The Lilies Project strives to use art and creative placemaking to

  • increase public awareness of the impacts of coal ash

  • aid in healing local communities who have carried the burden of our electricity's hidden costs 

  • reuse local, encapsulated coal ash to create community spaces

  • collaborate with industries that encapsulate local coal ash

  • support a shift to renewable energy and envision a post-fossil-fuel future


Creative Approaches

In January 2017, artist Caroline Armijo answered a simple question: "Do you have an idea for how art can address a public problem?" The answer was yes. The idea for The Lilies of the Field came to her in an instant. She created this short video as part of an application for the National Creative Placemaking Fund Grant.

As a finalist, the application process led to the envisioning of a combination of multiple personal interests, which includes creating art made out of encapsulated coal ash to be displayed in public parks. Accompanying programs including oral history, artistic collaborations, public health, environmental justice, and energy innovations. We intend to replicate programming in other communities impacted by coal ash. 

View Our Capstone Project →

Inspiration behind the capstone project, Lilies of the Field, came from the need to find a storage solution for coal ash


“May we pursue the most excellent way ... on how coal ash should be handled, not only in North Carolina, but all over the world.”

— caroline armijo, project leader
From Prayer In Hope for a better way

Map of Duke Energy Utilities across North Carolina,  Source: Charlotte Magazine

Map of Duke Energy Utilities across North Carolina, Source: Charlotte Magazine

Working Together

Duke Energy houses over 180 million tons of coal ash in North Carolina. That is the equivalent of 55 Bank of America Stadiums, the home of the Carolina Panthers. Close to 1000 families living within a half mile of coal ash ponds have contaminated water and are living on bottled water. Many community members report significant health concerns that have impacted and shortened their lives, which led to the organizing at Belews Creek in early 2013. 

Formed in 2015, the Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash (ACT against Coal Ash), a statewide organization made up predominantly of impacted community members, developed a list of unifying principles, which guide our advocacy and actions. Celebrate our statewide accomplishments so far. 


For our community members, we seek:


groundwater standards for critical populations

permanent clean water supply

no coal ash basins capped in place


Through our advocacy, we hope to:


stop the importation of coal ash


minimize transportation of coal ash


stop the burial of coal ash in landfills


Seeking Solutions

We collaborate with a wide-range of organizations and industries seeking  a holistic solution to the negligent handling of coal ash, which is plaguing our health, our communities, our country, and our world.

As a part of our research and advocacy efforts, we intend to include positive approaches to handling this problem, by turning something detrimental into something beautiful and beneficial within impacted communities. For example, every skate park created with local ash counts towards our ultimate goal of encapsulating all coal ash for a healthier and happier future. 

Join us. 

View More Facts →