Monthly Archives: September 2019

Tie-Dye Festival To Aid Blacktip Island’s Dying Reefs

tie-dying championship

A freshly tie-dyed shirt waits to be unbound Thursday afternoon in amateur dyer Wendy Beaufort’s workshop. Beaufort was practicing for this weekend’s Coral Reef Dye-Off craft competition to benefit the Caribbean island’s coral reefs. (photo courtesy of Johann H. Addicks)

Blacktip Island fabric artists will gather at the Blacktip Haven resort this weekend for the inaugural, two-day Coral Reef Dye-Off tie-dye competition to draw attention to the Caribbean island’s ailing coral reefs.

“Our coral’s nowhere near as healthy as it was ten years ago,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “Whether from warmer water, acidic seas, development runoff or a combination, our reefs and our livelihoods are taking a hit.

“This combination juried dying competition and craft show will help combat that,” Havens said. “The competition will draw attention to how hard the coral is fighting to survive, and the proceeds will go to reef preservation efforts. And the shirts, shorts and whatnot are guaranteed to be groovy.”

Some worried the event will do more harm than good.

“Making people aware of the coral’s plight is great, but what happens when all this dye hits the reef? Or the aquifer?” environmental watchdog Wade Soote said. “There’s no telling what the ash and urea that makes the colors bond to fabrics will do once they hit the water table.

“At the very least, there should be an environmental impact study before there’s dozens of people dumping who-knows-what down the drain,” Soote said. “Pretty colors are all well and good, but what if they wipe out the marine park? Elena should know better.”

Organizers say those concerns are unfounded.

“All the used dye will go into a big vat and be neutralized before it’s dumped,” local dyemaster Harry Blenny said. “Also, though store-bought dyes are allowed, we’re encouraging everyone to use all-natural, locally-produced dyes, or even to make their own.

“There’s an art just in making the dyes out of local ingredients,” Blenny said. “Booby poop gives a really bright green you can’t get with a commercial mix. And ground up land crab mixed with balsamic vinegar gives a unique, vivid red.”

Local dye artists are eager to test their techniques against each other.

“You’re never sure exactly how good you are until you go head-to-head against another dyer under time constraints,” Wendy Beaufort said. “There’s lots of unknowns, and the competition should get pretty intense. The non-stop Grateful Dead in the background’ll take some of the edge off that, but still.

“The real challenge will be choice of medium,” Beaufort said. “Most people are sticking with tried-and-true cotton, but a few of us are experimenting with silk. Elena made a whole separate category for that, since the technique’s so different.”

All dyed items will be sold on site, with the winner serving as auctioneer, Havens said.

“We’ll have an auction Sunday evening to raise as much money as we can,” she said. “Hopefully the cash will cover the cost of a new coral nursery. Or snacks for our volunteers.”

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Blacktip Islanders Rally To Strengthen Earth’s Magnetic Field

earth's magnetic field

Two Blacktip Island residents have asked other locals to bring refrigerator magnets to the Caribbean island’s Heritage House Friday in hopes of boosting the planet’s magnetic field. (photo courtesy of Dermott Bottoms)

Blacktip Island residents, concerned by reports the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening, have organized a magnet-collection drive this Friday night at the island’s Heritage House in an attempt to strengthen the field.

“Magnetic field weakens too much, cosmic rays’ll get through and kill us all,” handyman Dermott Bottoms said. “We got to take action now, before it’s too late. We’re a small island, but we can do our part.

“We’re asking folks to bring any magnets they have to the Heritage House so we can concentrate all the magnetism in one spot,” Bottoms said. “The House’s in the center of the island, and there’s two power lines that cross there, so that’ll help, too.”

Other organizers stressed the need for community involvement.

“We were gonna order more magnets, but that’d create an imbalance someplace else, and cost money, so we’ll go with what we have,” James Conlee said. “There’s plenty of fridge magnets on the island, people just need to bring ‘em. And resort gift shops have a bunch they can loan out, too.

“Gonna string wires around the magnets and connect ‘em to a generator to give ‘em a boost, too,” Conlee said. “Sure, we’re low on the globe, but this’ll help build a base folks in more northern climes can build on to boost the magnetism up to the North Pole.”

Some in the community scoffed at the effort.

“Dermott’s switched from drinking rum to drinking booby pond water to come up with tis idea,” Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Refrigerator magnets have nothing to do with, and no effect on the Earth’s magnetic field. This is just another excuse for him and his buddies to drink and pass out. I’m stunned there’s so many people talking about participating in this nonsense.”

Many locals plan to attend, and donate, whether the plan works or not.

“It’s Blacktip. People get bored, and this is something different to do,” Alison Diesel said. “Doesn’t matter if it works or not. It’s something to do on a Friday evening. And if everyone else is there, it’d be way antisocial not to go.”

Others were optimistic.

“Listening to Dermott and James, then looking things up on the internet, if there’s a change this’ll work, we have to try,” Dusty Goby said. “We’ll all be wearing non-ferrous clothing and jewelry so it doesn’t detract from the effect. We’ll know if it’s working if we don’t see the aurora borealis.”

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