Tell us about living in Detroit. What neighborhood do you live in and what makes your neighborhood unique?  

I live in what is considered the oldest neighborhood in the city of Detroit! What makes Corktown unique is the amount of history here! I live in a home built in the 19th century, and there are many like it all throughout this part of town. Despite the new businesses popping up, this neighborhood manages to maintain its old school charm.

What have you learned from Challenge Detroit so far?

I view Challenge Detroit as training and preparation to be a servant leader in the city of Detroit. The Fellowship has taught me a lot about the heartbeat of the city and I’ve so appreciated that opportunity.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.

I work for EcoWorks, a non-profit that’s been building sustainable solutions in Detroit for 35 years. My host company creates opportunities to learn and practice the sustainable use of natural resources by providing services at the intersection of sustainability and social justice. The four programs under the EcoWorks umbrella are, Reclaim Detroit, Youth Energy Squad, Green Consulting,  and the program in which I serve, Residential Education. As the Energy Education Coordinator in the Residential Education department, it’s my responsibility to coordinate the Energy Smart program. Every week I conduct workshops that teach clients low-cost and no-cost tips to save money on their bills and reduce energy consumption. I’m also very involved in the planning for other large projects and programs at EcoWorks.

What kind of impact do you hope to have with your host company and within the city?

I hope to inspire EcoWorks to continue taking steps towards becoming a revolutionary, counter-cultural organization that seeks to dismantle systems of oppression in our city and our nation.

What are you most looking forward to for the second half of your year as a Fellow?  

I’m most looking forward to continued opportunities for enrichment such as those I have appreciated in the first half of our year.

What do you envision for Detroit 10 years from now?

The way I see it,  Detroit has two options. We can become a city that mirrors any major city in the U.S., or we can become a model of exceptionalism with regards to environmental and social justice.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is considering applying to Challenge Detroit’s next cohort?

Do it! Detroit doesn’t need saving, but it does need loving. Bring an open mind, an open heart, and be prepared to grow.

To see even more about Shaina’s experiences in Detroit check out her spotlight video below!