May 01, 2007

Help Green New Orleans and Win Big!

A tragedy, a city of opportunity, and a whole lot of green prizes!

Christal and Kaden White would like to go home. But Christal's story is not your typical post-Katrina plight of a mother and her newborn son struggling to make it back to New Orleans amid a broken and neglected system. Sure, Hurricane Katrina destroyed Christal's childhood home. And yes, Katrina also took the home Christal had just purchased and renovated—her first—only two weeks before mother and son were to move in. But Christal's quest to return home is marked by a different struggle: the struggle to not just rebuild her own home but to rebuild her entire city, and to rebuild it sustainably.

"In the wake of Katrina," says Christal, "I was blown away. I walked into the remains of my home with a breathing apparatus on to take inventory of what was left. And to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking." But rather than lose hope, or walk away, or even concentrate on rebuilding her own home, Christal had an altogether different response: "In that moment, it all clicked. Everything that I had been doing was good but it wasn't good enough; more had to be done. And if ever there was a time to change things, this was it."

So Christal has organized a fundraising raffle to benefit the Green Project, a New Orleans nonprofit that reclaims building materials, recycles them and resells them at below-market cost to help the New Orleans rebuilding efforts. The Green Project is more than just a demo company: it also incorporates a recycling center, a community garden, and an interactive community space that uses salvaged material to create art. Christal champions the Green Project and all they have done for the city: "The Green Project is an amazing organization that helps to deconstruct piece by piece and salvage everything that they can from buildings to preserve history and architecture. The Recycle for the Arts portion of the program takes anything seemingly unusable and puts into use in art projects that capture the local culture and flavor of my unique city. They were the eco-logical choice."

If you're starting to get the sense that Christal has a thing for being green, you might be right. When she temporarily relocated after Hurricane Katrina, she did so with the help of her employer, the Kimpton Hotel Group. Christal, in fact, is working as an eco-concierge in one of their hotels until she can move back home (perhaps she can convince them to donate a hotel stay to her raffle...hint, hint).

Christal's unique job seems to be serving her well; she's organized a series of prize drawings in which she'll be giving away bags stuffed with green goods from the likes of Big Dipper Wax Works, Terrapass, Ikea, Method Home, Greenfield Paper, Simply Organic, Envirosax, Greenfeet and more. All it takes is a small—and we do mean small—donation. Just $10 will enter you (but we'd suggest buying a few tickets to increase your odds; heck, why not buy an entry for your best buddy?). All of the proceeds go to the New Orleans Green Project, who will use the money to supplement the organization's operating expenses.

And boy, do they need the money. According to the Green Project's director, aptly named Angie Green, "People are forgetting that we still need help. Right now, The Green Project is focusing our efforts on directing the building materials from damaged homes back into reuse, instead of the landfill. " You can help their efforts by purchasing a raffle ticket through Christal's fundraising blog, where you'll find additional details including drawing dates and a prize list. If we play our cards right, this just might be a situation where everybody wins!

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