Week 9: Reflections(!) – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 9: Reflections(!)

As I reread through my first DCERP blog post, I find myself to be pleasantly surprised. Sure, I could have gone into more detail about expectations or hopes, but overall my former predictions have transformed into key takeaways — a couple of which I’ve already written about!
My definition of community has stayed relatively the same. At this point, I still view “community” to be any group (emphasized by viewing themselves as such), and I think that the main features which strengthen a community are shared goals, or a shared mission, and respect/unity across the group. Something new which I would add to this rough definition is that a strong community has strong communication. Communication can vary in frequency, quality, and medium, and it certainly varies across communities. An important part of becoming incorporated into a given community, then, is learning about styles of communication within that group, and from there practicing or somewhat-adjusting those practices to account for your person. I’ve learned quite a bit about communication in the workplace, nonprofits, Mexican and Mexican-American culture, and more specifically Southwest and Clark Park during DCERP (the sheer quantity of group identities represented here makes figuring out communication more complex, in addition to the constant changes brought forth by new generations and technologies). Still, I have a ways to go, but I’m looking forward to putting some of my new skills into action in different spaces in the fall.
In my first blog post, I mentioned that “interacting with many moving pieces and people” would be key at Clark Park, and it truly has been a theme in my daily work throughout DCERP. A small staff serving all types of people, the Clark Park Coalition sees visitors and neighbors from many backgrounds step through our doors each day, and anyone is responsible for ensuring that they are in the right place and for assisting them with their needs. While I recognized this mix early on, one identity feature which I believe I had underestimated in terms of its impact on collaboration is age. I come from a relatively big family, and I find value in interacting with people of a range of ages. What I may not have realized is that the work setting has an impact on how we deal with one another, so figuring out new technologies alongside coworkers and community members who are older than me is drastically different than working through emails or text messages with some of my older relatives. In the same vein, I might approach the youth workers at my site with a different mindset than I might approach a younger cousin. An ability to adapt to individuals and situations alike was critical this summer, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to practice these processes while also learning about a rich, caring, and respectful community at the park.
Though there is always room for more, I’m appreciative of all that I’ve learned from the fellows in my cohort, the team at CPC, the Southwest Detroit community, and the many others with whom I crossed paths this summer. I look with excitement towards tomorrow when these people will have the chance to meet and share stories during our Showcase.

2 thoughts on “Week 9: Reflections(!)”

  1. Hi Reggie, learning how to adapt to work with different individuals and situations definitely has sounded like a valuable experience! While my work itself mainly consisted of just me and my mentor, during the course of these past few weeks, I’ve still found myself learning how to interact with people coming from a variety of different backgrounds and ages. I hope you have a good rest of the summer! 🙂

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