I read an article this week titled “Opportunity for All: The Question Every City Should Ask, And Answer” The question that opens the article asks how cities can connect all residents to economic opportunity. In the article urban innovators in Detroit all give their opinion on how to connect residents to economic opportunity. I appreciate this question because often times when cities are revitalized, the positive changes don’t directly help all residents.
The answers that stood out to me the most were “opportunity through resident engagement” and “opportunity through effective communication”. The first innovator, Delphia Simmons of Thrive Detroit, emphasizes relevant opportunity and engagement with residents. She believes in asking questions to get the best idea of what is best for residents. What do they need? How far can they go with certain opportunities?
The other innovator Wayne Ramocan of Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, stresses the importance of access to information. The alliance that he serves with makes information such as news and resident profiles accessible to all Osborn residents. I agree that communication is an effective way to provide opportunities for all because there is nothing worse than making no impact on your community because no one knows what’s going on or has stake in other residents.
These two responses stood out the most to me because they emphasize self-efficacy. That is, they believe there is power in inclusivity. I think it is really important when talking about opportunity to think of opportunity as a chance rather than a gift. When people start to think they are giving gifts to people by creating opportunity they are missing the point. The aim is to create chances and in order to give someone a chance you need to make the opportunities you are creating accessible to your audience.
I have my worries about Detroit. And that is that innovators in the city, especially who are not from Detroit, have this “do-gooder” attitude. I think innovators should steer clear of the mentality that they’re doing anyone a favor. In fact, I think innovators should put themselves as much in the background as possible. If your aim is to save the city then you are a part of the problem. Innovative solutions ultimately lead to sustainable systems that can exist without the initial creator.
I agree with these two responses because they don’t mention themselves once. They talk about the residents and creating solutions based off of what people want. Ultimately, if anyone is going to change Detroit for the better, I think it will be Detroit.