This prompt, “It would be game-changing if…” has stuck with me since our first introduction to design thinking, and it has become particularly salient in the past month. We used this phrase to define how broadly we as a cohort might affect the city of Detroit. Thinking about changing the game has been important in my Challenge journey so far because it has made me realize the scope of our projects as well as appreciate the value of small impact. Since that first session, these thoughts have ranged from, “It would be game-changing if we could make an impact on a single city block during Open Streets,” to, “It would be game-changing if we could make an impact on the entire 48214 zip code.” While I was able to experience more immediate, positive impact while playing games and talking with families who attended Open Streets, I was able to think longer term and more strategically with our stakeholders during Challenge 1.

If I’m being completely honest, I want to have it both ways. I want that personal connection and “feel-good” feeling, as most people who are involved in non-profit work do. But I also think often about where I can best serve others, and sometimes my personal feelings of gratification might need to take a back seat. As our first challenge ended a few weeks ago, I began to think about how the game was actually changed. Our final presentation showcased the impressive efforts and concrete suggestions we provided for MACC Development, but when it was all over, the analysis began. Did we change the game, or would it have been game-changing if we could have done more?

These first three months of Challenge Detroit have already been game-changing for me in so many ways. I’ve been given the opportunity to think about these things and be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. And I believe that this tension between giving in the present versus giving in the future will continue to shape how I think about upcoming challenges and the rest of the year. But I know that it is game-changing to given set time each week to think about Detroit, work on projects in the city, and grow as an individual and as a member of a larger community. I’m just excited to see how what we do with this opportunity.