Week 3: New Perspectives – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 3: New Perspectives

For so long, the stereotypes  and media representations of Detroit had influenced my own outlook about what this city actually was. When the news cameras rolled and showed the blighted neighborhoods, the empty ransacked homes and vacant lots, these images continually reinforced in my mind that Detroit was a city that was unable to stand upon its two feet. However, what I failed to realize at that time was that  these images were the catalyst of generalizing a community whose problems were part of a larger integral issue; systemic racism and greed from a capitalistic society that prioritizes profits and not people. 

Working with Keep Growing Detroit for the past three weeks has shown me just how this city is built upon its people. It is the people keeping their neighbors from going hungry, keeping their friends from being evicted from their homes, watching out for each other in all situations. Harvesting at the farm twice a week has shown me that more than anything, community is one of the most important things that keep this city strong. As I watch community members pick up local produce, I see that the relationships formed are more than just between a customer and a company, but rather between a friend and a friend. Being able to harvest beet greens and donate it to food waste organizations or community members reinforces the idea of how the people are the backbone of this city, regardless of the government that continues to refocus its money on only the ‘desirable’ areas-primarily white and higher income.

Last Saturday, I was able to volunteer at a Juneteenth event for the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund, a sister organization a part of KGD that helps give black farmers access to land and grants. During the opening ceremony, one of the key speakers talked about the idea of remembering where one comes from and the people that have paved the path for us. When we reflect on where we come from and how we came, we begin to appreciate the efforts that others have made for us to be here. This gratitude enables and encourages us to lead others along that same path. As I continue to help with KGD and focus on food sovereignty in the city, I hope that the path I take is one that focuses on the people first.

2 thoughts on “Week 3: New Perspectives”

  1. Hi Chinwe, I really agree with your first reflection, as the stereotypes about Detroit are not out of genuine concern but instead to frame the city as a monolith and keep them in that bubble. It also reminds us that intention, going into the program working alongside communities and not “for” them is the best approach & frames our experiences in a way we can learn from their lived experiences, not just the media we consume.

  2. Emily Castaneda-Espinoza

    Hi Chinwe, your reflection about Detroit couldn’t have been more accurate. There’s always one image about Detroit that’s constantly being projected without investigating the reasoning behind it. Others do fail to realize that Detroit is a community in which people are active in to make it better. I enjoyed reading this (beautifully written) post of yours and look forward to reading where your path takes you!

Comments are closed.

lsa logoum logo