Tell us about living in Detroit. What neighborhood do you live in and what makes your neighborhood unique?
I LOVE living in Detroit! I find there is always something to do whether it’s an event or new experience. I moved to Detroit from out of state so the other reason I love living in Detroit is that I am now only an hour away from my family.
I live in the Rivertown District, which is conveniently five minutes from downtown and located right along the Detroit Riverwalk. My favorite part about where I live is that my apartment complex is right on the riverwalk which gives me easy access for running and biking. I also get to wake up to a beautiful view that looks out over Belle Isle, which definitely helps motivate me in the morning.
What have you learned from Challenge Detroit so far?
Throughout the program, we have heard from many leaders from different areas, backgrounds, and interests who are working in the city. Given the amount of change that Detroit is facing, I have appreciated hearing from multiple perspectives as this is challenging my own perspective on how to respond to the needs and challenges of Detroit.
Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
My host company is Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. The mission of Goodwill is putting people with employment challenges to work. I have really enjoyed learning more about the unique model that Goodwill uses to serve the Metro Detroit community. Most people associate Goodwill with the retail stores, which is a part of Goodwill, but there are many other businesses, programs, and services that also are available through Goodwill.
I am a part of the Marketing team at Goodwill where I specifically assist with marketing and donor engagement. One project I had the privilege of working on was coordinating a video project highlighting two amazing people who have gone through Goodwill’s Flip the Script program. Working with the videographer, I was challenged professionally as I learned new ways to capture and tell stories. I was also challenged personally as I learned how our two trainees worked so hard to overcome adversity. To me, their stories represent the heart of why Goodwill exists. You can check out the final video projects through the following links: Ingrid and Jordan.
What kind of impact do you hope to have with your host company and within the city?
I hope to be a bridge builder. I came into Challenge Detroit with the intention of learning from Goodwill and Detroit’s community and local leaders. I hope that by listening and learning, I can be a bridge builder to people outside of Detroit so I can better understand and share the Detroit narrative. There are some incredible people and stories making an impact in Detroit, and I want to be a part of that narrative.
What challenge are your working on currently and what excites you about the topic?
The Challenge that I am currently working on is with the Belle Isle Conservancy. I have really enjoyed this Challenge because of the personal connection to the project. My team has been tasked with capturing stories and videos of the James Scott Memorial Fountain located on Sunset Point. Ever since I moved to Detroit and shared with my family that my apartment looks out over Belle Isle, my grandpa would ask me about the fountain and whether I had gone to visit it yet. You see, my grandpa lived in Detroit in the 1940s and would often walk to Belle Isle from his house. One of his favorite places to visit on Belle Isle was the fountain so it has been really special to hear his stories as well as the stories from others on why the fountain is significant to them.
What do you envision for Detroit 10 years from now?
The motto of Detroit, inspired after the fire of 1805, reads “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus,” which translates to, “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.” Detroit has a rich history of overcoming challenges. My hope for the city of Detroit ten years from now is that there will be a focus on growing vibrant neighborhoods, better infrastructure for regional public transit, and for Detroit to be a destination where others desire to come and learn.
To learn more about Laura’s experience this year as a Challenge Detroit Fellow check out her spotlight video below!