By Randy Savoie, BCL New Orleans
Clean energy sources, recycling, green jobs and creating sustainable communities were just a few of themes of New Orleans Job Corps Center’s celebration of 2011 Earth Day, Everyday Week, April 18-22. The week- long celebration featured participation by Fortune 500 utility company Entergy and the local Sierra Club and involved the students in everything from a neighborhood cleanup to planting a new community garden.
Day One: Community Service Day
The week began with a Community Service Day that started with a cleaning of the surrounding Hollygrove neighborhood including the area under a nearby bridge. Over 30 students helped in collecting threetruckloads of garbage from the bridge to Interstate 10.
Medical Office Support Trainee Destiny Holloway says that residents of Hollygrove , a neighborhood that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2006, sat up and took notice.
“When we came around the corner by the school, there was an older lady that came outside, and she wanted to give us some water and probably told us thank you a thousand times, “ said Destiny. “I spend every day here. I don’t want to look at trash. We all deserve to be in a clean neighborhood, and we have to take a little bit of pride in our surroundings.
“We just want our area to look beautiful when people from out of town come to see our neighborhood,” said Electrical trainee Kevin Wilson. “We’ll have something to be proud of. Keeping our neighborhoods clean.”
Also on Monday, New Orleans Job Corps trainees planted a Community Garden for Hollygove, a project the Center has titled “Greening the Grove.”
“We were digging up an old garden. And taking out some weeds. Kicking out some ants – we had to evict them to make room for Chef Victoria (Culinary Arts Instructor) and her students to go ahead and plant some herbs ,” said Carpentry trainee Stephen Burgess. “We tilled the dirt, weeded it and did everything that needed to be done.
“We went out to the neighborhood garden, and we all kind of banded together,” said Destiny Holloway. “It was interesting to see some kids get dirty that don’t normally get dirty. We got out there with our shovels and our hoes, we weeded, and we really kind of came together and did some great stuff. We planted flowers, tomato plants, peppers. It was really awesome”
The second day of New Orleans Job Corps Earth Day Every Day week featured a Green Fair, a gathering of environmental groups from around the city as well as the town’s only Fortune 500 company-Entergy New Orleans.
Along with Entergy, Louisiana Green Corps, NOLA Green Roots, Sierra Club, Green Light New Orleans and Habitat for Humanity all set up display booths and explained to the students the various missions of their respective organizations.
“The guy from NOLA Roots was great,” said Destiny. “If you go to their website, they will send you a free basket of produce at the end of the Fall and give you up fresh farm eggs. I took a cucumber and ate it at lunch.
“The lady from Green Light New Orleans was talking about how they use old siding and break it down because Mesothelioma ( a form of lung cancer) is a big health problem down here. It used to be black lung now it’s pink lung from insulation.”
Added Steven Burgess, “Green Light was a pretty interesting company. I had never heard of them. It’s the little curley , halogen light. They pop those in for the elderly and poor of the community and it’s a good 35% off the energy bill. That’s a pretty massive cost saving.”
Destiny Holloway was particularly impressed with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit program that built new homes for many low-income Katrina victims in the year following the tragic storm.
“Habitat for Humanity is one of the best causes that we have,” said Destiny. “With me being from Chicago, this will be my first hurricane season, and I’ve already signed up with the Red Cross. New Orleans is my new home, and I want to give back to this city as much as I can.”