Week 10 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 10

Thank God I got a new bike seat.

My bike has been my main method of transportation this summer, and it went through a lot with me. From our normal three mile round trip to work and back each day to random bike trips for work, from a bike ride through southwest with Dominic to racing through the rain to avoid being completely soaked, my trusty bike has been with me through it all this summer.

So it was a fitting end that my last big event for work was a ten mile bike trip to urban gardens in the lower east side. I really had no idea what to expect from this trip, and what I saw blew any expectations out of the water. I saw beautiful gardens that brought communities together. And that was just a very small sample of the thousands of family, school, and community gardens throughout the whole city.

In a lot of ways, that last bike trip was similar to my summer. Bike trips have more-or-less framed many of my activities in the past ten weeks, but a bike can only take me so far. I may have seen a lot of absolutely wonderful things in my time, but that was just a snippet of what the rest of the city has to offer. Downtown, Midtown, Corktown, and New Center, are amazing, but they aren’t everything.

Too often, positive media attention and economic investment are centered around those areas of “Greater Downtown.” Admittedly, a vibrant urban center is absolutely essential for any thriving city. But in the neighborhoods lies the future of Detroit.

I was also apprehensive about whether or not my placement would serve the whole city, especially the neighborhoods, or focus on Greater Downtown. I was ecstatic to discover throughout my time here that Detroit Future City does a lot of work in the neighborhoods in cooperation and coordination with well-established community organizations. From the upper east side to southwest to the west side, DFC had projects in just about every part of the city. While I was not directly involved with many of those, the two projects I had heavy involvement in, a green calculator and DFC’s Field Guide to Working with Lots, will serve the entire city.

Although the last bike trip, like so many other adventures and even my experience at my placement, was not what I expected it to be, I think I am better off for it. The past ten weeks have exceeded my expectations by giving me experiences completely different that what I anticipated. And for that, I am tremendously grateful.

lsa logoum logo