I arrived five days ago with my preconceived ideas of what New Orleans would be.

Today I came home with a totally different impression.

The New Orleans I now know is alluring, taunting us to re-think our future. It’s drawing us in with tax incentives, concierge services and start-up funds. (More on Incentives)

This transformation is the result of one of the most brilliant, most perfectly executed city marketing campaigns I’ve ever witnessed . . . up there with “Virginia is for Lovers” and “I Love New York!”. beNOLAbound, New Orleans’ creative, out-of-the-box attempt to affect its public perception has truly been a success.

{ 2.5 million people read a tweet as a result of this 5-day NOLAbound project. No telling how many more read about New Orleans on Facebook, on a blog and other social outlet. Not bad for a first-time experiment. }

Remember going to overnight camp when you were a kid? Your parents dropped you off with kids you never met. It was awkward that first few hours, but within 24 hours you formed bonds that lasted a lifetime.

That’s what these folks in New Orleans created, a camp for us adults. They invited 27 adults from all over the US to come to their city for a fact-and-fun-filled five days. They scheduled our days from dawn to midnight, leaving us no time to get homesick. The food was great, the weather ideal. We even had to write home about our experiences.

Their experiment in docu-tourism worked. It was a brilliant success. Four or five in our group made the decision to either move or open a branch office there. I’m just back in my Atlanta office and this morning alone, I’ve had seven phone calls asking for details.

New Orleans now has a group of people who came to their city and fell in love with it. We drank the Kool-Aid, ate the s’mores. Between now and the next time we meet, we’ll tweet, blog, facebook – we’ll delight in sharing our ‘camp’ stories.

We might even send our children to college in New Orleans, not to mention our grandchildren.

Our beNOLAbound group plans to meet back in New Orleans mid-October for the release of our documentary which will premier at the 2012 Film Festival.

Until then, Kumbaya, my friends. Kumbaya.


The song, Kumbaya, (led here by camper, Stan Gill) usually sung around campfires, is associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion. How fitting.

  • Stan Gill
    Posted at 20:41h, 19 March

    Lisa —

    Were it not for the beNOLAbound campfire lit by our 27, I would have never experienced your sincerity, warmth and friendship.

    See you soon.

    I am a NOLAbounder,

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 21:23h, 19 March

    Same with you, Stan. I LOVED getting to know you.

  • jen
    Posted at 21:58h, 19 March

    when i grow up (more) i want to be like lisa weldon.

    • lisaweldon
      Posted at 23:57h, 19 March

      OMG, Jen, you are the sweetest!!! My mother asked if I felt out of place, being the oldest. ‘Not a single time!’ Except for the fact that I couldn’t keep up with yall til 3:00am, I was made to feel 25 again by you all!

  • Alicia Boone
    Posted at 02:24h, 20 March

    Me too!!! Lisa, you are are true inspiration. You are so, so, so cool! I look forward to the day you make it to the underbelly project ad I hope I can share that moment with you. I will keep #askingquestions!!!! Grace, Beauty, Intelligence, Poise and so much more … all qualities that you EMBODY with perfection! !!! TEACH ME!!! You do it so well. Keep shining. you my friend, are the brightest STAR!!!! I can’t wait to learn about your developments!!!! Let’s keep building!
    Be well, Alicia

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 03:24h, 20 March

    oh, Alicia, I love you! YOU + ME in the Underbelly Project, for sure. I’m back on that project this week. If you find out anything, please let me know. Now that NOLA is over, I’ll have lots more time to devote to it. If (I mean, WHEN) I find out how to get into it, you’ll be going with me!
    Oh, what a blessing it was to meet you and the other NOLAbounders.