Groundwork USA Assembly, New Orleans

On Friday, November 13th, 17 Groundwork Trusts from around the country met in New Orleans for the annual Youth Summit and to participate in the E.P.A. Brownfields Conference. A special thanks goes out to the staff at Groundwork New Orleans for coordinating such a comprehensive and meaningful experience. After getting a view of Louisiana’s incredible natural habitat on a canoe ride through the Cane Bayou out to Lake Ponchitrain, students and Groundwork Staff got an introduction to its dynamic urban habitat with a tour of the remaining destruction from Hurricane Katrina as well as the inspiring restoration sites such as the Make It Right Homes in the 9th Ward and the Holly Grove Market & Farm. After being exposed to these contemporary issues, the group got acquainted with the rich history of the city on a walking tour through the Historic French Quarter.

Before leaving, the youth summit helped with a restoration project at Andrew Wilson Elementary School, organized by the Groundwork New Orleans and the Broadmoor Improvement Association, Students helped landscape the exterior of the school by planting trees, laying sod, and grating the soil to better accommodate flooding and heavy rains. At the restoration project, the group met with EPA representatives, the architect who designed the new school, and members of the National Parks Service.

After the youth left, Groundwork USA had a highly successful three days participating in the EPA Brownfield Conference. Groundwork personnel from across the network gave presentations, attended workshops, met with EPA staff from various regions, and held very productive meetings with key EPA officials. In addition, Groundwork USA had its own booth in the convention exhibit hall. The booth was visited by several representatives from communities across the United States interested in the Groundwork model for their own communities. During the event, the Groundwork participants were housed in beautiful cabins on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.