Admittedly, even as a Michigan resident my whole life, I allowed my Detroit to be shaped by the 6 o’clock news. That is, until I actually started to do some research on the city. What I discovered shocked me. Where I expected to find depression, I found hope. Instead of abandoned houses, I found community gardens. Where I anticipated empty streets, I discovered bustling storefronts. I couldn’t help it but to be curious. I applied to DukeEngage-Detroit and soon enough I was off to the city. During my first week of the program I have met and learned about many people who refuse to let other people define their Detroit. People like Dan Gilbert, whose Detroit consists of sprawling skylines; a utopia for business. To people whose Detroit consists of a sustainable environment; where upwards of 51% of Detroit food is locally grown. These are people that don’t concern themselves what everyone else is saying about their city; they are making their own noise.
This first week has inspired me to create my own vision for a better Detroit. What is that vision? I have to say that I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to find out. Through my tour of the city I have had the opportunity to see what Detroit was, what it is, and what people want it to be. I would be lying if I said Detroit has no problems; the crime rate along with blight are daunting issues for anyone to confront. But through the course of this past week I have met people with such an incredible amount of tenacity and pride in their city that I know, as people work to shape their Detroit, there will be no limit to what the city can accomplish. And I intend to contribute to those accomplishments in whatever way I can.