This week I have been helping HOPE Village Revitalization (HVR) prepare for the weekly Farmers Market. This week’s market was especially important because we held a libation ceremony at the end of it to honor those who have died as a result of police brutality and racial violence. The set-up was like a neighborhood vigil, where residents held memorial signs with images of the fallen. Everyone took turns reading names of the fallen, ending with all of the memorial signs stitched together on a vinyl sheet for everyone to see. I was in charge of making graphics to promote the event and community strength. I was also tasked with making the memorial signs with slogans and images of victims like Eric Garner and George Floyd. There were 6 images/names on each sign, and I made 15 total so that we could read 90 names. Seeing all of the faces together was really disheartening, and I wish I could have been at the ceremony in-person to see their impact on the community. However, the HVR staff told me that the signs I made were really powerful and moved the residents, and I’m glad I was still able to help from a distance.
Non-profits and communities in Detroit already face many challenges, and COVID-19 added another layer on top. HOPE Village residents who don’t have access to high-quality housing have had to quarantine in poor conditions, and many have had trouble accessing affordable food sources. Yet, I am proud to see the work they do to help alleviate those challenges and how resilient Detroit communities are. As I mentioned last week, HVR hosts weekly community calls for residents to voice their concerns, and this has been a great outlet for COVID-19 resources to be shared in the neighborhood. HVR has also partnered with community organizations to create collective resources. It has been wonderful to see the turnout at COVID testing sites and food giveaways. While HVR is relatively new, this pandemic has provided an opportunity for them to increase their impact in the neighborhood.
While we certainly did not expect COVID-19 and the increased presence of racial violence this summer, I am so grateful to be working with organizations that help Detroit communities get through these hardships together and empower one another.