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Trailblazer SPOTLIGHT:
Erik Barrett

Trailblazer SPOTLIGHT: Erik Barrett

Name: Erik DeSean Barrett
Years lived in Norfolk: 39
Job: Content Creator
Trailblazer Project: Walk the ERT every day in February

How did you get connected to the trail and the Foundation?

I met Councilwoman Andria McClellan at Cafe Stella in 2017. We were in the middle of trying to get the Confederate Monument (Johnny Rev) taken down in the Main Street Plaza. I shared with her my vision. We had just lost four citizens in my neighborhood to diabetes and heart conditions, which are totally preventable. 

Andria then connected me with ERT’s Events Committee Chair, Rachel McCall, and Cheryl White who was the Executive Director at the time. I vowed that the next year I would walk the entire trail. I began the first community walk in July 2018. Then another in October of the same year, and finally, every month beginning January 2019. 

It was a moment for us to not just exercise, but explore, and engage in a city many continue to feel disconnected from.

What is Your Vision?

To put it in one sentence it is “To be a friend to those who don’t know, or don’t believe, this city is for them.” I want to be an alternative voice in my community for action. We don’t all like the same things so it’s impossible to have one option. The healthiest way to build community is when everyone has an opportunity to express how they feel.

What is the Challenge you are doing for February? What is the goal?

Every morning I am joined by Sam Broughton, fellow trail advocate, who I connected with while he was living in Chesterfield Heights. He and I go on adventures through various parts of Norfolk, both on the trail and near it. It’s a moment for us to hear each other, to learn, and see the world and Norfolk through each other’s eyes. We record these chats for a podcast called “Hey, It’s EDB”. It might challenge some as we deal with sensitive feelings, emotions, and ideas. However, we hope through these conversations we will help create a safe space for those who feel no one understands them.

What impact will the trail’s eastern expansion have on those communities?

That is a question for time to reveal. All I can do is not just promote a trail, but also the idea that walking with your friends, family, or alone, can do Awesomesauce things for your health.

Favorite Trailgrazing spot? (i.e. best local food spot steps from the trail)

The Pagoda, because that’s the spot of my first walk and Cure Coffee House, because its owner, Chris, was very influential in my activism work.

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