I live, I work, I play, I lead, I give in the city of Detroit, and I am learning every day a little more about why I like being here, in Detroit so much:
Last July, I decided to move into Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood. A neighborhood that is dense in diverse historic housing options, ranging from single-family houses, to duplexes, townhomes, and apartment buildings all pretty much built between the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Last weekend, when we had our first warm Saturday, I was reminded of why I wanted to live here over any other neighborhood I looked at houses in. I was welcomed home from the Eastern Market to my neighbors and my roommates all sitting on our front porches playing music, talking, and enjoying the weather. Kids were out running around and riding their bikes down the sidewalk, others were walking their dogs and waving hello as they passed by. The porches are something that I really love about Woodbridge, and it is because people actually use them as a place for gathering and checking in with one another, even if it is just to wave hello, goodbye, or a have a nice day.
From my apartment in Woodbridge I am a short bike ride from Midtown, Detroit where I work at Quinn Evans Architects. Quinn Evans Architects is an award-winning architecture and design firm that I am working on, literally a dream project of mine. I remember when I was a little kid and my parents would drive my siblings and I up to Detroit to go to the Eastern Market or to the Fox Theatre where my Grandma was an usher and I would beg them to drive down Vernor Highway, under the bridge and around Michigan Central Station. The windows were broken, and it was dark inside, but if the light was right you could see the beautiful vaulted ceilings that passengers used to wait under. I loved it. I was obsessed with this monstrosity for as long as I can remember, and I think it might have been the building that ultimately got me interested in practicing architecture. I never thought that I would see the day it would be redeveloped. But, to my lucky surprise, I ended up working at the firm that was selected to lead the design work at Michigan Central Station. I have had the opportunity to survey, photograph, model parts of the building, scope drawings, diagram spaces, research and write about the historic spaces in Michigan Central Station over the last six months, all things I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.
After work on Tuesdays I drive over of the east side of Detroit, maybe a mile or so from Belle Isle is a ceramic studio and school known for the creation of the tiles that adorn the popular Detroit destinations like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Public Library, the Belle Isle Aquarium, The Guardian Building, and even some People Mover Stations! Over the last eight weeks, I have been trying my hand at throwing pottery in the studio at Pewabic Pottery. I have been attending a class where I have learned the basics, like throwing cylinders that can be shaped into cups, bowls, plates, spouts; pulling handles for coffee cups and teapots; trimming leather like clay forms for planters and whatnot; I have learned about the process of firing and glazing and ultimately firing again to have a final piece to steep some tea in, eat some snacks out of, and even plant a plant in! It has been quite an adventure and I am looking forward to being an active member of Pewabic Pottery and taking another class!
LEAD & GIVE
As we approach week three of our last cohort wide challenge, it is wild to think that this year is coming to a close. This year not only have I had to opportunity to do the few things I have written about above but much more, including partnering with a variety of local non-profits where I have worked on teams that contribute intellectual and hands-on service to help make an incremental impact in The City of Detroit. The projects I worked on over these challenges range from design questions that tackle landscape and corridor maintenance with the Eastside Community Network, to branding and marketing “BravoBravo!” with The Michigan Opera Theatre, to creating a guide to home maintenance and repairs with Century Forward, to creating an outreach plan and program recommendations for the Youth Employment Program at Mariners Inn. Each project offered something unique in many ways, from the organization we partnered with to the groups I had the pleasure to work with, and in many cases, what was offered was the opportunity to learn more about myself, my team, our partners, and our city.