Week Ten: A New Chapter – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week Ten: A New Chapter

Well, reading over my initial letter to myself, I think that I have fulfilled most of what I wanted to accomplish this summer. I explored the city and its boroughs, made an impact in my organization, kept an open mind, and learned more about the socio-economic history of Detroit than I ever thought possible. Still, I could have explored more and there is still so much to learn!

Overall, the past 10 weeks have been very eye opening and humbling for me; eye opening because I have learned about atrocities that have happened in this city such as mismanagement, water-shutoffs and structural racial segregation; and humbling because this experience made me realize some of the things I often take for granted such as socio-economic advantage, legal status and education quality.

Detroit is an interesting place. Most people only see the tip of the iceberg, but THERE IS SO MUCH MORE BELOW THE SURFACE. There are so many amazing things happening in this city: revitalizations, community organizing, inclusive development and social change. Some people call Detroit a “blank canvas,” but I think that negates the incredible people and places that are already thriving here. Detroit is more like a sturdy foundation for real positive change if policy-makers and investors can learn to include long-time Detroiters in their future plans for the city.

During my exit interview, Jenna asked me if I would consider moving to Detroit after graduation. I said maybe, if it didn’t mean that I would be gentrifying. I wonder how white people can move back to the city without gentrifying? Will Southeastern Michigan always be as segregated as it is now? I still have so many unanswered normative questions regarding Metro Detroit and its changing dynamics. I hope to keep learning about the city and the region as I continue my collegiate studies.

I know that throughout college, I will encounter ignorance regarding the city of Detroit. I hope I have the courage to speak up when someone makes a racist/ignorant/naïve comment about the city or its residents. There is still so much work that needs to be done in Detroit, but I think that programs like the Detroit Community Based Research Program can have a lasting positive impact in the city.

This summer, I met some ambitious, motivated and creative people in this program, and I am proud of the work that we all accomplished this summer. Thank you Jenna, Gloria, Ana, Fernanda, José, my fellow DCBRP scholars, and Detroit for making the summer truly life changing.

Dinner in Clark Park
Dinner in Clark Park
Birthday dinner!
Birthday dinner!
Detroit Industrial Murals by Diego Rivera
Detroit Industrial Murals by Diego Rivera
Same building, different skies
Same building, different skies
Bowling
Bowling
Scavenger Hunt during the second week!
Scavenger Hunt during the second week!
Tigers Game
Tigers Game
Motor City Pride
Motor City Pride
The Heidelberg Project
The Heidelberg Project

3 thoughts on “Week Ten: A New Chapter”

  1. Hey Laura,

    I’m so glad that living and working in Detroit was such a fun and enlightening experience for you! I’m very confident that you helped your organization more than you even know – especially because translation and communicating in a second language like you have is a pretty rare, impressive and valuable skill.

    The program has also made me acknowledge what I take for granted (particularly having constant and easy access to clean water). I totally agree that Detroit isn’t just some blank canvas – there is so much already going on here, so much to contribute to!

    You made a great point about gentrification. I wondered the same thing because I’d love to live here but feel like I would be contributing to a larger problem.

    I love all the photos you included and I’m so glad to have met you this summer! 🙂

    1. Thanks Emma! It was so great meeting you this summer. I’ve loved keeping up with your blog posts and chatting during seminar!

  2. I am very proud of how many of your photos I made an appearance in. 🙂

    I love the comment that you make in this blog post about the harm of calling Detroit a blank canvas. It is also quite wonderful that you recognize the risk associated with gentrification and that you have the understanding to think critically about the role you could have in that.

    I am so glad to read that you are happy with how the past ten weeks went. You have definitely helped your organization and taken advantage of some of the wonderful opportunities that this city has to offer.

    Thank you for being such a great friend to me this summer. This past week especially it has been incredibly appreciated and helpful. Remember that you are very ambitious, motivated and creative yourself.

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