Green Light New Orleans strives to operate as a model of energy efficiency and sustainability.
I’m in the backyard of Ms. Mira Cosey’s home. She tells me what vegetables she’s been growing in her garden since Green Light New Orleans built one for her, free of charge.
“Tomatoes, collards, okra, turnips! Beets. And that’s my cucumber over there,” says Mira Cosey. “It wasn’t this tall when I was out here last week. See, all that nice rain.”
Green Light New Orleans was started by musician Andreas Hoffman in 2006 to assist in the sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans. Green Light offers New Orleans residents tools that can save money on recurring costs and reduce their own carbon footprint.
“See, I’m from Woodville, Mississippi. My family had gardens, a small farm. So when they came out with the idea, I jumped for it,” says Cosey.
Green Light New Orleans’ volunteers have installed free energy efficient light bulbs to over 26,000 homes, backyard vegetable gardens, and rain barrels. Andreas Hoffman and Megan Bayha from Green Light are also with us as they prepare to install one of those rain barrels for Ms. Cosey.
“It rained a lot. We want to collect that rain water for two reasons. One reason is that she could take that rain water and water the garden through periods that we don’t have any rain,” says Hoffman, executive director for Green Light New Orleans.
Another reason is so that a percentage of rain is caught instead of going out into the street. New Orleans has some of the highest annual rainfall in the country at over 60 inches per year. The city’s pumping system is often overwhelmed during heavy rainfall and uses up a vast amount of resources to pump this polluted water from city streets, and into Lake Pontchartrain.
“Which is the largest carbon footprint that we actually have for the city. But it also leads to the city sinking. So, it leads to subsidence. So to remediate those two issues we install the rain barrels. So there’s all kinds of benefits to install the rain barrel.”
That includes the beautification of Ms. Cosey’s backyard.
“I love my rain barrel already. It looks like something from the Jazz Fest. It’s so colorful and I think that’s why I picked it. When somebody come in the backyard they’ll say “what in the world is this,” says Cosey.
Now that Ms Cosey has her rain barrel picked out, it’s time to install it. The teams digs out a foundation and pours sand. Then, Megan Bayha drills into the existing gutter along the side of Ms. Cosey’s house to install the downspout that connects the gutter to the barrel. Finally, a water measuring device so Ms. Cosey can see how much she collects.
“Alright, there you go! I think it’s gonna rain on Thursday so your rain barrel will start to fill on Thursday,” says Hoffman.
I ask Ms. Cosey if she’s excited now that her rain barrel is installed.
“Yeah, I am. I am. As soon as some water gets here.” exclaims Cosey.
Community Impact is a series exploring the work of New Orleans nonprofits. It is made possible by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.