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The Greater New York Smudge Cleanse, a public art project by Jeanine Oleson, will waft through the streets of New York City. Witness the world's largest sage smudge stick ritualistically cleansing negativity from New York City at four different sites in October and November. This traveling public art project applies the ancient practice of smoking out dormant bad energies to contemporary challenges including environmental pollution in Greenpoint and Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn; gentrification driving queer communities out of Manhattan's West Village; and pre-election anxiety/U.S. economic imperialism on the steps of Federal Hall. Each event will include a procession followed by a gathering with food and community organizations, activists, researchers and performers including the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, Newtown Creek Alliance, and a tea party at the Stonewall Inn.

Smudging is an ancient practice of cleansing space with smoke from bundled and burned herbs, generally sage. The burning of herbs for emotional, psychic, and spiritual purification is common practice among many religious, healing, and spiritual groups. It is thought that the sage smoke attaches to bad energies and releases it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy. The world's largest sage smudge stick was built in New Mexico, where sage grows plentifully. It is 10 feet long—"Supersized" to combat negativity in contemporary times. Oleson's project seeks to cleanse New York and it's residents of eco-destruction, election anxiety, gentrification, heterosexism, U.S. imperialism, classism, racism and greed.

Saturday, October 11, 1 pm


Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Site of perhaps the largest oil spill in American history, Greenpoint sits on top of the 17-30 million gallons constituting the ExxonMobil oil spill, with no clear plan of how it will be removed and little attention paid to the health and welfare of those in the neighborhood.

Meet at the corner of Norman Ave. and Apollo St. and proceed to McGolrick Park, near the Nassau Ave and Monitor St. entrance. Nearest train is the Nassau Ave. stop of the G train.

Saturday, October 18, 1:30 pm


Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn

Gowanus Canal is a very polluted waterway known to contain STDs/PCPs, kill whales, and possibly hold the key to new strains of antibiotics! This smudge is part of Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club Oktoberfest celebration so there will be canoe rides in the Canal, demonstrations, and food.

Meet at 2nd St. and Bond St. near the Carroll St. stop on the F/G trains.

Saturday, October 25, 1:30 pm (slight time change!)


West Village, Manhattan

A procession starting at Pier 45 and traveling across Christopher Street, home to generations of queer history, ending at the Stonewall Inn, a site of gay resistance. Special guests will read from historic texts and then there will be a tea dance with dj Holli Smith spinning the gay anthems. Pride, the deeper love?

Meet at Christopher Street Pier at 1:30 pm, east picnic benches, then proceed across Christopher Street to the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street. It's supposed to be cold, windy and possibly rain, so don your gay galoshes and radical raincoat! Take PATH or 1 trains to Christopher St. station and walk west.

Monday, November 3, 1 pm


Federal Hall, Manhattan

The site of George Washington's inauguration as the first President, Federal Hall is a symbol of the United State's political history. This smudging is happening the day before the 2008 presidential election, an event that has stirred strong emotions/anxieties about the nation's future. Federal Hall is also located on Wall Street, the symbol of international economic control. This event also seeks to smudge away the bad energy associated with U.S. economic imperialism and current financial anxieties. Since it is impossible to actually burn on site, a series of dances, performances and talks are planned with sage being given to individuals to burn where they deem necessary!

Meet on the front steps, 26 Wall St. (at Broad St.) Take the 2/3 or 4/5 to Wall Street, 1 or R/W to Rector Street, or A/C to Fulton Street.

Contact: Jeanine Oleson
msjeanineoleson [at] gmail.com

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