Nonetheless, I will walk you through last Thursday to give you a somewhat accurate depiction of my experience here. I wake up at six in the morning, true to my regular Detroit habit. After changing into my gym attire and with my MoGo string bag on my back, I begin my walk to the Mort Harris Wayne State gym. As usual, I pass by the MoGo station at the intersection between Cass and Hancock, reminding me of the thrill of working at this non-profit and looking up at the sky, sometimes a crystal clear blue, but this morning a cloudy dark grey. A run on the track, an abdominal workout and a stretch fill me with energy for the morning as I walk back to University Towers with a more determined stride then before.
Then, I prepare my water with freshly squeezed lime juice, take a quick shower and wash my hair. I drink a mug of hot water and apple cider vinegar, eat an apple, drink some kefir in which I add the ZenOrganics granola I buy at Eastern Market from my friend Zach Lavender. As I eat my breakfast, I read a fascinating French online news article from Le Monde about a food policy conference happening on that same day to think about ways to insure fair prices for farmers, to shift production to what people actually want, better quality, less pesticide-intensive organic produce.
At 8:30 am, I meet Thomas with his bike helmet already balanced on his head in the lobby, ready for today’s first MoGo ride. We walk down Cass Ave to the new, conveniently placed Cass/Willis MoGo station and hop onto our red bikes. Down Cass Ave we pedal through the dusty construction, (why did we choose the Cass route over the John R route this morning?), but past the beautiful raised beds of the North Cass Community Garden.
We settle at our desks in the calm atmosphere of the Downtown Detroit Partnership office, nearly everyone is already helping out at Beacon Park for the grand opening. We have a bit of time to sit down with the two new Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) interns to talk about our work thinking through a volunteer recruiting structure for MoGo. Then, Adriel comes to take them to the Beacon Park opening.
Thomas and I t
hen go to the small conference room where we have our last check-in call with Matt. It feels reassuring to express how everything is wrapping up and exciting to think about my return to campus (in particular with ideas to collaborate with Katherine and Matt to bring RAD (Rape Agression Defense) courses, kindly offered to us by the Wayne State Police Department, back to Duke).
We wait in the hallway for a bit for a Michigander friend I met at an Aretha Franklin concert called Christina, with whom we then walked over to the grand Beacon Park opening. Through the words of Mayor Mike Duggan, the CEO of DTE Energy and the City Council President Brenda Jones, the potential of public-private partnership to provide a wonderful new space to live, work and play for all who live and come to Detroit permeated this opening ceremony. Astha, Vinit, Thomas and I engaged in the leisurely activities of this event, from free ice cream, live music to see-saws (which apparently will even glow in the dark). Typically Thomas and I would sit outside in the Campus Martius Park and have our packed lunches, but today, for the special occasion, Astha and I set off to Chickpea in the D (one of the smallest store fronts in the world). Back at the office, Thomas and I continued working on the final details of our evaluation plan and add finishing touches to other elements of our work, such as our surveys.
At five, like every Thursday, Thomas and I set off to Keep Growing Detroit’s Plum St Market Garden. Molly, the production my manager, sets us up with a fun crew of other volunteers on the task of weeding beds of perennials. Wheelbarrows rapidly filled up with grasses and other feisty weeds, which then have to be brought to compost pile. It was inspiring to hear a mother’s story about how Keep Growing Detroit enabled her to activate her own garden space, with new vegetables such as bokchoy, which her children then also discovered, and miraculous compost to make ameliorate her soil.
At seven, we then walk over to the Cass/ Temple station through the park with a lot of people marauding, during which as the day ends, we are often prone towards deeper conversations. We bike back to Cass/Willis and settle into UT.
Luckily I have dinner waiting for me in the fridge, salad, quinoa, smoked white fish and sautéed kale and can watch the French evening news in replay.