Back in February, I shared a poem that had gotten me thinking and reflecting throughout the halfway point of my fellowship with Challenge Detroit. Now that we’re on the brink of July and the final weeks of this experience, I thought I’d share another favorite reflective poem of mine.

What is there beyond knowing? Mary Oliver

What is there beyond knowing that keeps

calling to me? I can’t


turn in any direction

but it’s there. I don’t mean


the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s

silk song, but the far-off


fires, for example,

of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning


theater of light, or the wind

playful with its breath;


or time that’s always rushing forward,

or standing still


in the same — what shall I say –



What I know

I could put into a pack


as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it

on one shoulder,

important and honorable, but so small!

While everything else continues, unexplained


and unexplainable. How wonderful it is


to follow a thought quietly


to its logical end.

I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,

in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name

but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.

I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass

and the weeds.


As I think about this past year, I think about my need for resolution.  I remember my idea that the solutions and deliverables we created in both our host companies and in our Challenges would be implemented and solve problems. In reflection, here are some things that I know:

  1. Diversity is important. Disclaimer: there is a lot to unpack in what this word actually means and implies. For now, I know that my life feels fuller with a diversity of experiences, relationships, and perspectives. Professionally, I’m learning the value of diversity of community stakeholders and cross-functional teams. As we consider the future of Detroit, perhaps we can continue to commit to conversations and development that are inclusive, varied and therefore, diverse.
  2. Self- care is important. While this year has been filled with the obligations of my role at Fiat Chrysler and my fellowship at Challenge Detroit, I’ve been determined to carve out more meaningful, personal time for myself. And as I continue to spend more time exercising, cooking, reading, I learn how challenging the reality of self-care actually is. How can we create environments that are more conducive to wellness and self-care? In my opinion, this is a factor to consider in Detroit’s landscapes.
  3. Friendship is most important. Connecting with my fellow Fellows outside of our Friday workdays has been so foundational to my personal growth this past year. My peers in this cohort are energizing, challenging and inspiring, and I have felt constant gratitude for each of them throughout this experience. It is truly to the credit of the leadership at Challenge Detroit for bringing together such unique, genuine leaders. And again, to their credit that we have inevitably spent an enormous amount of time together in various social, cultural and volunteering events throughout the year. As a result, my community in Detroit has never felt stronger.

While we begin our final individual Impact Challenges in July,  I want to carry these reflections with me. I want to remember what I know, and let go of my need for resolution. Some things may go on drifting in the wind and the weeds, after all.