Week 4: 7 Lanes of Moving Traffic – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 4: 7 Lanes of Moving Traffic

Pretty much all of my time this week was spent focusing on engaging local businesses with our organization. The previous week, I had done a lot of business survey work – looking at land parcel data, old tax documents, and business entity search engines. The goal was to figure out what businesses existed in the area around the intersection of Van Dyke and 7 Mile (which ones were new, which ones had closed during the pandemic, and which ones had always been around, but had previously flown under the radar) in an effort to arrange the first Northeast Detroit Business Association (NEDBA) meeting in almost 2 years. On Monday, we designed a flier for the event, printed out dozens of physical copies, and spent the afternoon walking the streets. We spoke with each business in person, making an effort to build a real connection with each of them. Along the way, my mentor introduced me to so many wonderful people.

On Tuesday, we spent a lot of time organizing plans for the meeting, and Wednesday, we focused on setting up, holding, cleaning up, and reflecting on the meeting of the business association. What really struck me about the meeting was the way everyone, even the people that had never met before, were so invested in each other’s success. Right before my eyes, I watched people bond over good food, make connections, and develop partnerships with each other. We even got the chance to meet a member of the local nonprofit Grandparents on the Move, who invited us to their meeting, which we went to today (Thursday), and I got the chance witness the same thing again – good food and good people, people who are so invested in their community and in each other. It’s been a really inspiring experience, and it’s made me believe in people in a way that I haven’t in a while.

As an end note, I would like to give a shout out of admiration for my mentor, who is genuinely a fearless woman. She’s almost 80 years old, but, at the end of our time passing out fliers on Monday, when we were heading back to her car, I started walking to the end of the block to cross the street at the streetlight. She asked me what I was doing when her car was “just over there” as she pointed across seven lanes of moving traffic and then, ignoring all of my protests, proceeded to stroll right on towards her car.

1 thought on “Week 4: 7 Lanes of Moving Traffic”

  1. I look forward to hearing more about your work during the showcase. I live very close to 7 Mile and Van Dyke so I would love to hear about any interesting business you hear about that are new. Also your mentor sounds amazing, she is definitely used to living in an urban city if she isn’t from Detroit already! My grandma is the same way, when I was younger she said to never worry about a car hitting us when she’s with me. Even though she is partially blind and uses a cane she always said the driver should be more worried for their own safety and their car than her haha

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