Over the past few months as everyone from my parents’ friends to my Uber drivers have been asking me what I was doing this summer, I always struggle to find a way to describe my plans without getting a puzzled look or even a laugh. “I’ll be in Detroit interning for a non-profit that gives tours of the city”. To most people, my work sounds equivalent to teaching swim lessons on a concrete floor—a nonsensical waste of time. The way the media portrays it, Detroit is a crippled, bankrupt city where even locals refuse to stay, leaving behind vacant lots and plenty of crime.However, the media and national reputation of Detroit are lagging. While these problems do exist and the city still needs a lot of help, Detroit Experience Factory aims to correct the reputation of Detroit and tell the current, complete story of the city; a story filled with innovation, growth, and exciting possibilities.
For the next two months, Vinit and I are helping Detroit Experience Factory tell their own story by quantifying the economic impact of their free, public tours and private tours through analyzing and collecting survey data and conducting interviews with business owners who work with DXF. These tours show both visitors and locals all aspects of Detroit, from the hidden alleyways not known for their crime but for their beautiful murals and trendy bars to the rows to the stretches of abandoned lots in the neighborhoods around Downtown. I look forward to playing a small part in changing the narrative of Detroit by uncovering these economic success stories after years of negativity.