Replant New Orleans With the Help of Seventh Generation
by Julie Harries, Darcy Harvey, and Jennifer Hileman
The SEED Collective, Replant New Orleans, and Seventh Generation are working to rehabilitate the urban forest that was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It was last April, for Earth Day, that Seventh Generation asked retailers to create an in-store display to promote their One Ton Tree program.
Stores across the nation were asked to create a fun and
thought provoking display using Seventh Generation products
highlighting âthe effect that planting a tree can have, and the impact
of using recycled paper products.â Julie Harries and Mac McLauchlin
worked together to create a fantastic display in our East Third Street
store. We later heard from Seventh Generation that Julieâs display had
won in the midwest. Julie and a guest were invited to New Orleans to see first hand the condition the city is in and to volunteer for a day with Replant New Orleans and Hands On in the rehabilitation of the grounds surrounding a high school in the Upper 9th Ward.
We spent two days visiting the city. Walking through the French Quarter, one of the areas that was less affected by the Katrina, you can see evidence of the economic impact of the storm; there are empty buildings everywhere and shop keepers talking about how hard it is to stay in business. Driving through other areas of the city, there are many places where every home and commercial space sits empty, whole communities devastated. It was shocking to see - we has heard about the condition of the city, but of course, to see it was an eye opener.
While there we met some wonderful people, and everyone was thankful to have us helping and taking our story back so that others might hear about what is happening in the city. Many schools have been damaged and large numbers of residents relocated; the high school we volunteered at was formerly an elementary school. Currently two of the floors are restored and in use, 400 students are in attendance and administrators believe that number will double in the next two years requiring the use of the other two floors of the building.
Replant New Orleans is working with the school to create an outdoor classroom and demonstration garden (with a compost area) that can be used by the biology classes at the school. There will be a green house, murals explaining the project to the community and guest lecturers that will use the space to educate students and the families who live in the area. We worked on preparing the lumber for compost bins, planter boxes, and murals. Volunteers from the community were to be assembling on Martin Luther King Day to begin construction. Our trip was inspiring, we met so many wonderful people who welcomed us and were truly thankful for the work we did.
We are very grateful to 7th Generation for giving us this opportunity and we hope to return and continue helping with the efforts to restore the city and rebuild strong communities.