Gowanus Canal Trawling with Sustainable Systems

First-year Parsons students are all required to take a course called Sustainable Systems. The aim of the course is to introduce sustainable systems thinking to the designers of future products, services, and systems.

Barent has been teaching this course since its inception. This year he asked students to make their own trawls out of cheap, readily accessible materials. In order for students to test their trawls, Barent brought his class to the Gowanus canal. In fact, he brought them to the same spot that the Testing Our Waters team tested trawls as well. The day began at the sustainably designed LEED Platinum Whole Foods Market.

After a brief tour of the rooftop greenhouse (where Gotham Greens grows local produce) and other sustainable features, students prepared their trawls and gathered together the materials they would need to collect the pollution they expected to find in the Gowanus Canal. 

Once the trawls were ready to go, students went canal-side to get the rope they would need to dangle the net into the water and begin trawling. Instructions for how to build the Bridge Trawl are found on our Instructables page.

Pretty soon students were trawling... 

Stagnant water kept the pollution findings smaller the expected, but overall, it was a successful excursion. The students tweeted their process and their findings on twitter on, or shortly after, September 15th, the day we trawled.