[guest post by Dana]
During the dog days of summer, media reporting on all things Trump is at a rolling boil. Whether it’s about him throwing red meat to his base, his Putin man-crush come to a shameful head, his possible revocation of security clearances , or taking aim at the “Amazon Washington Post” and anything to do with the “Mueller Witch Hunt,” all the scribes from all the tribes are furiously shaping and molding the news so that the public knows what to think. Ugh. Let’s hit the pause button for a second, and cleanse the palate with some unexpected decency and generosity.
I don’t know about where you live, but in my neighborhood there are any number of front-yard lemonade stands serving up cold drinks to wilting neighbors. The young entrepreneurs are polite as they pour refreshments from plastic pitchers into little Dixie cups and happily collect their quarters as a hovering adult reminds them to say thank you. If possible, I stop at these stands because young people learning the basics of running a little business while earning some summer money is a win-win. With that, the Star Tribune ran a great story about an ambitious 13-year old running a hot dog stand, and what happened when the inevitable complaint was made and the Minneapolis Health Department got involved. Hold your assumption though, because things didn’t go the way they typically do when a regulatory authority is involved.
Jaequan Faulkner stood under a shady pop-up tent, shuffling dollar bills and tucking them into a pink cash register, his hazel eyes locked on the next customer.
The pop-up Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs goes far beyond the traditional neighborhood kid’s lemonade stand. It’s a business with a permit from the city of Minneapolis.
Faulkner’s venture, a tabletop of hot dogs, Polish sausages, chips, drinks and condiments, will travel around the North Side this summer, including stops at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, the Minneapolis Urban League and Sanctuary Covenant Church. Eventually he hopes to move into a food truck.
Jaequan Faulkner said he likes running his own business and that he likes how he shows people that young people can do anything.
And now about that complaint and the Minneapolis Health Department.
The city received a complaint about the teen’s stand, said Logan Ebeling, a Minneapolis health inspector.
But rather than shut the teen’s stand down, the city stepped up to help his business improve.
According to Ebeling, Faulkner did need to make some changes to his stand. He had to get a tent for overhead protection, a hand washing station and the city also gave him a thermometer to check the temperatures of his sausages and hot dogs.
Staff from the Minneapolis Health Department, the Minneapolis Promise Zone and the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) came together to help bring Faulkner’s hot dog stand up to code.
“We’ve been working with Jaequan on the business side of things, like basic business, finance, marketing, pricing… he’s really been excited about all of it,” said Ann Fix, program manager for the Northside Food Business Incubaor.
Staff from the city’s health department even chipped in to help pay for his $87 permit.
“Surprisingly, I’m like, dang the city’s not the bad guys in this situation. They’re actually the ones who are helping me,” Faulkner said. “It makes me feel kind of—not kind of—really proud that people know what I’m doing.”
But for Jaequan Faulkner, he has another goal than just making money:
Next year, Faulkner hopes to put 25 cents from every hot dog sale toward raising awareness about youth suicide and depression, something he’s struggled with personally.
Jaequan said that he was bullied when he was younger. As such, having the stand and having to to go to work helps him not to dwell on what happened. The business has given him a purpose and hope. I figure if a self-run hot dog stand has substantially built up the self-confidence of a struggling young person, then everyone in the vicinity of Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs is obliged to go buy a dog from him.
Obviously, coming to Jaequan’s aid didn’t require a massive amount of time or money on the part of the Minneapolis Health Department. What it required was a willingness to help in real time, and in a very tangible way. If we have to have such a regulatory agency, then this seems more in line with how they should function. And the immediate question should be: How can we help in a tangible way and in real time? Because now that the Minneapolis Health Department set a precedent by coming to the aid of the young entrepreneur in such a beneficial way, what happens when other entrepreneurs like Jaequan face similar complaints? While the staff was generous to pay the permit costs, what about the other necessary items that the agency itself supplied? How far does the regulatory arm of generosity extend, and what is the criteria one must meet to be the recipient of such a gift?
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)