StartingBloc III: Adventures in NOLA

This is the final post in a series about our road trip to New Orleans and StartingBloc, the program we did while there.

Day 5

On day 5, the final day of the institute, we were back at Landing Zone, where we started. It felt like we were coming full circle. Even though it had only been 5 days, it felt like forever.

On this day we explored the keys to sustainable change, and started to define what the post-Institute StartingBloc Fellowship means to us. One of the key pieces of the day was the Make Your Own Luck breakout. 13259993_10153714564487099_6164060977750427876_n

Research has shown that many lucky breaks result from ways of thinking and behaving, so in completely new groups we shared asks and gives to be able to support each other in achieving our goals back in the real world. 13240144_10153714564262099_734373830619012352_n

We even had a wall of support with each of our photos where we could write asks of each other and start a conversation on how we can be of support moving forward.


StartingBloc was incredibly self-reflective and got feedback from the group at the end of every day – on what worked and what we would change. But it wasn’t just fluff – we could see them making some of the changes immediately for the next day of the program.


At the end of the day we set up our pop-up shop and sold our handmade bow ties and our books. The group really showed up to support, and I can’t wait to hear their feedback on the book as they read it. Learn more about our work on!


I taught people how to tie a bow tie 🙂

Once the program was over most people were still in town for the evening so we got to continue the party with beignets, coffee, and later drinks.

After the Institute

We had a couple more days in New Orleans to wander around and explore – we discovered a bunch of great local finds and spent more time with Olive the adorable dog we were staying with.


We also found some awesome food

This is Buffa’s – we had the most delicious shrimp and grits (which end at 6 PM)! We got it to go, so I’m sure it looks different when you have it inside, but it was literally sooo yummy. We also got some cheesy grits – *warning* all the cheesy grits are really spicy because they come with jalapeños unless you ask them not to put them in!

We have also been told we should try Jacques Imo’s for shrimp and grits – which we will definitely do next time. We were actually trying to go to Jacques Imo’s when we discovered it was closed – although the neighborhood is super great (Carrollton – the neighborhood – is also the name of my high school!) We ended up across the street at The Mellow Mushroom.

The food was really yummy and we realized that Muffaletta (a spicy olive mixture) – one of our favorite condiments – originated in New Orleans.

We also tried the Blind Pelican, and although some of our friends had a great time there when they went, we really didnt enjoy it much. So here’s the situation: they have super cheap oysters when you order an alcoholic drink during happy hour. This would have been Lea’s first time trying oysters, and although I was excited to have some oysters – I already wasn’t sure how I felt about the idea of just alcohol and oysters when we hadn’t eaten any breakfast that day. 

When we got there there was a line to be seated, so the hostess asked if we just wanted to sit at the bar, and the people before us in line had gone to sit at the bar too. Once we sat at the bar we asked for a menu but it took forever for the bartender to bring it to us, in the meanwhile she asked what we wanted to drink. We ordered 2 Abita’s (delic! and local) on tap, THEN she brought us the menu – which said that drinks ordered at the bar did not count for the oysters. So we would have to drink our 2 full beers (on an empty stomach), then get 2 more beers to order our oysters. Immidiately after the hostess came to tell us our table was ready.

We ended up just getting other food from the menu instead of the oysters thinking we would get oysters later if we still wanted another drink, but the other food we ordered was really bad! I was so excited after seeing all the bright colors, but honestly the service and the food was subpar. Maybe it would still be a good choice for oysters if you don’t sit at the bar though?

We also went to get Pho with some friends because there is a big Vietnamese community in New Orleans. It was very very yummy, we were given the advice to add an egg to the top of most of our orders and it added great depth to the flavor.

The Pho was amazing, but I was honestly distracted by the in depth conversation we were having with Josuel and Yulkendy, the founders of Project 99 and 2 other StartingBloc fellows. We spoke for hours about our business choices, history, our favorite books, and we are currently trying to plan a trip to the Dominican Republic to work with them on their next big project!

with p99

Adventuring around New Orleans also showed us some of the beautiful local architecture. It was weird to see the huge distinction architecturally between the 9th ward where we were staying and some of the neighborhoods more in the center. 

there were beautiful huge trees on a lot of streets which was really refreshing.

We also got some great books!

The top two are used books we got for a total of $6 at Blue Cypress Books, a local used and antique book store. The bottom one is by a local New Orleans author, and we found it in this great comic store across the street form Blue Cypress. 

So that was our trip to New Orleans – most of our time was focused on StartingBloc (awesome) but we also got to do some cool stuff around NOLA.

**Special thanks to Geronimo AKA G$ for some amazing photos of the Institute

*The next post will begin our road trip to Colorado!*


One Comment Add yours

  1. Love all the pics of the architecture! The houses are so diverse.


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