New Orleans 100: Interview With Zach Kupperman of Policypitch.com
All Day Buffet has compiled the New Orleans 100, a list of innovative and world-changing ideas that have come out of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Designed to encourage discussion about the rebirth of the city, the NOLA 100 highlights the good that has grown out of the tragedy.
PSFK sent a few questions to 5 of the groups from the New Orleans 100 list who are making change for the better in New Orleans.
Next in our interview series is Zach Kupperman from Policypitch.com. The site is an online platform that allows people to pitch and introduce innovative new ideas and policies in communities, neighborhoods and regions to build support for their campaigns. (Also, Policypitch is not just for New Orleans. You can sign up and propose ideas for your local community as well.)
What is Policypitch.com?
Policypitch.com is a little company with big dreams based in New Orleans – one of the greatest cities in the world. By helping individual citizens gather and manage resources for community action and local policy change, we’re changing the game for the little guy.
As a catalyst helping folks make an impact on their town, we hope to challenge the current thinking on where neighborhood ideas come from. Local policy and progressive change should be a bottom-up approach, not top down. The ideas should come from the people. We are here to make that happen. Our purpose is to bring the power and ability to change your surroundings to the everyday person; our mission is to increase citizen and civic engagement by bringing the power to the people.
A mix of neighborhood hangout, social network, and interactive index of community issues, campaigns, and causes, Policypitch.com is a geographic web service that facilitates action and entertains. Encourage the establishment of a neighborhood coffee shop, increase civic participation in a vote for a new senate bill, endorse or oppose that new condo in your neighborhood.
Pitch ideas to change your community for the better. Test the market. Build support for your concept. Engage local citizens. Inspire and instigate action. Change your city. You come up with the idea; we provide the tools to make action.
How did the tragedy of Katrina provide a unique opportunity for innovation, change and growth?
Katrina provided a blank slate for the city to start anew. As the government’s ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and ineptitude shined through at every level, citizens took it upon themselves to rebuild the city, change their community, and get the work done. Katrina inspired a grassroots movement in New Orleans unlike any other place in the nation. Residents banded together to improve the community through unprecedented non-profit efforts, volunteerism, and a mass movement of citizen engagement that demanded progressive change and government accountability.
In addition, Katrina transformed everyone into an entrepreneur in some way or another. Businesses had to rethink their strategy and residents had to take matters into their own hands. This entrepreneurial necessity, combined with the need to reform government and society at so many levels, led to the emergence of New Orleans as an epicenter of social entrepreneurship.
There is a need to provide these individuals and grassroots organizations with the tools, the management capabilities, and an organizational system to coordinate their efforts, build support for their projects, gather resources, change local policy and improve their neighborhoods; Policypitch.com fills this void.
What about New Orleans inspires you?
New Orleans is the best place in the world.
There are really so many amazing and inspiring things about New Orleans; the city’s unique ability to accommodate people of different cultures and attitudes, the art—with creativity literally flowing throughout the city, the rich food, the music, the architecture, the smell of crawfish boils in the spring, the pace of life, the inimitable culture, and the general attitude of enjoying life to the fullest.
Of course I enjoy and value all of these amazing qualities, but for me it’s all about the community. As a resident of New Orleans, you feel a connection to almost everyone else at some level or another. It’s such a tight-knit community, and the sensation transcends race, ethnicity, social status, and career path. The connection is a weird one—of course you feel it during the Fest, Mardi Gras, or a Who Dat win. But it’s more than that…it’s a connection to the city itself.
Perhaps most of all, I draw inspiration from the opportunity. It’s the opportunity to make the city mine—not in the ownership sense, but in the sense that there really is an opportunity here for anyone to influence others and make a name for yourself. There are not many places where you can step in fresh off the boat and make an impact. This opportunity lends itself to the city’s creative culture, the rising tide of entrepreneurialism, and the recent, exciting brain gain New Orleans has seen since the storm.