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Young New Milford Resident Raises Awareness Through Art

Borough resident Keith Griffiths with his first piece of street art in Andreas Park, in Teaneck. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Keith Griffiths' mural in Andreas Park. Photo Credit: Keith Griffiths

NEW MILFORD, N.J. — Borough resident Keith Griffiths produced his first piece of street art in Teaneck to raise awareness for an environmental initiative.

Friends of the Hackensack River through Teaneck later chose him and two other local artists to create environmentally-themed murals in an effort to educate the public on Teaneck's sewer system, which drains into the Hackensack River -- taking with it any trash or pollutants.

“The idea is to raise awareness that the storm drains and anything that goes into the drains can harm life in the Hackensack River,” said AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador Annabelle Bowers, who proposed the initiative.

“Whether it’s oil or gas leaking from a car into a sewer, or someone is dropping chemicals into them, we’re educating people that there are a lot of things you don’t necessarily think about washes into storm drains and into waterways,” she said.

Griffiths sketched his visions on paper before transferring them to the sewer near the park’s tennis courts.

“I wanted to create a mini ecosystem of the Hackensack River within this small section,” said Griffiths, a 2013 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University. “ I did a little research as to what animals you could find within the river, like turtles frogs and so on.

"I always see at least one or two cranes, or a fish jumping out of the water, so I wanted to incorporate that.”

The initiative also underscores that some towns — including Hackensack — have only one sewer system, so even the local treatment plants can overflow into the river.

Teaneck middle and high school students will hopefully contribute original artwork this fall, said Richard Karp, president of the Friends of the Hackensack River through Teaneck.

CLICK HERE to see more of Griffiths' work.

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