4: Culture – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

4: Culture

It’s difficult to pinpoint the culture EcoWorks. I think it’s because we’re a bit of an ecosystem: all in one area with many different groups and needs and tendencies. I think these differences have produced a variety of interacting cultures that exist through the people that are attracted to each of our teams but also through the responsibilities and challenges of those teams.

Tim and I work on the Strategic Community Initiatives team, which is arguably the most professional of the EcoWorks teams, in that our community interaction is mostly in the form of meetings with municipal leaders and professionals from other companies and nonprofits. Honestly, I think the team culture is pretty much just that: professional, organized, emotional boundaries up. But this contrasts with the other team cultures.

This is mostly clear in the way that the Youth Energy Squad and Residential Education teams operate. Youth Energy Squad works on the ground most of the team, going into schools and continuously working with high school students in the surrounding communities. Residential Education holds workshops and regularly enters the homes of those who they’re assisting. They carry the emotional burden of the individuals and families they work with because they often face societal and political barriers both to their own work and to the cooperation and involvement of community members.┬áStrategic Community Initiatives often have the freedom and the disadvantage of working from afar without being able to engage on a more personal level. I think this creates a culture that permeates the office of positivity and involvement, always through the lens of environmental and social justice, with varying levels of emotional engagement.


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