Editor’s note: KCultivators is a new, lighthearted profile series we’re kicking off to highlight people who are meaningfully enriching Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. If you have suggestions on people or have feedback, let us know what you think!
For Donald Carter, kindness is serious business.
After a decade-long detective career with the Kansas City Police Department, Carter dove into the area’s entrepreneurial community in 2015.
In addition to working for local tech startup HipHire, Carter is in the midst of launching KCindness, an effort to purvey random acts of kindness in his hometown. His first project — in which Carter helped raised over $15,000 for a stranger, Shajuana Mays, to go to nursing school — was featured in Startland News and went viral on a national level.
Following the buzz of March’s act of kindness, Carter plans to further experiment with how to cultivate kindness in the metro. Hoping to build bridges and community connections, expect more Carter-inspired acts of kindness in the future.
Twitter handle: @DonaldCarterKC
Occupation: Community builder/connection consultant
Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.
Favorite drink: Based on my actual habits, Thou Mayest coffee — I drink that all the time. But my favorite drink of all time is an Old Fashioned.
A startup idea you don’t mind if readers steal: A food cart that sells fancy grilled cheese and grilled peanut butter sandwiches. With gourmet cheeses and nut butters — just simple drunk food.
A historical figure you’d like to have coffee with and why: Martin Luther King Jr. I want to know what drives him and how he persisted in spite of fear.
Weirdest thing you’ve eaten: Duck brains while in China. I didn’t like it.
The animal you’d want to become in your next life: A black panther. They’re strong, mysterious and beautiful.
You’re up to bat for the Royals, what’s your walk-up song: Untitled 05, by Kendrick Lamar.
KC’s biggest area for improvement: I think Kansas City is really disconnected from itself. The people that are typically leading are really disconnected from the real needs of the people that they are serving. I don’t know if this problem is particular to Kansas City, but I sense that there is a disconnection between those who are serving and those being served. There is little meaningful communication happening between those two groups of people. … There’s so much complexity to our city, the only way I believe that we can get to the real issue is communication.
Favorite food joint in KC: The Rieger. They made food an experience and really accessible.
An influential book in your life: There are several. I would say the Bible, but I don’t want to sound cliche and so many people have their own ideas about what that means. One that I have read recently that influenced my perspective is The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau.
What keeps you in Kansas City?: If you can heal the heart of something, then you can heal the rest of it. For example, in the urban core — the place that needs repair are in the urban blighted neighborhoods of Kansas City. If you can heal that, then it will spread outward. Kansas City is like that for our nation. It’s the heart of our country, and that is the same concept in my mind. If we could make Kansas City a really healthy place here it has the potential to spread outward across the nation.
New technology that you’re most excited about: The Internet of Things. The overall connectedness of our world through technology is exciting to me. The idea of an interconnected network through technological advances and what that can bring to communities.
What you would do if you weren’t in your line of work: I would never not be working to make connections and improve Kansas City. I would be doing this wherever I was, it’s just an extension of who I am. But if I were to take a hiatus, you will find me alone in the woods just recharging so that I could go back and handle business.
What pisses you off: People who litter. This morning as I was driving to work, this woman was driving with her hand out the window with a bag of trash. I could tell that she was waiting for me to pass and that she was going to drop it. When she thought I had passed her and wasn’t looking she threw it. When I see people throw trash out of their cars, I get livid. I stopped the car, got out, walked in between her car and mine and I picked it up. I wanted to say something to her so badly but I didn’t because that’d do no good.
Favorite KC organization or brand: Baldwin.
What you hope you’re remembered for: If I was to be remembered I don’t even want people to think about words whenever they think of me. Specifically for my family and my kids, when they remember me after I’m gone I want them to have a sense of peace and gratefulness that I was in their life.
Biggest failure: Succumbing to my fears for too long and doubting my own ability to lead and change things. I’ve only recently in the last couple years, specifically a couple months, taken steps confidently. That’s a big failure to me, the delay of stepping up and doing the things that were in my heart to do.
An inspiration in your life: Love from other people. When I see other people being good to each other that inspires me. That reminder of humanity inspires me. It’s so simple. For example, I saw Shajuana yesterday and it was inspiring to see her be mindful to the people around her. I’ve connected with her a few times a week, and she sees me as a mentor figure now. I see it as mutual because I gain strength and encouragement just from knowing her. She’s just that type of person.
You can’t invest or save it — how would you spend $1 million: I would buy every vacant house in my neighborhood, fix it up as nicely as possible and within that budget invite all the best people I know to come live there for free and conspire together to beautify and build that neighborhood up.
Man crush: Idris Elba.
Girl crush: Melissa McCarthy.
A weird dream you remember: I had a recurring dream when I was a kid going through my third-grade elementary class. There was a scene from Nightmare on Elm Street where Freddy Krueger is chasing these kids and they keep repeating the same thing over and over again but they don’t realize it until the third time. So basically the dream was me saving my third-grade class.
Favorite travel destination: I’m not sure. I like all of it. I really liked Florida and I am going to the Bahamas soon. I like the mountains, the forest. All of it.
Your mantra or motto: The speed of kindness is slow.
Hidden talent or ability: Not many people know that I play the drums and am also a hip-hop emcee.
You’re awake at 3 am, what’re you doing: Conspiring about the future.