TurboSquid, CNN, and New Orleans

TurboSquid Site

TurboSquid was recently featured on CNN regarding our continued success despite national economic woes. The piece inspired our CEO, Matt Wisdom, to write a letter on Friday to all our members about our pride in our home city of New Orleans. I’m posting it here because it expresses what so many of us are feeling on this very special day. Geaux Saints!

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CNN just ran a great video on TurboSquid and our home city, New Orleans. We’d like to share it with you, and offer some thoughts on our city’s recovery.

Before the financial storm hit the world last year, New Orleans had Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the most destructive storm in the history of the USA. At the time, New Orleans had several serious civic problems. We had one of the worst public school systems in the world and a corrupt government. We couldn’t even claim a decent NFL football team. The Saints, or the Ain’ts, as they were often called, were so bad for most of their 42 years that fans put paper bags over their heads as a sign of how embarrassing it was to watch them. The parallel to our city was stunning — the Saints had ruined their chances over and over again, always finding some creative new way to be defeated. New Orleans had so many wonderful qualities, yet things just got worse year after year.

Then Katrina came, and as a city we hit rock bottom. When New Orleans was evacuated, the staff of TurboSquid ran the business from 16 different locations around the USA, somehow keeping the marketplace going smoothly. Volunteers helped us mail CDs to customers, and schools around the country took our children without question, regardless of the fact that we had no paperwork to show they were healthy or even what their names were. During those months we didn’t know if we would have a city to come back to. As for the Saints, sportscasters doubted that enough players would ever return to have an actual football team.

When people started to come back to New Orleans a few months later, only about half the original population returned. But everyone who did had something in common: we had chosen to be in New Orleans, and we were united and determined to improve the city even as we built it back from the destruction. Could we, we wondered, be the best at something besides Mardi Gras parades? Instead of decades of failures, could we become leaders and gain respect through our accomplishments? That hope, that we would do it right this time, was why so many of us decided to come home and start over.

Since then, New Orleans has been rebuilding itself in every way imaginable. The public school system, for example, claimed that it couldn’t educate children for a whole year after Katrina. In response, city groups created independent charter schools, bringing an unprecedented level of education to more than half of our children. The New Orleans community also passed ethics laws and reformed the government culture; our flood protection system is now monitored by engineers instead of politicians, and a new generation of leaders is developing.

Things are now going right for our city in ways they never did before Katrina. Everyone from Bill Gates to Barack Obama is praising our progress. TurboSquid is proud to have been part of these changes in ways both large and small, from helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity to working with schools and supporting the artistic community here.

As for those lovable losers, the sad sack Ain’ts, they did their best ever this season, winning 13 games in a row and making it to the Super Bowl that will be played this weekend. But it wasn’t just that they won those games. When they made mistakes and deserved to lose, they stayed calm and found some way to make it work, game after game, for three months. Before long, everyone in the city, even those who had never watched football before, were part of the hope and excitement. The Saints had a new personality, the one we all wanted when we came home to New Orleans, the one where if you stay true to yourself and fight to win, something great will happen.

So win or lose, it’s more than just a sporting event to us. It’s the redemption that we as New Orleans citizens had been hoping for during the hard years after Katrina. The Saints’ achievements are a statement that we’re improving our city and ourselves to become what we always wanted to be.

Beyond TurboSquid, the global 3D community continues to thrive, and for the past 10 years we’ve been able to help people all over the world share their creations in our marketplace. Through your involvement with TurboSquid, you’ve also helped us bring new life to our home. People all over the world are taking a new interest in our city because of our football team, and through media like the CNN video, others are noticing that TurboSquid matters to New Orleans. Thanks for being with us along the way.

Matt Wisdom
CEO, TurboSquid