How could anyone think that Detroit is going downhill?

D.E.T. Intern Program: Advertizing Detroit as a Hotspot for Young Professionals

[This post was written by CEDAM’s Policy Intern, Amanda Dalaba.]

This summer I have had the opportunity to participate in a program in Detroit for Michigan interns called “D.E.T. – Discover, Engage, Transform”, and after having completed most of the program, I must say that the title fits. Throughout my time in Detroit, I have discovered many new things I hadn’t known previously. I engaged with other people and programs in the area, and in turn, my inner concepts of Detroit have completely transformed.

Amanda Dalaba

The main goal of the D.E.T. program is to advocate what Detroit has to offer and to encourage Michigan interns to consider moving to Detroit after graduation. I can honestly say that before participating in this program, I was one of those people who didn’t necessarily have the best picture of Detroit in my mind. It wasn’t because I wanted to think negatively – I just had never spent much time in Detroit, and most of the information I received about the city came from media sources, which do not always tend toward the positive.

However, I was completely blown away after the first D.E.T. session, where speakers Jerry Herron, Dean of Wayne State University’s Irvin D. Reid Honors College, and Rev. Jerome Warfield of Brightmoor Alliance gave in-depth accounts on the history of Detroit. Herron stated that so often people want to bash Detroit and pretend as if they know all about it, when in reality they have no clue what’s going on. There are so many efforts taking place within the city that don’t really get publicized.

I was able to meet and talk with Inside Detroit’s founder Jeanette Pierce, and her enthusiasm for Detroit is contagious. Inside Detroit’s mission is to give people an insider’s perspective on Detroit. By educating the public on Detroit’s history, culture, community, and livability, they hope to spur economic development within the region.

Part of the program includes participating in 8 hours of volunteer service within Detroit, and the organization I worked with was Summer in the City (SITC). SITC coordinates many different projects, including summer activities for inner-city children and planting community gardens; on the day I volunteered, I helped paint a couple murals within Detroit’s Midtown. It was definitely a rewarding experience to feel like I played a part in Detroit’s community development.

My second program session in Detroit included a bus tour of the city, which was operated by Inside Detroit. Though I’ve heard some about community development efforts in Detroit during my time at CEDAM, it was incredible to see the results of these efforts first-hand.  We drove by places such as Earthworks Urban Farm, the Heidelberg Project, the Green Garage, and the Dequindre Cut – a result of the Rails-to-Trails program. These are only a few of the stops we made throughout the day.  The list of all the projects and developments going on in Detroit seem endless. At the conclusion of the tour, all I could think was, How could anyone think that Detroit is going downhill? To me, it looks like it’s just getting started.

Next month the D.E.T. program will conclude with a final volunteer opportunity with one of CEDAM’s members, Focus: HOPE. I’m looking forward to ending this eye-opening experience with one of CEDAM’s own!