Archives for category: RecrearNOLA

Recrear New Orleans: some reflections

Almost one year after Recrear.beta I feel confident to say that despite all the threats and weaknesses that have become obvious during our first year in business, our strengths and opportunities by far outnumber our problems. Recrear is a young and evolving organization; for the better or worst, all the people involved with the organization see different opportunities in what Recrear could become. The ‘common denominator’ of Recrear is its cool ‘swag’ that brings along an energetic atmosphere of optimism and excitement.

The sense that this excitement is pervasive and contagios felt particularly tangible during our time in New Orleans. Our two weeks in the city were originally supposed to be an opportunity to fundraise and deliver a pilot for our project in the Dominican Republic. What we found was a deeply committed group of well-connected and ambitious people ready to take ownership of Recrear’s vision and mission.

We worked together for two weeks to invent ‘Recrear New Orleans’. The ‘master plan’ we developed together is really on point. Basically, we plan to leverage on our resources to craft projects with an international flavors and a deep connection to local community. The Prezi presentation in this post (result of an intense collaborative efforts and various hours of lost sleep) sums up our work and gives an overview of the program we plan to deliver in the next year.

In prospective, I have been thinking a lot about the way all of our ideas were first thrown out randomly and than took a coherent form on the way by being distorted, nourished, questioned and reinterpreted. In our work, we really do believe in the strength of ideas. I also believe that ideas don’t have much intrinsic value. When they first form they are not very useful; instead, they gain all their power when they are picked up and passed around. I like to think that I cannot claim ownership for any of ‘my’ best ideas, mostly because to make it the rank of ‘best’ then different people must have regurgitated them into different context.

The frames that we had made to fundraise part of our project in the Dominican Republic are a good example of this idea of ‘collaborative mess’ that I value so much. In our first day in New Orleans, Kevin Kirsten and I visited the Green Project looking for some fundraising inspiration. During Recrear.beta (Berlin) and RecrearApply! (Nablus) we have collected some pretty cool shots (thanks especially to Komal and Kevin) and we thought it would be interesting to make some frames. Now, who came up with this idea? No clue- and to be sincere it does not matter at all. We found some wood and some glass and randomly invested 13 dollars, with no real vision of how everything was going to fit together (and most importantly with no proven carpenter or framing skills).

The frame project was picked up by Laura and Ryan who saved the day in grand style (*). Laura offered her artistic skills in an afternoon of work under the New Orleans heat. Crucially, she also donated her photographic paper and ink as well as a long evening messing with a capricious printer. Ryan overcame gravity and developed an ingenious system to connect all pieces without glue (**). Moral of the tale, instead of flying away like many of brilliant ideas that come and go at Recrear, the frame idea somehow transformed wood and glass into gorgeous frames.

During our time working together in New Orleans we all came up with some very clever ideas to catch and play with. In our PREZI you will learn more about the IDEA BOX that is at the heart of the chapter’s program for this year. I won’t spoil it by saying too much about it – in short, there is a ton of good ideas on the way.

Now that our time here has come to an end, I want to thank once more all of the New Orleans team for the full load of Duracell charge I received in the last two weeks. This city will always have a special place in me; if possible, with the Recrear chapter in New Orleans the city becomes even more fun.

– Gioel G.

(*) By the way, this is my way of thanking you one more time :).
(**) I would feel bad for all the hours Ryan spent on mounting the frames, except I know the little carpenter in him got a good an ego boost – not to mention the priceless awareness that he has a solid backup plan to earn a living.

In just two weeks, our small group of Recrear coordinators has accomplished so much.  The desire of the Recrear founders to achieve more and more is contagious.  Despite the truth that New Orleans mellows out considerably in the heat of the summer, I think it’s safe to say that this Recrear New Orleans group has enough energy to keep the whole city going for weeks.

Questions are still spinning through my mind: where will we go from here?  Have we bitten off more than we can chew?  What will we do without Gioel, Kirsten and James?  Fortunately, none of these questions need to be answered immediately and I’m confident that this New Orleans chapter will continue much the same as Recrear International has: with earnest good will, hours of hard work, and a whole lot of luck.  We will solve problems as we go along, we will meet challenges and overcome them, and the learning curve will be steep.  And hey, that’s part of the fun.

Ultimately what will determine our success in the ambitious projects we have in store for New Orleans is each other:  the connections, partnerships, and friendships that we’ve made in the past two weeks.  The group of individuals I’ve met has been inspiring . . . And we’ve become a true team.   We will succeed, and we’ll succeed together.

SoNew Orleans, get ready. We’re on the edge of glory.

Laura Hasenstein

…that our first fundraiser which happened on July 5th/Kevin’s 25th b-day bash was a success. $910 raised for our cause ($911 to be exact because I found a dollar on the ground which was unaccounted for). It started off slow, however, after an hour or two it was popping. It was the perfect networking activity for us to experience. So many people pitched in for this effort it was amazing. One of Kevin’s friends baked an enormous cake with the Recrear logo and colors which was enough to feed an entire army..Literally!!! We are still eating off of it today. The Rusty Nail also donated $1 for every drink bought at the bar. So if any of you followers are in New Orleans next time, please check out this awesome establishment. Great drinks, relaxed atmosphere, yet vibrant with locals and musicians alike. They were gracious enough to let us use their space as well as donating money to our cause. And I would also like to point out that Robin Barnes is an amazing singer!

P.S. I think that there might be some leftover cake at KP’s house if anybody wants any!!!! 🙂

-James Smith

So everyone…..

We keep on moving onward and upward from here. It has been a packed last week and a half but we have come together and accomplished so much.

On the 6th, the group brainstormed for hours to come up with a year long plan for Recrear New Orleans’ first year. We received a visit by one of UNO’s Admission’s representatives in order to hear about how we will be able to work closely in coordination with the university in the future. They were generous to provide us with pizza, however, we found ourselves dying of thirst. Finding ourselves faced with the same problem (lack of water that is) we decided to move our meeting INTO the fountain in the Pontchartrain North courtyard. Yes indeed!!! We were all sitting with our feet in the water while discussing discussing the details about different goals that Recrear New Orleans wants to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Of course our brainstorming session didn’t run without its problems. We encountered several bumps of turbulence as we found ourselves overwhelmed with the mass amount of information that was being presented on the table by all of the members. The ideas were coming faster than we could process them in logical order on paper! It was like opening Pandora’s Box. Once we opened the creative portions of our minds, the ideas instantly flew up into the air and all around. We found ourselves spending a decent amount off time trying to snatch them back out of the air in order to organize them properly. After everything was under control once again, we thought it best sleep in our progress and break for the evening.

On the 7th, we reconvened and immediately broke up into 3 groups in order to address the different aspects of project development and planning for Recrear. The caliber of the ideas which were developed were so amazing that the groups instantly caught a second wind for the work ahead. Each of the groups received feedback from each other in order to build upon the presenting group’s ideas. The excitement was building among the members once we discovered the endless possibilities of what we could accomplish in the near future.

Recrear was visited by two special guests. The first one was Starr Woodward with NOLA Starr promotions who talked with us about potentially managing Recrear Nola’s Marketing and Advertising. She offered wonderful insight about how Recrear could begin by going about with our marketing strategy, while at the same time, explaining to us what she had the potential of doing for the organization. Our second guest was Ms Pamela Rault, Interim Dean of Student Affairs at UNO. She expressed her appreciation for our efforts to create an organization such as Recrear in New Orleans and further expressed her excitement for what Recrear has the potential for doing for the community as well as worldwide.

Following her visit, we realized that it was approximately 10 pm already with still one group left to present their ideas concerning Recrear’s plan’s for the first year. At about quarter to 11, we finally called an evening.

And here I am now. Kirsten and Kevin are sitting across from me working diligently in preparation for our final gala tomorrow. Gioel and Laura are off printing pictures for the auction at the gala, and I am here typing this blog 🙂 Come to find out, Kirsten, Gioel, and Kevin have been without sleep for the past evening and plan on going without sleep for the night to come. Bless them!!!! And this is what we are all about. The drive and perseverance of the members of Recrear is amazing and a real driving force. If anyone has any doubts about this organisation being able to become something amazing for this community and communities around the world, then they are wrong. Because first of all, Recrear is already amazing because the people who become involved with Recrear are amazing! And these people are not just the members involved now, but those of you who plan on plan on becoming involved with us in the future!!

Come and find out what we are all about by joining us tomorrow for Recrear New Orleans’ official launch in the Big Easy!!!

Join us on Saturday, July 9th at 4:00 pm at the UNO St. Claude Gallery for the inaugural presentation of Recrear New Orleans!

The event will be an opportunity for the New Orleans team to present its achievements and future plans. Moreover, the event is also designed to fundraise for Recrear-Partecipacion, the first project sponsored by Recrear New Orleans and delivered in the Dominican Republic from July 11th to July 26th.

Since only limited space is available, we would appreciate your RSVP here:

You may also support our event by making a donation on our blog or directly at

Now my dears….off to find dinner!!!!!! 🙂

-James Smith

This year for my birthday I did more than I have ever done.  It was quite a feat for me to organize all of my networks and “IOU’s” to culminate in a one day celebration of life and prosperity.  On July 5th, I did more than celebrate the day I entered the world;  I shared my love for a grassroots organization with my family, friends, and most importantly, my city.  To inspire the community I owe so much too, I brought my favorite passion in life home.  Recrear was reaching the completion of its first year and some of the Beta members were in New Orleans to not only launch our first local chapter, but we were raising money for our second signature project, Recrear Participación which would be in the Dominican Republic a week after the celebration.

The event was a success in a multitude of proportions.  I would like to take this moment to extend my deepest personal gratitude to all those who showed up with your love.  The evening was hosted at the beautiful Rusty Nail (don’t let the name fool you) in the Warehouse District.  All the guest were tapping their feet to the musical sounds of Robin Barnes.  And when we got hungry, the party was catered with some of the Potter Family’s secret recipes in addition to the sweet treats baked by Dawn Jefferson.  In addition, I wasn’t the only one who left the party with gifts, as there was a silent auction of framed pictures featuring past Recrear projects and, Recrear raised over $1000 for the Recrear Participación project.

Thanks again to all who attended.  Please view the project summary for more details along with viewing the slideshow.

-Kevin Potter

Many flipcharts later, we concluded our first week of work together in New Orleans with some interesting points in hand (celebrate!).

We brainstormed our goals and strategies for Recrear New Orleans – the next steps will be deciding what programs this chapter will be focusing on, developing job descriptions, and designing a 3 year plan.

Check out our goals:

  • Be action oriented;
  • Foster intercultural dialogue;
  • Promote collaborative exchange.

Our strategies to achieve these goals are:

  • Partner with the University of New Orleans to develop Regional Leadership Institute training sessions;
  • Develop collaborative training workshops;
  • Create a strategic network of regional partners;
  • Build, maintain and track stakeholder relations;
  • Increase Recrear’s influence through social media;
  • Provide opportunity for regional project development.

We look forward to your comments and ideas and happy 4th of July!

– Gioel