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Check Out Will Walker’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Will Walker.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
A Tribe Called Run (ATCR) was founded two years ago (2020) in the midst of the pandemic as a means to connect with friends in a socially, but still responsible and healthy way. Prior to starting ATCR, I dabbled in the health and wellness lifestyle space with a venture called Brunch N Burn. My business partner and I focused on creating an event that promoted healthy habits within Baltimore’s African-American community through movement, mental health, and food.

When the pandemic hit, that all came to a sudden halt and I was left with the urge to still promote a healthy lifestyle, but the only way you could do that was in the digital space. For an introverted person like myself, this was a problem because I loathe making videos or going live on social media. If you recall, throughout the lockdown, there were fitness challenges amongst friends which we’re really big on the social networks, however, I could never fully invest in them. I was honestly too overwhelmed with anxiety while trying to find my next direction.

Fast forward a few months and a friend asked me about starting a running club, which I honestly wasn’t very open to! Running was already a regular part of my fitness practice and it was one of the only things you could do at the time, so I was intrigued, but also very doubtful about starting something like this in the middle of the pandemic.

After talking to a few other friends who had already shared some interest in the past about starting a group, we all got together for a run one Monday evening outside of R. House and the rest is history! I really wonder how different my life would look, if I let fear take over and didn’t decide to press forward with organizing our group!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
For the most part, it has been a very smooth road, but we’ve had a ton of growing pains. I don’t think we ever envisioned our group growing as big and as fast as it did! We had to quickly transition from being just a social group to actually running this group like an organization.

We had to install captains to manage our runner’s expectations and facilitate a safe environment for our runners to feel comfortable expressing any issues, etc. Subsequently, we had to learn fast that there should be a code of conduct for our members to understand what’s acceptable while participating in ATCR events or representing our organization.

The biggest thing that I can say as it pertains to this topic is that as we go into year 3, we have to remain humble and realize that we are still learning what it takes to run an organization and to be open-minded. We realize that we provide a service to the many runners that join us on a weekly basis and that ultimately we have to keep them in mind as we continue to grow and build our program.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m an engineer by day, I moved to Baltimore back in 2000 to attend the illustrious Morgan State University! From there I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering. However, my true passions are cooking, and connecting and building communities.

In 2016, I started a series of brunch pop-ups and catered numerous dinner parties at various local businesses. The community that I was able to build with the business owners and their institutions was critical for allowing me the opportunity to tap into my creative energy.

As I mentioned earlier, I was able to eventually marry my two passions of food and community through Brunch N Burn! It felt great to know that we were creating an impact by helping our community learn better lifestyle habits with physical fitness and easy-to-make, healthy home-cooked food.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what sets me apart from others. I’m in a community with so many dope people who are all striving to make the same changes for their community! As they say, iron sharpens iron and I’m glad to look at my immediate circle and those I’m in community with to be inspired!

I think we all have unique qualities that make us different, but I only see the big picture of the impact that we are all striving to provide through our platforms.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love Baltimore because the people are one of a kind! The grit and determination that our residents constantly display are motivating. Although there are a number of systemic issues in Baltimore as it relates to race, economics, and quality of life, you can’t help but be inspired by the people that continue to push forward regardless of the weight of those issues I just mentioned.

The pride that Baltimore natives carry is very infectious and it’s easy to understand why so many transplants buy into that pride. I’m a transplant to Baltimore, but it truly is home! I’ve lived most of my life in this city and have never doubted my decision to plant my roots here after completing my education.

In regard to the things I don’t like about this city, I’d have to say again the systemic issues I raised earlier. Baltimore City residents pay one of the highest tax rates in the state of Maryland and it feels like we should be getting more! I have a big problem knowing that we have one of the largest police budgets in the country per capita and the idea that throwing more money at the police budget, instead of much-needed resources for education, mental health programs, transportation, etc., is the solution to making everything better.

It’s frustrating to see a city made up of 65% African-Americans be held in a constant police state of observation, while the city government could choose to reallocate those resources to provide more equitable opportunities for those living in the “Black Butterfly” as Lawerence Brown would say.

Sorry to get political, but at a high level, it hurts to see those things taking place in a city that I truly love! If you love something you should naturally want to see it get better. Unfortunately, to see it get better, we can’t overlook those things that are holding us back.

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Image Credits
Schaun Champion, Sam Canner, and DJ Impulse

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