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Dismantling Injustice

Meet the remarkable LaQuida Chancey, Founder of Smalltimore Homes and incredible inspiration to all those looking to affect change in their communities. We are honored to feature LaQuida in our May 2024 issue of En Root, and interview her on her mission to create models of sustainable living for everyone in Baltimore and beyond. Happy reading!

This month's theme is all about sustainable living. Tell us how this theme has played a role in your personal or professional life.

As a Black woman with over 15 years of experience in the information technology field and a passion for community building, sustainability has always been at the forefront of my journey. I've embarked on a unique path that intertwines my professional expertise with my commitment to creating a better world through tiny home living.

After years of witnessing the disparity in access to housing, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I embarked on a mission to build a demonstrative 20ft tiny home on wheels, not just as a community sanctuary but also as a symbol of hope and possibility for others. Through my organization, Smalltimore Homes, I teach volunteers how to use tools to build micro-shelters, empowering individuals to take control of their living situations and fostering a sense of community resilience. This is also a means of creating gig-work opportunities and the basis of a future workforce development program.

My journey embodies a growth mindset and the simple yet powerful idea that everyone deserves safe and dignified housing. But sustainability isn't just about the physical structures we inhabit—it's about the way we live our lives and interact with the world around us.

With my background in information technology, I'm uniquely positioned to enhance my tiny home for adaptive living. I envision integrating smart technologies and innovative solutions to maximize energy efficiency and optimize space utilization, all while maintaining a deep connection to nature and community.

For me, sustainability and community go hand in hand. It's about recognizing our interconnectedness and the impact of our choices on both the environment and each other. By coming together, sharing knowledge, and embracing a collective vision of a more sustainable future, we can truly build a tiny home haven where everyone thrives.

At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe that sustainable living can impact our perspective and influence our future decisions?

I've seen firsthand the transformative power of coming together and through my journey with Smalltimore Homes, I've witnessed how creating community can profoundly impact our perspective and influence our future decisions.

Building a tiny home on wheels wasn't just about creating a space for myself—it was about creating a platform for change. With every nail hammered and every wall raised, I envisioned not just a home, but a symbol of hope and possibility for others. Through Smalltimore Homes, I teach volunteers how to use tools to build micro-shelters, empowering individuals to take control of their living situations and fostering a sense of community resilience.

But community building extends far beyond the physical structures we inhabit. It's about forging connections, sharing knowledge, and supporting one another on our collective journey towards a better future. By teaching a shop safety class at Station North Tool Library and offering shop assistance as a digital equity makers fellow at OpenWorks, I'm able to extend a helping hand to community members, empowering them to pursue their own creative projects and dreams.

Through these experiences, I've come to understand that creating community isn't just about building relationships—it's about shaping our perspective and influencing our future decisions. When we come together, we gain new insights, broaden our horizons, and challenge our assumptions. We're inspired to think differently, to act with compassion, and to strive for a future where everyone has access to safe, dignified housing.

As I stand on the simple idea that everyone deserves housing, I'm reminded of the profound impact that community can have on our lives. It's a reminder that we're not alone in this journey—that together, we have the power to create positive change and build a future where everyone thrives.

What is one hard lesson you learned in this past year that contributed to your growth? 

This past year has been a journey of growth, filled with both triumphs and challenges. One hard lesson that stands out to me is the realization that not everyone shares the same vision for liberation and community empowerment. As someone deeply committed to creating thriving communities and uplifting others, this realization was both eye-opening and difficult to grapple with.

Throughout my journey with Smalltimore Homes and my involvement in community building initiatives, I've encountered individuals who seek to align themselves with me, not out of a genuine commitment to our shared vision, but out of a desire for control and power. It's been a sobering realization that not everyone has the best interests of the community at heart.

In these encounters, I've learned the importance of discernment and staying true to my values. While it can be tempting to align myself with individuals who offer resources or opportunities, I've come to understand that true progress and empowerment can only come from authentic collaboration and shared values.

This hard lesson has reinforced the importance of staying grounded in my vision for the community I represent and the legacy I want to leave behind. It's reminded me that while power dynamics may exist, true liberation comes from building relationships based on trust, respect, and a shared commitment to collective growth.

Moving forward, I'm committed to remaining vigilant and discerning in my collaborations, ensuring that every partnership aligns with the vision of creating thriving, empowered communities. While the lesson may have been challenging, it has ultimately contributed to my growth and strengthened my resolve to continue advocating for justice, empowerment, and liberation for all.

What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2024 and beyond?

As we embark on a new year filled with endless possibilities, I find myself reflecting on the competencies and skills I hope to cultivate in the months ahead. One area that stands out to me as essential for both personal and professional growth is negotiation.

Negotiation is a powerful skill that transcends boundaries and empowers individuals to navigate complex situations with confidence and grace. Whether it's advocating for equitable partnerships, resolving conflicts, or securing resources for community initiatives, the ability to negotiate effectively can have a profound impact on our ability to create positive change.

In my journey with Smalltimore Homes and my involvement in community building initiatives, I've encountered numerous opportunities where negotiation skills could have made a significant difference. From securing funding for our projects to navigating partnerships with stakeholders, I've come to recognize the importance of honing this skill to amplify our impact and further our mission of creating thriving, empowered communities.

But negotiation isn't just about getting what we want—it's about finding common ground, building relationships, and fostering collaboration. It's about listening actively, understanding different perspectives, and seeking win-win solutions that benefit all parties involved.

In 2024 and beyond, I'm committed to developing my negotiation skills to become a more effective advocate for justice, equity, and empowerment. I aspire to approach negotiations with empathy, integrity, and a commitment to collective well-being, ensuring that every interaction contributes to building a more just and equitable world.

By seeking out the development of negotiation skills, I believe we can unlock new opportunities, forge stronger partnerships, and drive positive change in our communities and beyond. Here's to a year of growth, learning, and meaningful impact through the mastery of negotiation.

What inspires you?

What inspires me? It's a question I've pondered often, and the answer lies at the core of my passion and purpose: I'm inspired by dismantling injustice.

In a world where systemic inequities and disparities persist, the fight for justice and equality fuels my drive to create positive change. Whether it's advocating for affordable housing, challenging racial disparities, or empowering marginalized communities, I find inspiration in the opportunity to address the root causes of injustice and build a more equitable world for all.

My journey with Smalltimore Homes and my involvement in community building initiatives have been shaped by this unwavering commitment to dismantling injustice. From advocating for policy reforms to amplifying the voices of those most impacted by injustice, every action is guided by a deep-seated belief in the power of collective action to create meaningful and lasting change.

But inspiration isn't just about lofty ideals—it's about the everyday moments that remind us of the urgency and importance of our work. It's in the resilience of communities facing adversity, the courage of activists speaking truth to power, and the solidarity of individuals coming together to demand justice.

As I navigate the complexities of community building and social change, I'm inspired by the countless individuals and movements dedicated to dismantling injustice. Their unwavering commitment, resilience, and determination serve as a constant reminder that change is possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

So, what inspires me? It's the opportunity to be part of something greater than myself, to contribute to a movement that seeks to dismantle injustice and build a world where everyone can thrive. And as long as there's injustice to be dismantled, I'll continue to draw inspiration from the collective efforts of those fighting for a better tomorrow.

At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in the next year?

I'd recommend reading books - Read The E-myth for entrepreneurs, The Black Butterfly for change-makers, and How Children Succeed for community organizers.

What's next? What are you excited about in the coming year?

In the coming year, I'm thrilled to lean into launching a donation site and edible garden program in the Oliver community. These initiatives represent more than just physical spaces—they're symbols of hope, resilience, and collective action. By providing access to fresh, nutritious food and essential resources, we're not just nourishing bodies; we're nourishing spirits and fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment.

But that's not all I'm excited about. In the spring, we'll be launching a tiny tour to visit our 20 ft tiny home on wheels near West Virginia. This tour isn't just about showcasing a unique living space—it's about sparking conversations, inspiring creativity, and challenging assumptions about what's possible. It's an opportunity to invite others into our journey of community building and empowerment, to share stories, and to envision a future where everyone has a place to call home.

As I look ahead to the coming year, I'm filled with hope and optimism for the impact we can make together. From launching new initiatives in the Oliver community to embarking on a tiny tour adventure, every step forward is an opportunity to amplify our impact, deepen our connections, and create positive change.

So, what's next? I'm excited to continue our journey of community empowerment, to dream big, and to take bold action in pursuit of a more just, equitable, and thriving world.

LaQuida Chancey is an experienced real estate investor, entrepreneur, IT Professional, and owner of Xavier Estates, LLC, a full-service real estate company. In February of 2018, LaQuida started Smalltimore Homes, an equitable housing nonprofit. The mission of Smalltimore Homes is to provide those experiencing homelessness with transitional housing through land ownership and permanent housing through tiny home solutions.


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