Net-Zero Hero: Raasin McIntosh

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:48 am

Photo of Raasin McIntosh posing near a couple of brightly-painted pillars. Graphic next to her reads "Raasin McIntosh Net-Zero Hero"

I’m helping to make Austin Net-Zero by: beautifying communities

Headshot of Raasin McIntosh wearing a black hat that says "Texas 1989"

Meet Raasin McIntosh, Olympic and collegiate athlete and Founder of the non-profit organization Raasin in the Sun. Raasin was first inspired to create community beautification projects when she travelled to West Africa in 2012 to compete in front of thousands of fans. There, she became inspired by the local children who were “full of light and energy”. It was then that she decided that she wanted to spend her time inspiring others to shine their light.

Rooted in East Austin, Raasin in the Sun works to beautify urban communities through projects that unite residents. We met up with Raasin at a recently completed mural project on Rosewood Avenue underneath Pleasant Valley Road. Read on to discover what drives her, what her toughest challenges have been, and what advice she has for others.

What inspired you to take action?

Understanding that we have the ability to take action, improve the environment, and inspire others to do the same. To shine light so that others can be truly inspired to shine their own light and rise above adversity.

Community clean-up.  Raasin in work gloves helping with a community clean-up.

How did you do it?

I created Raasin in the Sun to have a platform for creating various types of beautification projects ranging from building community gardens, organizing community clean ups, painting murals, and restoring residential and vacant lots. I’m so inspired when I’m working collaboratively to transform unused places to areas of community pride where people can gather, grow healthy food, and enjoy greener and unique spaces. Bringing together volunteers to do the shared work of beautification means creating strong bonds through tackling problems together creatively.

One of the really memorable projects for me was when we helped restore the home of prominent East Austinites Wilhelmina and Exalton Delco. Wilhelmina is the first African American elected to public office in Austin, and served 10 terms in the Texas Legislature. Another project we completed with our community partners last year involved transforming pillars along Rosewood Avenue underneath Pleasant Valley Road into works of art. For this project, we got to work with six local artists to beautify the pillars. We’ve also worked on garden projects for Ortega Elementary and Cultivo Café in East Austin.

Elderly couple sitting outside their home.  Group photo underneath an overpass.

What's been the toughest part?

The toughest part has been developing and growing our vacant lot initiatives. Vacant lot projects can be a long and challenging process. There are often time constraints since most of the lots are in urban areas with plans for future development. In addition, a crucial component is corporation funding and cooperation from the City to truly help these types of projects come to life so that the community can benefit while the lots are still vacant.

Have there been any unexpected benefits?

Mural beautification has proven to be one of the most impactful types of projects we do, since it allows us to create opportunities for artists to do what they do best. The greatest reward is seeing the efforts and mission of the organization truly play out in the most beautifully creative ways.

Brightly colored collage of Raasin and other artists painting murals on pillars underneath an overpass.

What advice do you have for others?

Let your passion drive your creativity in making the world a better place.

Photo of Raasin smiling next to a quote that reads "Let your passion drive your creativity in making the world a better place."

To learn more about Austin's Net-Zero Goal, view the Community Climate Plan.

Share your Net-Zero contributions with us on Twitter or Facebook and use #NetZeroHero. If you know a Net-Zero Hero (or heroes!) who should be recognized for their efforts, send your nomination to sustainability@austintexas.gov.

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