In the letter to myself from Week 1 of the program, I wrote about wanting to learn more about the history of Detroit and forming my own opinions about the city from my own experiences, and I can say that I for sure did learn a lot about the history of the city and developed my own perspectives from living here. The stereotype that Detroit is a dangerous city has not held true in my experience; I’ve never felt like I was unsafe walking at night, going to places by myself, etc. Maybe the stereotype is more dangerous than the perspective it’s trying to perpetuate. My expectations at VEJ did fall a bit short on reality, just because it was a much smaller organization than I was expecting to be working in, and the structure of the org was more lax than I thought they would be. With this flexibility though, I was able to volunteer at 3 other urban farms throughout the summer and it was really cool to see other farms’ operations and their space. It was really beautiful to see people working and encouraging others to get their hands in the soil, grow food, and promote a more sustainable food system. Also, I was able to fill the gaps in the needs VEJ had, as I wrote in my letter from Week 1, and did a lot of program marketing and development as needed. There were some programs/events that did
really well and some that only attracted one or two individuals, so it was a mix of success and then not as much success. I definitely learned a lot more about what it’s like to work in a small non-profit though, which is good for me to learn now and not later. Overall, this experience working and living in Detroit has really opened my eyes to a new view on race, class, gentrification, non-profits, and urban agriculture, and I’m really grateful to have been a part of this years DCBRP cohort.