Thank the group for coming and for the opportunity to introduce this important nationwide project addressing environmental health of New Orleans and ultimately any city affected by lead contaminated soil. Break the proverbial ice. Perhaps ask how many are teachers? What grade do they teach? Is anyone familiar with Mel Chin’s previous work? Perhaps ask if any one is already familiar with the project and how they came to know about it.
The story of this project begins with Katrina. We all know about the hurricane and how destructive it was. A NATURAL EVENT OVER HUMAN CONSTRUCTIONS.
Many were concerned that pollutants were carried in by Katrina and left in the soil. After Katrina, officials went on record as saying that soil conditions were no worse than before the storm . That begs the question, “ Then how bad was it before?”
The reality is that New Orleans is one of the most lead polluted cities in the country. There are an estimated 86,000 properties with soil lead content of over 400 parts per million. (Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for hazard if children play on soil) Lead contamination is an issue in many cities primarily from the automobile industry ’s use of gasoline and the paint industry’s use of lead as an additive. This is an issue that affects both rich and poor areas of the city and is part of our negative industrial past. Treatment of isolated sites is inadequate to stop airborne lead carried in the soil. Treating the whole city with a solution is an egalitarian and effective response.
Lead contamination in the soil translates to lead poisoning in the blood.
Lead is threatening the health of the environment, especially children , as they are the most vulnerable. The very important thing to know about lead poisoning is that is linked to short attention spans, attention deficit disorders , compromised achievement and learning, and is linked to violent crime . It follows that if you can address lead poisoning, you can begin to shift the health of society.
In 2005 after the hurricane, Mel Chin was one of a number of artists invited to New Orleans to contribute to rebuilding the social, cultural and physical infrastructure of the City. Mel Chin is a conceptual artist working in many media. He is known for works that address environmental problems-and for his work called “Revival Field” a project working with hyper-accumulators, plants that remove heavy metals from contaminated soil. When Mel visited he became aware of the lead problem and of the work of scientist Howard Mielke. Howard Mielke, one of the leading scientists working with lead contamination, is currently at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is one of the leading scientists that gave testimony to congress that ultimately affected legislation requiring lead-free gasoline. Dr. Mielke had worked on a test project addressing the contamination issues through a process of removing exposure to the lead dust in soil by covering contaminated areas with 3-6 inches of clean soil. With his 25 test properties, he saw an immediate drop in the blood-lead levels of the children who lived and played on those properties. This slide illustrates Mel’s artistic process, the initial conceptualization of the project. With such profound devastation, what is there for people to come home to? How do you provide a healthy foundation from below the ground up?
When Mel asked Howard the cost to implement a landscape project to treat the estimated 86,000 contaminated properties, he was told approximately $300,000,000 Mel’s response: I can’t raise that much, but we can MAKE it…we can CREATE it from the value of creativity…through a collective art project.
(take note that this slide has animation) The idea of FUNDRED/PAYDIRT was born. 2 parts FUNDRED is the national outreach to schools that, through a drawing project, will raise awareness and FUNDING for this science-based landscape project that is being researched and tested right now. PAYDIRT is the science-based landscape/soil project.
The fundred.org website is the primary resource for both FUNDRED and PAYDIRT information and the central place to go to get involved with FUNDRED.
The website provides all of the key information about the FUNDRED project. This includes lesson plans , the FUNDRED Dollar Bill worksheets , a map of Collection Centers , and information about becoming involved in outreach and volunteering as a Collection Center.
This is the FUNDRED Dollar Bill worksheet. Essentially it is a simple art project to create a FUNDRED. Mel has annotated all of the symbols and other features of a real 100 bill . The template has all of these features removed from the background, so that students (and adults) can personalize their bills using their own ideas and symbolism .
examples of students’ work
examples of students’ work
This bill was created by a little girl from Louisiana. She had been in New Orleans during the hurricane and was evacuated to the Superdome. It is a cathartic experience for her to be able to illustrate her experience in text and image. An important detail to remember is that the student must be asked if they are willing to donate their bill to the project. If they agree to donate, they sign the bill in the space provided, their teacher endorses the bill in the space provided for them, and at that point the bill is valid. Their signature , as well as that of their teacher, endorses the creative currency .
When a bunch of FUNDREDS are finished they are bundled up in the FUNDRED Currency Wrap (found on website) or other similar strip of paper, note how many bills are in the bundle, and mail them to the nearest Vault (a school that has volunteered to be a collection center holding the bills in safekeeping.
We now have 74 collection centers in 36 states. Schools all across the country have volunteered to collect and hold bills until they are picked up.
When we have 3 hundred million FUNDRED Dollars, which is 3 million artworks , an armored truck will be deployed from New Orleans to travel all around the U.S. in a documented performance to pick-up all of the bills. The ultimate destination of the truck is Washington D.C
This is the armored truck that will be picking up and delivering the FUNDREDS. It was purchased in July, 2007 and since has been refurbished and retrofitted with an engine running on veggie oil . The veggie oil will be re-used from school cafeterias and the truck will refuel at each school. The truck is currently in New Orleans waiting for the word that the 3,000,000 artworks have been completed.
The truck will first attempt to deliver the 300,000,000 to the Federal Reserve to ask for an even exchange of bills for cash. We have heard from a fairly reliable source that they will probably say no. The next step is to deliver the bills to Congress to ask for an even exchange of FUNDRED bills for goods, services, and money to support the PAYDIRT project. We are not just delivering the artwork, but also a pragmatic plan that will explain how to accomplish the PAYDIRT project It is our intent that the delivery of the FUNDREDS will not be a surprise; it will in fact be a thank you as we are building the awareness of the project at the highest levels. … and, of course this request is not specifically for cash. This type of funding exists in grants (such as HUD and Healthy Homes and Community grants).
At its core, the PAYDIRT plan follows the science of using phosphates to render lead non-bio available, and then covers the treated ground with 3-6 inches of clean soil. The soil is Treated with a phosphate, which Locks the lead into a stable pyromorphite mineral rendering it non-bioavailable. So when a child plays in the dirt and subsequently puts their hand in their mouth, the lead is not absorbed but is excreted. (For more information visit the “About Paydirt” page of the website) The very clean soil, known as “spillway sugar” will be used. This is the soil that is brought straight to NOLA from the Mississippi River at 300 tons a minute. This soil is available through the Army Corp of Engineer’s work in the shipping channels. We have had initial conversations with the Army Corp and these conversations have been encouraging. This system of working with the soil in-situ makes a lot of sense. To dig and dump on this scale isn’t environmentally or economically reasonable. The interesting thing about NOLA is that there is a lot of clear land right now as they are rebuilding a large percentage of the housing stock. This creates a perfect opportunity to address the problem from “below the ground up” to ensure healthy rebuilding. This opportunity can then become a model for other cities. This system, this plan, can be a model that could significantly impact the health of our society.
Here is our schedule, the pick up and delivery is based on when the 300,000,000 FUNDRED dollars are complete and accounted for! Our goal is to have the 3 million by the end of the school year (June) 2009.
This iconic sculptural installation a public face of OPERATION PAYDIRT. An entire house in one of the most lead-laden neighborhoods in New Orleans has been transformed into a vault. On October 31, the vault was “cracked open,” the house opened to the public and the press, and a National Press Conference was conducted. FUNDRED and PAYDIRT were announced to the national media. Inside the vault, the walls are lined with almost 7000 FUNDREDS created by students and adults in New Orleans. The SAFEHOUSE will be open to the public through January.
The vault door swings open to allow for visitor entry. Visitors to the SAFEHOUSE can learn about OPERATION PAYDIRT and can create their own FUNDRED to display on the walls along with the FUNDREDS created by students in New Orleans. This is an impressive display of creativity This strategy of a display is being used in a number of other cities in the U.S. to catalyze the creativity.
We are challenging all of us to participate in the project. This is an amazing opportunity to contribute and to make a difference. We are looking for you to create your own FUNDRED and to motivate the creation of FUNDREDS in your networks. We want you to help spread the word about the project and increase participation so that we can accomplish the 3 million artworks by fall. We want your help…
Because we plan to deliver good things home.
PAYDIRT/FUNDRED for New Orleans
08 29 2005 KATRINA OVER NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA A NATURAL EVENT OVER HUMAN CONSTRUCTIONS
BUT A DISASTER (BEFORE THE DISASTER) LIES IN THE SOIL BELOW THE FURY OF THE STORM.
MAPPED AND MEASURED BY SCIENCE, A MALEVOLENT PRESENCE IS EVIDENT . . . SOIL LEAD CONCENTRATIONS IN NEW ORLEANS NEIGHBORHOODS
DEGRADED SOIL IS THREATENING THE HEALTH OF THE ENVIRONMENT, HUMANS, AND ANIMALS THAT LIVE IN CITY NEW ORLEANS
ARTIST PROJECT CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT Notes plus Q & A: The magnitude of these tragedies Compels equivalent action. Half the city is gone. If they came back what would they come home to? And where are they anyway? TRANSFORM THE POLLUTED CONDITION BEFORE THEY RETURN. REBUILD from BELOW the GROUND UP… Launch a GREEN Ops.
Q: BTW, How much will it cost? A: $300,000,000.00 Q: Can that much cash be raised? A: NO, it will have to be made. THE VALUE OF CHILDREN’S ARTWORK
Operation: PAYDIRT Code Name: FUNDRED Code Name: PAYDIRT A Nationwide School Art Project conducted by TEACHERS and drawn by their STUDENTS DELIVERING THE VALUE OF 3,000,000 VOICES WITH A SOLUTION. A Pragmatic Landscape Design and Recovery Project A SOLUTION tested and verified through scientific trials in the Field The Development of a Citywide Jobs Program
Use an innovative, secure and reliable source of transport Engine modification To run on straight Vegetable oil (SVO) Tank conversion Soil to grass color scheme w/ “company” logo and Katrina date serial number designation 3,000,000 drawings @1 gram each= 6,608 lbs. PAYLOAD
TO SUPPORT… DELIVER ALL THE ARTWORK TO THE PORTALS OF CONGRESS AND ASK FOR AN EVEN EXCHANGE. 300 MILLION DOLLARS
OPERATION: PAYDIRT Operations, Methodologies and Directives, READY TO GO to EFFECTIVELY DEAL with the DEGREDATED SOIL Hazard. SUPPORT a Citywide JOBS Program to do the JOB.