Tell us a little bit about your company, and what’s on your plate right now both as a business and as a member of the sustainability conscious New Orleans community.
With NOLA Doubloon, an operator of historical walking tours, I’m definitely part of the New Orleans tourism machine, but I hold fast to my credentials as an educator. What I care about is sharing my love of our history and cultural heritage, pushing the industry toward a greener model, and drawing attention (and funds) to local preservation efforts. In projecting a brand image, that’s the message that I’m trying to broadcast to locals and out-of-town visitors alike.
I’m also kicking off the “Doubloon Saloon” series of fundraising events. These are fun neighborhood parties that serve several purposes: they raise money for some preservationist partners, like Save Our Cemeteries; they help NOLA Doubloon to connect with the local community; they shine a spotlight on new or otherwise interesting bars, restaurants, and hotspots in neighborhoods all around town; and of course they allow us to carry the message of sustainability to different audiences and different businesses.
What are some of your proudest moments as owner of NOLA Doubloon?
A lot of work goes into the planning of each tour and event, and into the development of the company brand. It’s always a very good feeling when positive feedback lets us know that we’re on the right track, that we’re hitting the mark, and that our efforts are appreciated. We’ve had such feedback from guests on tours, visitors to the website, community partners, and even from our competition. One large tour company in New Orleans recently announced that they would begin donating money regularly from their cemetery tour income for tomb restoration. That’s the kind of practice that NOLA Doubloon has been promoting, and regardless of our role in influencing that decision, I definitely feel proud to be part of a sector that is starting to think more about impact and impactful choices.
How does your organization go about improving your social and environmental impacts?
Basically, we frequently pause and reevaluate, asking ourselves if we’re doing all we can, if we can proceed just a little farther down that road, or if there are others in the community that we might learn from. And we try to take advantage of any and all opportunities that present themselves. But things get very busy, so it definitely requires a deliberate slowing down to ask ourselves questions about our impacts and to look around for help and advice.
What partnerships have you formed in order to leverage sustainable impact as a company?
Obviously we’re quick to turn to LifeCity for inspiration and assistance. Whether it’s about helping me get the message out by partnering and cost-sharing with a print marketing campaign; eagerly jumping on board when I proposed a series of local “Saloons” that might aspire to become zero-waste events; or simply hosting events like Green Drinks that facilitate the all-important networking with other businesses, LifeCity has been key in helping me jump on the sustainability train and integrate that into our company identity.
This year I’ve also partnered with a number of LifeCity member businesses (cafes, restaurants, food and drink vendors) so that guests on my tours can receive discounts from them, in the interest of promoting each other and the message of sustainability. Now that the Saloon series is underway, I’m reaching out to businesses that haven’t all made the leap into sustainable practices, and that of course is an opportunity to spread the message.
If you had a magic wand to change one thing that would make it easier for your company or other New Orleans businesses to go green, what would that thing be?
As much as I know that we can’t rely on government policies to go where we want and need to go as businesses, I would love to see local and state government incentives to help businesses make the right choices (in fact we already have that with solar panels). For the hospitality industry in New Orleans, where the potential impact of going green would be tremendous, I would like to see that magic wand produce a “sustainability czar” who would provide green guidelines and benchmarks for hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and other vendors. Why wait for the market to demand it? We can be ahead of the curve on this one.
What advice would you give to other businesses who are trying to improve their internal practices to benefit their city and state?
I would recommend first going out for food and drinks and having conversations about why they want to improve their practices: what are the perceived problems, what sorts of changes would they like to see, who and what would they like to benefit. They can try to identify things that other businesses have been doing to bring about certain social or environmental outcomes. The idea is to stay grounded in substantive issues, and then as they modify their own practices, they’ll always have an eye on that bigger picture they are trying to influence. Also, nothing wrong with baby steps.
Anything else you would like to tell our community of Green Card members and Green Businesses such as upcoming events or promotions they should look out for?
I’d like to encourage everyone to be part of the Doubloon Saloon series of events and in that way to help shape its future direction. Information about the first Saloon (held Oct. 15) can be found at http://www.noladoubloon.com/index.php?page=news. Don’t hesitate to RSVP for the event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/712757112135221/.
And finally I would urge businesses to reach out and form partnerships of all kinds. We could accomplish more and push in unexpected directions when we’re talking to people outside of our own circle.