Fighting Poverty with Passion
|I started my term of service with VISTA in September, and from the beginning it has been a crash-course in New Orleans community politics. Nonprofits do not operation in isolation, and The Green Project, where I work, is no exception. The Green Project is a nonprofit retail store which sells quality, donated building materials back to the community at an affordable price to keep these materials out of landfills. Expanding our presence in the New Orleans community is essential to not only increase our sales, but to also continue to operate according to our social justice mission.As the marketing and outreach coordinator at The Green Project, I began my position by trying to develop a neighborhood outreach system where I would attend neighborhood association meetings and speak about the programs and the environmental impact of The Green Project. The Green Project is located right off of St. Claude Avenue, which operates not only as a major thoroughfare through New Orleans but also a racial and economic divider between the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods on one side and the 7th Ward and St. Roch neighborhoods on the other.
Attending these different neighborhood association meetings separated by just a matter of blocks illustrated how distinct New Orleans neighborhoods are and the economic and racial disparity within them.Marketing is about knowing your target audience. While this is an inherent trait in the field, it is something that I have internally struggled with as I speak about The Green Project to different New Orleans neighborhoods. The Green Project prides itself in being accessible to everybody and helping all people live by their own economic standard, regardless of their finances. While The Green Project may approach all customers equally, I have discovered that my marketing does not. Instead I find myself targeting different demographics differently, believing that neighborhoods will respond positively to different incentives to coming to The Green Project. At times I will emphasize The Green Project’s environmental stewardship and the steps New Orleanians must take to consume responsibly. Other times I will stress our affordability to individuals still struggle to rebuild or maintain their homes. While The Green Project’s customers naturally come from different backgrounds, I continue to struggle with the fact my position requires me to make these judgments about their backgrounds in order to share The Green Project’s services.