Franklin Tech’s frogs along the river

  • Sign designed and built by Franklin Technical School carpentry students for the Green River cleanup. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Franklin Technical School carpentry teacher Michael Nobrega attaches a sign to a pole that his students made for the Green River cleanup. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/20/2017 9:43:50 PM

GREENFIELD — Back around March, a Franklin Technical School shop teacher was approached about an idea regarding a frog and a few words to accompany it.

Greenfield Rights of Nature wanted to create signs to remind people to pick up after themselves and to care for the river.

“It’s a lovely happy frog that’s meant to resonate with how people feel when they go there,” Sandra Boston, a member of the group, said. The idea is “to remind they have a responsibility when they go to that place.”

Working with Michael Nobrega and three of his senior carpentry students at the tech school, the signs would become a long-term project for these students. Now, with the Green River cleanup coming up this weekend, the signs of a smiling frog in English and Spanish are ready to go up along approved spots near the river, and in big letters the message says: Thanks for being a water protector, take your trash home.

Putting up a few of these signs will be Greenfield Middle School fifth-graders, who will have a few tasks Friday when they embark on their cleanup.

One will be to place a sign at the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, a site of several complaints of trash left behind, and near the former mobile home park known as Wedgewood Gardens.

The other job will be to be scouts for the Greenfield Rights of Nature group, who will ask students to report back to them about the spots along the river with the most trash, seemingly the places where there’s the most need for signs, 14 in all, created by the carpentry students.

Boston said her group’s goal for inviting the fifth-graders to participate in this project is they want them to “feel like they are giving some leadership to the wider community around something that this community and every community needs — consciousness-raising about litter.”

For Nobrega and his students, the work had more of a practical element, although they did enjoy seeing the project come together down the stretch and what it will mean for the community.

“It’s a community project, but it’s really all about project development,” Nobrega said.

His three students working on it, seniors Valarie Speegle, Samantha Vatalaro and Leah Wozniak had to learn about the process of a group pitching an idea, and then altering the idea along the way. While the main idea around the sign remained the same, the words and their placement on the sign developed over time.

“As a student you have to be able to say ‘I spent four hours on it and now I have to change it,’” Nobrega said. “But that’s how it is.”

The process to create the signs included designing the image on a computer to then be rendered onto the wood. The signs would eventually be painted over and mounted, ready for this weekend.

Now that the signs have been made it’s up to some volunteers and the middle school fifth-graders in determining where else Greenfield Rights of Nature should look to place signs.

“We want to be the voice of the river and the turtles and the birds and say, ‘hey keep our rivers clean,’” Boston said. “This is what we survive on.”


Reach Joshua Solomon at
jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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