Josephine Anna Croce
UROP Fellowship: DCERP
Research Mentor(s): Debbie Fisher, Executive Director and Stephanie Johnson-Cobb, Community Development Specialist
Research Mentor Institution/Department: HOPE Village Revitalization
Presentation Date: Thursday, July 29th
Session: 5:30 – 7:00pm
Breakout Room: DCERP Showcase
My name is Josie Croce and I use she/her pronouns.
This summer, I had the privilege of working at HOPE Village Revitalization (a Community Development Corporation) and the HOPE Village Farmers Market. HOPE Village is a one-square mile community near the geographic center of Detroit, home to over 5,000 residents. The goals of HOPE Village CDC are comprehensive and converging; to provide economic and educational opportunities to all residents, to improve the quality of life through green spaces, stable housing, and accessible healthy food, and to ensure a safe and supportive community. One of the strategies to help achieve these goals is the HOPE Village Farmers Market, which provides a space for local farmers and vendors to sell their products, for community members to buy fresh produce, and for all to gather and build community. Although the market is still in its infancy (this summer was its 4th year), it is an amazing place filled with friends, family, and food.
HVR had set numerous goals for the growth of the farmers market, like increasing the sales, number of visitors, and number of produce vendors. My research focused on collecting and compiling data (like customer counts and vendor sales) from the farmer’s markets each week and seeing how we measured up to our goals. However, I also spent a lot of time doing hands-on work (setting up and taking down the market, making sure everything is running smoothly).
Working with HOPE Village Revitalization was an enriching experience for me; I had the opportunity to meet dozens of people in the HOPE Village community each week and learn more about the ins-and-outs of a Community Development Corporation. A major part of working as a community means adapting and changing to the needs and wants of the people. My work at HVR taught me how to listen and adapt; when our community had recorded a large number of people who had high blood pressure, I got the chance to help create a blood pressure screening program. After HOPE Village (and the rest of Detroit) was flooded a few weeks ago, I compiled resident reports of flooding and mapped the damage to be presented to our city council member. Going forward, I now recognize the importance of being receptive and flexible; I am sure this will be a useful skill in any future job I may have.
Lastly, I would like to share something that was told to me by an HVR resident and long-time volunteer, Dell Stubblefield, which I believe summarizes the mindset of the HOPE Village; “We are stronger together, and not as powerful as we are going to be.”