Since 2001, the Urban Conservancy has provided research, education and advocacy for stewardship of the local environment, as well as the protection of local businesses. The organization has helped New Orleanians understand and provide input on land use decisions. Furthermore, the Urban Conservancy has expanded to include projects such as Stay Local!, which promotes locally owned and operated businesses, as well as Building Active Stewardship in New Orleans (BASIN), which provided environmental awareness education to local students. With so many great initiatives, Executive Director Dana Eness has a full schedule devoting her time to promoting sustainable recovery in New Orleans.
Planting Over Paving
Eness speaks well of the Urban Conservancy’s latest project, the Front Yard Initiative.
“I’m really excited about our program in schools for kids, as well as the homeowners, on exciting and really fun ways that they can make their city more beautiful by paving less and planting more,” she says.
She explains that excessive paving starves our groundwater by preventing water from reentering the soil. This contributes to the city’s problems with sinking and street flooding. By planting more, citizens can create more opportunities for natural water runoff. Furthermore, water that runs off of pavement (especially where cars park) may carry pollutants into the waterways, whereas water that soaks into the ground first can filter naturally before it enters the waterways. With this in mind, the Front Yard Initiative encourages homeowners to refrain from paving their yards and to consider planting instead.
For homeowners who already have paved yards, the Front Yard Initiative can help them tackle the technical and financial challenges that are involved in removing the pavement. By providing resources and examples of other homeowners who have completed the renovation, the initiative can help make the process easier.
Eness praises her “dynamite staff” at the Urban Conservancy, and notes that they’re trying to build out. The organization is seeking grant funding for the Front Yard Initiative, as well as sponsors for their Stay Local! programs and workshops.
For more information and to support Urban Conservancy, visit UrbanConservancy.org