As our nation faced a devastating milestone following the Memorial Day Weekend with a death toll exceeding 100,000 lives related to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the clever campaign launched by Sag Harbor resident Bob Weinstein is even more poignant and perhaps necessary to remind us all - please put on a mask and keep it on to not only protect others and yourself, but to also acknowledge and show respect to the front line workers who have heroically served us all.
Weinstein is the founding president and creative director of the Concrete Brand Imaging Group and Co-Director of Save Sag Harbor. In anticipation of the village's businesses reopening for the long holiday weekend, Weinstein enlisted the support of Village Board member Bob Plumb and Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy. Weinstein remotely art directed the socially distanced photo shoot conducted by photographer Michael Heller to create 22 banners hung on lampposts throughout Sag Harbor Village.
As Weinstein explained, "A good idea remains exactly that without the buy-in and support of others. Mayor Mulcahey embraced this idea as soon as I presented it to her, as did our Board of Trustees. She has the vision and professional chops to understand the impact a program like this can have, and I couldn't have asked for a better partner. Michael Heller from the Sag Harbor Express
graciously volunteered to shoot this for us, and the Sag Harbor Partnership
has enthusiastically offered its financial support, by underwriting the campaign. And of course, all of the heroes who came out to have their pictures taken - I'm sure the Mayor would want to join in thanking them for their time, and for all the amazing work they do everyday in the service of others."
The familiar faces displayed on the banners include food pantry executive director Evie Ramunno, Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps members Missie and Stephen Hesler, Deputy Mayor Thomas Gardella, Sag Harbor Post Office Clerk Rose Daniels and Christ Episcopal Church Reverend Karen Ann Campbell, as well as numerous emergency service providers, local grocery store employees, and others who will be easily recognizable and known to local residents.
Catching up with Weinstein following the successful launch of the campaign, he answered a few questions:
How did you come up with this wonderful idea?
A friend who lives in South Korea had been touting the importance of masks months before the CDC changed its guidance here in the States. South Korea's successful re-opening of their economy is proof that masks, combined with social distancing, are effective tools against the spread of the Coronavirus. When I was asked to be on a task force here in Sag Harbor to deal with the re-opening of our Main Street, I realized masks are our best tool to save both lives and livelihoods. I launched The Mask Project as an emotionally charged counter-argument to those people who - for whatever reason - refuse to wear a mask for themselves. Instead, we're asking them to wear one for their neighbors, friends and family. The campaign is also a way to acknowledge and thank those people on the front lines who put on their masks every day so they can do their jobs helping others. The least we can do is wear one to help protect them.
Who chose the members of the community to be featured on the banners and why?
I worked closely with Kathleen Mulcahey, our wonderful Mayor on compiling the list. Many months before the pandemic hit, she had organized a work session on volunteerism, wherein members of the Food Pantry, Hamptons Art Camp, the volunteer Ambulance Corp, the Fire Department, Christ Church, members of Save Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Partnership among other organizations, spoke about what they do for the community. I think in a funny way, this was the seed of the campaign way before the need for a campaign arose. Each of these people featured in the campaign puts a mask on every day to hand out food, put out fires, get us our mail, and serve coffee, when it would be so much easier for them to stay home and hide under the blankets! They are all Sag Harbor heroes and deserve a huge debt of gratitude from our community. As the program expands, we will most likely do another shoot that will include more heroes - there is no shortage to choose from in Sag Harbor.
How long will the banners remain posted in the village?
Certainly through the summer, perhaps longer. It will also be refreshed with additional banners including one planned for the face of the Municipal Building to be funded by Save Sag Harbor and perhaps Long Wharf when it opens. I'm also hoping our cultural institutions, including the Whaling Museum and Library, on whose boards I serve, will also hang banners once they open. Other towns have also asked for our help in spreading the message...
As residents and visitors to the village will be sure to appreciate the banners, it gives us all hope that we don't have to ask - just wear a mask.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.