Historic Green began in 2007 by several emerging young leaders of the U.S. Green Building Council’s volunteer network. They saw the devastation which still plagued New Orleans and rallied the green building industry to commit more knowledge and resources to rebuilding this city. In the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, New Orleans was still in recovery mode, needing resources and volunteers with a passion for preservation. These young leaders learned that more than 85% of existing homes in New Orleans were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They not only wanted to help rebuild, but also sought to foster environmental responsibly and preserve the rich history of New Orleans (Historic Green, August 16th 2013, “http://historicgreen.org/”).
To make their dream a reality, Historic Green began their annual Spring Greening event in the Lower 9th Ward. Although Historic Green is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, they wanted to be apart of the New Orleans recovery. They formed an alliance with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, who had set the objectives of carbon neutrality by 2020 and climate neutrality by 2030. Together Holy Cross and Historic Green collaborate each year to build a stronger, more sustainable Lower Ninth Ward Community.
The flagship event of Historic Green is the Spring Greening Program. This annual event functions almost like an alternative spring break. It serves to empowers local leaders in the sustainable restoration of their own homes and communities. The Spring Greening Program is a hands on educational and advocacy trip providing green restoration of the culturally important, hurricane-ravaged Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. They make it happen by pairing two intensive weeks of service learning projects with hands-on educational sessions in the neighborhood. There are 3 broad areas of focus over the course of each 2-week session: Green Homes, Green Spaces and Green Communities. Each year, more than 100 students, young professionals and skilled professionals from around the country gather to volunteer in this proud historic neighborhood (Historic Green, August 16th 2013, “http://historicgreen.org/”).
Outside of New Orleans Historic Green initiates service learning projects to teach volunteers how to rebuild historic homes and preserve historic neighborhoods sustainably. Service Learning programs are currently provided in Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Roeland Park (Historic Green, August 16th 2013, “http://historicgreen.org/”).
The Spring Greening event has helped to restore and maintain many important homes and public spaces in the Lower Ninth over the last 6 years. Spring Greening volunteers have worked to maintain the Delery St. Playground, Lower Ninth Ward Village, Bayou Bienvenue, the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development and more. Though Historic Green is not a local organization, they are focused on creating and maintaining close networks with local initiatives. Their volunteers are put to work on projects right alongside locals and residents.
During their Spring Greening experience volunteers also get to learn from some of the Lower Ninth Ward leaders. Demonstrations from community members such as Jenga Mwendo of Backyard Gardeners Network and Andrew Spaulding of Historic Green taught lessons on urban farming and weathering.
The easiest way to get involved with Historic Green is volunteer for a Spring Greening event. This past years event was held in March. If you cannot make it down to New Orleans they have a variety of other ways to get involved. They are always looking for volunteers to lead and staff Krewes and committees working to place Spring Greening. You can also join a student chapter of the organization.
Historic Green can also help you earn hours toward your LEED credentials. Volunteering with Historic Green can count for as many as 4 hours for LEED professionals credentialing maintenance under the Committee and Volunteer work section. This is just another way Historic Green is improving and preserving the Lower Ninth while encouraging the next generation of sustainable leaders (Historic Green, August 16th 2013, “http://historicgreen.org/”).
Historic Green is one of many organizations that have worked to restore the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As part of a larger study of the impact and networks of of non-profits in 2013 (please see Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward for more details), we can see that this organization excels in the following areas:
Access to Consumers regardless of ability to pay
Their services are free to the community, making access to consumers easy and disassociated with ability to pay. However, volunteers traveling from out of town with Historic Green do have to pay per day in order to participate in the program.
Provisions of Collective Goods
They provide a collective good, working to manage public spaces such as the playground and the community center, though they also work on private homes. They also participate heavily in information sharing.
Opportunities to Volunteer
They are based on a network of volunteers, so opportunities to volunteer with all aspects of the organization are numerous. Volunteers can be those doing hands on work in New Orleans or providing help behind the scenes planning Spring Greening events.
When we analyze Historic Green, based on its extent of participation in information sharing activities, we see they are active in 5 ways.
Historic Green educates its volunteers through the Spring Greening Program. Along with working hands on in restoration, volunteers are exposed to professionals in demo sessions and exercises.
Historic Green also trains its volunteers to learn how to restore and rebuild homes and buildings in a sustainable way, the training they do in the Lower Ninth Ward and beyond is important in enabling communities to build sustainably after Historic Green is gone.
They are active in networking with many organizations in the Lower Ninth. They have connections to 7 other organizations in this study (CSED, Global Green, Tekrema Center of the Arts, Preservation Resource Center, Lower 9th Ward Village, GroundWork NOLA, and Backyard Gardeners Network) as well as other organizations around the country. Historic Green engages in social change by encouraging renewable energy sources, natural disaster barriers and sustainable preservation.
Historic Green engages in social change by encouraging renewable energy sources, natural disaster barriers and sustainable preservation. Their collaboration with Holy Cross Neighborhood Association and commitment to carbon neutrality is pushing for a continued emphasis on environmental protection.