It’s hard to notice your own gradual growth. The way our hair and nails lengthen each day.  The way our bodies, over time, get taller, then harder, then softer. It often takes a friend we see only occasionally to notice and bring awareness to our growth, like the fabled line most aunties sing “my, have you grown!”.

Likewise I don’t often see the growth of my truck. The way her roof sags with weather, the stains from long hours in the sun, the chipping and bumps.  Aging can go equally unnoticed in our everyday spaces. Hand in hand with the inevitable and unnoticed signs of aging comes a glorified beauty forged through trialed wisdom. I often don’t take time to notice how incredibly tall and bright and brave my truck (and myself) has gotten over the last three years.  For me, it is the comment from the friend visiting from afar who only sees my truck a few times a year that allows me to see what they see.

Let’s compare the truck’s growth directly to one of its most recent and obvious changes; the service window. It started as scraps of doors I found at the Loading Dock, installed by RV mechanics, painted fresh and looking sharp.  Three years into it, weathered and swollen with rain, mushrooms growing from the cracks, paint fading it was time for a change. Little Debbie’s old wooden shutters have been replaced with a big metal frame, welded by myself, installed and calculated with the help of a friend, with the wisdom to design in an  awning (Maryland’s rainy y’all!) and a way to dedicate part of the window into menu boards. GROWTH.

Recently, I have been offering consulting to individuals interested in trialing a pop-up or mobile business who are looking for applicable guidance on how to get started. It occurred to me to offer this sliding scale service when I sat down with a local free business consultant and felt surprised at how out of touch his business advice was relative to the in’s and out’s of this mobile industry. Things like navigating the health department, shopping for an event, day-of logistics are all  second nature to me now. My point in saying this is not to end on a brag, I’m saying this because it is powerful.

I believe it is important to recognize and respect  the power you hold when you have truly learned how to do something; in part so that you can begin to find ways you can share that power. At Visionary Night, a recent event hosted by Carleen of Le Monade, someone shared an important message.   If you have access, hold the door open. Sharing information can help us share power and shift the inequity in this city. Do you feel yourself leaning into the fear that sharing hard earned knowledge will allow others to surpass you?  Fight it. In my experience, I’ve only seen shared knowledge returned with gratitude and more sharing.

Last fall the truck was broken into, which forced me to reach out to my community for help, which moved my truck to a metal shop in Highlandtown, which connected me to a seasoned welder and architect. Through his generosity and skill sharing, I was able to learn how to weld and repair my unsteady doors, giving my truck new security and a fresh makeover. I am extremely grateful for the lessons in community and growth that I have been able to experience as I build in Baltimore. I plan to continue to sharpen my skills so that I can share some of what I learn, in hopes to share with you, Baltimore. So that one day you can have a fleet of beautifully tricked out trucks to roll throughout our neighborhoods sharing good food and skills and the power to change things for the better.

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