Friday, September 12, 2008

Why am I talking about New Orleans, you ask

I was part of the Stanford GSB Service Learning trip to New Orleans (or NOLA as we fondly call it) last Spring. Was an amazing experience, extremely intense. The New Orleans 100 list I referred to earlier lists many of the organizations we visited.

the GSB's primary contact is with The Idea Village, a non-profit that works with entrepreneurs. Daryn Dodson, a GSBer at the time and now a full-time Idea Villager, started the tradition by taking a group of classmates to help with the cleanup. Subsequent worked with entrepreneurs and surprised them with some cash grants to get them going with their work.

See our trip's official blog as well. We first visited the Upper and Lower 9th Wards, and met other entrepreneurs, social and otherwise, working in the area, including New Schools for New Orleans, NOLA 180, Make It Right, Global Green etc, all listed in New Orleans 100. One of the most powerful visits was to Hope House where Sister Lillian Flavin happened to be one of our trip leaders' aunt. The film Dead Man Walking is based on the character of one of the nuns who worked there. Sister Lillian read us something she had written about her own epistolary relationship with a death row inmate. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Jonika's and Patrick's stories too were almost unreal, and left us spinning, thinking of so many things at the same time. I loved the story-telling relationship between Patrick and the gentleman (can't believe I've forgotten his name!) who drew his story out. Such strong people.

Most of our work was with four entrepreneurs with plans to return to the Upper Ninth. That phase of the project was even more exhausting, but everyone put in so much effort, and we all felt so good after it was done.

One of the articles about our trip:

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