Our second day in New Orleans with two different visits, started with a Chai Latte at Starbucks. We had a short group briefing on our visits today and at 11 am we were expected at the Arts Council of New Orleans. Heidi Schmalbach, fellow in civic design, welcomed us in a very warm-hearted way, as our e-mail contact was. It was great meeting her in person now. When everybody sat down, Kim Cook, president of the Arts Council, introduced herself and the organisation. Her story was very personal and her passionate way of sharing touched me. She spoke about her childhood, About how she had to participate in ballet classes, while rumba suited her much better. This showed us how art and culture are essential to being human. It is her mission to bridge the gap between the artist and the available resources and financial options by making the connection between People, Place and Artist.
The Arts Council supports artists in writing proposals and making the system become useful to them. In New Orleans people are recovering from trauma, and so is the city itself. By using art and design, neighbourhoods can be redesigned. Unfortunately there is enough money to rebuild houses, but not to think of a way to include and empower the community. The Arts Council is in need of funds to be achieve everything they want to. That’s why Kim looks for partnerships; it helps the artists of New Orleans to expose their work. She told us she knew about the Prince Claus Fund and that she is a big fan of Mama Cash‘. Nick, deputy director of the Arts Council, also told us about his work. He is involved in the St. Claude Avenue area that has suffered greatly in the past and where artists are flowing into recently, bringing change,
Then we, the Dutch delegation, introduced ourselves and tried to connect our work with the Arts Council. We all came up with ideas for international exchange and co-creation. Next year we’ll be sending a whole plane of students off to the Arts Council ;). While we ate pizza, I presented HU University of Applied Science by telling about our Star system and different honours tracks. Carien Touwen focused on our Center of Expertise Creative Industry. Again a lot of connections.
What stroke me most was not the content of the programs, nor the results, but rather the open, warm and passionate way these three people showed us who they are and how they make the world a little bit better just by being themselves and sharing their motivation by creating. Thank you for the inspiration!
After the visit, we had some time off before we went to the City Hall. It was nice to take a little walk and discover little parts of the city of New Orleans. But not too long, because Marieke Janssen from the University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam, had arranged a meeting with Karen DeSalvo, Health Commissioner at the Health department of the city of New Orleans. She developed Fit Nola, a program to decrease obesitas in New Orleans. Together with over a hundred local organisations they put up a program, focused on children, to help them eat healthier and participate more in physical excercise.
She mainly explained the structure in which social networking is organised to really take action and work together on collective issues, through public private partnerships. But it is always an organic process. Like jazz, it seems chaotic, but the music makes itself contrary to a symphony when the music is written out beforehand. New Orleans is one of six winners of the inaugural RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize, which honors outstanding community partnerships helping people live healthier lives.
She wants Fit Nola to be a social movement, not a program. “Public health is messy, but it’s fun. Public health saved your life today and you didn’t know it,”
Today was a day full of joy, inspiration and personal engagement. It made me thinking of my own values and drive to make our education optimal for everybody. The way collective impact is reached and how people work together is an example of how we can organise honours. Everybody is committed, accountable and responsible. We all use our talents and knowledge to work on a shared goal from a shared vision. How do we define success? How to measure outcomes? How to reach the change of culture?
Let’s challenge ourselves to the max; y’all!
Also take a look at the adventures of Nola and the pursuit of excellence.