Mardi Gras festivities picked up momentum this past weekend with a series of parades through the streets of New Orleans. While the climax of Carnival is not for another two weeks, the parades are demonstrative of NOLA’s colorful existence that make it a, “only one of its kind” city in the United States. For me, Mardi Gras and New Orleans will always hold a special place because it was there that I spent my last days as a bachelor before getting married in the spring of 1989.
The origins of Mardi Gras date back to medieval Europe and in 1699 a French-Canadian explorer brought the festival to our shores. It is doubtful that Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville ever imagined how large an event Carnival would evolve into or how this festival, and New Orleans, would become such a vibrant and unique tile in the cultural mosaic that makes up our nation. The United States stretches 2,600 miles coast to coast and in between are hundreds of cities, each with a history and culture as unique. There is only one Savannah, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; Denver, Colorado, etc., and only one New Orleans, Louisiana.
STA is a grassroots organization, which by definition, means it is an association comprised of small groups with shared interests. As it pertains to STA members, that shared interest is the overall health and strength of our financial markets. But what the definition of grassroots does not capture is how that shared interest brings people of diverse backgrounds together, people who normally would not interact with each other if not for that shared interest. If not for the shared interest of financial services, STA members in Boston would have little reason, or means, to interact with members in San Francisco. And that would be unfortunate, because while we all enjoy being around people similar to ourselves, it is that individual with different interests who not only brings flavor to our lives, but opens our minds to seeing things with a different perspective. Life would be pretty boring without diversity and grassroots movements, or the organizations that provide a means and glue for individuals to have some in their life. So to some degree then, grassroots organizations are pretty awesome and while they may not be worthy of a parade with extravagant floats and scores of colorful beads, they do deserve to be recognized for what they are and what they represent.