And we’re off!

So tomorrow is the big day. The New Flavors Food truck, hosting Elias Dean of Steers Somali Restaurant will be at Grand Forks’ Alley Alive event.

It’s been quite a process and through these postings, I’m going to fill you in on the whole thing.

Let it suffice to say there is an equal mix of anxiety and relief before the big day tomorrow.

In the last few months we’ve – and I’ll detail the many, many faces of “we” in the future – made so much progress.

The big part of what we do is the big yellow truck. It is already  bit of an icon and a lot of fun to roll through these North Dakota streets to waves and smiles and raised eyebrows. The big yellow truck. That’s how it’s known now. But the real identity will continually develop.

Many people know the mission of the truck – to help open economic doors to our emerging populations and providing opportunities for different people to safely “collide” through food and community events.

Kristi Mishler, Pete Haga and Cynthia Shabb at the Knight Cities Challenge convening in Philly.

Many people are familiar with Knight Foundation, their longstanding support of Grand Forks and the other 25 communities. They might even be familiar with the Knight Cities Challenge, the program that provided the funding, the platform, the technical advice and the incredible support to embrace a crazy idea to build community and help nurture it to fruition.

There are stories of paperwork – sexy, right? There are stories of policy development – yup, more sexy. There are stories of budgeting and more budgeting. These are all necessary stories and the ones I did not quite anticipate.

And there are stories of people. The people who jumped on this ship right away from Kristi at the Community Foundation to Barry, Cynthia, Matt, Ilhaam, Noura and Molly on the board. There are stories of our doumentarian (made that up), Tony and my son, Mason making the trip to Minneapolis to get the truck.

There are stories of Kelly, Eric and Mark at Chameleon Concession patiently tolerating my ignorance, frustration and other emotions through the actual process of turning an 18 foot Chevy workhorse into a full-fledged food truck that our health inspectors said was near perfect.

There are stories of the foodies who just wanted more trucks in our town, in our life.

There are stories of a family who continues to support this bizarre effort even though it takes my time, my attention and my good humor at times. I can understand why my 7 year old is excited – it IS a BIG YELLOW FOOD TRUCK. I understand the solid support and offers to help by my teens. They’re really wonderful people. I do marvel why my wife has not only been the biggest champion, best adviser and staunchest supporter, but has done all of her own jobs and grad school at the same time. She has given the most. It’s been a lesson I will work hard to emulate.

And, most importantly, there are stories of some of our newest neighbors who have come here from so far away. Our new friends and family from Somalia, Nepal, Burundi, Liberia . . . It has been heartening to hear that efforts as small as this matter when it comes to rolling out our collective welcoming mat.

The first – next – story will be about Elias. He is a Somali entrepreneur who started up and runs Steers Somali Restaurant. In the last few months he has taught me a heck of a lot more about running an American business than I could ever relay to others. He is the first renter of this “uber for food trucks” and he is excited about bringing his food, his culture, himself, closer to the Grand Forks community.

I am in awe and humbled by the last year of events.  I simply cannot wait for what comes next.

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