New Orleans: The Pilot Project that Launched In Good Company
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc from Florida to Texas, but no place suffered more than Louisiana. New Orleans’ broken levees flooded 80% of the city, and nearly three-quarters of all occupied housing was damaged. Repairs dragged on endlessly and, by 2007, Clif Bar & Company felt compelled to help more directly. The company sent 13 employees as well as Owner and Co-CEO Kit Crawford to work alongside Habitat for Humanity in the Upper 9th Ward. The experience sparked some profound changes: Clif volunteers saw for themselves the power of hands-on teamwork and recognized that Clif Bar could be of greater service if the company invited other like-minded businesses to come along.
In 2008, Clif Bar welcomed five community-minded companies to New Orleans and the first In Good Company project. Annie’s, Numi Organic Tea, EILEEN FISHER, Seventh Generation, and Timberland all signed on from the start. That November, 27 people from almost a dozen states, ranging in age from 20 to 60, assembled in NOLA’s Hollygrove neighborhood for 10 days. In Good Company’s first volunteers worked more than 1,000 hours with New Orleans Food & Farm Network, Rebuilding Together, and Bayou Rebirth to rebuild the Ebarb family house, rehab three community gardens, and help restore wetlands. Things went so well we went back in 2009 to rebuild Alice Cousin’s family home, grow out the Guerilla Garden, and plant more marsh grass in the wetlands.
And that’s how NOLA, the birthplace of jazz, famous for jambalaya, muffuletta, and beignets, also became the birthplace of In Good Company. Over the years, we’ve learned that the work can be grueling (truly blood, sweat, and tears), but in the doing we’ve given and received more than we ever imagined. And we’ve expanded on the simple idea that launched In Good Company: one person can make a difference, and hundreds of people together can make a healthier, greener, more fun and memorable difference.
"My fervent hope is that groups like yours will continue to invest time and resources to the ongoing rebuilding of New Orleans and her environs. The work that the New Orleans Food and Farm Network is doing is truly enhanced by the innovative management and business know-how of corporate partners and supporters. I envision, through continued work and commitment, that this first In Good Company could develop into a wonderful model for corporate + community capacity building partnerships."
Impact/In Good Company Volunteer
"A year from now I won’t be able to tell you the difference between a finishing nail and a penny nail, but I’ll remember the residents of St. Bernard Parish—people like John and Steve who showed us around their neighborhoods, pointed out the waterlines, and took us to their favorite restaurant. Or our friend Herbert, 62, a new Habitat homeowner who wakes up every morning, walks down the street, and puts in a full day’s work on his neighbors’ future homes. It’s the people of New Orleans and the volunteers who are bringing this lively city back to life."