Ten years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has made a tremendous comeback. That’s due not just to the hard work of natives and long-time residents, but to new arrivals as well. Millennial-generation migrants are moving to the Crescent City by the thousands – and not just for the fun on Bourbon Street, as Kelsey Harkness of the Daily Signal recently chronicled. They’re bringing their ideas with them, and turning those ideas into innovative new businesses.
One such transplant, Brian Bordainick, first came to New Orleans after Katrina to be part of Teach for America. After helping build the now famous “Field of Dreams,” a safe place for inner-city kids to play sports after school, Bordainick founded Dinner Lab, a company that identifies up-and-coming chefs around the country and gives them the opportunity to test their menus with small dinner parties at pop-up locations. Bordainick notes that he does not think selfishness is necessarily a bad thing. His is a for-profit company and he’s “ok with that!”
Creating wealth in a profession that one loves is an opportunity that capitalism has given to ever more people around the world. Some believe that there’s an inherent tension between being successful and being moral, but many millennials don’t see it that way. They recognize that, while everyone must develop skills that allow them to make a reasonable living, those same skills can also make it possible to advance their dreams and passions.
The freedom to make those choices was once rare – people typically followed in their parents’ career footsteps. This could be acceptable and even rewarding if your elders’ profession was one you loved, but if was merely countless hours of repetitive drudgery, you were stuck. Indeed, traditional societies viewed people moving between careers – or creating new ones – as disruptive. Those disturbing the status quo with entrepreneurial talents often encountered a backlash. Capitalism freed ambitious and creative people to break out, abandon the bucolic rural life, and embrace the creative destruction of the modern entrepreneurial world.
Millennials may be the most successful generation yet at understanding the values that capitalism’s dynamism makes possible. Many millennials not only respect the traditions and culture of places like New Orleans, but understand that change and innovation are also critical for their and the city’s future. They may join older generations in appreciating and patronizing the city’s long-established restaurants, but they enjoy equally the new and novel options like Dinner Lab and the creative smorgasbord of food trucks. Similarly, while New Orleans cab drivers – as loquacious and knowledgeable about their city as New Yorkers – gripe about Uber, millennials, recognizing the need to revolutionize urban transportation, see room for both.