South Louisiana has a litter problem and many of us don't even see it. We often ignore it, letting it breed and multiply. Litter steeps its way into our culture, making it second nature for a citizen to throw out a cigarette or two. Because this has gone on for decades, litter can sadly begin to blend into the scenery as we know and become virtually invisible to us.
Parish Proud is a new non-profit that seeks to turn our litter problems into creative beautification solutions through the mission of improving the quality of place around Lafayette one step at a time. Here are a few things you need to know about Parish Proud.
Parish Proud's leaders are Acadiana's leaders.
With a vision of a cleaner Lafayette, Parish Proud started as the brainchild of Stuller Inc. founder and business icon, Matt Stuller. Stuller, a proud Lafayette citizen, doesn't just talk about picking up litter, he does it himself on the weekends, adding his weight behind his mission.
With a new executive director at its helm, Katy Dupre stands to continue that mission. Dupre, a self-titled "Boomerang" talent, returned home some two years ago to help lead. Since her triumphant return, she's participated in the 24-hour citizen project creating, "Adopt-a-Stormdrain" and received various local recognitions.
Parish Proud challenges citizens to use their eyesight in new ways.
Executive Director Dupre likes to issue a simple challenge to those she meets: Sit in the passenger's seat next time you're in the car and focus on the litter scattered along the grass and roadside areas. Dupre guarantees that once you see the garbage that floods our Acadiana streets, you can never unsee it. Even what should count as our cleanest places, like our shared parks and shared spaces, litter piles up.
"It's not just in Mardi Gras and festival season that we have a litter problem," Dupre said, "It's all the time."
Parish Proud looks to empower its partners.
Working with other local nonprofits such as Love our Schools and public entities like Bayou Vermilion District, and others, Parish Proud hopes this nonprofit can empower these stakeholders in new and refreshing ways.
Recently, Parish Proud sponsored the aptly named "Volunteer Center" for their partner, United Way of Acadiana. The software, which functions as a matching site for volunteers and organizations looking to be paired together, helps cut through some of the extra steps both organizations and volunteers experienced when coming together.
As of August 10, 2020 the platform already registered a total of 158 users and multiple volunteer teams ready to jump into action and serve our community.
Parish Proud wants to use "tech-for-good."
Looking to transform the landscape of the area, Parish Proud hopes to deploy technical data-driven solutions wherever they can. Currently working on a "litter-index" Parish Proud is creating an app that when used, citizens can tag and describe litter where they see it, sending that information back to the Parish Proud data-base.
Thought to be volunteerism for a new generation, Parish Proud hopes this will help groups looking to physically pick up litter know which spots will create the most effective pickups.
Parish Proud hopes to tackle Lafayette's Quality of Place as a whole.
The physical characteristics of a community that affects the quality of life for people living, working and visiting there make-up the overall quality of the place. Though litter comes as a big part of the quality of place of an area, this also includes blighted homes, overgrown weeds while also enhancing walkable and bikeable areas and adding more public art.
Though the overall quality of place extends to other areas, such as rent levels and local land-use, patterns Parish Proud looks to live in the "visually appealing" area as their focus.
Citizens who want to join the fight against litter can contact Parish Proud to get a litter toolkit designed to help citizens safely pick-up their neighborhoods and communities through their #PickUpLFT program. And for more information on Parish Proud and how it's mission affects the community visit www.ParishProud.org.