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#NOLA: Evacuteer Launches in Time for 2013 Hurricane Season

Evacuteer

Evacuteer.org is “a non-profit that aids and enhances the CAE, proposes a collaborative effort between the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to commission 17 public art pieces to not only beautify the neighborhoods that house the pick-up points, but to serve as visually-striking and memorable cultural landmarks that also serve as the neighborhood pick-up point meeting place in the case of an evacuation of New Orleans.”

The premise:

Non-emergency: During calm days either during hurricane season or out of hurricane season, beautiful and visually striking public art pieces will be seen by many of the targeted demographic because we already can assume that the residents who are will use the CAE have high rates of foot, bike and bus activity. The goals of a public art piece along with and clearly defined explanation of what it is and why its there will be to become a neighborhood landmark. Eventually, the neighborhood and community members will begin to equate the art with the CAE. Ideally, “That’s where you report to if you need to evacuate” or similar interactions will follow conversations about the public art at each of the 17 pick-up points.
Emergency:  During an emergency these pick-up point locations and the public art signifying them will be used to make the decision to use the City Assisted Evacuation Plan as easy as possible. The hardest part of anything is starting, and we need to implement a strategy that makes evacuating as easy as possible for residents. Knowing exactly where to report during an evacuation is the first step.  It is estimated the over 30,000 residents will begin their evacuation journey at one of these pick-up points.

The sculptures are set to go up over the next month, in time for the 2013 hurricane season.

Robert Fogarty, co-Founder and Board President, posted the following on the Dear New Orleans Facebook page:

Dear New Orleans,

Nearly three years ago, we pitched the idea to make New Orleans more beautifully prepared.

It was met with upside eyes.

I’ve become better at reading folks who have a genuine interest.

When a person looks at you and what your idea is, many often tell you with their eyes if they’re actually interested or just being polite.

Upside eyes are good. Certainly, some were just being polite and we moved on.

But others, when you see it, you hold on to their enthusiasm.

You ask them to join.

I never realized what the power of one supporter becoming two and two becoming four…

“The City has this evacuation plan that replaced what happened in the Superdome and Convention Center,” I’d say. “It’s free and open to the public and people can get a ride just by showing up at a neighborhood pick up point.”

“Problem is,” I’d say, “the location sign is only size of a small parking sign, and we want to make it more visible by putting art there.”

Upside eyes.

So we kept telling more people.

We partnered with the Arts Council and the City. They committed, but asked us–it was our crazy idea–to raise the other funds it would take to make it happen.

For evacuteer.org, a small, young group with no paid staff it was a challenge. And there were certainly a few bumps in the road where I wondered if the project would continue.

But when those bumps happened, we already had thousands of dollars from hundreds of donors in our bank account.

If there’s anything New Orleanians don’t like or need, it’s broken promises.

We kept pushing, kept fighting.

Now the project, “EvacuSpots,” is nearly real.

In a few short weeks, you’ll start to see 14 foot steel sculptures going up in neighborhoods around our fair city.

When it’s done there will be 15 of them and two more signs that to complete the visual marks of the evacuation points.

They look like stick men, rising up to catch Mardi Gras beads.

These sculptures signify an evacuation plan that I hope we never have to use.

They are our answer to the saying our parents all told us once upon a time.

When you make a mistake you learn from it.

So when you see one of these sculptures, they are a tangible recognition of those who’ve left us, but an investment in the safety of those with us now and those who’ll come after us.

Never again will anyone need to say, “We don’t have anywhere to go.”

We lost too many once.

Love,

Robert X. Fogarty
Co-Founder and Board President, Evacuteer.org
Founder, Dear New Orleans

Artist: Douglas Kornfeld
PS: More about the art here via Doug McCash of NOLA.com/TP: http://www.nola.com/arts/index.ssf/2013/05/giant_silver_evacuspots_stick.html