Late Late Post – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Late Late Post

Today I’m going down to the Eastern Market to go by my work and drop off my keys. I was planning on stopping by the market for some fruits and veggies, and maybe pick up a couple beignets from the food truck. I can’t really believe how fortunate I was to be able to work right in that area every day for the last 10 weeks; I’m feeling sad about returning to the office for the last time, and I liked how important I felt with all of those keys jangling from my keychain! I really had such an amazing experience at my placement and the different urban gardens I frequented in Detroit. I definitely know that I will continue to visit the Eastern Market and volunteer at workdays at D Town Farm and Earthworks Urban Farm, like I promised I would. My sister and her friends graduated from U of M this past spring, and it’s made me much more aware of the types of decisions you have to make once you graduate from college. The need to consider the place you might want to reside the rest of your life seems much more imminent now, and is on my mind kind of often. Living in Detroit for the summer has broadened my idea of what it might be like to live in Detroit when I’m older; I really do feel like I might want to work and start a life there, and recently I’ve been speaking to some people I know who live there permanently about their experiences.

I’m very thankful that I got the opportunity to partake in this program, due to the opportunity to live in Detroit, and also the approach the program takes to conducting community research. The lady who was asking the majority of the questions at our final panel mentioned at the end that no one in the panel spoke much about the way community service should work to dismantle institutionalized racism, which is abundant in Detroit. I think Candace did a really good job responding to the woman and explaining that the nature of the program kind of works to do that in the way that it’s designed. Many charitable actions involve a more fortunate group handing things (based off their ideas of someone else’s needs) to a less fortunate group. One problem with throwing money at an issue, where you see fit, is that it concretizes the unequal distribution of power that one group holds over the other. Instead, when you work to provide a group with resources that make their power equal, real change can happen. And this can’t be done by deciding what another community needs; people know what they need, and know what they want, and community based participatory research allows for community members to be the real directors in their change. My research at D Town Farm and Earthworks Urban Farm was focused on the way that both of these gardens, and other urban community gardens, work to dismantle racism by strengthening the Black community in Detroit and eliminating the control that outside forces have on them and their lives. They’re already amazing programs that have been started by Detroiters themselves, and I think a different research program coming in to try and offer assistance may not have been facilitated the same way that I was able to with CBRP.

lsa logoum logo