Week 3: Community Engagement in a Virtual World – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 3: Community Engagement in a Virtual World

One thing I have learned about Detroit from working with my community organization is how passionate community leaders and residents are about restoring and improving their city. Over the past few weeks, I have attended many zoom meetings with community leaders and neighborhood associations, and it has been so great to see everyone collaborate to improve the city. For example, the 8 Mile Boulevard Association is currently working on a gas station beautification project as part of the Motor City Makeover to encourage gas station owners to improve the exterior of their businesses.

The pandemic has certainly affected how Nortown CDC operates. Everyone is working virtually for the most part, but I don’t believe that has gotten in the way of responding to community needs. Something interesting I’ve learned is that community engagement has actually significantly increased at City Council meetings as a result of the city operating virtually. The simplicity of being able to call in to a City Council meeting— from anywhere— to make a public comment has actually enabled more residents to voice their concerns. I hope that when moving to in-person meetings in the near future, the city maintains attending virtually as an option for residents. Although I have not worked with the organization prior to the pandemic, I’ve also noticed some benefits to working virtually. For example, I have had some days where zoom meetings are back to back, and I don’t think I would have been able to physically attend all of them in an in-person setting .

I have gotten to communicate with some community leaders virtually, and it has been great. I’ve also been able to hear from some community members through meetings like the 11th Precinct community meeting, and it’s great to see residents express their concerns or opinions on things like the ARP. I’m looking forward to also connecting with alumni of Lipke Park through social media and hearing about their past experiences and achievements.

4 thoughts on “Week 3: Community Engagement in a Virtual World”

  1. I noticed the exact same thing in working with my organization, Great Lakes Now. Everyone is really passionate and collaborative, and I think it’s a really amazing thing to be a part of!

    Also, that’s a really interesting observation about how the pandemic has increased community engagement because of the ease of attending meetings. I never considered the relationship between COVID and community engagement, but it makes sense now that you’ve described it!

  2. Brooklynne Bates

    It’s so interesting to hear the various ways in which the pandemic has had a positive effect in terms of engagement. Hopefully City Council meetings will continue to have high turnout even after the pandemic ends. Like you, I have also gotten the chance to attend more meetings and events due to their virtual nature. During the school year, I was able to attend many virtual club events that I would not have gotten the chance to attend if they had been in-person.

  3. Tottionna Bushell

    Hello Malak,

    It’s interesting when you pointed out that community leaders and residence are passionate about improving their communities. I would have to agree when it comes to my experiences at Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision as we work to reduce diesel emissions and make the community better. There is this myth that exists about Detroit that people are not helping themselves and seeking change. Through, SDEV and many other organizations, this idea is proved wrong everyday.

  4. Hey Malak,

    I’ve noticed how passionate community leaders are too and it honestly feels very inspiring. I think the ways in which the organizations have continued to work and thrive while being online AND during a pandemic speaks volumes to have driven people are to help others around them :). It sound like you’ve been having a great time and I cant wait to hear more.

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