"What the heck is that thing?"
That's what some people are wondering about a new structure of sorts on Virginia Avenue and Liberty Street in Dutchtown. From a distance, it looks like blankets made of yarn. But up close, you'll see it's really a different material.
Artist Shea Brown calls it a serenity and meditation station.
"It was my idea to put some peace and serenity in the middle of chaos," Brown said. "Case in point, the day I was installing, people were shooting right over there."
Neighbors are welcome to take a seat inside the station, read a book and breathe. Almost every part of the station is made of plastic bags. Brown says there are 17,000 of them.
"We do this thing where we upcycle plastic bags and turn them into plarn, plastic yarn," Brown said.
Brown admits it's a spectacle.
"I wanted to create something that, I wouldn't say visually appealing but something that popped to the eye," she said.
She says the purpose is to draw attention to a big issue.
"Illegal dumping," she said. "It's a major problem over here in this area."
The Environmental Protection Agency gave the Dutchtown South Community Corporation a $120,000 grant to clean up litter. Brown says around $2,000 of that money went toward this project. It's all explained on a sign near the station.
"Yes, awareness, so then it gets people talking about the situation," Brown said. "'Well what is this? Oh, this is plastic bags, as it says on the sign.' That gets them thinking, 'Oh OK, so there are other things you can do with plastic bags besides throw them out in the yard, stick them down in our sewer ways.'"
Brown knows some neighbors aren't getting the point. Someone destroyed almost all of the lights and other trinkets are missing. Brown says she has had to make repairs 12 times in the couple of weeks the station has been there. The plan was to keep the station in the same place until September. However, due to the vandalism, she's looking into moving it to a different location within Dutchtown.