It is insane to think about how it is the end of the program is steadily approaching us. Just in the beginning of June, we were talking about how much this summer would “fly” by, as we excitedly anticipated starting our projects soon. Now with 2 months under our belts working for our non-profits and living in Detroit, I can say that this has been such a rich and rewarding experience. I am done developing my environmental education curriculum and now implementing it by doing online lessons for around 16 youth. Although this experience has come with its challenges, specifically navigating the online space and technological difficulties during the first week, it has been enriching to be around Detroit’s youth and show the importance of stewardship especially in a time where we take so many ecological resources for granted. Personally, through researching and developing this outline I have learned so much more about the environment than I thought I knew, including different native species in Michigan and how the Great Lakes Region is one of the most diverse biomes in the U.S. I have learned how urban green spaces can unify but also divide, how equitable land planning is essential to the health of a neighborhood, and how environmental justice is so deeply connected with the civil rights movement. All of these things have broadened my understanding of community and also my perspective on food sovereignty within the city.
Being involved with Keep Growing Detroit and also its summer youth program has really allowed me to recognize what it looks like, and the role it plays within Detroit. I used to think of food sovereignty as just people having access to food and nothing else. However, food sovereignty captures a much larger picture than that. Food sovereignty is not only an issue about food but of systemic racism, land planning, and civil rights. All of these influence what food sovereignty and food access look from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood. That is why it is is so important for the community to support the community. Food is such a precious thing we value, but also something that we quite admittedly take for granted.