Week 4: Culture – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 4: Culture

Regarding culture, I feel very grateful that my organization operates in such an open and relaxed manner. I think because the organization is so small, it helps feed a sense of understanding and trust. I really appreciate getting to work in an environment where work culture/culture, in general, is a topic that we can discuss in a healthy and learning manner. I also appreciate working with such a diverse staff that ranges in gender, age, religion, race, and general experiences in life.

I’ve heard from residents of Highland Park about how the culture of the city has changed with its place in history. It used to be a thriving city before much of the population left when the Ford factories moved to other cities in the mid 20th century. There’s a natural sense of disheartenment that follows that, but it demonstrates a core idea that any type of culture is hinged upon there being people there to nourish it. It’s become noticeable to me just how often population is a topic of concern for the residents.

More on the topic of my role this summer, it’s been interesting to hear from members of the team on how they respond to my concerns that I don’t want to come into the city and “rearrange their furniture” so to speak. Because so much of my work revolves around pushing the city government to improve the situation regarding energy democracy, I’ve been careful not to overstep any boundaries and disrupt the local culture of governance and order. To my surprise though, there’s been a welcoming response to the idea that I am, for the most part, an outsider coming in that can offer my help. I think this relates back to the idea that you need to be invited into a community in order for your work to really achieve its goals. Overall, I’m very fortunate and grateful to work with such a progressive organization that is open to discussing culture as a topic to learn from.

1 thought on “Week 4: Culture”

  1. Timothy R Spurlin

    Hey Nissa,
    That is so great that your organization welcomes you and your ideas/opinions as an outsider from the city. I think it is one of those things where if you were trying to force your vision it would become unwanted, but by letting them ask you what you think it allows for more genuine feedback and ideas. Quite literally, the people want you there to help and hear what you have to say. Keep up all the good work in Highland Park!

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