Week 4: Brimming with Brilliance – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 4: Brimming with Brilliance

My site provides a unique lens to examine cultural cues because it has locations in many different communities. From Osborn to Southwest, the city has a spectrum of cultural norms and practices. As someone who is helping an organization standardize policies across neighborhoods while also maintaining what makes each neighborhood beautiful and unique, taking note of these cultural cues is not only fascinating but essential. At times when communities operate or communicate differently than the organizations that are serving them, the organizations can mistake the community differences as problems. This is especially common for predominantly white privileged organizations like Brilliant Detroit, as they enter neighborhoods of color. In times like these, organizations can become so focused on their outcome that their vision shifts to changing a community rather than giving a community the tools to create their own change. It is in oversights like these, awash with power dynamics and white privilege, that the “mission” of a project can be totally undermined.

This is why I find studying cultural cues so important in our work. We are committed to ensuring that Brilliant Detroit does not become one of those organizations, and continues to prioritize community interests and input. One way we have been searching to discover what makes each community unique is through interviews. So far, we have spoken to community managers, block club leaders, local volunteers, and a few parents. While I can’t say there are explicit social or cultural cues that could be applied to each neighborhood, I think these interviews have given us a good baseline for things the shape the guidebook will take. We’ve learned what areas need to be more flexible like times of events(people eat dinner at different times all over the city) and what areas can be more set in stone. I’m really looking forward to move further down this road and to continue to get community input on this document, as it will hopefully help them run their branches of Brilliant Detroit for many years to come.

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