The initial meeting took place in November 2007. About 25 New Orleans residents showed up, brainstormed, met in focus groups, and exchanged ideas. Many community meetings followed. In February 2007, the group wrote an RFP for the website design and branding of the campaign. The Ideavillage team selected four companies to present. In March, a collaborative team of about 30 community residents, mainly young people, watched the presentations, and voted on a theme and a company. The Netcom Group and the 504ward.com campaign won the day. From that point, Ideavillage took the ball and rolled with it. Jessica White was hired to coordinate the launch. Hundreds of behind the scenes meetings took place.
And finally, last night, in true New Orleans style, some 504 New Orleanians attended the historic launch of 504ward at Tipitinas. The final product is 504ward.com, a collaborative initiative designed to retain the influx of young movers and shakers who are arriving by the hundreds in New Orleans. The initiative has 4 major components: 504connect, a connection program to help our young talent develop cross-generational roots and relationships to better navigate the New Orleans Networks; 504explore, our very own insider’s guide to the cultural escapes and social happenings on tap in New Orleans; Talent Profiles, featuring one young cultural rock star each week in CityBusiness (be sure to check out this week’s cover story!); and the $100,000 business competition for entrepreneurs with ideas to retain New Orleans’ young talent. An effective and efficient job board for young people is also being developed for 504ward by NOLA YURP.
The 504ward story is a successful example of crowdsourcing for local policy change. The community identified a problem, leaders stepped up, citizens joined in the collaborative process and followed through, and most importantly, the professional services and resources were donated (office space, wed development, legal, marketing, website optimization, PR, advertising, etc.) to make it happen.
See the competition video: