It's nice when your kids get old enough to host a party, and even invite you to come. Yesterday, my son invited me to his home in New Orleans for such an event next March. But there's a catch. I need to work for my room and board.

I'm planning to go anyway, and as you'll read below, I'm hoping you will come along too. That's because my son is involved in a portion of Historic Green.

Given the list of national and regional sponsors, and the interest this program is drawing from USGBC and AIA, Historic Green could be the green place to be in 2009 and beyond. Organizers are planning for the hundreds of folks committed to the benefits of sustainable construction to help renew the Holy Cross Neighborhood and the Lower Ninth Ward.

What makes the Historic Green different from other post-Katrina efforts is that planners will feature a new design approach called "sustainable preservation." Their goal is to restore the neighborhoods in ways that make conditions better than before the storm.

If the masonry industry is committed to being part of the sustainable building movement, we need to be New Orleans. The volunteers are the very folks we need to convince and educate. These volunteers are architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, interior designers, and contractors. They plan to work hand-in-hand with neighborhood residents on their historic houses, parks, playgrounds, and community centers.

Historic Green reminds me of several industry events in which we invite these same folks to build something we end up tearing down. Wouldn't it be great to be part of an opportunity to build something that will stand the test of time?

How can we help?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Contractors - perhaps you have some left over tools, supplies, or materials you can donate. One of the local sponsors is a recycling co-op that provides materials for these projects only. Also, maybe you can take a few days off to help show young professionals our passion for masonry.
  • Brick & block manufacturers - perhaps someone would like to step up and donate some permeable pavers. Maybe we could, in time, construct a total masonry structure demonstrating sustainability techniques.
  • Apprentice programs and vocational schools - the timing of the event matches many spring breaks. What a great opportunity to bring your students and let them become teachers with volunteers
  • Architects and design engineers - This program could be your opportunity to receive some grass root education and experience.
  • I plan to be a participant. Visit for all the details. And if you have specific questions, contact

    But if I can convince any of you to help out, here's my offer to stir up your support.

    He doesn't know it yet, but my son and I will host the food part of a traditional New Orleans boil featuring crawfish (if in season), shrimp, and all the sides, tentatively set for Thursday, March 12, in City Park.

    I know times are tough, but I hope we can generate support for this event.