Week 1 Letter – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1 Letter

Dear Sasha,

As you start your first week at DFA, the world ablaze with pain and rage over hundreds of years of the Black community suffering at the hands of white people. You have been struggling with how best to show your support and allyship, and how you can be actively contributing to positive change right now. In this way, your work at DFA is incredibly important. Through your tasks and contributions to the team, you are doing your part in supporting the community of Detroit and the larger Black community. This is why you were attracted to community work in Detroit in the first place. To be an agent of change. To educate yourself; to learn, listen, reflect, have difficult conversations. 

To you, community is not limited to physical space, though as it relates to DCERP physical space, the city of Detroit, is important in considering community. They might live and work together, or strive to achieve goals together that benefit the larger community. The people in a community interact with each other, hopefully peacefully. It is a sense of belonging. It means shared values, attitudes, beliefs, but not necessarily shared cultures or identities. Hopefully you will find this and more with the DFA team and the students they work with.

It is true that you lost an important element of the community engaged work when we moved to working remotely. I think one of the things you were most looking forward to was actually engaging with the students in real-time conversations and forming relationships with them. However, there is still much to give to and gain from the program and community. This is a chance to gain: a network within the Detroit food justice/urban agriculture movement, experience working in the non-profit sector, experience working with youth, knowledge and insight into the history and culture of the city, and a new or deeper perspective of current events, particularly racial justice. You hope to be able to contribute: support and allyship to the DFA team, students and larger Detroit community and quality work that is meaningful to DFA. I hope to be able to make new friends from this experience despite the distance and virtual element of the program. 

Good luck!


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