"I'm an average guy, but I've got above average dreams."
That's what Burnell Cotlon told us when for the last stop of our road trip we visited the Ninth Ward of New Orleans -- the area hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina and with least infrastructure for recovery.
In the aftermath, no one would open a grocery store, so Burnell restored a building by himself so people he grew up with would have a place they could walk to buy bread. He wasn't a carpenter, so he watched videos online to learn how to finish a roof, run electrical wiring and build cabinets. By force of will, he built a grocery store for his community, then a barber shop, a laundromat, a children's playground, and now he's building an internet cafe. As he told me: "I'm going to keep on going until I can put a second story on my place -- I'm not going to stop." I believe him.
It struck me as we've traveled around this week that every community we've visited has entrepreneurs like Burnell. There are always people with the spirit to do whatever it takes, who have an idea, are willing to learn new skills, and put in the labor to help their community. This makes me hopeful for the future, and I'm looking forward to meeting more folks like this in my travels for the rest of the year.