My love for Baltimore grows stronger as the days go by. I remember when I first moved back home in 2013, after a stint in NYC, feeling devastated and defeated. Unsure how to rebuild my life in a somewhat familiar place, the same reasons why I left in 2002 in the first place were still ingrained in the back of my mind.

"I don't see myself in this city. It's too slow paced. It's too Black and White. Where are the Haitians that I'm not related to? Where are my Caribbean folks at?!"

It took some time for me to adjust to the pace, the shift in cultures in the neighborhood I grew up (hello Nigerians!) and the fact that there are some like-minded people that I can learn from.

Integrating myself into the different niche communities and cultures that Baltimore consists of has been my saving grace. I've gained perspective and have learned the complexities that are often overlooked by the media and even people who live in the surrounding counties.

I've pushed myself to learn and surround myself with people of different backgrounds, and by coincidence or serendipitously, I've met some of the most brilliant and ridiculously talented people.  The game-changers, the influencers, community organizers, the builders, activists, and entrepreneurs. The types of people who care about making this city shine.

And right now, that's precisely what we need.