“Blog Posts” from the SiD showcase

Enjoy! Some are pretty interesting…

“In 5 years Detroit will be the city where innovators, entrepreneurs, creatives, and social change agents come for inspiration and opportunity.”

“Great potential if Bing will allow an Emergency Financial Manager to come into the city and connect the structural problems that are strangling the city, the schools, and other public entities.”

“In five years I think Detroit will be great, it’s clearly on the comeback with the recovery of the auto industry, so I can see nothing but good.”

Many people ask why I say I’ll always come back to the D. I’m coming back because it starts in the D. The best and the brightest started in Detroit. I want to add to that family. Detroit will completely change, and it will boom like Seattle.”

“Questions for you: 1. How were you received in the Detroit community? 2. Are any of you planning to move to Detroit after graduation?”

“I can only see positive outcomes if the urban farming movement plays out the way these visionaries imagine it. I can see it even becoming a sustainable way of life for some people who have survived in the past without supermarkets.”

“In five years I see Detroit as making a great comeback. I personally haven’t been engaging in Detroit, but now I will try to start in some kinda way.”

“We see an overall improvement! In the waterfront, downtown area, old buildings (offices and homes) being much improved, even more renovation, schools improving (#1)”

“There are lots of folks here with varying degrees of experience and history in Detroit. I have done very well when listening and learning from those who have been here for awhile.”

“Relocate 1/4 of citizens to other parts of our state. Educate people with leading the city. Provide jobs and ability to support themselves, pay to clean up homes.”

“My idea: There is a green walk-bike-running trail that encompasses the city along the waterfront up the east side, dipping down, up, and around Corktown and southwest to form a giant heart shape around our D”

“Detroit is one of the most creative cities I have visited. People are innovative, passionate, and dedicated to bring about positive outcomes.”

“1. Generation Y will take over and rejuvenate the city, 2. Urban Gardening, 3. Interesting, sad, unstable, scary, hopeful.”

“I volunteer every year for Devil’s Night. I’m always helping the children in the neighborhood with homework”

“In 5 years – fewer people, less vacant buildings, more gardens, YOUNGER!”

“In 5 years… Detroit will have come back to become as it was during its peak. Detroit will always be a vibrant, booming city!”

“Vacant land becomes a green pathway through Detroit”

“School improvement is essential! I was born in Det in 1940 and lived here over half my life. I love the cultural opportunities, esp the DSO”

“1. I see Detroit being a vibrant city which may be more densely populated area near the riverfront and midtown. 2. Assisting Community Partners and orgs, connect to university based resources, and taking part in social and cultural events in the city 3. Positive, I feel energy and a tenacious gri in the city. I see a place that is budding into something beautiful.”

“1. Still economically distressed but hopefully an automotive resurgance and community plan for urban gardens.”

“1. Alot of African Americans moving to the suburbs and other races coming to Detroit 2. I attend alot of functions that go on for the younger crowds in the city 3. I love Detroit and where i live it’s alot of history behind it.”

“Semester in Detroit is a great way to mix the grassroots community with the theory of university – Mike Wimberley, Friends of Detroit”

“SOCIAL CHANGE! I think Detroit is the city to teach the world how we can work together to solve injustices.”

“1. In 5 years the same people who’ve lived here for generations will be living in tight-knit communities. I hope to see more neighborhood-based and community supporter projects that show Detroit’s self reliance. 2. I engage in Detroit every day – I bike thru the city’s streets, eat food grown in Detroit, come in conflict with and also overcome struggles w/ other Detroiters.”

“3. I grew up in Northwest Detroit during the 1960′s and 70′s. Racial tensions were a part of everyday life. Very challenging times.”

“2. Everytime I give a tour, I mention the different locations throughout the city that features the famous Pewabic tile. Hopefully it will encourage people to visit those places. I <3 Detroit!”

“In 5 years… I see Detroit’s community growing, new businesses opening, and perspectives changing.”

“I’ve appreciated seeing a growing social conscience take root in the past few years.”

“1. Hopefully less homophoboc and transphobic. Less sexist too. 2. Work at the Hub, volunteer at AIDS Partnership Michigan, shop at Goodwells… 3. It is a big small town. Easy to get involved if you have the time, but also easy to get burned out by lack of resources.”

“The focus of progressive action will shift from ‘leader-heroes’ to ordinary people – from citywide to local solutions – from revival to reinvention – from cars to bikes – all within a context of caring and hope.”

“Pewabic pottery will save the world.”

Together Forever <3

Throughout the last half century, it has been disheartening to see plans to change Detroit fail miserably. These plans for change span from since before Coleman Young until the present and have had little effect on the downward spiraling course of the city. It can make one wonder if they’re working for an unattainable goal by investing here. Of course, as Semester in Detroit students we have been plunged into the overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive qualities of the city. We know that Detroit is a safe investment. An investment in Detroit is an investment in hundreds of thousands of people, histories, and cultures. In five years I see President Obama ending his second term and our country out of one of the worst recessions in history. I see Detroit, as one of the hardest hit areas, rising out of the ashes on the surge of enthusiasm that engulfs it. Although I don’t see it changed much in just five years, this is the start of a long and tedious process that will ultimately turn this city of potential around.

I can’t say with certitude that I will be in Detroit in five years. However, I can say with certitude that Detroit will be in me. Hopefully, I will be finishing up grad school somewhere and starting on my hunt for a career. Ideally, I would love to be in Michigan and especially in Detroit. Realistically, I know I will go wherever I can make a living. Although I will go wherever, I feel my interests will lead me to a career here. It hurts to think of myself anywhere but Michigan and Detroit and that’s why I will always try to be here. This will ALWAYS be home. Throughout my life I plan to make valuable contributions to the city. Whether this means living or working here, or investing in some other way, I will continue to influence Detroit as it influences me. This is just the beginning of a long relationship between the city and I.

I’m Not Planning On Leaving

It might be a tall claim to make when I’m only twenty years old, but I don’t intend to leave Detroit.  Sure I’ll go back to Ann Arbor to finish up undergrad and perhaps to complete a master’s program, but my future seems tied to Detroit.  There is really only one direction for the city to go and it’s both exciting and challenging to be here while it changes its trajectory.

The city is in a different position than it was five years ago.  There are more eyes on Detroit and more organizations formed within Detroit all hoping to see the brightest possible future for the city.  Five years won’t be enough time to see systemic changes really take place or the city clean up all of its blighted areas.  It might be enough time, however, to see the city progressing in a positive direction.  It’s my opinion that DetroitWorks will come to pass without making any serious contribution and that it will be all of the grassroots organizations, rather, that will continue to grow and foster the birth of other similar groups.  I think more and more attention will be paid to the neighborhoods by way of a growing urban agriculture movement and the local communities that will hopefully grow around it.  If public support grows for the green movement, I think Detroit would do itself a favor if it freed up land for use in the development of parks, agriculture, and other green projects.

My current dream is to open a consulting firm for non-profit organizations in the city of Detroit with one of my good friends from the U of M who also has a love for the city.  Although it’s not much, my work doing analysis for D-YES has inspired me to think of the possibility of doing similar work to advise the improvement of other non-profits.  The firm would employ and mentor local high school students to foster an interest and aptitude in mathematics, a subject that is often considered too hard and uncool to be good at.  I realize that it’s a bit of a pipe-dream, but it seems possible.  My plan is to earn a master’s degree and hopefully return to the city to work for a non-profit or start a firm such as the one I described.  It seems to me that I could meet such a goal in five years.  Being a young person in Detroit is as exciting as it is challenging (something I mentioned in my final reflection) and I’d like to put my energy towards the future of Detroit in the most effective way possible.

The future of the city

In five years, I imagine Detroit to be a place not entirely different, but definitely changed from today. Like Grace Lee Boggs said in her WDET radio interview with Smiley and West, “revolution and evolution are not that far apart.” Nothing will change overnight and it has to begin with individual change – which will in turn be followed by social change. Detroiters have already been working on projects for decades, not to say that they haven’t done a lot, because they have done tremendous amounts of good, but Detroit also has tremendous amounts of issues that need resolving, so it will clearly take a while to revolutionize the entire city.

I expect that Detroit will continue to become more and more popular for young people who are attracted by the city’s pervasive grassroots ideology and the possibilities (artistic, social, residential, and entrepreneurial) that the city offers and I see the population beginning to slow its sharp decline. And I can definitely see myself returning to Detroit again some day for many of the same reasons – even after two months I feel connected to the movements here, especially the urban agriculture movement, something that seems pretty unique to Detroit’s situation. In the same way that Detroit lead the auto industry I see it leading our American society out of capitalism, consumerism, and materialism.

A turning point in Detroit

I’ve always been an optimist—and something of a dreamer—but I think Detroit is on an upward trajectory.

For decades, the news stories coming out of Detroit were about deindustrialization and depopulation.  But now there are stories about inventors and a New York Times profile on how to spend a weekend here.  People used to talk about Detroit being a place where citizens bought groceries at gas stations and liquor stores; now it seems that Whole Foods is planning a store in Midtown.  Detroit is becoming a pioneer in urban gardening.  Just last weekend, I went to a concert at a synagogue that nearly shut its doors, but a group of driven young people reopened it and successfully raised money to renovate the building.

Echoing a sentiment I’ve heard from many fellow Semester in Detroiters, Detroit is “the place to be.”  I can see the changes happening every day as I walk around Detroit, in the buildings that are being renovated and the small gardens popping up in unexpected places.

Detroit is the only place I’ve ever lived to which I could see myself returning.  The reason is that I feel engaged here.  I come from places like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, where it sometimes seems as though the largest community concern is whether or not we’ll get Google Fiber.  In Detroit, I finally felt like I had something to offer, whether it was at tree plantings or MOCAD or providing community support for Catherine Ferguson Academy.

I don’t know if I’ll be in Detroit in five years.  I have a feeling grad school might take me far away.  I wouldn’t be surprised, though, to find myself back in Detroit at some point in my twenties.  I think Semester in Detroit will make it easier for me to return.  I find it a joy to live here, and I’ve developed connections to the city that won’t soon fade.

Plenty of Potential To Go Around!

With no prior knowledge of life in Detroit, I came to the city pretty open –despite what people “forewarned” me about. Then with any and all standards pretty much blown out of the water from what I have experienced I have come to love Detroit, and view it as a part of me now –one of many places I shall call home.
When the time comes in a few weeks, when I have to depart from the city, I know that I will be a bit reluctant to leave. The time that I have spent exploring – the good and bad parts of the city- has always been rewarding and enlightening, because in neighborhoods like Woodbridge and Mexicantown I can see the potential that awaits Detroit! It is a far cry from any sort of “desert,” in my opinion, however I hope that in five years the media will be able to stop calling Detroit a “food desert” because of the businesses, like Whole Foods, that will come in and change that.
In five years I know the city will in some way still be involved in my life, whether it be I am living and working here, or simply coming back to enjoy time with friends, shopping at Eastern Market, attending games, and or to volunteer with my Christian group or various other non-profits. Either way I know Detroit will somehow always be apart of my life, because there is more here than mere entertainment and the things that you hear about on TV. Detroit has an abundance opportunity, and I know that it is and will be changing over the next five years because of the people I see and hear about taking advantage of what is to be Detroit’s future! Eastern Market, Goodwells, Avalon, D’Mungos, Cass Café, and countless other places are thriving examples of what is to come, and I cannot wait!!

My Future in Detroit

Five years from now, I see myself here in Detroit working as a community member. I see myself a part of a community that uses the best of the individuals within to maintain cultural and social benefits for itself. I would like to be a part of the transformation of Detroit as businesses begin to start up and invest in the city. The level of cooperation between the community and businesses is truly unique and I don’t think I would be able to find such a collaborative spirit elsewhere. We have already seen numerous examples of this, with successful businesses such as Goodwell’s. I hope that I could be a part of this new way of looking at economic development and community building.

I don’t see Detroit as big or rich as it used to be. A lot of that was caused by a sole industry that grew and fell faster than most people expected. But I see Detroit growing, in every way, slower and not as much. And I see its cultural and community values developing in a way that will bring people back and change people’s perception of what they thought Detroit was.

We hope for better things; It will rise from the ashes

Before I came to Michigan, Detroit never really entered my mind. I was from New York, and Manhattan was my city. It never would have occured to me that I would become so involved in Detroit and so personally tied to it. Through volunteering in the schools, to working at Focus: HOPE, to literally digging my fingers into the dirt, Detroit has become my city. I’ve never felt before that I could actually do something and make such an impact by becoming part of a city. Compared to Manhattan, where I was an ant in the large scheme of things, I feel like Detroit really provides an opportunity to invoke change.

Because of this, I don’t think I can end my relationship with Detroit after the Semester concludes. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing here, but I know it will be something. It may not be for the rest of my life, but I know that part of me does belong in Detroit. I know there is potential. I see it in every business owner who opens their doors day after day, in every colleague of mine at Focus: HOPE, in the hands of the people who tirelessly put back together these “ruined” neighborhoods again and again. I see it every Saturday at Eastern Market, and walking down Willis and Canfield.  I see it in the faces of the kids I used to teach, who still love to learn, despite the obstacles. I see it in the Detroit Center, in all of us, in everyone who still cares about this city.

In the next five years, I don’t think Detroit will be Manhattan. But I do think it will continue to rise. I see more Goodwells and D’Mungos, and Slows. More Eastern Markets, and community gardens, and everything else that makes Detroit unique. I also believe that when people outside begin to realize that there is still support for the city, and that it continues to grow, that others will become more invested in Detroit. Perhaps Whole Foods sparks a chain reaction. Other businesses may see the success (hopefully) of it and decide to invest as well. Perhaps people attracted by low housing costs will decide to make Detroit their home. Perhaps through condensing the great aspects of the city by rightsizing, it will garner a wider appeal. It is difficult to say how quickly this will occur, but I think that through new perspectives of Detroit, and through collaborative efforts, Detroit will continue to climb back to its feet. Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.

Investing in Detroit

On Friday night, Misbah, Lauren, Jeneen and I were downtown walking to Lafayette Coney Island from Café D’mongos through Capitol Park. We were pretty much the only people down there. As we looked around at all of the setup chairs and tables and the beautiful architecture surrounding us we said to each other this would be a great place to hang out. Unfortunately there are hardly any businesses down there. In five years I would like to see not only this small part of the city full of businesses that are thriving with customers but also the eastside and northwest and southwest and all other parts of the city.

We are seeing some positive steps already and especially heartening to me was talking with the owner of Goodwell’s. He told us about all the businesses that have popped up in the Midtown area in the past few years and about other developments that are going to happen. Places like Avalon and Goodwell’s are always busy so we know that the demand exists. A few more businesses make a street look so much better. I would like to see the trend of investment in the city to continue.

I am not sure what my place will be in the city. I have loved working in my neighborhood on the eastside. The people there have been warm and accepting of me and working in a community based organization is definitely what I want to do. However, I don’t know if Detroit is where I want to go. Although there are many opportunities for me to get involved here I am not sure it is the right fit. I am not sure what is missing but I know that if I do return I will be met with open arms and that I will be part of a collective body working for change in Detroit.

Detroit’s (Great) Future

Detroit is unlike any city I have ever been to. It’s history complicates it’s future, and in some respects Detroit is a place full of contradictions. Yet in the midst of all of this I think we can agree (Buffalo Springfield included) that “there is something happening here” in Detroit. For the good and for the bad, things are changing in Detroit.

Five years from now I would expect to see community centers, neighborhood businesses, urban farms and non-profits continuing to flourish as they are right now. In five years (I hope) this growth will have spread to the more desolate neighborhoods in the city. Furthermore growth would likely bring about financial stability in the city and public schools, which would hopefully mean more assistance to vulnerable citizens and a more equitable education for children in Detroit.

Five years from now I expect I will be living in Detroit (or making plans to, or dreaming of). I can’t imagine that these last two weeks of Semester in Detroit will be my last two weeks living in the city. The changes happening in the city are too enticing, the possibilities too vast, and the people too nice to stay away from Detroit for too long.