A “New” New Orleans With Green Building and Community Volunteering
A big theme on this blog of ours, and in some ways in all of the blogs you’ll find attached to BuildDirect, is the idea of transformation and all of the things which that concept implies.
In reference to green building, one big theme I’ve been reading about in the wider world is the human tendency to innovate in the face of adversity. The tendency to take that innovation and apply it to the benefit of local communities and to the education of people who live there seems to be another pattern. In the light of this, it’s hard not to be hopeful for a brighter century – which is yet another theme which keeps coming up as we journey along with this blog you’re currently reading.
In any case, this brings me to New Orleans, a city that can be considered something of a poster child for triumph over adversity. And in making green building a big part of its urban recovery plan, it also typifies the interesting dichotomy of a city with a rich architectural history being a part of a new paradigm, too in reference to new green building technologies.
A recent effort in this regard has been Historic Green’s Spring Cleaning, which has recently sponsored a ten-day volunteer program in conjunction with efforts to include weather-proofing, rain gardens, and other green building projects. Here’s a snippet from the site which explains how the group engages with skilled members of the community who want to contribute to the refurbishment of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005:
Volunteers register online and are matched with projects based on skills, interest, and availability. During the event, project team leaders and volunteers meet at The Village, a community center in the Lower Ninth Ward, and then travel to the project sites, most of which are within walking distance. Historic Green’s volunteer staff provides safety training orientation to all volunteers as well as on-site job training and education on green building and preservation techniques. Historic Green also provides a series of lectures, trainings, and workshops for volunteers and community members. All Historic Green participants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of all opportunities to engage and interact with members of the community.
I think it’s easy to think of green building just in terms of LEED points and tax breaks. Where I think these things are important, I think another big area in green building is public education, engagement with communities, and the improvements that come out of that process. And it’s about community pride and empowerment, a sense of history, and about how that sense plays into where the future is going, too.
Take a look at the video about the kind of things that are going on in New Orleans’ Holy Cross community. Take a look:
For more information abou historic green, be sure to check out historicgreen.org