Episode 109 – The Power of Intentional Living (In New Orleans) with Dylan Tête
Dylan Tête is the Executive Director and founder of Bastion Community of Resilience. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Economics and Systems Engineering at West Point, as well as a Master’s in Public Health at the LSU School of Public Health. During a combat tour in Iraq as second-in-command of an Infantry company, Dylan established multiple recovery projects in collaboration with the Department of State. He moved to New Orleans in 2005 where he managed the construction of several FEMA housing facilities after Hurricane Katrina. Before his most recent position as a civil servant working alongside the New Orleans Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, Dylan was hired by Military.com to assist transitioning military personnel and wounded warriors begin new careers in the civilian workforce. Dylan was selected into the Propeller Social Venture Accelerator in 2010, and awarded a fellowship with The Mission Continues for the creation of Bastion.
In this episode we discuss:
• The importance of housing for healing and living
• How New Orleans history of adversity is making it a leader in veteran support
• Why intentional design of living spaces can create community
• How other populations can benefit from this model
Intro: 00:01 This is the Eagle Nation podcast where we talk about building richer lives and stronger communities. We have inspiring guests to have real conversations about things that you care about.
JJ Pinter: 00:13 All right everyone. Welcome back to the Eagle Nation podcast. This is JJ Pinter. I’m going to be your host today for another awesome kind of bang up addition. I’ve been talking about doing this one for awhile. Terrible game of calendar Jenga in order to make it happen completely my fault, but I am super excited to be talking today, live from New Orleans, Louisiana with Dylan Tête, so Dylan, thanks so much for joining us!
Dylan Tête: 00:39 JJ. It’s my pleasure. Hello Eagle Nation. Great to be here.
JJ Pinter: 00:45 Dylan is a super interesting guy. I was first made aware of the work that he’s doing in New Orleans by actually a coworker of mine. Her name is Sarah. Sarah Holzhalb who lives in New Orleans and she’s a pretty incredible person as well and I don’t know. I’ve been around the veterans space for awhile and there’s nobody else doing the kind of work that Dylan and his team are working on in New Orleans and we’re going to spend some time talking about his project, which is called the bastion community specifically, but I think it really queues up a broader conversation about some really important themes, you know, housing is one of them, but, but relationships and healing and how this whole thing ties together and I think it helps us look at supporting veterans and maybe a different Lens than we typically do. So I’m excited to have that conversation and Dylan is the perfect guy to have it with sound like a plan. Sounds great brother. So Dylan’s and army vet and he’s got a really interesting background that’s not typical I think to a lot of the people I talked to. So Dylan, I would love if you would share a little bit about how you got to where you are today. Maybe from your time in the army up to the point that you had the idea for Bastian and then we’ll talk about Bastian kind of separately.
Dylan Tête: 02:14 Yeah, sure. Well, I graduated from West Point in 2000 and branched infantry, uh, was very excited about that. I was lucky enough to be assigned to Second Infantry Division at Fort Louis where the striker brigade concept was being pioneered and I remember jumping out of Humvees in training missions, pretending there were strikers to receiving Canadian labs lhds in kind of training with those. And then finally fielding strikers, tested them at NTC, jrtc, and then brought them to Iraq. So I was, I was there from the beginning you might say, and it was, it was a wonderful experience. While I was in Iraq, I was promoted out of my job. I was a captain already holding a first lieutenant billet and buy a funny coincidence of events. I found myself working side by side with the coalition, provisional authority and Mozal. And so this was the precursor to the consulate and later the embassy that exists there.
Dylan Tête: 03:23 I was assigned various rebuilding projects. So I literally went from kicking doors down and putting bullets down range to rebuilding contrary and participating in the formation of the first democratic elections. And it was, it was fascinating to me that the work was fascinating. The people were fascinating. Both my translators were UCD, I might add, and they’re living in California now. I came home at the end of [inaudible] thinking, okay, that this war was going to wind down very soon. I decided to get out and I scraped up my wife and my newborn son and we moved to New Orleans three months before Hurricane Katrina. And, and then my life changed again. It was hard in one way. There was this competing reality that, you know, something like this could happen in my home. And I remember standing on top of the causeway at midnight, maybe day seven after the levees failed and looking over an entire city with six feet of water.
Dylan Tête: 04:31 And it was a beautiful night. You could see the stars above New Orleans like I’ve never seen before. And really feeling the tug, a call to rebuild one of the greatest American cities and took that very serious applied what I learned in the army and the infantry to building fema trailer parks in the ninth ward. Places like the ninth ward. And in Gentilly, we’re bashing this today. Long story short, I made it back to Grad school, study public health study of military related trauma and childhood traumatic grief because at the time I was, I was actually volunteering at a summer camp for kids who lost her dad in Iraq and Afghanistan. So this was a a canvas called Knights of heroes. If anyone listening, if you ever want to mentor some really incredible kids, I would point you there. What I learned from that experience was this sort of reciprocal effect that we have when we give ourselves in service.
Dylan Tête: 05:27 I went there thinking I was helping these poor kids who’ve lost their hero. And when I got back with something far greater, I was struggling with ideation at the time and these kids taught me a new expression of courage, which is the courage to live on. And I can’t tell you how helpful that was for me in my darkest point and my darkest Korean. I, I did check in at the Va. I got good care. And, and really that was the begInning of my journey. It’s probably taken me, I think I’m fond of saying it’s taken me about 10 years to really return home all the way, but along the way, you know, I heard about this thing called traumatic brain injury and jj, this is the signature wound on the war on terror. Right At the time we were really trying to put our hands around it, our arms around it, you know, I mean it’s, it was easy to diagnose for someone who’d been blown up having rolled over an ied.
Dylan Tête: 06:30 But then, you know, I have a classmate exposed to multiple blasts and over a period, you know, came back home and tagged all of his body parts, but over five years probably lost 80 iq points and has a severe short term memory loss and was misdiagnosed with posttraumatic stress for, you know, maybe five years after he medically retired from the army, you know, no one, no one could tell them what’s, you know, what’s going on. And so I think we’ve come a long way from that. But no. I remember going to Walter Reed and I met an incredible doctor by the name of David Williamson, who was the director of the tbi inpatient program at the time. He really opened my eyes to a, an entire community, a niche in the warrior population whose wounds well, there’s no treatment for the best we’ve got is rehab and neuroplasticity to restore connections, but you know, in the most severe cases we’re talking about warriors who are going to need assistance and the activities of daily living for the rest of their lives. I remember doing a focus group at the center for the intrepid and learning about and talking to warriors and family members about what was really described to me was a cliff and the continuity and the in the continuum of care. You know, that’d began another five year journey for me to figure out how community could be used to fill that gap in the continuum of care.
JJ Pinter: 08:05 So dylan, along the journey you are. You’re healing yourself, which we’re going to talk about some here you, but on a vocational perspective, you are. You’re doing public public works projects essentially helping the city rebuild and some of the most, maybe the more stressed parts of the city and so you’re, you know, you’re physically building something and doing those projects, but then you’re also helping communities rebuild, if that makes sense. I’m interested in how maybe like how the nexus of those things came together. Mbsi may. Maybe I’m taking a step that maybe didn’t happen, but In listening to it, it makes me seem like those things kInd of came together towards this idea of bastian.
Dylan Tête: 08:55 Absolutely.
JJ Pinter: 08:56 Bastion is located at ground zero for the london avenue canal breach. This is a neighborhood that’s at six feet of water. There are still empty houses in our neighborhood and in empty lots and I really. Go ahead. I was going to say I didn’t say this earlier, but I have actually been to new orleans and I have been to bastian and dylan walked me down and showed me where the breach was and you could. I mean, you can see it. There’s a very clear spot in the wall where there’s new concrete and you can see you. I mean it’s, it’s very somber or yeah, I don’t even know how to describe it as a very, um, very kind of emotional experience to say this because you could see very clearly like where, where it breached and then they have a house down there. I guess it’s been kind of untouched since it’s like a museum, right?
JJ Pinter: 09:48 It’s been like untouched since the floods. And you can, I mean, you can see it. It’s a very surreal experience. I, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I just, it’s still since you walked me down there, it’s like, it’s, it has really stuck with me because it’s a very real thing to see and then you can see all the new housing around there and just to think about what that was, what that was like. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Can you describe what is bastian for people who are listening to this?
Dylan Tête: 10:13 So bastion that the actual word, the entomology comes from. It is a french word and in the construction of medieval fortresses, fortresses were built with four walls. So if the enemy were attacking the fortress, all they had to do was pick one wall and contend with whatever came at them from that one wall will a bastion protruded the wall so that no matter which wall the enemy chose, it was going to have to contend with two parts to kind of offensive actions against them. And it was also as a point of innovation and the construction of fortresses and we consider ourselves a point of innovation and the continuum of care, you know, going back to the site. So vaskin is, that’s the etymology, but it is america’s first intentionally designed neighborhood for returning warriors and families. We have a powerful community model that can sustain a thriving recovery from the wounds and casualties of war.
Dylan Tête: 11:15 The whole model, when you boil it down to its most basic parts, it’s about facilitating active engagement which incubates and meaningful relationships that can enter for a lifetime. And when you think about, I mean if you think about that warrior in the most severe case with polytrauma, you know, having a neighbor, part of the care plan is, is everything. And it’s really the other half of the equation that the va can write a prescription for and so we’re using, we’re kind of recreating that military family and that existed in service and post service and it’s because it’s approximal living environment, it just lends itself. It’s a more intensive kind of, well really a way of life. And a lot of our residents expressed to us like there need to be a part of something greater than themselves, which is, I mean if you ask somebody why they joined the military, you might get that answer right in the top three responses.
JJ Pinter: 12:24 So this is what’s so interesting to me is
Dylan Tête: 12:27 when you think about where you live
JJ Pinter: 12:30 and the people that you live around
JJ Pinter: 12:35 that you spend so much time around, like it’s such an important part of your life, right? Because you spend so much time kind of in your house and around your neighbors and your friends. But be. I’m really amazed now that I think about it, that thIs isn’t part of the conversation as it relates to supporting veterans in, in a bigger fashion. There is, when you think about housing, people talk about, you know, homelessness as it relates to veterans in the va has, you know, the hud vash program and stuff, but no one is talking about that’s like a cute, right, like getting someone off the street and getting them somewhere where they’re safe and getting treatment,
Dylan Tête: 13:15 but
JJ Pinter: 13:15 no one is talking about the power of intentional housing and where and how you live in the healing process.
Dylan Tête: 13:26 There’s probably some good reasons for that. You know, bastian, so far to date is a $13,000,000 capital project, but the point I want to make is the foundation of our financing is a program that belongs to the department of treasury. It’s called the low income housing tax credits and it’s away from billion dollar corporations to buy down their tax liability. Every state in the United States participates in this program. There’s an allocation of these credits given to every state and as a result, I think it’s annually. We’re talking about six to $7,000,000,000 of housing being constructed is equivalent to about 100,000 units. And so if you just look at the potential there and then leverage that for returning warriors. And so this is really a conversation going beyond homelessness, like you said, because there’s a need across the spectrum. It’s not Just homeless and it’s not just severe tbi. We’re finding out a new orleans, there’s a lot of stress in the transition. There’s a lot of residual combat related stress and post traumatic stress or depression or anxiety, suicide ideation and military sexual trauma, you name it. That is really putting up some significant barriers for a successful reintegration in our warrior population. And so this is. This is something that you know, if you want to begin to imagine power centers for health and healing going up all over the United States. This is definitely one of. this is one of those assets that can be leveraged.
JJ Pinter: 15:09 I’m gonna I want to talk about that in a second, but the thing that I didn’t ask you earlier and I can’t believe is where did the idea come from? The vision to build this thing, because a lot of people will start nonprofits and that’s pretty abstract, but you had an idea, but this is a like, to your point, like this is a capital project, like if you go to bastian, like it’s its buildings and construction and it is very ambitious. So how did you get this idea?
Dylan Tête: 15:38 Well, it staRted. The idea was first a group home and group home idea really began going back to the knights of heroes program because we had military kids who were really just kind of frozen in their development. You could actually see it physically. I mean kids going for five years, not gaining weight, not growing in height. So I began to look around at the same time really, you know, the, the tbi epidemic had become more of a, a presence in the public sphere. I was very interested in that. I thought really, jj, I have, I think this is true. If I hadn’t thought bigger than a group, um, I don’t think we’d be as successful as we are today. We’d really, it was sort of audacious to think why don’t we just build an entire neighborhood and that way we don’t have to slip or a warrior from the family, you know, the va piloted and assisted living program for lawyers with polytrauma, but it was a group home setting and naturally the family can’t follow you into the group home.
Dylan Tête: 16:49 Right. This was a way, this was kind of a prevention before the family deteriorated because pvi will burn relationships faster than anything else. And so I had stumbled on a group called generations of hope. They built an intentional community 20 years ago on a actually a brat air force space, uh, an air force base that had been closed. And this isn’t in the outskirts of chicago at the time. The foster system was flooded with large sibling groups as a result of the crack epidemic. And this very smart social worker said, uh, you know, what? I can incentivize foster families, adopted families to take on large groups of sill as siblings if I can locate them together, you know, in a community setting. And so bill clinton actually gave her, I think it was president at the time, gave her I think 40 homes on air force base.
Dylan Tête: 17:50 And what happened was, I mean, so everything worked out great. You know, it had the complete wrapper around professional services, social services, but there were these seniors in the neighborhood who said, or who were living off phase that they were paying attention and she’s. And they came to the social worker, her name is brenda and said, brenda, we like what you’re doing, how can we help? she said, well, I’ve got these, got these houses, I got these extra houses. Why don’t you live with us in our community here, give us six hours of service every week to support these really vulnerable kids who had experienced trauma, right? And violence and, and mentor these young adoptive parents. And that’s when the paradigm is shifted from professional clinical as the first provider back to the community as the first provider of support and care on a daily basis. So that has kind of changed the game and the foster care system in Illinois since then, I think they’ve started up seven other communities addressing, you know, foster you or aged out foster youth. And so we’re sort of an adaptation of that model. And I can tell you jj, it’s working. It really is. Lives are being transformed here and it’s, it’s beautiful.
JJ Pinter: 19:08 So if you, if, if I can describe to everybody maybe to put a picture of, of what we’re talking about here. So there’s a neighborhood in new orleans and you can probably tell that I’m not from the south by the way that I say new orleans, but I think it’s my favorite. It’s one of my favorite cities in the country. There’s a neighborhood called gentilly, which is a, I guess I would describe it as maybe a, a, a neighborhood that is still recovering from the flood. Maybe all these, all these years later and there is a. Within that neighborhood there is a community or there’s a smaller neighborhood which is bastian, which is an intentionally designed, you know, neighborhood for veterans in their families to live together. And it’s, it’s an amazing, amazing thing that they’ve Built, but it’s different. It doesn’t look like your standard kind of housing. So there is the, there’s the differences that a midwesterner like me that would notice where you’re constantly worried about kind of like water and retaining water and stuff. Like there’s that kind of stuff that you notice it is everywhere in new orleans, but then the way that it’s laid out, I mean just like fundamentally the way it’s laid out is, is different. And then I would love if you’d talk about that a little bit, the Intentionality that went into,
JJ Pinter: 20:25 into building this thing and why and how you did it right? Because it’s like the physical manifestation of some of these concepts that we’re talking about.
Dylan Tête: 20:35 So we held a community charrette and we had over 60 participants who informed the design of the community itself. and it was a, it was a very diverse group of people. We, I mean we not only had clinicians and brain injury specialists that we had entrepreneurs and business owners, we had a, a wellness group of kind of nonclinical alternative complimentary and alternative practitioners. And we had warriors and caregivers themselves and I remember clear as day, my friend kevin trimble is a wounded in Afghanistan, triple amputee and uh, he doesn’t mind me sharing the story, but on some of his worst days, he really, what he described was not having the motivation to get outside this house. Right. And so, you know, we asked them, well, if you had neighbors living with you, what would that look like? What came out of that discussion was clustering for units together that create kind of this common courtyard and so entryways into the apartment homes actually face each other in clusters of four around a common courtyard which played in very nicely to the sort of front porch culture that we have in new orleans and the courtyard culture that we have.
Dylan Tête: 21:54 And so, you know, you cannot isolate bastion. And so that’s, that’s one example of sort of the intent, the intentional approach we took to designing it. And
JJ Pinter: 22:06 it’s just a really, really cool to describe what a cool kind of different idea it is.
Dylan Tête: 22:14 But it’s
JJ Pinter: 22:15 this whole idea of using housing and using public spaces and using common spaces to help drive healing and meaningful relationships. I think that is really interesting. And I’m wondering just how you see that playing into the healing process. So part of me says like, okay, having people live together is fantastic, but I’ve also seen, you know, we’ve all, we’ve all seen scenarios where that just goes in neighborhoods or barrier or dorms or whatever like that. It can also go catastrophic bad, badly. We, you know, when people don’t get along, I’m just wondering how, how you see this and why this works specifically for, for veterans and how you see this being part of the healing process.
Dylan Tête: 23:00 There are essential ingredients that went into bastian, you know, it’s, it’s multigenerational. And so we have retired veterans who are older and we also have civilians. We invited 10 civilian households to live in phase one. And so it’s not a barracks, you know, we built as many three bedroom units as one bedroom units because we wanted families with small children and we have 30 children that live with us in phase one. So there was a lot of sort of philosophical principles that we’ve baked into the program and the housing program now let me tell you about the healing. We just released our first case study and so if anyone’s interested in reading it, you can download it at our website, joined [inaudible] dot org, but it sort of follows the life of one of our residents who had his worst dealing with depression and suicide ideation living in his truck.
Dylan Tête: 23:58 Actually I think he had $200 to his name when he called his, his old platoon mates. He was living in New York at the time and his platoon mate was living here in new orleans and just said I don’t know what to do anymore. And so his, his friend said, just get down here and you know, you can sleep on my couch until we figure this out. Well we met him shortly after that. You know, I guess what he’ll tell you is that he has a safety net here, you know, so that when he does have a triggers or when he does begin that spiral, he’s not hitting rock bottom. And having to start at zero again, the community actually catches them, bolsters and reinforces them, reinforces our own, you know, warrior ethic and warrior ethos so that it stops them from spiraling. And then, I mean, so just imagine what safe, affordable housing does it by itself, I mean it’s a major stress and a lot of people’s lives you don’t have to worry about. And then imagine, you know, neighbors who are engaging with you, who are equally committed in your wellbeing and your reintegration. And so as a result of that, this resident is invoke rehab. He’s, he’s gone back to college, he’s got an internship lined up for next summer and he is on the path to a very successful reintegration.
JJ Pinter: 25:30 No, I think it’s interesting because we’ve been talking about community and helping healing and helping the veterans heal. But something that I noticed when I was there and I wanted to ask you about is the inverse of that. You know, you’ve got a neighborhood like, like jen tilly and you have bastion, like smack in the center of it. How has that changed the community? Like how has that changed? Gentilly? Is there some kind of like positive energy, Is it helping? Is the presence of veterans in this community, is it changing the dynamic of the community? Because before you answer that, how was it received by the community first? Because you know, when you think about. For me, when I think about new orleans, I don’t really think about it at being a military town and when I think about gentilly and not that I knew much about it, but I don’t probably the military is not something that’s part of the culture.
Dylan Tête: 26:23 Well in fact it is. It’s just not. It doesn’t hit you in the face like a san antonio and you know. Okay. We have a joint readiness space in belle chase, marine force reserves, marine force north as is headquartered in new orleans. Louisiana national guard is headquartered in new orleans and you know, the navy has a large presence in golf war which is just an hour away and then you have two major military installations in Louisiana at barksdale and so yeah, they’re really. I can’t let you go without saying fort polk and jrtc probably what I think too. The worst experiences that I’ve ever had in the military, they happen. They’re just throwing that out.
Dylan Tête: 27:05 It’s kind of in my backyard where I grew up. So no offense taken. Military people don’t realize this. The world war ii museum is in new orleans and it is incredible. Quick plug, unaffiliated. We have nothing to do with this. It is amazing. Go go to it. So new orleans is this place that understands trauma, given our art history with hurricanes and oil spills. But more than that, it’s, it’s really a city that understands community and the power of that community holes in rebuilding. And so we rebuilt a part of gentilly that will had sat dormant, you know, this is a five and a half acre tract of land that sat dormant for seven years before we, we kind of tripped over it and the larger impact is yet to be seen. I can tell you. so we’ve built a wellness center on bastian and we’re just now beginning to open that up to our neighbors across the street into the greater, you know, the metro, a warrior and family population.
Dylan Tête: 28:07 But you know, we’re doing yoga three days a week, we’re doing mind body skills groups. I think I can see one day where our warriors are mentoring a young children here in new orleans who had been affected by violence and gun violence. I mean the, the gift that that we have received, born of trauma, born of loss is truly a gift that requires us, that beckons us to share with the rest of the world for, for the benefit of humanity. And so I see bastian playing a role in violence and gun violence and, and maybe sort of diffusing trauma before it spreads a, at an early stage. We bought a. We actually purchased a little over an acre of the site from the venture partnership and we intend to break ground maybe in a year and bring something to new orleans and that it hasn’t seen yet.
Dylan Tête: 29:08 And so we’re, we’re talking to a very excited about this and I’m have to be careful with what I say because everything’s still kind of under negotiation, but it’s our intention to bring to new orleans. I really cool state of the art neuro rehab outpatient clinic that’s based in Texas. If you have friends with polytrauma, then you know that they live and die by rehab and the day they stopped doing rehab is the day they die and so new orleans doesn’t have a lot of neuro rehab. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to be part of that solution. Part of the, you know, we, we haven’t had an inpatient hospital jj for over 10 years and the federal government invested $2,000,000,000 to build a state of the art hospital, the va hospital here in new orleans. And so we’re starting to get more of those warriors who it’s a level two polytrauma network site now. So they’re starting to get more of those warriors and families back in the area and we absolutely see a role for fashion and the way that we provide treatment in the community. Uh, in rehab. That’s just one of our ideas for phase three and we’ve got a few others that we’re, you know, we’re doing some more research on, but it’s not an island to itself. It’s really, it’s a community wide. It’s a citywide asset. Is that what I’m looking at it.
JJ Pinter: 30:27 So here’s an interesting question. You had talked earlier about kind of taking this model to other communities. There’s been lots of instances in the past and maybe a lot of people don’t realize this of veterans kind of leading with larger societal issues in the country and the va in some senses is a good. Is a good example here because there there have been, you know, medical advances that have happened in the va specific because it was a need that they were addressing in the veteran community that was then taken to the larger community. I think there’s a lot of people, some would even say that a lot of this happened in the greatest generation if entrepreneurship and small business in some of these things. I’m wondering how you know you’ve gone through this process with building this intentional community for veterans in new orleans. Are there other. do you think you can take what you’ve learned here? Are there other communities or other segments of the population that you think this model could transfer to and be beneficial in? You know, we talked about, I guess foster kids in chicago, but it kind of brought this community, this model that you’ve built there. Is there, is there more broad application in other parts of our society?
Dylan Tête: 31:44 Yeah, there’s a lot of interest and movement in the adults with development disabilities space and so you know, there are parents who sound very much like the parents of a warrior needs moderate to maximum assistance when as they age and their ability to care for their child or loved one deteriorates. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them, who’s going to provide the social scaffolding around them. I will continue to make them a viable, a participant in civil society and so we get a lot of groups from that camp who come to bastard and business and it are motivated by, by the model.
JJ Pinter: 32:26 There’s. We’ve been talking a lot about healing and you were talking about obviously you know those with traumatic brain injury and getting polytrauma treatment. I’m thinking more broadly accessible and I wanted to ask that the cdc, I just read a paper recently has kind of said the next big public health epidemic right now is loneliness when people are really concerned about this now and if you know if you, if you have kids right now and if you interact with, with young people, I completely see this happening in front of me because they are so. This is completely anecdotal, but the kids are so tethered to devices that they really have difficulty interacting with each other and you can completely see this happening in front of us, but loneliness is this huge problem that our, our country and our world is facing with kind of the digital world that we live in and so I’m wondering how communities like this could be an important maybe maybe for, for everybody, for every veteran.
JJ Pinter: 33:25 Right? But the, for everybody because there are especially the age. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean there, there are no one knows this number for for sure, but when people transition out of the military, you know, most veterans, about 70 percent is what most people think. Do really well, they’ve, they’ve learned skills in the military that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and resilience and grit and mental, like they outperform their peers now. Some don’t, right? CertAinly some don’t, but a lot do. But that doesn’t mean that they still, when you start talkIng about health and wellbeing and relationships and service and all of these things, those things can still really catch up on. Yeah, if you don’t stay ahead of them. And so I’m just wondering the, the application of this concept maybe to help some of these broader societal challenges. We have like loneliness and what can that, what could that can do?
JJ Pinter: 34:18 Absolutely. And you know, we’re measuring loneliness at bastian, but I can point to half a dozen studies, uh, that have been conducted recently that really demonstrate how much a social connectedness and social relationships affect wellbeing and our health, our actual physical health. So I think the science is catching up to this. It’s a very potent antidote. You know, this kind of cohousing model around quote unquote vulnerable populations against the loneliness I, I’d love to hear about about new orleans more broadly right now as it relates to. It seems like there’s a lot of momentum to make new orleans a really powerhouse city as it relates to veterans and military and taking care of military families. I mean there’s this new va hospital you talked about maybe a bastion. You know, we have a team I’d write in Blue chapter there that I know that Michigan 10 years is there. I think team rubicon is there. I think there. I’m sure there’s other stuff going on, but it seems like there’s like all this stuff happening in new orleans right now, and I might be wrong on that, but more broadly, what’s the city guy going on right noW? Before I touch on that, let me just say, you know, you mentioned mission continues, team red, white, and blue. Next stop is also in new oRleans. They’re actually crow located with us. I bashed young. This is a, a career transition nonprofit
Dylan Tête: 35:38 that specializes in getting veterans jobs. You know john [inaudible], who’s the executive dIrector of that based in houston, I’m using it as a first step to plant a combined arms, which is more of a collective impact hub for, for transitioning services and veterans services in our city. And so yeah, there’s a lot. We also have a vfw posts, one of the largest or one, excuse me, one of the fastest growing vfw post in the country. It’s a, it’s 90 percent oif. Oef veterans can tell you what more broadly the city of new orleans is in business and we just attracted a fortune 500 it firm that’s bringing with it 4,000 jobs and so this, this industry around information technology, computer programming and other like is really blossoming here. you know, our medical infrastructure is coming back online in a big, big way. I mean, so the, you know, the va built this spaceship.
Dylan Tête: 36:37 I mean really when you walk inside, it’s like walking into the spaceship state of the art hospital right across the street. Lsu built a rebuilD charity that had rebuilt charity. They built a new state of the art hospital. Another major, major investment for an into our medical infrastructure, but I, you knoW, it a healthcare of course, you know, the service industry as linked with tourism here, we call it the cultural economy has, has, has gone a whole nother level. I mean since before katrina. And I mean we’re, we’re like exporting new orleans culture all over the, all over the world now. and so if you, if you love music, if you love art and performance art, you love food culinary. So this is a great place to not only work but also to live and raise a family. I’ve lived here since 2005 and I’m raising two young boys and I can tell you it’s a wonderful place to raise a family. So dylan, it’s not all bourbon street.
JJ Pinter: 37:37 Well, I get a chance To see a little bit more of the, uh, of the city last time I was there. But if you’ve not, if you’re, if you’re a young person, you’ve not been in new orleans, give bourbon street to try to add, you know,
Dylan Tête: 37:49 you won’t.
JJ Pinter: 37:52 Yeah, you will forget that experience either. But dylan, I wanted to share, share something really quickly and then I wanted to finish up and change the direction, a little bit of the podcast and talk about know about leadership some, but I did want to just share kind of a cool moment that had happened. So I was, I was in new orleans for a conference and I was visiting bastian with dylan and he had kind of walked me around gentilly and then walked around bastian and had met some of the folks that live there and they have kind of a, a central courtyard type thing. I don’t even know how I would describe it in there. And there’s kind of a, there’s kind of a, uh, like a brick kind of walkway path type thing. And I was just happened to be walking through there with them and I just happened to look down and I didn’t realize that these bricks there were, there were names.
JJ Pinter: 38:38 And so I just kind of looked down really quickly and I looked down at my feet and it just Happened to be the names of, of two of my friends to people I know that had had been killed in the war. One was joe luskin and another one was ben. Tiff nirjah was my classmate at west point when he was a pilot and tiffany was a year older than me was in my company at west point was a special forces officer who was killed and I just, I don’t really have any point of sharing that story other than it was a really kind of touching moment for me. And then I also wanted to just publicly kind of acknowledged those, those two guys because you know, they were a part of my life and gave the ultimate sacrifice. So I wanted to share that story just because it happened and it has stuck with me.
Dylan Tête: 39:16 I think where you were going with is jj. When I was developing the concept I, I relied on these guys for encouragement and strength. And these are. I mean, you, you mentioned joe and ben, I mean to ruffle heroes who gave it their all. I remember when I was, I was going to dc a lot in the early years to find funding and talk to lawmakers and that sort of thing and I would stop and at arlington on the way in or on my way out and spend time with them. you know, I feel their presence, their presence really enders and persists. I think it’s part of the magic when you come to bash and you feel an energy, I really hand it to those guys. I think about their families a lot. I, I want them to know that we haven’t forgotten and I certainly haven’t.
JJ Pinter: 40:07 Well, I think that I think that’s a really good attribute for, for both of those guys and everybody else who’s given the ultimate sacrifice. I think this is a good place to transition and I want to ask you a question about leadership and I asked this question to everybody who comes on the podcast because I love to, to kind of cultivate lessons learned, but I think it’s particularly pertinent here because you know, it’s one thing to be a leader, but it’s also another thing to do something like you did where you’re trying to build something that has just fundamentally never existed before and so you’re trying to, to lead, but you’re also tying to inspire and create and motivate people at the same time to do something. This may be a little abstract and it’s just a special type of leadership I think that takes it to make that happen.
JJ Pinter: 41:04 And also you’re working on a big longterm project that takes, you know, we have a lot of people want, you know, are concerned about the results they’re going to get today or tomorrow or this week. Thinking about something that is going to take years to see results is something very different. So. So dylan, this is the question that I had, I’d like to ask you, what’s the most important lesson that a leader has ever taught you in your life and if it’s, if that’s just something general, some something thematic that you’ve, that you’ve put together that would be great. Or sometimes there’s a crucible moment that people have where they say, this thing happened to me at this time, or this person said this thing to me and I stayed with me forever. So that’s the question. What’s the most important lesson that a leader has ever talked to you in your life? Not just anybody.
Dylan Tête: 41:52 Yeah, I think so. The first thing that comes to my mind is the idea of adaptive leadership, which is all about giving the work back to the people. I had this extraordinary opportunity to hang out with kinfolk at boulder crest last week and he’s very fond of saying that, you know, post traumatic stress is not a mental health problem. It’s a leadership problem. You know, what we’re learning at bastion is how do we give this very important work of, you know, I guess you could call it integration, but it’s kind of thinking of ken again and I’m going to use posttraumatic growth. How do we give this work back to our warriors and families were taking. So we’ve only been in full operation for a little over a year now at bastian and we’re learning a lot of things, but I think we’re, we’re retooling our approach around adaptive leadership and using something called asset based community development to as a methodology for leveraging strengths and assets in terms of human capital to build, build a better community, build a better world as leaders. We can’t. No, we can’t do. We can’t expect ourselves to do everything and be responsible for everyone. Right? And so they’re really tough war as giving it back. Learning how, you know, as communities we can tackle significant problems and not just hand it off to others to do it for us.
JJ Pinter: 43:27 Then I think there’s probably a lot of lessons, a lot of lessons to be learned in that for all of us, so. Well I wanted to take a moment and just say thanks for joining us on the podcast. Thanks for all that you do in support of veterans and in the community and I, you know, I haven’t asked you about this, but I’d be willing to say if anyone is in New Orleans and you’ve got a moment like ring up Dylan and come see him. It’ll be worth your while, I promise you so Dylan, thanks. Keep up the good fight, man. Thanks for everything and I appreciate it. Come back and see us!
Dylan Tête: 44:02 Thoroughly enjoyed this. I will very soon.