Where did you start in Detroit?

Where did you start in Detroit?

Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012

When newer people move to the city, some are eager to create impact beyond their own selves. They want to start gardens, renovate buildings, protest school closures, lobby government and do many other things to improve the quality of life. Where should they start from? What should they consider?

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What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-07-26T19:14:09+00:00
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Ben Schmitt
on Sep 20, 2012
"When I moved to Detroit, I started by introducing myself and my family to my neighbors and..."
Neil Tambe
on Jul 27, 2012
"**Like**.  I like your long-term perspective, Sandra."
Neil Tambe
on Jul 27, 2012
"I begrudgingly agree with you.  I do hope, however, that people who see your post don't use it as..."
Sandra Yu
on Apr 26, 2012
"I think perseverance is really important, understanding timing and sequencing is important, being..."
Sandra Yu
on Apr 26, 2012
"there needs to be a button for "hm, insightful!""
Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012
"wow... I haven't even read the entire post, but i just wanted to say this is amazing inisght..."
Delphia Simmons
on Mar 30, 2012
"That's a tough one.  It's especially tough on the one trying to build consensus. In my..."
Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012
"I like that rishi. Meeting people is always important. Two comments though, I think sometimes..."
Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012
"LOL... thanks Delphia, you are pretty passionate yourself. So maybe you can help with this..."
Delphia Simmons
on Mar 30, 2012
"If I were just coming to the D I would start scoping out the Detroit social media prior to my..."
Rishi Jaitly
on Mar 30, 2012
"For me, it was all perspiration. Meeting with as many people and FLATTERING each of them. "You're..."
Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012
"I dig it jay. I think we have to stand on the shoulder of giants, if we want to see anything past..."
Jay Rayford
on Mar 27, 2012
"I started off wanting to work on increasing my network. I attended everything I could and..."
Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012
"here is the video I was refering to"
Claire Nelson
on Mar 27, 2012
"Great question, T. I think a good principle in LIFE (not just urban revitalization) is to listen..."

Tunde Wey

Tunde Wey - 2014-07-26T19:14:09+00:00 - "When newer people move to the city, some are eager to create impact beyond their own selves. They..."

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Ben Schmitt
on Sep 20, 2012 - 9:12 am

When I moved to Detroit, I started by introducing myself and my family to my neighbors and joining the East English Village Neighborhood Association.  Join your block club or neighborhood association right away.  Get to know the people around you.  Make yourself visible and accessible.  Don't close your blinds and hide in your home!

 
Delphia Simmons
on Mar 30, 2012 - 2:47 pm

If I were just coming to the D I would start scoping out the Detroit social media prior to my arrival. I would join Detroit Facebook groups, like their pages, etc.  Follow the feeds of all things Detroit, including the local helping organizations.  

I would find organizations whose mission connect with my passion or curiosity and volunteer some time.  It's a form of giving. I don't know about you, but I do my best work in areas of passion and fascination, so even if a job does not provide that, you can feed that part of you and keep it alive. The right connections will usually follow with not as much effort because passionate people recognize and want to be around passionate people.  That's why I hang out with you guys! :-)

 

Responses(6)

Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012

LOL... thanks Delphia, you are pretty passionate yourself. So maybe you can help with this question... What do you do, when your passion is not appreciated, or rather, when people (or organizations) are not ready for your ideas... yet you beleive very strongly that your solution is necessary. what do you do when you cannot build consensus, do you go ahead and prove yourself of wait until you have enough support.

 
Delphia Simmons
on Mar 30, 2012

That's a tough one.  It's especially tough on the one trying to build consensus. In my experience, the most difficult situations to handle are the ones where you "know" you're right.  You have the answer but others just don't see it.  In those cases I make a distinction between those who can't see it and those who won't see it.  

The people who can't see it but are willing to try usually have great insight once the lightbulb comes on because they see what you've already been seeing but in a new way and from a new perspective.  Those are the ones worth hanging in there with and you gain patience by doing so.  

Then there are those who won't see but they could. Once I make a determination that someone could see but won't see I don't look for their appreciation, support, or approval because the realization is that they will never be ready.  At that point consensus is not possible.  So I release them and move on, even though my physical proximity to them may seem the same.  This makes room for the right person to fill that space.

 

 
Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012

wow... I haven't even read the entire post, but i just wanted to say this is amazing inisght delphia. thank you soooo much

 
Neil Tambe
on Jul 27, 2012

I begrudgingly agree with you.  I do hope, however, that people who see your post don't use it as a "get out of jail free card" exempting them from listening to others and iterating an idea relentlessly before throwing in the towel, so to speak.There are people who probably won't ever get it as you say, but I think it's the burden of the changemaker to try REALLY REALLY hard before thinking someone isn't worth persuading. 

 
Sandra Yu
on Apr 26, 2012

I think perseverance is really important, understanding timing and sequencing is important, being ready for when the moment comes is important. So often, I just want to put all these amazing people working on related projects in a room ... and nothing happens. They don't know each other or understand each other's work the way I know each of them, and therefore don't have a sense of the connections - or, there are underlying dynamics that I may have missed...

But a few times already, I've stuck it out going to meeting after meeting for this or that initiative, and payout is finally beginning to happen a year in, two years in. Sometimes it takes a really long time and an external kick from some heavy-handed champion to make things move along - like a funder that wants to see collaboration, hah. Or sometimes it happens because along the way you've built a strong relationship with a key person who can help champion your idea with the rest of the group. Or sometimes it's both :)

 

I think it's really, really important to start off by trying to understand where folks are coming from, what they want to accomplish, what makes them excited, and how they want to contribute, and then see where the overlap lies.

Like, gee - not sure if this is quite the same kind of thing, but for example - the coalition that wants to shut down the incinerator and the operating engineers union that organizes the incinerator employees have been butting heads at every public hearing, but now that there's the possibility of talking about how we might work together to transition it to a municipal recycling facility and retrain the operating engineers... yowza. breakthrough in sight. and it happened because we've been slogging through teambuilding across different sectors and starting learning a lot more about the unions and their aspirations.

 

 

 

 
Neil Tambe
on Jul 27, 2012

**Like**.  I like your long-term perspective, Sandra.

 
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Rishi Jaitly
on Mar 30, 2012 - 9:03 am

For me, it was all perspiration. Meeting with as many people and FLATTERING each of them. "You're the expert here - what do you think? Who else should I talk to?" Each person would intro me to someone else and before you knew it, I was in. But still, most of the early meetings didn't amount to anything. But you never know which conversation will be a turning point. So keep conversation-ing.

 

Responses(2)

Tunde Wey
on Mar 30, 2012

I like that rishi. Meeting people is always important.

Two comments though, I think sometimes when we begin a project we are more opent to input, expecially when we are doing something new... but soon we fall into some sort of ossification, we are no longer eager to solicit opinions, not because we don't see their value but we are too busy making things work. How do we avoid this?

 

Secondly, (and maybe this is particular to the work you do) how do you keep your motivation... how do you stay interested and excited, and not get fatigued by the "snail's pace" of reality. Sometimes it takes forever to implement solutions, and other times, you have to seive through a lot of mediocre meetings to find the one inspirational relationship. How do you sustain your interest?

 
Sandra Yu
on Apr 26, 2012

there needs to be a button for "hm, insightful!"

 
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Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012 - 6:43 pm

This video tells the story of a brooklynite musician moving to detroit. I think the story is amazing because Shara Worden has beautiful music to share but, she also has began her journey in detroit by connecting with people already here.

Where can newer residents eager to work for the city's good begin in their quest to help change things? How do they foster the right alliances?

 

Responses(4)

Claire Nelson
on Mar 27, 2012

Great question, T. I think a good principle in LIFE (not just urban revitalization) is to listen & learn before you lead change. Not that you should feel paralyzed to share your talents with the world until you've reached some sort of "expert" status, but a good amount of question-asking, neighbor-meeting and general understanding about the history and culture of a place is important before you dive in to start something new.

In my time in Detroit, I've seen so many great examples of people who have moved here and had the humility (and courage, really) to ask questions. Tunde: You were one of them! We had conversations, lots of them. I learned from you, you learned from me. Sometimes the take-aways from those chats aren't immediately obvious, but they infuse our thinking & dreaming & scheming.

I think there is a tendency in cities to gravitate toward like-minded peers, often in our same age groups, neighborhoods & industries, even. This is natural, this is not inherently a bad thing. If you're a progressive liberal, you seek out with other progressive liberals. If you're a young adult away from your family, you might not naturally encounter a lot of children or elders.

But if you want to get involved in your community, it's important to get outside of your natural social network. Meet new people, visit unfamiliar places, ask difficult questions. Be curious, be open-minded, be a seeker. It will help improve your work, I promise.

This said, I do also agree with a great observation Veronika Scott (The Empowerment Plan) made about the value of naivete. Sometimes, if you over-learn, over-think & over-plan, you can talk yourself out of taking a first step towards doing something great. It's easy to get frozen if you're afraid of offending someone or misstepping somehow. So strive to have respect for your neighbors & environment without getting mired in fear.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that we're all imperfect humans. So if you encounter another imperfect human with good intentions but flawed execution, consider cutting him/her some slack. Mistakes & failure are a part of life, that's how we learn. I think most people want our fellow citizens to feel like they belong, to get involved, to take initiative and to feel ownership and pride in our community. As with all things in life, kindness and compassion are essential. Let's be a place that is open & welcoming to people & ideas. 

 
Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012

here is the video I was refering to

 
Jay Rayford
on Mar 27, 2012

I started off wanting to work on increasing my network. I attended everything I could and although I was timid, tried to talk to as many people as I could. From that I started a mission called SYMBOL (Successful Young Minorities as Business Owners and Leaders). Its goal was to connect amazing young professional minorities with the young generation so that they can see that success is around the corner...not 40 years down the road. That got me to where I am today with yet a long way still to go.

 
Tunde Wey
on Mar 27, 2012

I dig it jay. I think we have to stand on the shoulder of giants, if we want to see anything past our noses.

Detroit is really a flat city, in the sense that connections can be easily made and people are open to new ideas (sometimes...lol)

 

My question to you though, is what if your idea for innovation is not popular, but you are convinced that it is necessary. What then? how do you change the status quo without alienating potential allies?

 
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