Hailey Allison is the Executive Director of The Green Project, a New Orleans-based environmental non-profit focused on reducing landfill waste and cultivating a respect for the value of existing materials. Hailey currently serves on the Regional Sustainability Committee representing Resource Management and is a former Céline Cousteau Film Fellow. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies, a minor in Multimedia Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Sustainable, community-based solutions to climate change are only successful if the business practices behind them are also sustainable. My project focuses on developing sustainable business practices for an existing New Orleans nonprofit, The Green Project. For over 25 years, The Green Project has provided affordable building materials, recycled paint and environmental education to the community. Beloved by homeowners, contractors, designers and artists alike, we have worked to keep community at the center of everything we do. But unfortunately, we gave and gave to our community until we had nothing left. We almost went out of business, serving no one.
My objective is to build a nonprofit model that ensures financial sustainability while supporting staff and serving our community. We have to understand that in order to serve the community to the best of our ability, we have to have internal stability. I want to show other nonprofits that with proper planning, goal setting and investment internally, you can build a thriving business that can have even greater community impact. By changing the narrative around what it means to be a nonprofit, I hope to inspire other environmental nonprofit leaders to build long-lasting sustainability into their organizations, too.
Having worked for numerous nonprofit organizations over the past decade, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact these organizations can have on communities. I have experienced what it is like to work for multimillion dollar organizations with robust staffing as well as grassroots organizations driven by volunteer labor. Ultimately, the work itself is often the same—furthering the mission of the organization. But the approach can differ greatly. I believe that business sustainability is often overlooked or misunderstood among smaller nonprofits, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Organizations can serve the community while operating with abundance instead of scarcity.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
It’s quite simple—we have one Earth. Once destroyed, it’s gone forever. I’m motivated by the fact that humanity will thrive once we re-define our relationship with nature, seeing ourselves as a part of it rather than owners of it. Every piece of the global ecosystem is tied to one another, including us. This creates a balance. If one piece falls out of place, another moves in to rebalance. Through this, ecosystems create resilience—the ability to adapt quickly in the face of change. Sustainability maintains such resilience, keeping ecosystems in balance for years to come—a beautiful thing.
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