The Building Block isn't the only green-focused office inside the New Orleans Healing Center (NOHC), which held its grand opening last month. In addition to the 20 small businesses working from the Building Block's office, the NOHC also houses several small businesses focused on sustainability and environmentally friendly services.
The EarthLab gardens and nurseries serve as a research playground for soil health and water management, composting and indigenous plant life. Fatoush is a coffeehouse and cafe run by Suleyman and Fatma Aydin, who opened several restaurants throughout the New Orleans area and now focus on excluding refined sugars and flours, hydrogenated oils and sweeteners from their menus. Next door is the New Orleans Food Co-op, which was in the works even before Hurricane Katrina. The co-op first set up a mobile market for its members, then expanded to a small space inside the NOHC, the former Universal Furniture. The co-op offered some local produce supplemented with health foods from larger vendors. Now the 5,500-square-foot community-owned grocery plans a grand opening Oct. 1.
The center's newest tenant is Build Now, a nonprofit organization that helps rebuild energy-efficient, Energy Star-rated homes in flooded neighborhoods, primarily Gentilly, Lakeview and the 9th Ward.
"We want to be part of the rebuilding on this corridor," Build Now's David Fields says of the move to St. Claude Avenue. Founded in 2008, Build Now assists property owners through the rebuilding process at a low cost and supplies "everything from the ground up," Fields says. It has built almost 50 homes since 2008. — Alex Woodward