Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

I always look forward to Friday…and not just because it’s almost the weekend. Our seminars have been a great addition to our workweek. They provide the opportunity to learn, discuss, and engage one another in conversation about important topics that we’re experiencing around us. Each week is a different topic, led by various speakers from the community.

One of the most memorable seminar experiences was learning about the difference between observation and interpretations. It was the first time I had ever thought about the two concepts separately. To me, it almost felt unnatural to separate the two concepts because I realized that by nature, I interpret what I observe. While, I’ve always tried to withhold my assumptions, I can’t help but try and deduce what’s going on around me. That being said, the seminar opened my eyes to the distinction and encouraged me to spend more time observing. The power of observation is something I will continue to explore.

I also enjoyed the seminar where we watched the documentary We Are Not Ghosts. The documentary explained the history of Detroit and how it came to be while incorporating stories of community businesses, members, spoken word artists, and urban gardeners who are working hard to create the Detroit they envision.

What struck me in particular were the various urban gardens around the city of Detroit—some started by community members, others started by nonprofit organizations. I was inspired by the community members’ initiative. I thought it was incredible how they aspired to make change in their community and come together to support one another through gardening. Throughout the film it was apparent how the gardens were a place for the younger generations to learn from the old, as well as a place for people to watch their hard work blossom.

As I reflect more thoroughly, one consistent theme of our seminars is the real life stories of nonprofits and community members working hard to better the city. Whether it’s through academia or hands on work, their stories have inspired and complimented our work, as we strive to do the same.




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