This prompt made me think back to a conversation I had last Thursday. A conversation that would have seemed ordinary, but the authenticity made it extraordinary.
Last Thursday, John and I ventured downtown to promote our partnership with local Detroit coffee shops and generate content for social media. We left the humble midtown and used MoGo (shoutout MoGo!) to explore the city.
When we entered the coffee shops, some individuals would complement the work of Detroit Food Academy and some would just watched as we posed the their coffee with Mitten Bites.
One of our stops during our Mogo adventure was at the Detroit Foundation Hotel. We assumed the Mitten Bites would be sold in some gift shop promoting local gifts and treats. We were surprised to find out that the Mitten Bites were actually located in the rooms and equally surprised to find out that the women at the front desk was offering to take us up to a room.
In the elevator, we exchanged the usual pleasantries as we thanked her for taking us up to the room. At the other coffee shops, we traveled to that day, that’s where the conversation stopped. We were so preoccupied with getting a good photo that we didn’t really bother to dig below surface level with any of the baristas and, honestly, I didn’t think twice about it.
When we got to the room, the women from the front desk, Malika, stared asking me more questions about the mission of Detroit Food Academy. After explaining, I learned that she was starting her own non-profit to help teenage girls in foster care. She explained how many of them didn’t have access to education resources and was so pleased to hear about the DFA fellowship program.
We bonded over the entrepreneurial spirt of Detroit and how everyone wants to do something to help the city prosper. She also told to me was an alum of the ProperUS program (shoutout ProsperUS!) and I felt a sense of pride for the work that my cohort and I were doing. I then learned the reason she was so passionate about helping teenage girls in foster care was because many years ago she was in that position.
In this moment, I was shocked by Malika’s authenticity. Here she was, telling me, a complete stranger, about her passions rooted in hardship and how she worked every day to combat the injustices she witnessed.
On the outside, Detroit appears shiny and new, as business and buildings are appearing everywhere. But, below surface level, Detroit the foundation of this upcoming Detroit is built on the stories like Malika's and so many others.