Monday, April 30, 2007

Tulane Sig Eps Spearhead Effort to Inform Public about New Orleans Viability

Big Easy Go is a student-managed effort to complete a cross-country "parade" celebrating the rebirth of New Orleans. The convoy will be led by a New Orleans-themed golf cart and, if successful, will break the world record for longest golf cart drive.

MISSION

Take a souped-up golf cart, a rebuilt 1993 Lincoln Town Car limousine, a few dozen New Orleans-lovers and put them on the road from Los Angeles to New Orleans. What do you get? Big Easy Go, a different kind of pro-New Orleans campaign – a project as whimsical and seemingly impossible as the Big Easy itself.Our mission is simple: to encourage Americans and funhogs worldwide to return to New Orleans, a city eager – and ready – for tourists of all ages to come back.Our unlikely convoy will depart Los Angeles on May 20, 2007, led by our founder Gregory Thurnher (LA Alpha Alumnus) in his “Golf Car,” a revamped golf cart with a sixteen horsepower gas motor that began as his 2002 senior engineering project at Tulane University. We’re planning stops in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana during our two week-long journey. Along the way we plan to share our New Orleans experiences and encourage locals to come visit. . . we may even add some Southwesterners to our ranks and bring them along with us.Most of us are current, former and future New Orleans residents, many of us are Tulane University alumni and students, and all of us are ready to act as ambassadors for the city we love and cherish.If all goes as planned we will reach New Orleans on June 1, 2007, breaking the world record for longest golf cart drive. We are planning a party to celebrate our arrival and the revival of the city, with local music and food at Tulane University.The road to recovery since Hurricane Katrina has been long and hard for everyone on the Gulf Coast, and New Orleans still has progress to make. But the Crescent City is open for business and we want to spread the word. If our rag-tag convoy can make it to New Orleans, then anything is possible. And New Orleans can make it back, too.


Here's Brother Thurner's Personal Statement Regarding Big Easy Go!

Tulane University and the City of New Orleans are back, and fully functional in the eyes of our residents and visitors. Many areas previously plagued with storm related damage are completed restored. In some areas, economic incentives and federal assistance invigorated areas that were otherwise not desirable in their “Pre-Katrina” state. Despite these great strides, the nation sees a different picture of New Orleans.

Crime, violence, and economic failure are often the “tag lines” of New Orleans related conversations. Sadly, these topics are what capture the attention of our nation. The intent of OPERATION BIG EASY GO is to redirect the focus of the national media to the progress, the potential, and the promise of an amazing experience, available “only at Tulane, only in New Orleans.”

I moved to New Orleans August 24th, 1998. Learning, living, and growing at Tulane clearly defined what I now know as my “life.” I can’t imagine attending any other university, in any other city. Following my graduation from the School of Engineering, I accepted an offer from Entergy Services. This extended my stay in New Orleans an additional three years, accommodating my pursuit of an MBA from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business.

Mardi Gras Day, 2005, I received a phone call from my manager. I was selected to make a “developmental move” towards a management position within Entergy. I accepted the assignment, and relocated to The Woodlands, Texas. My management told me this would be a two year assignment, concluding with my return to New Orleans. I had no idea that this plan would be interrupted by one of the worst storms in our nation’s history.

Fortunately, as a Electric Distribution Engineer in The Woodlands, I volunteered to return to New Orleans to assist Entergy New Orleans in restoring critical electric service. I arrived in New Orleans four days after Katrina, and performed restoration work (varying from directing 65 man linemen crews to physically performing linemen duties) for approximately four weeks. Despite the rough conditions and seemingly endless workload, I was delighted to have a part in the initial recovery of New Orleans. My memories of the devastation remind me, each time that I return to New Orleans, how far we have truly come from “Ground Zero.”

Katrina spared me. I sold my home in New Orleans five months before it was inundated with water. My pursuits of the Tulane MBA lead me to a promotion within Entergy as a power marketer. I feel greatly indebted to my University and my City. My service in restoration efforts is trivial when compared to those who have “lived” the restoration every step of the way. I want those New Orleanians and Tulanians to know that their patience and dedication to New Orleans is worthwhile. To do so, positive press encouraging business, tourists, and students to return is vital!

As I prepare to graduate from Tulane for the second time this May, I am troubled when I think that others may forgo all of the benefits of a Tulane Education and a life in New Orleans based upon preconceived notions of New Orleans. For my Senior Engineering project, I took an antiquated golf cart through a “monster garage” redesign. This golf cart has been my chariot for many Mardi Gras, and is one of my most unique memories of Tulane and New Orleans. To me, the golf cart represents all that is Tulane and all that is New Orleans; a fantastic, entertaining place to explore your intellectual pursuits, where your opportunities and resources are only constrained by your ambition and imagination. I have designed Operation BIG EASY GO to mirror my journey from childhood, to my post college, post Katrina years in New Orleans.

Operation BIG EASY GO will begin when I leave my childhood home in Los Angeles, California at the wheel of the golf cart. I will continue through Scottsdale, Arizona (where I attended high school,) Houston, Texas, (my current residence) commencing in New Orleans. This operation will take two weeks, and will include strategically placed stops along the way. At each stop, we will rally with our alumni and supporters, and remind the nation of the “flavor” that is only in New Orleans. Each stop, each interview, each article, will convey the resounding message that New Orleans and Tulane are viable. Tulane and New Orleans still offer an experience that is unique, and globally recognized. Tulane and New Orleans invite you to come back. It is expected that my journey will be accompanied by current Tulane students in more “traditional” modes of transportation. The operation will begin after Tulane Graduation, May 19th, 2007.

Please consider making a financial contribution to this worthy cause. All proceeds will be donated to Tulane University.

Please direct all inquiries for information to:
Gregory Thurnher, ME ’02, MBA 07
gthurnhe@tulane.edu

Fund Big Easy Go:

Big Easy Go needs your help! To keep this endeavor affordable, on a student budget, you can donate to Big Easy Go via Paypal (see website). Big EG Inc, doing business as Big Easy Go, is a non-profit corporation. All proceeds of our trip will be donated to Tulane University.

Advertise Big Easy Go:
The Big Easy Go wants to showcase your products and or logo! In exchange for a negotiable donation, The Big Easy Go can adorn your logo on any of our vehicles, wear any of your logo adorned clothing, or distribute any of your products. Imagine your product / service / company sharing all of the publicity that will inherently follow the Big Easy Go!
E-mail: ads@bigeasygo.com for more information.

Ride Big Easy Go:
Tired of the same old summer vacation? Take it easy with the Big Easy Go. The Big Easy Go can accommodate individuals who wish to “ride” with our Krewe. Patrons can choose the duration of their ride. E-mail: ride@bigeasygo.com for more information.

House Big Easy Go:
Do you own or operate a hotel, dorm, or other building or home that could house the Big Easy Go? Each day of our journey will last between eight and sixteen hours. Following each day, we would greatly appreciate any opportunity to “rest up” before our subsequent day’s journey. Email: logistics@bigeasygo.com for more information.

Feed Big Easy Go:
Do you own or operate a restaurant along our route. The Big Easy Go will travel with a hungry group of students and enthusiasts. We will graciously accept anything you can offer, in exchange for all of the excitement, publicity, and goodwill that is inherent with the Big Easy Go. Email: logistics@bigeasygo.com for more information.