Richard Kind must have felt at home at the Group for the East End (G4EE) annual Swing Into Summer Benefit at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. He’s a “huge golfer” whose television series on Amazon, Red Oaks, (produced by Steven Soderbergh) takes place at a fictional Long Island country club. Kind chatted up friends and fans as the sun set on the course below us, throwing a rose tint on the Hamptons home owners and nature lovers who came to give back to the environment, as it has given to them.
Stéphane Samuel and Robert M. Rubin co-hosted Swing Into Summer, and Joey Wölffer was honored with the Ceres Award for Wölffer’s sustainable winemaking practices.
We were surprised to learn Kind, who has donated much time and energy to Hamptons events, doesn’t have a home here. “I’m a character actor,” he joked. “Leading actors have houses in the Hamptons, not character actors!” Ahem. We haven’t forgotten his major rolls in Inside Out, Spin City and A Serious Man. But, when you have friends like Robert Rubin – the Wall Street wonder who created the Bridge and its ancillary program for underserved kids – who needs a second mortgage?
“Bob Rubin is ridiculous in his philanthropy,” Kind marveled of his weekend host. “My prejudices about people on Wall Street is they just devour, eat and are gluttons. Bob is not. He gathers money in great amounts, but he’s just so philanthropic and giving and concerned. He gives so much of his own money and people don’t know. He doesn’t advertise it. He is trying to solve problems that are going on in this Island right next to his golf course.”
Among those problems, G4EE President Robert S. DeLuca told us, are bad septic systems that leach nitrogen into our waters, creating toxic algae and other problems – and mulch that carries the pesticides and toxins that the G4EE seeks to eradicate – right back into our environment. “In the past year, we’re happy to report the State of New York is now contributing 75 million dollars for waste water upgrades statewide and we’re going to get some of that here on the East End,” DeLuca told us. “Suffolk County is making a $10 million investment again in wastewater management improvement – and last week, East Hampton created what is probably going to be the first town program to create cash rebates for changing out those systems.”
While that’s certainly a step forward, there are still vital changes that need to be addressed. “But at the same time we’re working to better manage what’s happening with some of these waste facilities with composting and mulching operations,” he said. “Some of the mulch that’s been tested by the county health department and the department of environmental conservation has shown to contain pesticides, heavy metals and radioactivity. It’s being sold and spread around.” Those toxins, then, find their way into our water.
Also front and center that night was the trash that sullies our coast, collected and reimagined as art. “We’ve been working with community and school groups to pull lots of plastics and other things off our beaches,” said DeLuca. “But instead of just throwing them away we’re actually working with some local artists to make sculpture out of them. And they’re quite beautiful. So, that’s a way to raise people’s consciousness and recycle. And it’s getting people to think about how much plastic waste there is.”
Katherine Leahy Birch is Chairman of the Group for the East End. Robbianne Mackin and William Ryall are Vice Chairs, Harris A. Barer serves as Treasurer. The staff includes Steve Biasetti, Director of Environmental Education; Jessica Kennelly, Outreach Coordinator; Kristina Lange, Director of Membership; Jennifer Hartnagel, Senior Environmental Advocate; Aaron Virgin, Vice President; and Anita C. Wright, Asst. Director of Environmental Education.
For more information about Group for the East End, visit www.groupfortheeastend.org.