Editor’s Note: The following series “Big Easy and the Environment” is a series curated by Lindsay Hardy as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Institute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities.
In a time when we are all wondering what we can do and how things are ever going to get better, we want to remember the amazing organizations and collaborations that happen in New Orleans. When we work together, there is no limit to the levels we can reach, and this article highlights The Green Project, an organization in New Orleans that works to protect the environment and create new initiatives. One of these new initiatives is Salvations, a fundraising event for The Green Project, that raises money through the sale of art that is made from discarded materials.
“Salvations and The Green Project: Not your Momma’s Recycling” was originally published on NolaVie on April 26th, 2011, by Mariposa.
Salvaged creations are the inspiration for Saturday’s Salvations, The Green Project’s annual fundraiser. Artists and furniture designers have taken over the third floor of the Shops at Canal Place and filled it with their work.
The Green Project is a non-profit tucked away in the St. Roch neighborhood. It was founded in 1994 by Linda Stone when she was looking to recycle her paint and could not find a place that provided that service.
Seventeen years later, The Green Project has expanded its passion for living green and does much more than recycle paint. It operates a warehouse, lumberyard, paint recycling center, electronic waste recycling drop‐offs, grease collection for biodiesel, and conducts environmental education programming on weekends.
The organization’s warehouse attracts the usual customers of a used building materials retail store. However, in addition to people looking for a good deal on the essentials for remodeling a home, many artists in the community quickly became frequent visitors.
As one artist comments, “The Green Project is one of those places I never get tired of going to because there is a constantly shifting stream of inventory, and I like to hunt through the store for that unique piece or part I can incorporate into my designs… I believe in the mission of The Green Project because it is similar to the same ideology that I live by: take a good look at what you’ve got around you and make due with what is at hand.”
Due to the frequency of their visits, the volunteers and staff of The Green Project got to know many artists individually. They began learning the different mediums they worked in and projects they were working on. A partnership began to form and the idea of showing off the amazing art that can be attained using salvaged materials took shape.
Collaborating with designers and artists, Salvations was born. It is an art show and competition in which the pieces are judged by their quality, design, craftsmanship, and the amount of reclaimed materials used by notable people in the design community.
The artists who participate in Salvations are both professionals and amateurs, but all inspire with the beauty and creativity of their pieces. It is easy to forget that the beautiful furniture and art on display was once found in dumpsters and blighted properties around New Orleans.
In this single event, The Green Project promotes local artistic talent, brings attention to New Orleans’ carbon footprint and inspires a new way of thinking about recycling. “Using reclaimed materials means respecting the age, beauty and cultural context that these materials have earned,” another artist and participant notes. “It means expressing the meaning and relevance of aged materials and not propagating issues of waste in our city.”
In addition to encouraging people to think outside the recycling box, The Green Project also gives out a Green Giant Award. It goes to a New Orleanian who has been a leader in the environmental community. This year’s recipient is Mark Davis. In addition to being founding director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resource Law and Policy, he has testified before the U.S. Congress multiple times about the Gulf Coastline and its environmental, economic, and cultural importance.
Davis will be given the Green Giant Award at Salvations Gala this Saturday, April 16. Past recipients include Lucianne and Joe Carmichael of Studio in the Woods (2010), Linda Stone of Global Green and founder of The Green Project (2009), Monique Pilie of Hike for KaTREEna (2008), and Steven Bingler of Concordia Architects (2007).
Beth Stelson of The Green Project sees Salvations as “a way to show the larger community that objects some people see as trash have the potential to be so much more. There is a lot of creativity in the show and it inspires people to think about recycling in a completely different way.”
The Salvations Gala will be held Saturday, April 16 at the Shops of Canal Place on the 3rd floor from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, $60 per person.
Mariposa Stormer works in the New Orleans non-profit sector and is a regular contributor for NolaVie.