On Monday, I attended Mack Avenue Business Association’s bi-monthly meeting for two hours. Prior to attending, one of the people that is helping my site with a feasibility study took the time to explain the history of Mack Avenue regarding segregation, the businesses and its close proximity to Grosse Pointe and the implications of those things. This was not the first time that this person has stepped in and educated me on the history of a community before I interviewed some of its members. He is a really busy person, but he always takes the time to explain the culture of the community or workplace before I enter into a conversation with them. I have greatly appreciated that and really value his insight as he is also a community member of Detroit and understands the cultural cues of these communities much better than I.
An example of this was before I was supposed to call a woman who is a developer in Highland Park, he told me that she prefers to be called Mama Shu, instead of Mrs. or Ms. Shu. I appreciated that he remembered to tell me this so I could enter the conversation in the most respectful way.
Overall, I think picking up on cultural cues are more difficult virtually and I wish that I was there in person. However, my supervisors are really trying to be that bridge and are always willing to educate me on the history of Detroit, who the leaders are in surrounding neighborhoods and communities, and current projects and initiatives of developers before I interview them for my research.