I have had a lot of trouble grappling with the economic disparity in Detroit and especially seeking to understand the measures in place to solve its greatest problems. There are the non-profit efforts by organizations like Build, and then the immense corporate work by GM, Quicken Loans, etc. While both are instrumental to redeveloping Detroit, the intersection between them is certainly lacking. There could be so much potential in stronger collaborations between these two sectors. I am currently reading a book called Detroit: An American Autopsy by a Detroit reporter, Charlie LeDuff. His grim outlook captures Detroit from 2008-2012, a time period especially marked by pervasive poverty and corruption. While it mirrors many heartbreaking scenes I have witnessed myself, I am disappointed in how much LeDuff leaves out. There are so many signs of strength, passion, and lifelong dedication to the city. He focuses on exposing the disparity and desperation, yet pays no attention to the resilient and inspiring efforts to rebuild the city.
I have certainly learned throughout my summer how difficult it is for a non-profit to thrive in Detroit’s tough economic conditions. I could occasionally see the frustration in April’s eyes as she worked tirelessly to accomplish certain results and was set back by a lack of funding or media attention. She and the rest of the team give up so much of their lives to make an impact in Detroit. They have already been incredibly influential on many entrepreneurs’ paths, yet they are always striving to do more.
I will carry with me most my day-to-day memories at Build. April and the wonderful
team have built a culture of tremendous collaboration, support, and creativity. While each team member has a personal work space, the large co-working table lies prominently in the middle of the room to encourage meetings that everybody can directly or indirectly contribute to. Although they each have a specific title and role, they graciously step up to the plate when an extra hand is needed in any project or problem. Monday mornings always start productively and positively with a team meeting, where everyone discusses and celebrates the accomplishments of the previous week and then brainstorms upcoming events and work to do. I loved being greeted each morning with enthusiastic “hello”s and genuine “how are you?”s. I’ll miss my coffee routine with Madalyn at 10:30am nearly on the dot-- we determined she’s much better at making French press coffee so she did the brewing and I did the cleaning. I can’t thank Build enough for being so welcoming and supportive to Ben and I throughout the summer. They helped paint a picture of Detroit full of culture and spirit that I could not have experienced otherwise.