Week 1: Community – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1: Community

Dear Diana,

Your sense of community has changed a lot over the last few months. Whereas the very tangible nature of community and nearness of community was the overarching theme, you’ve found that this is no longer what binds you to others; connections are a lot less physical, more so in the actions and efforts you put towards others and that they put towards you. You’ve found community, on a personal level, through the people you’ve maintained your connections with. Between the goofy zoom chats, music exchanges, and some more solemn text messages, you’ve found yourself grounded by the people who used to be within walking distance to you just month ago. You’ve also discovered how community extends its physical nature through the efforts, initiatives, and organization put on by people you don’t even know.

With this, I carry two general ideas: community is the way we are connected to others and what we strive for alongside others. I take this with me into virtual interning because something that initially turned me off was the fact that I wouldn’t have that direct connection with the community. Ever since high school when I was a Key Clubber, I did a lot community service work and has become a big part of my life as a college student as a member of Circle K. For me, that direct connection to a community is significant because, more often than not, we see issues that politics, organizations, and public service members attempt to solve do the exact opposite because they do not understand the nuance of the needs of the community they’re working with. What initially drew me into DCERP was the fact that I’d have this direct connection; I spent 18 years of my life living three blocks away from Detroit and I worked a lot with Detroit non-profits through Key Club. I also student taught in Detroit over this last semester and I valued those connections I had with my students.

As I near the end of my first week at Brilliant Detroit, a non-profit geared towards preparing Detroit students to reach age level reading by the time they’re in third grade, I think about the connection I have with the community Brilliant Detroit serves. I’ve worked with some students briefly over Zoom for book nook, a virtual tutoring program Brilliant Detroit works with. Though I don’t know if I have a connection with them. I do feel like I’m learning more about the community I’m serving though. Since Brilliant Detroit has moved towards being remote, they’re replaced many of their workshops and story sessions with videos that I’ve been posting. A lot of these videos are actually developed by people who’ve been served by Brilliant Detroit which I think is really interesting. Though I do hope to have more direct contact with the community— as of right now, I do know that Brilliant Detroit does a good job of serving its community just based off the voices I’ve heard from the community and the various things I’ve learned from about its operations; I respect how research backed everything is and how Brilliant Detroit focuses a lot of energy in connection with community partners.

As things progress I hope to get a more intimate understanding of how Brilliant Detroit serves its community and why it’s effective. More than anything, I hope to gain a better understanding of this.

2 thoughts on “Week 1: Community”

  1. Hi Diana! I really resonated with what you said about how our connection with others has now become virtual without the physical aspect. At school, my closest friends lived next door. Now that we are all back in our hometowns, I can feel that distance. Even when taking social distanced walks with people, that space between us seems very present. I am glad that despite all that, you are making connections with your non-profit and the community that it is a part of! I hope that you can still feel connected despite everything being over a computer.

  2. Diana, I really loved your idea of community being more than the way that we are connected to others but also as representing what we strive for alongside others. This is not something I immediately thought of when describing community but I love this take! It just goes to show that community can mean so many different things and just how prevalent it is in our everyday lives.

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