Last week, our first Challenge Project came to a close. Over the course of five weeks, we worked with the Mayor’s Office to contribute to a small business directory initiative. This directory is an opportunity to increase awareness of small businesses throughout the whole city and demonstrates the city’s support of neighborhoods, their economies, and their people.


Aside from the fact that money spent at a local retailer tends to stay within the community and activate the immediate economy, supporting local businesses also contributes to community connectedness.

As our firsthand experiences proved, there is an incredible breadth of business types and owners throughout the city of Detroit- diverse in services, age, race, and gender.  Some have existed for decades and seen their business through high and low times in the city, while others are more recent developments and part of various initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship throughout the city.

I found this project to be particularly meaningful on a personal level because through it, I’ve experienced a feeling of connectedness to the District that I covered. Perhaps you are in a new city or are looking for ways to rediscover the one you live in. If so, these tools may help:

  1. Take a New Turn: embrace the opportunity to adventure outside of your routine. Venture to a new corridor, take a new turn, or change your mode of transportation to see what a new area offers.
  2. Use Your Senses: pay attention to what you hear, see, smell, and imagine in each business. Notice how is it different or similar to your typical shopping routine.
  3. Ask: curious about the products, services, or story behind the store? Small business owners are often happy to share and connect-see if they are available and introduce yourself.
  4. Listen: notice how they respond and what they share with you, most likely you will find areas of similarity or learn something new.
  5. Be an Advocate: share your experience with others and invite them to join you.

These steps can change how you see the spaces around you, spend your time, and connect with your community.