LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A giant 30 foot by seven foot wall, dubbed the living green wall because it features hundreds of plants, was erected by volunteers last weekend in Louisville’s Park DuValle neighborhood. Community member, Valarie Franklin, is the creative mind behind the project located at the Southwick Community Center.
“It represents new life, new hope, and what we can do when we come together,” Franklin said.
The nurse thought of the idea while attending a class with Neighborhood Institute. The free leadership-education program, run by the non-profit Center For Neighborhoods, asks its members to create a self-directed project in their community to address a pressing issue. Franklin said her occupation, her mother’s lost battle to lung cancer, and Park DuValle’s proximity to several chemical plants, inspired the project.
“These are sedums on the wall, and we also have the sphagnum moss. Both of those are pulling toxins from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and things like that,” Franklin told Spectrum News 1.
The wall is more than just a community project that cleans the air. Franklin said the wall symbolizes unity because it comes out of the word community.
“I also wanted a spot not just to clean the air but somewhere where people can come and gather and just get to know each other again as a community and reach out to each other,” Franklin explained. The wall faces a large open grassy area.
It really did take a village to make the living green wall happen. The Center for Neighborhoods and a community liaison, Brianna Harlan, were instrumental in helping Franklin turn her idea into a reality. All of the materials and labor were also donated by local organizations or companies, including contributions from American Synthetic Rubber Company and Zeon Chemicals.
“Health is so important and anything that we can do to make our health better, any little thing we can adjust to improve our lives then we should do it,” Franklin said. “And that’s what’s so important about this wall…It’s just a little adjustment that will help with our air quality.”
Center for Neighborhoods is currently accepting applications through August 12 for its fall 2019 Neighborhood Institute cohort. The free program is open to all Metro Council Districts and neighborhoods.