It’s been ONE WEEK – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

It’s been ONE WEEK

Dear Sophia,

Hello! You’re now in Detroit, which is exciting. One of the main things I hope to gain from this program is a deeper understanding of Detroit, which would be hard not to gain, as my understanding is currently around zero, being from New York. I want to fully utilize this summer and the free time I have when not working to explore the city, the different neighborhoods and places that I have never been. I also hope to have a meaningful experience at my job. FoodLab does incredible work, and I want to learn a lot while working on the Detroit Grown and Made project. On that note, I hope that I am successful, and the percentage of FoodLab members that locally source their ingredients actually does increase, or at least hopes to in the future. I want to be able to use my past experience in local food to help this project, and that I will be able to connect with people from the community, even though I am not from Detroit. My coworkers all seem to be very intelligent, cool people, so I also hope to make closer relationships around the office.

My current perception of Detroit is mainly from things I’ve learned as I was growing up, and more recently I’ve learned more about it because one of my best friends from college is from Southwest Detroit. I was aware of Detroit’s general decline somewhat when I was younger, but I now know more about its direct effects on the city, such as the education and public transit systems. Yet Detroit today is not just the bankrupt city that was all over the news a few years ago, there is a lot of life here. I can see this just from the few days I have been here and learning about all the work that our nonprofits are doing. So right now to me, Detroit seems to be a city that has obviously had its problems but is doing good work and is truly hopeful about the future. Yet, it is important to recognize the gentrification that is currently taking place in the city, apparent in the QLine and mass amounts of corporations in the Midtown area. I was thinking about it in comparison to New York, which has also had its fair share of gentrification in the past few decades. While NYC is definitely safer now than it was in the 1980s or so, many people also lament about the loss of certain small businesses and family owned shops. Even being born in the late 1990s, I have noticed in my lifetime the huge increase in chain stores in New York and decline in culture of certain neighborhoods. Just comparing that to Detroit, it is not as bad here (yet), but it’s so important that it doesn’t get that bad. Yet just from what I have seen so far, Detroit residents seem very adamant that it doesn’t.

I also hope to learn a thing or two about living on my own. This is my first experience really living on my own and having to cook completely for myself. I am excited because I enjoy cooking and I love food, but I am also nervous about doing it for ten weeks. It’s good prep for next year when I live on my own though. Hope I make it through the summer with a ton of new great experiences by the end!

 

Sophia

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