Saturday, December 26, 2009

10 to Watch in 10

Land of Opportunity

When I arrived in New Orleans in the summer of 2006, I started attending every planning meeting I could. While sitting there witnessing history, an American city trying to rebuild itself, I thought to myself, someone should be making a movie about this. And someone was. Land Of Opportunity has been spearheaded by Luisa Dantes, and follows the lives of several New Orleanians over the past few years. They also try to make sense of what it means to rebuild New Orleans. Watch the trailer (they have footage of inside the council chambers the day the council voted to demolish the big 4 public housing complexes).

Tradition is a Temple

Not only has Darren Hoffman's company, Tutti Dynamics, created the first iphone App in New Orleans, but he is also working on the finishing touches on a beautiful and powerful documentary about jazz in New Orleans. It includes new performances by legendary artists, Jason Marsalis, Shannon Powell, and the Treme Brass Brand. Watch the trailer

The Right Question Project

Most people assume that the average citizens' only way to participate is at the voting both. Yet, each day, millions of Americans have interactions with the welfare office, food stamp officials, community health centers and public schools. In most cases, citizens do not have the tools to actively participate and get the answers they need. They feel disempowered and helpless. The traditional approach is to tell people how to solve the problems, but The Right Question project has developed a tool that gives each participant the ability to ask their own questions and actively seek out the answers they deserve. This method treats each individual equally and prepares citizens "who expect accountable decision-making and have specific skills to use to try to insure that there are good decisions and accountable decisions being made. The hundred million encounters individuals have with public agencies on a micro level – currently the endpoint of their interaction with decision-making in the public sector - can be transformed into examples of Microdemocracy."

Crescent City Cafe

When we started NOLA YURP a few years ago, we looked for ways that young people from all over the city could connect with each other. The founders of Crescent City Cafe have not only found a way for young people to connect, but they also help feed the homeless with dignity while they are at it. Recently, the media has taken notice, and they are starting to get the attention they deserve.

Next American City Magazine

Many improvements to cities can be drawn from the best practices of others. We can learn from their mistakes, while taking into account what others do well. Next American City has provided that blueprint, with academic, but readable investigative stories. They also combine their print magazine, with conferences and workshops around the country, and a superb website with daily blogs.

James Perry

With the field set, there is nobody else that will bring the change that James believes in. It is easy to criticize the candidates and to swing back and forth with every move they make, but James has consistently shown he has the policy knowledge and awareness that the others lack. New Orleans deserves politicians who understand what the average citizen is going through, and know the issues. Watch James at a recent debate

The Lens

A key ingredient to a healthy democracy is a news source that reports fairly, accurately and does not mind asking the tough questions. With many dailies cutting their investigative journalists, the public is in danger of being led astray. We need journalists to hold elected officials accountable and The Lens in New Orleans will keep this crucial tradition alive.


This documentary showcases a non-violent movement that portrays a partnership between Israelis and Palestinians. It already has won several awards and gives an accurate depiction of different sides of the conflict. You can read the synopsis, here

Green Street

Three and half years ago, I sat in their studio (upstairs bedroom) watching them mix records and talk about their music. This past year, they won the UMass Battle of the Bands and had some great performances in New York. I've been watching from afar and look forward to seeing what they come up with in 2010.


Over the past few years, we have seen the power of the email list. A good list is now worth a lot of money, and can be a valuable tool to spreading your product, organization or message. Unfortunately, most of the times, we are flooded with emails that we hardly even bother to read. What gets people to sign up to receive your information? According to people at TBD, inside information about a great cause. It's often hard to filter what is out there, and it helps to have a trusted source.