I got connected to the green garage when I was in graduate school, which was in 2010, I was getting my masters at Wayne State in library and information science. Previously, I had earned a Bachelor's in English literature and film studies. I was working in libraries and in one of them I was managing a department in a public library out in the suburbs. I had kind of planned a path towards librarianship. That was my professional goal. And then, when I was in school, I took a really great seminar, a semester long seminar called information professionals in urban systems. So, it was about how librarians and other information professionals can impact and have an effect on urban life. It was a terrific class, a really brilliant woman taught it. It was really engaging for the students connecting to the city. And so, each of us got to work with a different organization for the semester. So, at that time, the green garage was still under construction. It opened for business in 2011. Tom and Peggy, who owned the green garage, had met Maria, my teacher, in the neighborhood. And so, she had them on the list of organizations we could work with. And they were very small, there wasn't a lot of information out there about them, there was an article or two, about this kind of mysterious green business, and how they were going to open it as some kind of business incubator space. I felt like that was a good stretch for me, since I didn't know a lot about business especially sustainable businesses. They seemed like interesting people and I later connected with them and worked together for a semester on a particular project, which was about community information. Basically, the kiosk out front which is used like a community bulletin board. That was my project, which is kind of funny. At the time, I liked it, they gave me like six or eight different projects to choose from and I liked that one because it was low tech and this project was about, how does a neighborhood communicate about what's going on through public information displays. So, I started a study of all the other kiosks in the neighborhood, talked to all the businesses who had them, learn about how they manage them and what were the best practices for determining what goes up. Turn that in, at the end of the semester. And then we just had a really great working relationship. So, Tom and Peggy invited me back to do some volunteer work which then led to some writing work that I did for the green garage. And then at a certain point, I decided that I liked this a lot more than I liked libraries. I was going to kind of burned out on libraries so I approached them and said that I was looking for full time work and that I was looking at libraries but I'd rather be here. And so, they kind of aligned in the in the subsequent months, where they had kind of the idea for this role. And I kind of stepped into and helped define basically, that was in 2013.
What is a hurdle they have overcome?
I would say, it's my shyness. One of the things I really have valued about my experience here is that I’ve learned a lot since when I started, I didn’t know a lot about business. While this is a very comfortable environment, I still felt a little shy because I still lacked the knowledge on businesses, small businesses, or sustainability. Part of my role here is to facilitate our community launches on a Friday. When we started that, I just had the most minimal public speaking experience, and I was really anxious. To be very honest, I can remember being in the bathroom, feeling like I was going to puke every Friday, for like, three months. It can be quite intimidating at first having to get up and stand up and talk to 20 to 30 strangers. However, I'm very really grateful for that experience. Now it's been a number of years that I've been doing this, and I feel like I'm a super confident public speaker now. That’s wasn’t the case 8 years ago when I a very shy person. I feel like I wouldn't now and a lot of that has to do with the nature of my work here, and the responsibilities that I've had. Having to facilitate these public events every week has pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way.
How do they describe social entrepreneurship?
I think social entrepreneurship is a pursuit of social good through business. Essentially, it's a business that seeks to be profitable as a business, while at the same time improving some aspect of social life, empowering disempowered communities, creating a more just world, but using the systems and processes of business to get there.
Why did they choose to live in Detroit?
That's a great question. So, I grew up in the suburbs. And when it came time to go to college, I wasn't quite sure where I was going to go. I had a couple different conversations with my parents and eventually found out there wasn't really any money for college, which I, like any other kid assume there’d be a college fund. After asking my mom she told me there wasn’t any money for college. So, I basically had two choices either community colleges or Wayne State, or my two options that I saw at the time, in retrospect, I probably could have figured out more financial aid elsewhere, but that's what I saw as my options. So, I started at Wayne state and then I was a little resentful at first about being there, because it just didn't feel like a place where I needed to be. But then I quickly became really enamored of the city. This all was pretty new to me, since when I was a kid, we would could see a show or something but not too often. But when I was actually here, getting involved, meeting people, at Wayne State meeting professors who have long histories here and lived here, it really activated something in me. I got really excited about the city. At the time, I lived at home and commuted to school for four years. As soon as I graduated, I thought it was important that I stay in Detroit, which was really surprising, because I always imagined leaving as soon as I could have a chance to leave.