Wind chime maker aids Hudson River cause


SHOKAN, N.Y., July 23 (UPI) -- A gift company started by a musician inspired by a landfill has created a wind chime supporting the ecology of New York's Hudson River, the company says.

Woodstock Percussion Inc.'s Hudson River Chime supports the non-profit Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, founded by U.S. folk singer Pete Seeger to protect the river's natural environment through advocacy, public education and celebration.


The five-pitch chime, tuned to the pentatonic melody of Seeger's "My Dirty Stream (The Hudson River Song)" -- which speaks of Seeger's hope the river may someday "run clear" -- came out a month after General Electric Co. started dredging 400,000 tons of toxic sediment from the Hudson, whose surrounding valley is a U.S. National Heritage Area.

"We wanted to support an organization that was vital to cleaning up this important river, which supports a biologically rich environment, but we also wanted to focus on a natural wonder that has broad national appeal," Woodstock Chief Executive Officer Garry Kvistad told United Press International.

"I think Americans take pride in our natural resources and having an environmentally safe country," he said. Supporting the Hudson River is "like being concerned about the Grand Canyon."


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges Clearwater's advocacy of dredging the Hudson's toxic hot spots over two decades was "very helpful" in bringing the current dredging "to fruition," EPA spokesman David Kluesner told UPI.

He called Clearwater "a strong and continual advocate of cleanup of this precious natural resource."

Environmental officials say removing the toxic sediment from the bottom of the river will greatly speed what has been a slow natural decline in levels of toxins in striped bass and other fish species.

GE is supervising and paying for the $750 million-plus cleanup -- one of the costliest and most complicated environmental cleanups in U.S. history -- after discharging an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, into the upper Hudson for three decades before the chemicals were banned in 1977 as a health threat.

Washington lists PCBs as a probable human carcinogen in high doses.

Hudson Valley-based Woodstock, which markets its products under the Woodstock Chimes trade name, is donating a portion of Hudson River Chime sales revenue to Clearwater's education and advocacy work for as long as the chime is on the market, Clearwater said. Each chime retails for $25.

The chime's introduction also coincides with the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's exploration of the 315-mile river, the 40th anniversary of Clearwater's namesake sailing vessel's maiden voyage and Seeger's 90th birthday.


"I find it hugely promising that these positive anniversaries coincide with the cleanup of the Hudson's chief remaining source of pollution," Kvistad told UPI.

"And this chime lets us contribute to the river's healing with each chime sold," said Kvistad, a percussionist who founded his company with his wife, Diane, 30 years ago this month after realizing he could tune aluminum tubes from discarded lawn chairs he found and reclaimed while tromping through a landfill in search of "treasures."

His innovation -- tuning wind chimes to specific notes and creating explicit harmonies -- is recognized as having revolutionized the wind chime market.

Commercial wind chimes previously were largely decorative hanging configurations of metal, wood and other materials, sometimes including silverware and cookie cutters, that tinkled or thudded when blown by the wind.

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