15 Resolutions That Will Change New Orleans

ChangeWorks, a partner column by Propeller and NolaVie, presents 15 resolutions from 15 social entrepreneurs that will change our city. Read on for the article by Propeller’s Catherine Gans.

8 January 2015

For better or for worse, New Year's resolutions are on the decline. Among resolution makers, only 10 percent of resolutions are kept for an entire calendar year. With numbers like that, it’s easy to get down on these annual plans for improvement.

So we scale down. Look up New Year's resolutions online, and articles abound about “getting realistic” or “resolutions you can stick to.”

But what if that’s not the problem? What if we’re not thinking big enough?

Resolutions to lose weight, spend less, or get organized (2015’s three most common resolutions) are contained in their impact. They affect few but yourself, and maybe that’s the issue.

This year, as we think about turning a new leaf and resolving to do and be better, we’re asking New Orleans what that might look like if we aimed to change an entire city.

Below you’ll meet 15 entrepreneurs with 15 resolutions for New Orleans. Keep them, and you’ll do more than benefit yourself; you’ll cultivate a better future for the city you love and the people in it.

Dana Eness
Dana is executive director of the Urban Conservancy, a New Orleans nonprofit that promotes the wise stewardship of the urban built environment and local economies through research, education, and advocacy.

Resolution: I resolve to work collaboratively with my peers in both the for-profit and nonprofit arenas to make New Orleans a city that is stronger, safer, and more equitable by embracing its unique relationship with water.

Lauren Rudzis
An LSU grad and former Peace Corps volunteer, Lauren currently serves as Site Director of Community Plates New Orleans.

Resolution: Personally, I would like to see some unrest. I made New Orleans my home, because life down here is disruptive to the normalcy you see in every other city. You can't help but love it. Unfortunately, this sort of avant-garde lifestyle stops short of community development. There's little desire to see change in communities because we all-too-easily resign ourselves to accepting the dilapidated properties, struggling education system, and lack of access to nutrition. You can expect community leaders to be the solitary stakeholders in any community, but change doesn't happen unless you move, run, build, speak or even listen. What people don't know is how easy it is to become a social entrepreneur; it begins when you start saying hell-no to the status quo.

Jason Seidman
As the CEO of 52businesses, each week he has the honor of assisting a new would-be entrepreneur, start/grow his or her new business. He also serves as the Executive Director of NOLATech Week, which allows the community to create their own events and show how they relate to the technology and/or entrepreneurial community.

Resolution: My new year’s resolution for impacting New Orleans is to do everything I can to help create jobs and support organizations that are making incredible strides to better our city.

Richard Simms
Richard is the co-founder of Tech Talent South, a company he started with Betsy Idilbi with the vision of helping to grow tech talent in the Southeast and empower folks with the skills they need to drive innovation.

Resolution: My resolution is to put New Orleans on the map as an exciting and growing tech hub.

Alex Rawitz
Alex is the Manager of Accelerators at The Idea Village, where he is responsible for program management, design, development and success of its intensive consulting programs.

Resolution: I want New Orleans to be better at attracting talent from across the country to work for its companies. To make this happen we need great, well-paying jobs, and startup CEOs who are committed to finding the best.

Andrea Chen
Andrea is the founder and executive director of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, a New Orleans-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting social innovation in our city.

Resolution: To get New Orleanians city engaged in compassionate action for a more equitable city.

Zach Cheney
Zach is the Co-founder and Director of Client Services of NetWork Voluntours (formerly Crescent City Connections), New Orleans’ one and only volunteer management organization, working to create customized volunteer experiences for visitors to our city.

Resolution: To inspire and support each and every New Orleanian to get out and beautify our neighborhood public spaces. Let’s keep the funk in our music, not littering our neutral grounds.

Austin Crouse
Austin is the Launch Coordinator for 4.0 Schools -- he helps education entrepreneurs grow their ideas. More importantly, he wears a 4.0 headband at all times and give away as many as he can every day.

Resolution: I want to see the people of New Orleans continue to create new education opportunities for themselves and others.

Miriam Belblidia
Miriam is the co-founder and CEO of Water Works, L3C and is a leader in floodplain management, hazard mitigation, and stormwater best management practices. She is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), a Fulbright Fellow in water management, and worked as a Hazard Mitigation Specialist for the City of New Orleans. 

Resolution: My resolution is to find creative opportunities for communities to engage directly with our water system. I want our approaches to flooding and water quality concerns to respect and be informed by community knowledge.

Kevin Wilkins
Kevin is the founder and managing director of trepwise, llc. He has 25 years of experience with corporate and entrepreneurial ventures and, since recently moving to New Orleans, has worked with more than 300 local entrepreneurs.

Resolution: Real IMPACT = Vision + Passion + Focus + Execution.  My resolution is to help drive economic growth in New Orleans by making real IMPACT on both growing companies and organizations who want to become more entrepreneurial.

Tippy Tippens
Tippy is the Chief Eternal Optimist at Matter Inc. She is a social entrepreneur and designer who is passionate about helping to build sustainable growth, making the objects that we live with us work for us instead of against us and ultimately wishing to contribute to greater happiness. She is honored to be in the GOOD 100, 2013, named as one of 100 people pushing the world forward.

Resolution: In 2015, I aim to and hope to see more entrepreneurs focused on wetland restoration, as it’s a fundamental need for our area. Our region’s beautiful culture is so closely tied to a healthy coast and it matters for everyone.

September Hargrove
September is the Chief Operating Officer for the PowerMoves.NOLA Initiative at the New Orleans Startup Fund. 

Resolution: My resolution for New Orleans would be for the city to continue to embrace diversity.

Jason Nicosia
Jason is a serial entrepreneur and the Chief Marketing Officer of CommitChange, a new platform combining all of nonprofits’ fundraising needs into a single system.

Resolution: Change our habits for the better. Our lives change when our habits change. If we create habits that are positive, then the city will be better for it.

Denali Lander
Denali is the Executive Director of Youth Run NOLA, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth through running. She loves running in Audubon Park.

Resolution: My resolution for our city is that every kid has the opportunity to be physically active. Every day. From time set aside during the school day to move, to high quality programming after school and at parks, kids will want and pursue the opportunity to get active each day. I hope people across the city continue to diversify the types of activities available to all types of kids so that all can find their place and team – all the while being healthy, safe, and happy. Kids will lead the movement for making New Orleans a healthier place to live.

Mark Strella
A Tulane grad, Mark is the Program Manager at Stay Local!, greater New Orleans' Independent Business Alliance that connects locally-owned, independent business to customers, resources and each other.

Resolution: My 2015 resolution is to do my part as a consumer to support the local businesses that make New Orleans, New Orleans. We all love having a city that is unlike any place else, and so much of that is because of how many unique locally-owned independent businesses we have here. So before making a purchase, whether it's something small like a hammer or a new shirt, or a bigger ticket item like, say, car insurance, I'll always check and see if I can get it from a local business first, before resorting to a big box or shopping online. That way, my dollars are supporting our friends and neighbors who own or work at local businesses, my tax dollars are being put to work here in New Orleans, and the city we all love prospers.