Background/History Groundwork New Orleans, (GWNO) works to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people, businesses and organizations to promote environmental, economic and social well-being.
In 2003, the City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Environmental Affairs organized a Steering Committee to determine the viability and guide the process of applying to the National Park Service to establishing a Groundwork Trust in New Orleans. Based on the work of the Steering Committee, the National Park Service provided $10,000.00 to fund development of a feasibility study and strategic plan that was completed in August, 2005, two weeks prior to Hurricane Katrina. Although the City of New Orleans was no longer able to meet its commitments to provide $75,000.00 in matching funds and organizational support, the City of New Orleans, the Steering Committee, the National Park Service, and Groundwork USA made the decision to go forward with establishing Groundwork New Orleans immediately following the return of residents to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in November, 2005.
With the assistance of an interim executive director, the initial Board of Directors incorporated Groundwork New Orleans on September 18, 2006. In December, 2006, we received funding from Timberland Boot Company to complete a demonstration project that included eight rain gardens on historic Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in Central City New Orleans, vacant lot cleanups, and public murals painted on the supports of the interstate overpass that creates the boundary between Central City and Downtown New Orleans.
During the first 6 years of operation our accomplishments include: completing 15 rain gardens, one bioswale which drains storm water from 4 industrial sized roofs, piloting an Earth Lab outdoor classroom program, creating a science based research program in the Lower Ninth Ward, called the Green Slice, to aid in the recovery of the area, establishing and expanding the Green Team program; and leveraging private, public, and in –kind contributions to ensure the success and expansion of programs. Major categories of projects have been storm water management, soil remediation, Green Team service learning and urban watershed restoration.
Groundwork New Orleans is proactively building working relationships and partnerships with members of the non-profit sector, businesses, faith-based organizations, and residents that live and work throughout Central City, the Lower Ninth Ward and Bywater areas with an eye towards city-wide projects and partnership expansion. We have multiple resources and many lessons learned incorporated in this plan, with an Executive Director, staff and Board of Directors that are talented, committed and excited to execute the projects and programs described herein.