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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Everything's Coming Up Pink

Twitchell Corp. donates bright pink Earthtex® fabric to New Orleans revitalization project.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Associate Editor

D othan, Ala.-based Twitchell Corp. has donated 55,000 square yards of neon pink Earthtex® thermoplastic olefin (TPO) fabric in support of a project initiated by actor Brad Pitt to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans after the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The bulk of the fabric has been made into 150 tent-like houses that are scattered across the ward as part of the Pink Project, a giant art installation to promote the project's goal of raising enough money to build 150 eco-friendly homes in the ward.

Pitt initiated the Make It Right Project (MIR) after meeting Lower Ninth Ward residents and learning of the challenges they have encountered in trying to rebuild their homes. He and project partner, film producer and philanthropist Steve Bing, have each pledged $5 million in matching funds to the rebuilding project. Core team members include Director Tom Darden III; architecture firms William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Va. and San Francisco, and Graft, an international firm with offices in Los Angeles, Berlin and Beijing; Raleigh, N.C.-based Cherokee Investment Partners' nonprofit Cherokee Gives Back Foundation; and Jolie-Pitt Foundation advisors Trevor Neilson and Nina Killeen. Home construction and the materials used will comply with Cradle-to-Cradle SM (C2C SM) protocols developed by McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, founders of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry LLC (MBDC) — a Charlottesville-based consultancy that promotes the use of eco-effective, sustainable design, processes and materials in building and manufacturing of products.

newpinkhouses

As part of the Make It Right Project's Pink Project, 150 neon pink Earthtex® houses have been scattered around New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward to represent 150 new eco-friendly homes that will be built with funds raised through the project. These homes are expected to be the first in a project that could eventually grow to encompass as many as 5,000 new homes — the total destroyed in the Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina — and ultimately could become a blueprint for other communities to use for similar purposes.

MIR organized a nationally broadcast event earlier this month in New Orleans as a kickoff to a fundraising effort to attract additional donors to the project.

Twitchell's involvement in the project resulted from a recommendation by MBDC, which has certified Earthtex at the Silver level according to its C2C protocol. The volatile-organic-compound (VOC)-free fabric for interior applications such as shades and wall coverings is made with a pigmented TPO yarn that may be coated with the same material as the core, making end-products fully recyclable into new, virgin-quality product at the end of their useful lives.

According to Jeff Register, vice president, sales and marketing, Twitchell, the Earthtex polymer can be pigmented to match any color palette specified, but for the Pink Project it needed to have a high degree of gloss, and the company was asked to make a version of the fabric that had more "pop" than the company's standard Earthtex fabrics, which typically have been some variation of mesh. To do this, the company coated the surface of the fabric with Earthtex polymer to make it solid.

"The fabric has been attached over frameworks on what might be the base, second story or roofline of a house," Register said, as he described the installation. "The Lower Ninth Ward has been totally cleared of debris from the storm, and they installed the houses askew, much like the houses were left after Katrina. It's a scattered mess, but it's a very bright visual."

Each pink house represents a home that will be built as funds are raised, Register said. The cost of each house is pegged at $150,000, and it is hoped that by the time the Pink Project installation is taken down on Jan. 7, 2008, all 150 homes will have been funded. The homes will feature environmentally sustainable components such as rooftop solar panels, rainwater harvesting, high-efficiency heating/cooling systems, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and low-VOC paint, among others.

After the Pink Project installation is dismantled, the Earthtex fabric will be reused to make tote bags to be sold to raise additional funds for MIR. The bags, along with other items, will be available online at www.makeitrightnola.org/mir_SUB.php?section=merch&page=main.

Twitchell also engaged some of its key customers to join it in its participation in MIR. "We've had outdoor furniture manufacturers that have given us furniture at a greatly reduced price, and we have put the same pink fabric on some directors chairs for the project," Register said. The chairs also will be sold off after event is over.

Twitchell's participation in the MIR project is in line with its own strategy with regard to environmental sustainability. "It is a strategic direction for Twitchell to provide alternative, green products for traditional applications as well as developing new applications," Register said. "We will continue to expand the Earthtex family; that product very well could become all-weather wicker for casual furniture or sling fabrics for furniture. We currently have a high degree of presence in internal and external shading products and we're beginning to get requests for green alternatives for those products. We're working on a solar canopy for Wal-Mart for its lawn and garden center, with the first store rollout in Bentonville [Arkansas, the company's headquarters location] in January."

Register also mentioned the company is working with companies such as Knoll Textiles, Interface Fabrics and Designtex to introduce new Earthtex wall coverings, panel fabrics and window coverings; and it also is designing an Earthtex version of a transitional-type floor covering for hospitality, health care and transitional living markets.


For more information about Earthtex® fabrics, contact Jeff Register (334) 836-1902, jeffr@twitchellcorp.com, www.twitchellcorp.com/earthtex . For more information about the Make It Right Project, visit www.makeitrightnola.org .

December 11, 2007




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