Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Save Our Sponge!

On February 2nd, World Wetlands Day, Woodlands Conservancy hosted it’s first ever Save Our Sponge Benefit Concert.

In light of the devastating flooding that plagued the greater Baton Rouge area in 2016, it is imperative that New Orleans works to preserve wetlands, our natural storm water protection. Unlike the impervious surfaces that dominate urban spaces and cause rainwater runoff, wetlands and other natural lands can absorb precipitation.

In fact, one large tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water in a single day, and can capture and filter up to 36,500 gallons of water in a year.  Additionally, the porous wetland soil traps and holds moisture better than other less-permeable surfaces.

Woodlands Conservancy currently manages over 800 acres of forested wetlands. That’s 800 acres of massive trees and permeable soil that acts as a ‘sponge’ to absorb incalculable amounts of storm water and as a windbreak during storm surges. Thus, it is essential for the safety of the greater New Orleans area that we continue working to ‘Save our Sponge’.


This event consisted of a patron party catered by Meril’s Chef Avelar with music by the Jason Marsalis quartet, a silent auction, and concert by famous jazz musician Henry Butler. Both of these talented musicians we’re incredibly helpful in advertising the event, going on various radio and television shows in the week leading up to the concert.

For the past few years we’ve hosted the Woodlands Wild Wine Dinner as our annual fundraiser, a classic catered dinner and silent auction at English Turn Country Club on the West Bank. Attempting to organize a concert was a large risk for Woodlands, especially because none of us knew anything about concert planning going into this.

Thankfully, the risk paid off!  We ended up selling 200 tickets to the patron party and concert.  Unlike the Wild Wine Dinner, that attracted people from our regular fundraising base, people attended the SOS concert that had never even heard of us before!  The extensive media coverage gave our small organization a large platform to talk about our work and spread the message of forested wetlands serving as a natural sponge.  I created informational videos for the concert intermissions that highlighted our organization and the progress we’ve made over the past 15 years.

The event wouldn’t have been possible without the fearless guidance of our executive director and all of the other amazing board members, volunteers, and friends who gave their time and expertise.  Our executive director is so excited about the success that we’re already gearing up to start planning for next year!


One comment on “Save Our Sponge!

  1. Tulane VISTA
    February 5, 2017

    It’s interesting to think that an educational program that deals with the fundamentals of natural safeguards against storm disasters finds it difficult to convey its value to the people it protects. What might be the cause of not having been able to achieve the success you point to in your article sooner?

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This entry was posted on February 4, 2017 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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