so many plastic bottle lamps. So the rest go in the recycling bin. But which bin? Inside a bag, too? And should that bag be blue or clear? You already know that recycling rules, now let's learn some regulations (see a complete list from the city here).
  • The machines at the recycling facility can automatically screen out items that are not recyclable, but it takes time and energy. By carefully sorting at home, you make the whole process more efficient and ensure that resources are spent on recycling, not clearing out the waste traps.
  • If you have clearly labeled bins, you don't need the bags! Trash goes in the trash bin, papers in the green-labeled bin, and metal/glass/plastic in the blue-labeled bin. (Call 311 to order your own decals, or click here.) If you must bag, don't be fooled by those blue "recycling bags" in the store--NYC mandates recycling goes in clear bags.
  • Paper means basically what you think it does: magazines, mail, newspaper, cereal boxes, etc. Corrugated cardboard needs to be cut in to small pieces or else flattened and bundled with twine. You don't have to remove every staple or all the plastic windows from your envelopes, but don't recycle anything with lots of tape or glue on it. Paper stained with food (i.e. napkins, paper plates) are also not recyclable.
  • Metals/glass/plastic is a bit more complicated. All household metals are acceptable, and all glass jars or bottles (no mirrors, light bulbs, dishes, etc.), but the plastics are a bit trickier. While most plastic nowadays is recyclable, NYC only recycles numbers 1 and 2, and then only when the neck is smaller than the base as with bottles and jugs. That means all those take-out trays, Starbucks cups, plastic bags and yogurt containers should go in the trash even if they are labeled with a 1 or 2 (something about the melting temperature...). The plastic cap is also not recyclable, so throw that away before recycling the bottle (metal beer caps are ok). Additionally, used cartons and Tetra Paks (from milk, juice, soup, etc.) also go in the blue bin. THUS, you might think of the blue as your "Metal/glass/bottle/jug/carton" bin. Now isn't that easy to remember?
  • When thinking about which bin to use, consider the item holistically. If 51% or more of the product is a recyclable material, then it's recyclable. That Pringles can, for example, has both paper and metal. You could separate the bottom from the cardboard tube and recycle each separately, or just recycle in the green bin since more than 51% of the can is paper.
  • NYC is working on expanding the range of what's recyclable at the curb. In the meantime, any store larger than 10,000 sq/ft or a chain with 5+ stores is legally required to offer plastic bag recycling. CFL lights are recyclable at places like Home Depot and Ikea, while batteries, cell phones and other electronic waste can be taken to your local electronics store (more details here). Or check out this reader-recommended exchange program from Verizon that turns your electronic recyclables into gift cards.

Lastly, remember that 28% organic, gassy waste decomposing in the landfills? Give those veggie scraps, old flower arrangements and grass clippings a rebirth instead of a burial, and compost them into new soil! You can compost at home in a pre-made backyard bin or one you build with friends, an apartment-sized worm bin, or keep your scraps in the freezer (to prevent smell) and drop them off at an actively composting community garden or local collection. (GrowNYC lists a number of drop-off sites in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn--some of which are only offered through June 25 as a pilot program, and I'm sure could use your support.) NYC will even take your fall leaves and Christmas trees to nourish plants throughout the city. For more information or to become a trained compost captain, check out the Lower East Side Ecology Center or the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

While we are not responsible for all of New York City's waste, we can take responsibility for our own. So spread the word!  Recycling rules.

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Cruising At the Creek

Dearest Poopers, While we're waiting for Bob's ship to come in, can I interest you in doing something forbidden this weekend? Something casual and exciting? Maybe with someone you've never met before?

Well, dear friend, you've got to go cruising down Newtown Creek.

***Newtown Creek Cruise***

When: Saturday, May 21st, Departs 10:00am sharp, Returns 1:00pm Where: Pier 17 South Street Seaport  [directions] Price: $60, to purchase tickets visit the Working Harbor Committee website.

Join us for a special water tour of Newtown Creek with expert narration from historical and environmental guest speakers. There are limited tickets available on the MV American Princess for a very rare tour of Newtown Creek. Guest narrators will cover points of industrial and historical interest as well as environmental and conservation issues during your three-hour exploration. New York’s forgotten history will be revealed - as well as bright plans for the Creek's future.  MV American Princess is a large comfortable vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. Complimentary soft drinks and a tour brochure are included.  Cruise runs rain or shine.  Queries? Contact Tour Chairman Mitch Waxman: waxmanstudio@gmail.com

Hosted by Hidden Harbor Tours ® in association with the Newtown Creek Alliance.

 

But there's MORE!

The POOP Project is proud to announce the second in DEP's Summer Speaker Series on June 1, 2011: Art and Sustainability.  With presenting artists George Trakas and Mary Mattingly, and a panel discussion moderated by yours truly.

SWEET BUDDHA!  There's still more!!

New York City enjoys public curbside programs that sweep our bottles, cans and cardboards swiftly away to be recycled. But due to lack of access to recycling facilities, not every piece of plastic or paper is actually recyclable in NYC, and a host of other cities. Google your municipality or call the local environmental department to learn more, and if you're in New York, check out this event tomorrow night (recycling information also at the NYCWasteLess website).

 

Well, I'm exhausted.  How about you?

Looking forward to seeing you cruising 'round Newtown Creek sometime soon. Just be careful who you wink at and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

 

Poop all over the place

The People's Own Organic Power Project is more than pleased to announce no less than three--that's right THREE!--opportunities to see The Puru in action the first week in May. SUMMARY:

1. Tues, May 3, 8pm, Adult Education presents: "Social Anxiety" at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  I'll be presenting on "The Agony and the Excrement."

2. Wed, May 4, 6:30pm, "Water for Cities: The Urban Challenge." The first in a summer series of environmental panels with the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, and moderated by yours poo-ly.

3. Sun, May 8, 7pm, "Mother May I?" An evening of performances at The Delancey honoring mothers everywhere, and benefiting SIX SEEDS: The Persephone Project, a theater piece by warner|shaw opening in June at The Tank.

FULL DETAILS:

1.

ADULT EDUCATION PRESENTS: "SOCIAL ANXIETY" Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 8 pm (doors at 7:30) Union Hall in Park Slope 702 Union St. @ 5th Ave $5 cover (buy tickets online here)

BEN DOLNICK: "First Base and Beyond" Dolnick will teach you how to have a girlfriend in middle school and how to write about it when you grow up.

CAISSIE ST.ONGE: "This is Your Parents on Drugs" St.Onge discusses survival tactics for the moment you're old enough to realize that dad's not going out for milk.

SHAWN SHAFNER: "The Agony and the Excrement" In the 1500s, someone actually had to write a book on manners including instructions not to, "foul the staircases, corridors, or closets with urine or other filth." Shafner will explain what happened to the good old days, and how the potty has trained us.

JILL STODDARD: "The Body: Tales of a Traitor" No matter how hard we try to make our bodies into ornaments of how sophisticated and cultured we are, they still will confound us with their own rogue agenda. Stoddard discusses the lengths we go to hide our body's expressions, and the ways we still fail at it.

With YOUR host, Charles Star

2.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection presents the first event in our Summer Speaker Series:

Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge (The United Nations World Water Day Theme)

Wednesday, May 4th 2011 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Visitor Center at Newtown Creek 329 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11222

Talks followed by a panel discussion moderated by Shawn Shafner of The People’s Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org)

Featuring:

Frederik Pischke Interagency Water Advisor UN-Water

Vyjayanthi Rao Assistant Professor of Anthropology New School for Social Research, New York

Jennifer Farmwald Project Manager Water Supply Infrastructure & Watershed Assessment NYC Environmental Protection

Directions to the Newtown Creek Visitors Center: Subway: G train to Greenpoint Avenue Station (Walk east on Greenpoint Avenue, cross McGuinnes Boulevard and Provost Street. Walk to traffic light. Entrance will be on left.) Bus: B24 Car: • Take the Long Island Exp. I-495 W toward MIDTOWN TUNNEL (RT-25 W) • Take exit #15/VAN DAM ST onto QUEENS MIDTOWN EXPY • Continue straight on BORDEN AVE • Make a U-Turn at 31ST PL onto BORDEN AVE • Turn Right on VAN DAM ST • Bear Right on GREENPOINT AVE • Go over JJ Byrne Memorial Bridge and continue on GREENPOINT AVENUE • Entrance is on the right on GREENPOINT AVE & HUMBOLDT ST. Parking is not available on site.

3.

MOTHER MAY I The Delancey, downstairs 168 Delancey St (btw Clinton and Attorney) Sunday, May 8th | 6pm doors, 7pm show Monologues, Music, and 2 for 1 Drinks! CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Forget brunch this Mother’s Day. Take your mama, your baby mama or just your totally grown up, independent self to celebrate (or commiserate) with stories, songs and two for one drinks at The Delancey on Sunday, May 8. Whether your mother was a goddess of love and support or a smothering bitch, your inner child will laugh, cry and try not to poop y...our pants at MOTHER, MAY I?, a night of performances by writers, actors and singers in honor of mothers. There’s a woman somewhere who you owe your life to, and we want to thank her. Join us for stories, lullabies and comedy. We won’t judge your outfit or your date.

Hosted by warner | shaw co-founders Franny Silverman and Annie Levy.

Featuring:

Glenn Marla (reigning Mr. Coney Island and Miss LES 2006, glennmarla.com) | Sarah Graalman (Mama Rice N’ Friends, mammaandfriends.com) | Shelly Oria (McSweeney’s, 2008 Indiana Review Fiction Prize) | Lisa Lewis (1000 nights at The Creek, lisalewiswriting.com) | Tara Hyman (Mama Rice N’ Friends, tarahyman.com) | David Wolkin (Inner Monologues, Speakeasy Stories, wolkin.com) | Christine Siracusa (Brave New World Rep) | Galeet Dardashti (Six Points Fellow ’07-’09, Le Poisson Rouge, galeetdardashti.com) | Shawn Shafner (Joe’s Pub, POOP Project, thepoopproject.org) | Naomi Less (Jewish Chicks Rock, naomiless.com) | Anni Bruno | Mara Leventhal | Brian Gelfand and other special guests.

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Looking forward to seeing you there!  And peaceful Spring pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

 

a journey through time and a wastewater treatment plant

Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 was a day that will be celebrated by civilizations far into the future.  I expect that President Malia Obama herself will lift a glass on Feb. 11, 2061, when she unveils the time capsule installed 50 years before at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Mark your calendars now; it's gonna be a hot ticket! For legitimate, journalistic coverage of the event, look to the Newtown Pentacle.  Otherwise, watch this video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXUPeu7JoJ4

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

This Friday: the future of New York City's Feces

CALLING ALL NEW YORKERS! Brown is soon to become the new green.  Only yesterday, the New York Times ran an article on how New York City will soon be turning its citizens' waste into a resource.  As it turns out, the city is already making use of the energy sources that can be recaptured through wastewater treatment.  But the city's hoping that by next year, your home could be run off your own natural gas.  As the article details:

About half of the methane produced by the city’s plants is already used to meet about 20 percent of the energy demands of the city’s 14 sewage plants, whose electric bills run to a total of about $50 million a year. Now the city wants to market the other half, which is burned off and wasted.

Through a partnership with National Grid that is already in the works, officials said, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn is expected to add enough methane gas to the city’s natural gas network next year to heat 2,500 homes.

And that's not the only way they're looking towards the future.  This Friday, you can join NYC Environmental Protection Commissioner Caswell F. Holloway for a time capsule ceremony!  (Click here for a pdf of the invitation.)

There will be remarks from the Commissioner, a special presentation from a local school, AND a tour of the Newtown Creek facility starting at 11:30.  I will definitely be there.  Will you join me?

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner