‘The Mask Project’ Comes to Sag Harbor Village

As chiefs from the Sag Harbor Fire Department prepare themselves in the background, photographer Michael Heller gets a helping hand with a foam core fill card from his "assistant," Sag Harbor Village Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy, and art direction from Weinstein via Facetime on a laptop computer as he photographs Sag Harbor Episcopal Church Reverend Karen Campbell in the meeting room of Sag Harbor Village Hall as part of the Sag Harbor Village Wear a Mask Campaign on Sunday afternoon, 5/17/20

Just in time for what is anticipated to be a busy holiday weekend on the East End, Sag Harbor Village is poised to launch a campaign designed by resident Bob Weinstein to encourage people to wear masks while visiting the village and celebrate the heroes that have served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Mask Project” includes 22 banners to be hung on village lampposts in downtown Sag Harbor featuring people like food pantry executive director Evie Ramunno, Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps members Missie and Stephen Hesler, Deputy Mayor Thomas Gardella — a former fire chief and current member of the Ambulance Corps, Sag Harbor Post Office Clerk Rose Daniels and Christ Episcopal Church Reverend Karen Ann Campbell, among a number of other emergency service providers, local grocery store employees and others working to help people through the crisis.

They are familiar faces and they are all wearing face coverings.

Sag Harbor Food Pantry Executive Director Evie Rammuno.

A socially distanced photoshoot, taken by photographer Michael Heller and remotely art directed by Mr. Weinstein, was held on Sunday on the second floor of the Municipal Building. On Tuesday, Mr. Weinstein said he hoped the project would be able to formally launch in time for Memorial Day weekend, with Sag Harbor Village officials bracing for crowds despite the virus outbreak.

The founding president and creative director of the Concrete Brand Imaging Group and Co-Director of Save Sag Harbor, brought the project to Village Board member Bob Plumb — who is leading the village’s effort to plan for an eventual reopening of the village’s business district — and Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy, after working on the COVID-19 Task Force led by Mr. Plumb.

“I was thinking a lot about how I could contribute in terms of my branding and marketing background to create a counter to the ‘I don’t need to wear a mask. I’m fine’ argument,” Mr. Weinstein said. “Because don’t we need to, of course, think about other people? And perhaps if you are reminded to wear one to protect your neighbor, for your grandmother, your postal worker and especially the heroes out there that have been God’s work through this — the first responders, the healthcare workers — maybe that gives you a compelling enough reason, an emotional reminder, to wear a mask.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in a community setting in an effort to protect other people around them in the event that they have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.
State officials issued an executive order requiring people wear masks or a face covering when unable to social distance themselves from others by at least 6 feet, with local governments attempting to enforce that mandate locally, especially as the population surges with the arrival of the summer season.

“If our first responders are wearing masks in an effort to help us, can’t we wear a mask to help them?” asked Mr. Weinstein. “These are true heroes and they should be celebrated. They are all going out into the world every day and doing what they need to do to help their community. This is the least we can do for them.”

“The Mask Project” quickly gained support from members of the Village Board after it was presented by Ms. Mulcahy during a work session last Friday, held remotely via Zoom videoconference and streamed live on Facebook.

“We want to emphasize the fact that wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself, but more about protecting others,” Ms. Mulcahy said during the meeting, noting the village has struggled to get people to cooperate with the mask mandate.

“I like the idea of connecting faces and people … I think that emotional connection could do more to encourage people to wear masks” said board member Aidan Corish.

The Sag Harbor Partnership is also supportive of the initiative and is helping to fund the creation of the banners. Mr. Weinstein said “The Mask Project” may go on to include other marketing initiatives to further spread the message.

“We are fighting to maintain a quality of life and character of this village — not just to save lives, but to help our vibrant, independent Main Street businesses,” Mr. Weinstein said on Tuesday. “If we don’t have a safe environment where people can come to Main Street and help these businesses survive, we risk losing them.”