Working in Southwest Detroit has been an enriching experience. Everyday I am able to observe a community very different from anything I’ve ever been around. With a large Spanish speaking population Southwest Detroit is home to Mexicantown and holds a culture and atmosphere unique to this portion of Detroit. From the many authentic Mexican restaurants that line the streets to the signs and announcements written only in Spanish I have, for the first time, been enveloped in a place where I am not always able to communicate with those around me. Nonetheless, I have an appreciation not only for what Southwest is but also for what it represents about the rest of Detroit. From working in Southwest to occasional field work in other parts of the city, I have learned the true size of Detroit. From the office we can drive for twenty minutes to get to one of our program houses in the East side. We are still in Detroit. Beyond crossing many miles, we also crossed through countless neighborhoods with their own distinct flavors. Old, historic areas like Southwest exemplify that Detroit is a collage of cultures and backgrounds. Unfortunately, there are signs of decline in this collage. Delray (next to my office’s location) was once a prospering area with a thriving Hungarian population. Now it is a sparsely populated neighborhood of around two thousand. Similarly, we are now learning of how Cass Corridor and downtown are being stripped of individuality by the development projects of Illitch and Gilbert. As I work and learn about Southwest I truly hope this area holds on to the individuality that gives it such a unique personality.
Here is my image. I have tried for about 20 minutes to upload the image but for some reason an error pops up every time. This image is from a luncheon from this past week at Comerica Park for an event called “Fiesta TIgres”. This event honoring latino baseball players has special significance to our program considering the demographics of Southwest Detroit. I really enjoyed bonding with my co-workers and learning about latino history with the Tigers franchise.