Week 1: Letter to Destini – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1: Letter to Destini

Dear Destini,

You have come to Detroit, a place that you have grown to love over the years,  and you have come to do great things. Although this trip is not for fun as it usually is, you are going to have a positive impact on the community and have fun with the people you meet along the way!

Over the last three days, you have been getting settled into the role of event planner by planning the Annual Health and Safety fair at Friends of Parkside. Although you have no experience whatsoever in planning such an important event, you have the mindset that you will succeed. You have the expectation that you will plan an event that will bring in vendors to provide health services while also providing resources that will create a safer and healthier environment for the residents that live there. For two of the three days, you have been attending the Beyond the Ivory Towers Event that your supervisor was speaking at. You heard many wonderful presentations on how there has been a shift from “community-placed research” to “community-based research” and how that has impacted the residents. One of the main lessons learned from this conference was that not only is it important to include the community members in the research, but it is important to convey the data and bring about change as a result of the research. At the end of the conference, you heard an amazing speaker by the name of Yusef Shakur. His main point was about how millions of dollars have been invested in areas in Detroit such as the midtown area, but none of the neighborhoods as few as two blocks away have seen any benefit from the investments that have been made. His speech has really ignited a fire in you that makes you want to focus on health disparities and advocate for those who believe that they don’t have a voice. You have seen your family struggling in the city of Detroit for a long time, and you now have the chance to make a difference.

As said before, you have been visiting Detroit for most of your life. You were aware of the more well-kept areas such as the downtown area, but you are more familiar with the neighborhoods where not much has been invested. Currently, you are aware of the gentrification that has occurred within the city, and you are able to see some of the pros and cons of this. You see the businesses and money that is flowing within the city, but you also see the people in the neighborhoods struggling to make ends meet. Detroit is a city with great potential and many opportunities for growth, and you wish that everyone in the city could benefit from this great place and all it has to offer.

Your overall desire is to make a positive impact in this community, whether it be big or small. You know that you will give it your all in order to make a positive change in the city  that you have loved for so long. You WILL be the change that you desire to see!


Destini Smith

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