Thursday, March 19, 2009

Googlers trust a crazy idea

In September 2008, I was privileged to meet the team at The Idea Village during my most recent visit to New Orleans. 32 of my fellow Googlers (as we affectionately refer to ourselves) and I were embarking upon a community outreach trip which came to a screeching halt as a result of a city-wide evacuation for Hurricane Gustav. Fortunately the damage to the city was minor in comparison to past devastation, but our planned projects had to be canceled due to much of the city still being closed to non-essential workers and non-residents. In a serendipitous turn of events, one of my colleagues informed me that she "had a friend" who might be able to help us. Despite being dispersed all over the United States, the team at The Idea Village rallied to make it home and open their doors to a determined group of volunteers willing to brave the elements to make a difference. During our visit, we learned a lot about ongoing redevelopment projects within greater New Orleans and assisted with the development of the launch plan for 504ward's $200,000 Business Plan competition, hosted in partnership with The Idea Village. Since then, I have kept in close contact with Tim, Lauren, Daryn and team, even hosting them at Google last winter for a presentation aimed at garnering west coast support for our southern friends. So when they asked me to take part in The Idea Village's IDEAcorps Challenge '09 , it was an offer I couldn't refuse.

What peaked our interest most and convinced us to participate is how closely the challenge mirrors much of what we do at Google - connecting people with useful, innovative solutions and information. It has been said that information is the seed for an idea, and only grows when its watered. By bringing the country's brightest minds and cutting edge corporations to New Orleans, projects like this will guarantee the growth of tomorrow’s future leaders and spawn a new generation of local business entrepreneurs.

Over the coming week, fellow Googler, LaFawn Bailey, and I will be working with The Idea Village, and the MBA students to provide information on Google tools and processes that will allow them to assist local entrepreneurs in tackling critical growth challenges facing New Orleans today. We will also be visiting bloggers for the week, updating this and other media sources with information on the participating students, entrepreneurs and The Idea Village team. So check back for regular updates, photos and live coverage of our week of entrepreneurship - we promise a crazy and rewarding adventure resulting in a lifetime of impact.

With a little bit of hard work, a lot of determination and most of all, trusting our crazy ideas, I know that New Orleans will once again regain the world class status it so richly deserves.

Tara Canobbio


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