This summer, GreenCrab.org, with support from Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay and the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Better Beaches Grant Program, presented five pop-up events on waterways and beaches in the metro Boston area. The pop-up series informed people about green crabs, an introduced species that causes major problems for local sea life and coastal environments. The pop-ups featured a sculpturally modified tent crafted from repurposed fishing materials, free green crab coloring books created by Boston-based graphic designer Eileen Riestra, and tasting at local restaurants across the Greater Boston Area organized by Mary Parks of GreenCrab.org. At the events, participants learned about green crabs, how to cook with this delicious species, and connected with the people behind the project.
Green crabs are very common in Massachusetts. If you find a crab shell on the beach in New England, chances are it belonged to a green crab. Green crabs contribute to coastal erosion by burrowing through marsh grass, prey upon shellfish found at the beach, and uproot eelgrass in surrounding bays. However, this species is also a delicacy and eating this delicious crab could help mitigate its environmental impact.
This popup series was free and open to the public and was hosted in collaboration with other other Better Beaches festivities at Malibu Beach, Wollaston Beach, Fort Point Channel, and Carson Beach.
This installation felt like a quilting project and caused me to reflect on the activity of quilting. To me, it is an act of love: offering time and energy to transform materials into a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. My mom is always making something: baby blankets, wall hangings, or bedspreads for family. I’ve carried on this activity in my own way, working with fabrics, fibers, and found materials as a vehicle for exploring memory and imagining future possibilities. In this project I learned about green crabs, and how they are one of the world’s worst invasive species and pose a major threat to some of Massachusetts’ most valuable fisheries and vulnerable ecosystems. I imagined the materials of the current fishing industry as fabrics, and have made a quilt of these in the spirit of nostalgic reinvention.
In the same way that I have transformed used fishing materials and cleaned up some beaches in the process of making this quilt, I hope to inspire people to think creatively about changing the way they eat in service of creating more balanced ecosystems. Incorporating green crabs into mainstream fish market offerings will require creative thinking and doing, and eating them is a great strategy to restoring balance in our coastal environments in New England.
Check out the great article about our project in the Boston Globe!