Entry #8: Making the Extraordinary, Ordinary – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Entry #8: Making the Extraordinary, Ordinary

You simply cannot get bored down here. It’s downright impossible. Every single day there is something extraordinary going on, and the thing is—that’s ordinary in Detroit. I feel like I have experienced more in the nine weeks now I’ve been here than I have in my entire life.

That’s not hyperbole either.

For example, Monday, I participated in the Slow Roll, a weekly event where scores of people from all over come together as a group to ride bikes around Detroit. Tuesday, my friend from back home visited and we got food at the Grand Trunk Pub, an old railroad ticket station converted into a bar. Afterwards, we stumbled upon Classical Tuesdays at Campus Martius, another weekly event where Campus Martius hosts groups that play classical music for the public. And today, Wednesday, I went down to New Center Park to watch an outdoor showing of Despicable Me.

It just blows my mind as to how much there is to do in this city.

I mean, the urban atmosphere so starkly contrasts the suburbs I grew up in. Having spent 18 years in suburban Sterling Heights, I believe I hold a pretty good understanding of what there is to do in that city. You can go to the mall. You can go grab food. You can chill inside or outside, you’re preference. Every now and then there will be a festival or something along those lines, but those are few and far between.

There lacks a sense of community, a sense that is ever so prevalent in Detroit.

In the suburbs, people are much more reserved and private than those I have encountered in Detroit. Many seem to exist within their own personal bubbles, content on just meandering their way through life without interacting with their community. While I respect others’ wishes to remain private, I believe many in the suburbs simply default to privacy because they know of nothing else. They believe that a private, community-free lifestyle is the only one that exists merely because they lack the experience of an open, community-driven lifestyle. I feel like I’ve finally gained that experience after living down here.

It’s often said that the highest degree of excellence requires multiple heads, and I believe that to be true. It’s really inspiring to see and hear about how some of the community leaders down here had a vision, found others with a similar vision, and made their visions a reality for everyone to share. I don’t know if it’s due to the increased closeness one experiences with their neighbor in the city, a more problematic environment, or simply a result of more perspectives, but people are motivated to get stuff done here and they do it. And I love it.

I think we all should aspire to leave this planet in better condition than we entered it, and it appears that many more in the city agree with me on that than those I have grown up with in the suburbs. I’m glad I learned where my fellow visionaries are located this summer, and I look forward to inspiring future generations with the community-driven work I have been inspired to do in the future—making the extraordinary ordinary for everyone to enjoy.

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