Over the past few months as everyone from my parents’ friends to my Uber drivers have asked me what I was doing this summer, I always struggled to find a way to describe my plans without getting a puzzled look or 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 trying to teaching swim lessons in a carpeted room—a nonsensical waste of time. However, the media's portrayal and the national reputation of Detroit are lagging. To most, Detroit is a crippled, bankrupt city so inhospitable that even locals refuse to stay, leaving behind vacant lots and lots of crime. 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 collaborate with DXF. These tours show both visitors and locals all aspects of Detroit, from the hidden alleyways (not known for their crime but rather for their beautiful murals and trendy bars) 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.