Week 1 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1

Dear Karla B,
This was my first choice of internship and after spending a day exploring some of the FoodLab businesses and driving around the city with Devita, I am confident that this summer will be incredibly impactful for me as well as giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the city of Detroit. My current perception of the city has already changed since being here. I was already aware of the pressures to gentrify, demographics, and knowledge that it was beyond what the news has told me, but now I have a better understanding of just how many people are actually working to preserve and better their city. During my day with Devita, I met so many people that were passionate about the city and committed to change without being this placed. I am happy to just be a small part of the movement.
I believe that this summer with FoodLab and in Detroit will grow my interest in both the business and urban planning sector. From a consulting standpoint, I hope to be able to work with some small businesses to help solve issues they may have within your business and continue to move you all’s healthy and sustainable food initiative forward. Consulting also pairs with the research I will be conducting this summer on food businesses in the city and trends within Detroit. Hopefully, I and my colleague’s findings will be able to benefit them greatly. Along with the help to the FoodLab business community, our research also goes into urban planning for us to understand where these food businesses are located and why. I eventually hope to take urban planning and find a way to grow communities without gentrifying them. The community is nothing without the people and characteristics that make it who it is.
Looking outside of the realm of academia, I am a native of Flint, MI. I believe that our two cities share a similar story in terms of our history with the automobile industry and a lack of opportunity bringing poverty to our cities when the automobile industry dwindled. This makes me want to work even harder for FoodLab this summer. I also see the similarities in people, such as Devita who are taking the needs of the community and championing them on their shoulders. I admire them all for this.
Karla Bell

1 thought on “Week 1”

  1. A lot of what you said rings true with me as well. Your point about not realizing how many wonderful and dedicated Detroit advocates there are was something I was surprised by too. I guess a lot of us fall into the trap of listening to all of the Detroit doubters that seem to exist everywhere. It’s not until we actually get here and see the work being put into saving these historic residents and communities that we can truly understand the passion Detroit’s residents have for their city. This first week has assured me that this city has a bright future because of the dedication exhibited by citizens of this city.

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