Plastic! Our Fabulous Fundraiser

November 13, 2018

Check out a short video of the evening. Just click the image below and and type GB on Tap into the search bar.


It's one word with many connotations. When uttered as a plural noun - plastics - we recall the famous line in The Graduate. When seen in our social media feeds, the word is usually accompanied by painful images of plastic waste wrapped around sea turtles or enormous gyres of plastic swirling in the ocean.

At the grocery store, we fill our carts with products wrapped in plastic. And as a general rule, we all enjoy the strength and convenience of plastic - in our furniture, sports equipment, transportation, kitchen appliances, toys, clothing, and so much more.

The multiple aspects of this one word became the theme for a lively fundraiser held on November 13, 2018, at Deb Koffman's studio in Housatonic. Ten accomplished local writers riffed, read, and sang about plastic - the good, the bad, and the ugly of it, in pieces ranging from scientific to the deeply personal, from essay to poetry to song - some serious, others whimsical or reminiscent, and still others uproariously funny.

The event was produced by the Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women's Action Group as a fundraiser for outdoor water-refill stations that will begin to be installed in Great Barrington and Housatonic starting June 2019.

More than 70 people attended and an impressive $3,000 was raised. But the committee was not only out to make money.

A larger purpose was to draw local artists and art lovers together around a topic that is often difficult and depressing and to instead make the evening fun, educational, moving, and inspiring: Art as Antidote.

Anni Crofut and Jennifer Clark - members of the committee -along with Amber Chand interspersed the powerful readings with short comic skits designed to educate the audience about Great Barrington's plastic bottle bylaw that was passed in 2018, and the GB on Tap Program which will launch in the spring of 2019. This program will make drinking water readily available to pedestrians through merchant participation and also the installation of new outdoor water refill stations.

But the real substance of the evening was in the quality of the readings! Below are excerpts from each writer.

History Ted Thomas

...and I am reminded of my pieces of history

stored like pages from everlasting landscapes

and scattered across my time here and hereafter;

the green toy soldiers that were "my men,"

pieces from the plastic-covered couch

on which Betty and I sat in juvenile love

nearly sticking to it in the inferno of our first kiss, we pull more things

from the earth, plastic witnesses, we keep

some, discard others, fertilize the place

where they'd been and plant roses, tulips, irises.

Saving the Planet - One Step at a Time by Lorrin Krouss

It was a shock to my eight year old self to enter our apartment after school on April22, 1953, and discover the entire red Formica kitchen table covered in clear plastic boxes, a turquoise bowl with a strainer top, assorted colored tumblers, jello molds, ice cube trays, round container of numerous sizes. TUPPERWARE HAS TAKEN THIS COUNTRY BY STORM.

Living our Purpose Here on Earth: Plastic Calls us to Mindfulness Jennifer Browdy

The biggest problem with plastic is also its greatest strength: it lasts forever. It doesn't break down. Our plastic waste problem is symbolic of a deeper and wider rift between human beings and our planet. Seeing ourselves as separate and more important than the rest of life on Earth, we have failed to understand that what we put into the Earth, Water and Sky will inevitably come back to inhabit us too.

Plastic Surgery Bubsy McDonough

Its a slippery slope, because plastic surgery, not unlike tattoos, can become addictive. We've all seen them, the women-of-a-certain-age, who keep having surgery after surgery, or the millennials who have city murals running up and down their arms, into their necks and onto their faces. I often wonder what will happen when buyer’s remorse sets in.

Of Polymers and Persistence Suzanne C Fowle

The reduction of plastics will take a movement. Not an "environmental movement" whereby a subset of people is expected to solve a world -wide, pervasive problem... but a human movement. A well-bonded and non-degradable crusade. A flexible but durable and persistent approach to deconstructing our inventions and redirecting our intentions. Now it begins!!!!!

The Demon Susie Kaufman

The demon, the enemy has wedged us into a corner and it’s a clever chameleon. It can be hard and unyielding or soft and caressing. There’s no escaping it…. Everything in nature, anemones, airedales, your mother, you in the fullness of time, arises from seed, blossoms, withers, and dies. Not Plastic.

Asleep in a Sea of Form Ted Phelps

If we were to make a great fishing line and thread it through every object in this room that is made of the magical substance and then gather a hundred people to stand in the road out there and pull on the line until all the forms in here that contain plastic got yanked out, what a mess it would make! Some of us would be half naked. Do the same in your house. Do it to a mall. God! The devastation would look like a Category 5 hurricane. What’s up? Why all this plastic? Even when we know it is choking the life of the planet. Still out it comes. Everyday, in every way, I am growing polymer and polymer.

Plastic Bruce Garlow

There's a million or more uses, the stuff's just plain ubiquitous,

And with every passing day the list of uses grows;

But as we've learned across the years we've been a bit precipitous,

Not really caring where our leftover plastic really goes.

There's been attempts at recycling and some have seen success;

That has to be a part of the overall plan;

And source reduction is a key, so you end up making less:

Three cheers for this town and its plastic bottle ban!

No Plastic Susan Spiegel Solovay

We have plastic bottles from Africa showing up on the shores of North Carolina, blown in by hurricane Flo. And the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, a world of floating garbage plastic twice the size of of Texas. We’ve got wildlife and sea life choking on our freaking little problem-solvers. We need strong leadership to get everyone solving this problem. Let’s see — strong leadership…! Ooops, that’s in short supply. But not in GB! This little town is leading the way. Like we did by banning plastic bags.

In Europe, a new study concluded that plastic pollution legislation really works! There has been a 30% drop in plastic pollution in the waters surrounding Norway, Germany, UK, northern France and Ireland since putting a price or ban on plastics.

Bobolinka Fly Away JoAnne Spies (song lyrics based on her childhood experience with plastic)

Oh Polly

Oh Ester

How you shine

All your things and little rings

Inside of me

You're mine

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Molder, Maker

Builder, Faker

Poly Ester

Who will take her?

Break the chains

So we'll be free