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This barge makes global warming look cool

for The Brooklyn Paper

Your future home is docked alongside the Brooklyn Heights waterfront — and it’s a recycled barge with a geodesic dome, a hydroponic garden, a performance space and four chickens

It’s called “Waterpod,” and it resembles what might have happened if Al Gore, not Kevin Costner, had masterminded “Waterworld.”

“It’s about getting people to talk about how we can sustain ourselves in the future,” artist Mary Mattingly told The Brooklyn Paper earlier this year about her bargechild. “[This] forces me to live like we will probably all need to live sooner or later.”

Global warming may raise the sea levels, but for now, Gilly, Rizzo, Marble and Bonzai, Waterpod’s four egg-laying chickens, are blissfully unaware. Though not free range (what with the whole being on a barge thing), the birds are well fed and tended.

“When you feed the chickens, it’s important to scatter the seeds under the bedding because it stimulates their instinct to peck. Otherwise they go crazy,” explained Carissa Carman, the Waterpod’s “living systems manager” (what, your building doesn’t have one?).

The living systems Carman manages include donated solar panels that power the barge, the chickens and vegetables that are grown using water pumped from the river and treated on board. The artists taking part in the green project claim they will survive on only what they can grow on their 240-foot long vessel, what they can catch on the city’s waterways, and the water they can collect from rain and rivers.

But a Waterpod with functioning living systems doesn’t mean much without art. The dome that covers the aft of Waterpod not only supplies shelter for the chickens, but it also functions as a concert and gallery space.

This Biosphere wannabe runs about the same as a three-bedroom home in Windsor Terrace: $800,000 in grants and gifts from more than 60 trusts and organizations keep Waterpod afloat and her crew exploring the interaction between urban and rural ways of life.

The barge will remain in Brooklyn for just another week before moving off to ply other waters until the end of summer.

Waterpod at Pier 5 (western end of Joralemon Street at Furman Street. Enter through cut in the fence). Hours: Friday, 3-7 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am-7 pm. For info, e-mail marymattingly@thewaterpod.org.

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