LEAN launches crowdfunding effort for new historical facility

    The Louisiana Environmental Action Network is turning to crowdfunding to raise $150,000 for a facility that will tell the story of the 33-year-old grassroots organization and the many community activists who have been critical to the state’s environmental movement.

    The LEAN Community Archive and Empowerment Center, as the facility will be called, will be located within LEAN’s 1,600-square-foot headquarters building on Croydon Avenue and will include a multimedia archive of environmental justice videos, photos, oral histories, a library, reading room and a hall of heroes. The facility will also provide meeting space and will be a community resource for the general public.

    “It’s not just about LEAN. We just happen to be part of the story,” says LEAN Executive Director Mary Lee Orr, who was one of the founders of the organization in 1985. “It’s about all the people who have made change and have been part of this important movement in Louisiana.”

    Orr—whose son, Michael Orr, now helps run the organization—says the idea for the center came from demand for such a facility from historians, documentary filmmakers and younger environmental activists, who have turned to LEAN time and again for help with research projects and questions about the environmental movement and the fight for environmental justice in Louisiana.

    “As a community-based nonprofit, LEAN is creating this resource through the vision and guidance of the communities it has served,” she says. “The finished space will continue to be a tool for these communities.”
    Funds for the project are being raised on Indiegogo and will be used for the physical creation of the space as well as the technology and multimedia work necessary to create an engaging and educational center.

    The $150,000 will not cover the cost of the project but will provide the seed money needed to get construction off the ground, says Orr, who hopes construction can begin as soon as January.

    “In the 32 years I’ve been doing this some amazing things have happened and there are many people who helped make it happen,” Orr says. “This is a celebration of these peoples’ stories and how they made change.”

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