Preservation Meets Sustainability in the Crescent City
From March 10-20, the Sierra Club joined 25 other organizations in sponsoring the second annual "Historic Green" project in New Orleans to rebuild the city's Lower 9th Ward as the nation's first zero carbon community. Students, green builders and architects, and volunteers from an array of activist groups from around the country participated in projects ranging from cleanups to carpentry, weatherization to wetlands restoration.
Above, students from the Chicago-Kent College of Law worked with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association the week of March 16-20. This photo was taken after they had helped clean up the Bayou Bienvenue trail and reinstalled the no dumping sign which some other students found in the weeds. Holy Cross is one of two neighborhoods making up the Lower 9th Ward.
Below, a group from Jewish Funds for Justice worked with Holy Cross residents to restore homes in the neighborhood. They started scraping the house pictured below on March 17 and finished painting by the end of the week.
Spearheading the Sierra Club's efforts was longtime environmental justice organizer Darryl Malek-Wiley, pictured at far right in top photo. Malek-Wiley, who heads up the Club's EJ program in Louisiana, first coined the term "cancer alley" to describe the concentration of petrochemical and other industrial plants lining the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Malek-Wiley says the big contributors to this year's Historic Green were emerging green builders and organizations like the Green Building Council. "I played only a support role. I rented a pick-up truck to move supplies and people around, talked with student groups about the recovery work in the Lower 9th and the Sierra Club's role in that effort, led walking tours and bus tours highlighting green rebuilding in the Lower 9th, purchased work materials for different projects, publicized Historic Green to the media, talked with reporters and got the Times-Picayune to run an article about green jobs…"
You get the picture.
"Darryl is a natural leader in creating volunteer opportunities and bringing together diverse groups on community projects," says Louisiana Sierra Club organizer Jill Mastrototaro. "His Spring Greening work is just one example of how he engages and educates those near and far on our environmental justice work in Louisiana."