Please explain your professional and social roles in DFC.
Earley: I’m a project manager for transportation projects. I interact with local organizations that are also advocating for better transit in the area. I work with the regional transit authority as they draft a new Master Plan for the region, and I work with the Detroit Greenways Coalition to help advance inner-circle Greenway along with other non-motorized transportation projects. We’re helping push more non-motorized transportation, and we’re trying to make that environment a safe one. We want to provide an alternative for people that can’t afford to buy and maintain a car. I occasionally work with the bus systems of Detroit, as everyone has a role in making changes to better the community. As for my social role in the office, I’m usually the pop-culture ambassador. I’m also the only guy who knows about sports that are not covered on NPR.
Why urban regional planning?
E: I grew up here, and I’ve always been fascinated with maps and architecture. I thought I wanted to be an architect, but I realized that I didn’t have the portfolio or experience. I believe urban planning is a way to recreate the city and use my knowledge to make it a better place.
E: For an urban planner, Detroit is an amazing opportunity. It’s a place where you can plan and figure [things] out differently. I’ve seen a lot that’s happened here and gained a lot of pride for the city. I wanted to see it develop, and seeing other people involved in philanthropy here has kind of driven this passion and career choice for me.
What do you believe DFC’s mission to be in relation to the city? Like, what do you think the impact will be?
E: The biggest thing is that DFC is going to help form policy concerning land-use changes and other Master Plan-related projects. We are going to be a very strong policy advocate going forward. I think our framework will help shape the Master Plan of Policies and the city’s decisions.
How proud are you to work on that?
E: Very proud. The stuff that goes on here is really helping the city to move forward and make tangible changes in the lives of its citizens. Being a part of the forefront of the city is great.
DFC’s biggest challenge?
E: Is to find its own voice. Going to its own nonprofit (501(c)(3)) status gives DFC the freedom to make a stance, to become more aggressive, and to become a thought-leader within the city.
Favorite and least favorite thing about coming to work every day.
E: My favorite thing is the people; I like everyone at work. We all work independently at times, so it’s very rare to find an office that has people with so many different backgrounds and opinions that can work cohesively towards a goal. It’s tough to focus with the open-space work environment, though; it can just be distracting because they’re so many different projects going on.
Where do you see Detroit in ten years?
E: It’ll still be recovering, but I think you’ll see very noticeable changes. Heck in three years, the street-car (M-1 Rail) will be up and running, the new stadium will be built, Brush Park project will be underway, Orleans Landing on the Riverfront will be done, and hopefully other development will accompany that.
This ended our short conversation, but I’ve only been inspired to find out more about the people that have dedicated their livelihoods to the wellbeing and progress of Detroit. With leaders like Earley spearheading the renaissance of the city, Detroit’s future will be undoubtedly and inevitably bright.