interview someone living and/or working in the social impact space in Detroit. Write a piece about them that you can share.
Michelle DiMercurio works as a Project Manager at TechTown, with the Workspace Events and Marketing team. She loves to “volunteer and follow the lead of people with great ideas.” This is how she found her way into the world of nonprofit organizations, in which she has enjoyed working for over a decade and a half. She got her start working with Detroit Synergy, where she was part of the team that collaborated with volunteers that had great ideas for serving their city. Her skills in graphic design and photography were instrumental in her work with the teams— she helped with the design of materials for the initiatives, such as maps for shopping initiatives, and flyers for local gardening activities. Some of these earlier initiatives, whose birth she was a part of, have grown to become notable and integral parts of their Detroit neighborhoods. The Lincoln Street Art Park, for which she was a founding member, stands as a great example of these. Over time, she hasn’t just seen Detroit grow and transform, but has been a force for this growth. She modestly exemplifies the resilient spirit of Detroiters, who are eager to take up the many opportunities to serve and grow their city.
Michelle laughed when she told me about the first Hard Rock Café that opened in downtown Detroit. She said that to many people, that felt like the beginning of the coming of corporate chain stores into a city populated by mom-and-pop shops. And it probably was. But what matters is that people like Michelle have been in the city, not just watching its growth, but also being a part of it. Her journey working with Detroit nonprofits has been rewarding in many ways. It is how she has met a lot of her friends, and how she ended up with the tiny “birthmark” on her palm.
Detroit has been home to Michelle for close to two decades, and she has loved it. That’s why she got a tattoo of it on her palm. Michigan is known to be shaped like a mitten, with Detroit at the bottom, right below the base of the thumb. So, right below the base of her right-hand thumb, Michelle has her city tattooed on her skin. It is the place that has grown her into the person she is; the place where she’s had the chance to serve her community. It is also the place her grandpa and dad peddled fruits, driving from Saginaw to Detroit Eastern Market. Detroit has made a permanent mark on her life, so it felt fitting that she has it permanently marked on the palm of her hand.