Good material doesn’t always come from a store. The volunteers at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park project in Delphi, Indiana, found ‘gold’ in the planks of an abandoned hog shed on a nearby property, and in windfall Red Oaks not too far afield.
These volunteers are revitalizing a section of the Wabash and Erie Canal by providing historic interpretation and encouraging public access. They’ve already built a replica canal boat, boat barn, and a dock; now they’re hard at work on a mini-bank barn for rental bikes/paddleboats and a Toll Booth to sell tickets for the rides.
Canal volunteers are using the planks from the sides of the hog shed for the flooring of the ‘new’ building. When I asked Dan McCain, Board President, about using the planks from the old hog shed for their ‘new’ building, he wrote “our volunteers are always doing this with other people's discarded iron, pipe, logs, planks, etc. We have a stockpile out back and it comes in so handy for many of our projects.”
A week later I heard from Dan that the volunteers had finished sawing planks from the twin Red Oaks blown down in a storm. Those trees made five nice sawable logs. The trees were donated by an organization called NICHES, an area land preservation group, and the boards will soon become board 'n batten siding for the new Toll Booth. It’s an excellent use of resources – the trees aren’t wasted, NICHES got help keeping their woods clear, and the Canal volunteers saved money using good local materials.
Small historical groups were green before it was fashionable -- with so few resources they had to be. Preservationists were green before it was fashionable -- they just didn’t articulate the energy/carbon savings part. The volunteers at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park project in Indiana have got ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’ down pat, and that makes for a far more sustainable organization on all fronts.
Visit their website www.wabashanderiecanal.org for a great story of vision, commitment and plain hard work.
About the Author: As a consultant Sarah works with museums, zoos, aquariums, gardens, and historic sites to make them more sustainable. The work can address sustainability financially through grants development, environmentally through green practice, and socially through mainstreaming activities bringing every nonprofit and its community closer together. She is the author of Is Your Museum Grant-Ready? and co-author of The Green Museum. You can find her on the Web at www.bmuse.net, and on Twitter as @greenmuseum. She lives with her family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where they have mastered composting, recycling, and living with one car. Shorter showers are still a problem….