Project Sprout – The GTECH Model
The effects of Hurricane Katrina are still being seen and felt several years later. An already distressed community was blind-sided with devastation: Population loss due to the mass exodus, ‘brain-drain’ of dedicated leaders and thinkers in the community, financial devastation hindering reinvestment and redevelopment efforts. The national collective questions seemed echo: How do you rebuild a community from, literally, the ground up?
As New Orleans began to re-group, re-gather, re-build, the city also began to re-think policy and design so that greening strategies became incorporated into new larger picture.
But environmentally responsible re-building and greening answered only half of the problem. According to a recent Brookings Institute report, it is estimated that post Katrina New Orleans was host to over 65,000 blighted, vacant lots (Pittsburgh has about 24,000). Clearly a sustainable, viable strategy to address the vacant properties is needed.
The GTECH team in partnership with fellow Echoing Green recipients, Green Coast Enterprises, a real estate development company specializing in eco-friendly housing, devised a wonderfully symbiotic collaboration. Project Sprout combined GTECH’s core model: land remediation, education, green job training, and community engagement, and Green Coast Enterprises redevelopment strategies, and is in the process of applying it to over 50 neighborhoods in throughout New Orleans. This unique collaboration has received tremendous support and garnered positive attention nationally demonstrating that GTECH’s innovative brand of redevelopment strategies is applicable for every community.
While this collaboration with GreenCoast & Echoing Green is clearly assisting the redevelopment and greening of a city once devastated by flooding and poverty it is also helping GTECH to test drive their model in a larger arena under unusually challenging circumstances. This ‘proof of concept’ opportunity permits GTECH and their partners to further develop, refine and enhance a model that clearly works in communities in and around Pittsburgh and cities with similar demographics, but to actually implement it in a place such as New Orleans offers GTECH the chance to take an already successful model, and apply it to communities that are lacking resources and infrastructure.