Here we are – Week 9 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Here we are – Week 9

Wow. Reading back on my first post, I noticed how authoritative it was. Very motivational, of course, but I can tell now that with all of the events that was occurring back in June, especially with BLM, it definitely toughened me up, and it shows in my writing. Still, throughout the weeks of this internship, I was able to soften up, as I realized I could focus my energy on facilitating positive change, instead of feeling threatened my negative events. I definitely feel like I gained my “inner peace”.

Back in the first week, I wrote that my main goal was to “learn how to use the strengths of a community to address the needs (not weaknesses) of a community in a sustainable way”. Now, I can confidently say that I learned this through my work with the MOTION Coalition. As I was conducting interviews with numerous food organizations like Gleaners, Eastern Market, Forgotten Harvest, the Detroit Food Policy Council, (the list goes on) to determine what their food programming was during this pandemic, I realized that the strengths of the Detroit were within the orgs like these that are not afraid to take initiative during such an unpredictable time. These orgs had struggles with lack of staffing and adequate infrastructure, all while addressing the surge of demand. But did this stop them, or discourage them? No. They quickly rerouted their programming to serve the local communities, because that’s their mission- to make a food secure Detroit. And with my and Jasmines’ research, the MOTION coalition will be able to pull information from these resilient food organizations to determine common needs for both them and their communities, and thus start advocating for policies and other sustainable programming. So there I go – I learned the strength of Detroit was within the food organizations’ emergency efforts and MOTION coalition’s ability to be the liaison between all of them, and this leads the way for collaboration of efforts, patchwork that can address the new food needs for the community, and the advocation for policies and longer term programs to make the new initiatives more sustainable. There they are, the three golden words: strengths, needs, and sustainability. 

I’m so glad that I got this opportunity to intern at Authority Health and the MOTION coalition through DCERP. I definitely felt myself taking more initiative whenever it comes to doing tasks, something I’ve rarely felt before. And I’ve gotten to work with the most wonderful people, most notably Dr. Custer, Jasmine Mumpfield, and Dennis Archambault. And meeting the rest of the DCERP cohort, although virtually, was amazing, and I really hope to see them again in the fall. No, I don’t think I can ever forget this experience, I’ll cherish it forever.

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