Week 9! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 9!

Time really has flown so fast. I can’t believe there’s only two days left of this program!! Reading my first blog post, I definitely mentioned how I hope to become more involved in community work, and this summer has more than allowed me to connect with people and community members, both in and out of my work site. I’ve learned so much about how to assist in a community project, from learning how to establish partnerships with other organizations (something that was initially quite nerve-wracking for me) to talking to so many different people who come by BAC (and other places I’ve found myself at this summer). I was able to complete the entirety of the first phase of the project, which I’m really happy and excited about, though there’s so much work left to be done for the project (the launch date is anticipated to be in 2040 or further down the line!!)

Getting to see the parts of social justice and community work that I’d only learned about in an academic setting be emphasized and practically carried out by my mentor, different organizations, and all the different guest speakers in their work was a particularly insightful experience, as I felt like I truly absorbed the importance of making connections with the community and making sure that any project, no matter how well-intentioned, can actually ultimately benefit the community. What was especially surprising for me was realizing the extent to which so many urban farms and organizations are connected to each other, including finding out that the idea for the project I’m working at stemmed from a conversation Rachel had with Paul Stathis from MSU-DPFLI, meeting someone from D-Town Farms at a Pizza Night, volunteering at an event by the Detroit Black Farmer’s Land Fund (an org we’re hoping to talk with for the project), and partnering with Keep Growing Detroit.

I also didn’t expect how much I’d grow to love this city. I knew I’d enjoy my time here, but I frankly didn’t expect to have been able to do so many incredibly fun things, from community events, volunteering days, group outings, museum trips, Eastern Market adventures, bike rides, and dinner runs. BAC has also been such a great place to work at, and I’ve learned so much from Rachel’s guidance and support throughout this summer. I’m especially so so happy to have been able to get to know so many wonderful people in this program (I’ll cherish the insane amount of pictures I have in my camera roll from this summer), and I hope to stay in touch with y’all once we’re back on campus!

1 thought on “Week 9!”

  1. Owen McAlister-Lopez

    Hey Jessica! I’m glad to hear about your closing thoughts on your time here! I like the way you talk about how your project is still incomplete too. It’s very easy to fall into the mindset of getting jobs done and wrapping things up neatly, but that doesn’t really mesh well with the nature of the DCERP program. Instead, I hope (and I think we all might agree on this for our respective sites) to have simply helped with the current pressing needs of my non-profit and to have left them with a boosting point with which to continue the work of my project. The job is never “done” and we can’t expect to wrap anything up in perfect little bow, but we were nonetheless a good help to our sites just as our sites and mentors were so influential to us.

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