Earth Day Fest 2012: The Pledge House

 

At dawn this Saturday, April 21, I'll be building a house from the ground up on the bayou. Not in a crazy Noah's ark, hearing God kind of way, but in preparation for the 2012 Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., at Bayou St. John.

The festival is being coordinated by EvanMarie Allison from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. This year she decided that in addition to all the great music, food and vendors, she wanted to do an art Installation.

"I wanted to have something that's interactive, as a way to really engage festival-goers," EvanMarie explained.

Louisiana Bucket Brigade community organizers had been canvassing the city, giving out information about Earth Day and the festival, which serendipitously led to the involvement of John Bukaty.

John Bukaty has spent most of his career painting musicians and music festivals, so when the Bucket Brigade came knocking at his door to tell him about Earth Day Fest, he was eager to get involved. EvanMarie loved his enthusiasm and ideas for the installation. A phone call led to a meeting. They kicked around a few ideas; one was to have a world map on plywood, another was to build a bridge. But the map was too one-dimensional and the bridge too complex. So they decided to build a house as a way to artistically represent green practices.

This Saturday EvanMarie, John, myself and Timothy Dean from Rebuilding Together will be leading a group of 40, mostly college volunteers, constructing a home out of 100 percent salvaged and recycleable materials.

The materials will be donated by The Green Project, The Preservation Salvage Store, and Allied Waste/Republic Services. Timothy Dean from Rebuilding Together and myself from 1239 Congress are charged with constructing the frame of the house. Luckily for us, the space is only 400 square feet, so we won't be building a double shotgun. The frame will be as simple and straightforward as possible. At the end of the festival the recylables will be taken back and all of the construction materials will be deconstructed and re-used.

While Tim and I build the frame of the house, John Bukaty will be making walls and a roof out of recyclables -- bottles, cans, cardboard, etc. But the piece is not just a visual statement. That wouldn't be enough. Everybody knows that recycling is important and that there are lots of ways one can make a home more efficient and more green. EvanMarie wants people and businesses to go a step further.

"Once visiting our Green Business Expo, festival-goers will have the opportunity to declare their green pledge in front of the Pledge House and have their photograph taken. Pledges can be something simple that they can do to bring sustainability home."

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade's primary mission is to support communities' use of grassroots action to become informed, sustainable neighbors free from industrial pollution. This year's festival will feature several outlets to learn about sustainability, green business practices and industrial pollution. Large industries like oil refineries have a tremendous impact on the environment and there are multiple ways they can clean up their act.

It's a large and complex problem to address, and we hope the Pledge House will be a way to bring the issue home for people (pun intended). So wish us luck on our one-day home build and make sure you catch all the great music, food and info at The New Orleans Earth Day Festival & Green Business Expo on Sunday.

Matthew Sheard of 1239 Congress writes bimonthly for NolaVie.