Assembly Required returns with a sold-out crowd and a ‘love letter’ to Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge is a “city of in-betweens,” but it’s also on the cusp of transformation—it’ll just take the right leadership and creativity to get there. This was the message shared by speakers at last night’s Assembly Required event.

The ThreeSixtyEight speaker series, which aims to build “creative community” and “business innovation,” returned for the first time since 2019, before a sold-out audience at The Executive Center in Mid City. City leaders discussed what’s holding the Capital City back from its full potential. Guests were rallied with a “rising underdog” theme throughout the evening.

The March 23 event marked the 10th Assembly Required. Co-curators Kenny Nguyen and Adrian Owen Jones say the Creative Capitol-themed event was long-awaited. Assembly Required will now host quarterly events, with its next—themed “The Future of Talent”—on June 22. 

Photos by FairFilm / Courtesy Assembly Required

Keynote speaker and Nebo co-founder Adam Harrell told the story of initiating a grassroots movement to change perceptions of his city, Atlanta.

“You have to rally the insiders before you can convince the outsiders,” Harrell said in his presentation. His ChooseATL campaign aimed to do that,  pushing a sense of community pride by reminding residents why they love their home. Nebo and partners created a video “love letter” to Atlanta. It soon went viral. The campaign has gathered over 100 million earned media impressions, with more than 10,000 social media posts shared to its hashtag, #ChooseATL, and was shared through the city’s largest publications. 

Before the end of the night, ThreeSixtyEight captured the audience with its very own video love letter to Baton Rouge. With lively music and engaging editing, it celebrates Baton Rouge’s culture and encourages residents to ask “Why not us?” (Watch the video here.)

Chris Meyer, president and CEO of Baton Rouge Area Foundation, also addressed the audience, sharing how  his childhood experience with education shaped his outlook. He said he was sent to a low-performing school while growing up in Shreveport. His foundation is moving to create great schools available to everyone and give the youth an opportunity to fulfill their dreams and potential. He says Baton Rouge is a city with the ability for great change.

“Luckily, I had people that looked out for me and teachers that motivated me to go to a better school option,” Meyer said at the event. “That changed my life. But that was such a once-in-a lifetime opportunity that did not seem available to others.”

Other speakers included Norisha Glover, CEO of NRK Construction, who talked about the value of the city’s workers with all ranges of education levels. Sanjay Sharma, founder and CEO of Marginal Mediaworks Inc., delivered a message on the importance of appreciating the process rather than the outcome. 

“We tolerate mediocrity,” Glover says. “The biggest challenges inside the city, we’ve gotten used to. We tolerate it because it’s comfortable, and doing something different requires energy.” 

Photos by FairFilm / Courtesy Assembly Required

Several guests concluded the evening with testimonies and words of gratitude. Guest Mark Vincent told the audience the event gave him exactly what he went for. 

“Faith without action is dead,” Vincent said to the crowd. “I knew what (Assembly Required was) all about, but I wanted to make sure there was not only an inspiring evening, but there was going to be a follow-through and accountability.” 

The curators encourage those interested in updates on future Assembly Required event dates and tickets to join its mailing list

“We’ve been gone for 1,220 days since our last event,” Nguyen says. “What kept us going was the Assembly Required community. We realized that Assembly Required was a place where people were inspired and pushed to take action. Taking that away from Baton Rouge meant taking away a watering hole of creativity and ideas that could transform our city. Who wants to be held responsible for that?”