Fast forward to last weekend (my first here in Detroit) and I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered in the Motor City. For one thing, Detroit is a place of character. From the colorful murals that popped up on almost every road to the Eastern Market farmers’ market lined with vendors cheerfully giving you tastes of pickles, cheeses, salsas, and fruits to the Heidelberg Project, an art installation started on a poor neighborhood block in Detroit to counter the negative words that had been the only vocabulary used thus far to describe this residential community, everywhere we went there seemed to be some sort of story or noticeable charm.
Even more surprising, all of the Detroit natives I met, spoke passionately about their city. Our tour guide that first day had an indescribable sense of pride as he told us anecdotes about the buildings downtown and took us around the riverfront. Matt, our program director who grew up in this area, too is always filled with excitement to tell us about the best places to visit or eat at in the city as well as to speak to the spirit of innovation that seems to be widespread among Detroiters. I even noticed this passion for Detroit when talking with my work supervisor, Rishi. On our second day of work, he sat with Daniel and I for almost three hours to tell us about Detroit’s history. I marveled at the city’s rich past: Rishi told us there was a point when it was “the Silicon Valley” of the time, booming form the auto industry. And then to hear about the strong racial tensions that led to some big implications for Detroit today, I felt like I could understand a bit more of the current state of the city.
While Rishi brought up a lot of good points on what is to be fixed or at the very least talked about in regards to Detroit, he also had a lot of hope for the future of Detroit and how, working at GreenLight Fund, Daniel and I could begin to bring about that change. My project is strongly based in figuring out how GreenLight Fund can best market itself and its partners on Twitter by promoting social impact. If through my research and analysis I can find the social impact being made by GreenLight Fund and its partners and present this to the world in an accessible and widespread way, then maybe it can shed light to the general public that there is actually a lot going on in Detroit and it does in fact have a lot to share with the rest of us. And maybe it will inspire other Detroiters to also innovate and grow this city once they are able to see the social impact all of these other people in Detroit are making.
Though it has only been a week, the next time I tell a friend or family member I worked in Detroit this summer, I already know I will have a long list of reasons to answer their confused facial expressions that read: why would you want to go Detroit?