Chanda Hunter: A Storytelling Panda
Chanda Hunter might be walking around daily on three hours of sleep, but don’t be fooled; she can create the space within to connect with your soul to authentically listen and then tell your story. She can tell your story because she’s passionate about her own story.
Indeed, sleep comes second to Chanda because she’s busy co-creating her world.
She writes on her blog, outlandishpanda. She makes media through her company, Army of Dreamers Media Group (website coming soon). She earns money making organic juice, and spends the majority of her time participating in the underground street art culture at The Creative Plug in the Short North.
“Columbus is a city that is very alive. Coming from Dayton, Ohio, a city that is full of artists and creatives, I appreciate the effort artists living in Columbus put towards their passions,” Chanda explained. “An artist’s goal is to be able to monetize one’s craft and live comfortably doing what one loves. Or at least, that is my goal and I feel that Columbus is a great place for budding artists and creatives to grow.”
Now, Chanda has added one more passion project to her list: Test City, U.S.A.
As a passionate street art enthusiast, I frequent The Creative Plug and its Instagram account, @TheCreativePlug, which led me to discover @Chanda_Le’s account. When I issued a call to help co-create and 10x the impact of Test City, U.S.A., Chanda stepped up to participate.
“[Test City, U.S.A.] sounded interesting when I read about it,” Chanda said. “I’m familiar with CivicHacks — I love to hear great stories.”
Nicknamed “Panda” by her brother because of how it rhymes with her first name (pronounced Shan-dah), she likes to joke and tell people her nickname is Panda “because I’m mixed with black and white.”
“Also because I’m a straightforward person, black and white, no grey areas,” she added.
Born in Dayton into a big family, Chanda was a bully growing up; not out of hate, but out of fear. Her family struggled while she was growing up, and in high school, she was heavier than she is today. She used bullying as a defensive weapon to ward off others calling her names and picking on her.
Chanda recalled the origin, evolution and ending of the bullying.
“I never was a physical bully. I just always said mean things to other kids or spoke negative about other kids. I believe that I got that behavior from my brothers and sisters,” she said. “Being a part of a big family, you get picked on all the time by your siblings. I was just duplicating that behavior at school. I eventually heard myself speaking one day and was disgusted with myself. I decided to change then and there. I was about 10 or 11.”
During college, her weight just melted off.
“Getting the world to see me for who I was with that weight on,” continues to motivate her empathy toward those with body image challenges, she explained.
After graduating from the University of Toledo in 2015, she moved to the west side of Columbus. With all of her obligations and passions, it’s harder to get back home to Dayton to see her mom, dad and grandma (she’d love some of Dad’s baked beans, Grandma’s mashed potatoes and gravy, or Mom’s enchiladas).
Losing the opportunity to see them every day has been challenging, but being away has taught her the value of what she has. The only way to stay in touch is a phone call, where she still finds the connection to laugh.
If she could do it all over again, Chanda would teach her younger self to develop an authentic practice of patience — knowing that results take time. And, constant practice.
“I was never a patient child. I always wanted quick results. I got my first job when I was 13 so I could afford all the cool things that were popular at the time. I would put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with my friends,” she said. “. … I think back to growing up and how I would get upset with my parents when I couldn’t get what I wanted. I am so appreciative for my parents and my grandmother. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. Understanding more about the way the world operates, I enjoy the little things in life and am way more patient.”
Reading her blog, the theme still resonates.
Chanda’s vision for her life is not to become famous, but rather to authentically impact people. To stand as a place of reference for kids who want to do more. And with her media company taking off like a rocket, she should be in a good place to do just that.
Chanda admits that while she “made a lot of mistakes being a kid, growing up,” she is proud of the person she has become. Here at Test City, U.S.A., so are we.
Chanda Hunter’s story is #47 at Test City, U.S.A. which was created by CivicHacks in 2014 to tell interesting, authentic stories about the people in Columbus, Ohio. As America’s ‘Test Market,’ every major industry tests and refines their products in Columbus before scaling to other markets. We find it endearing that we represent America in every way. Our slogan is ‘A tiny big city with a story worth telling.’
The author, David All, is an impact catalyst sparking up authentically good businesses to change the world by impacting 1,000,000,000 lives. He is the founder and managing partner of CivicHacks and the publisher of Test City, U.S.A.