For our second challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, we were honored to partner with Marygrove Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve the legacy of Marygrove College through equitable stewardship of a campus that exemplifies excellence in education, serving Northwest Detroit and the city overall. Eight teams of Fellows collaborated with the Marygrove team – led by COO Racheal Allen and Program Manager Turkessa Baldridge – along with community stakeholders over seven-weeks. Learn more from the perspective of each team! 

The term “culture-bearer” can be used to describe a variety of different professions, from owning a medium-sized cafe to hosting a weekly painting program for youth. While one’s contribution as a culture-bearer often goes unrecognized, they provide a crucial foundation for strong communities. Recognizing these individuals as pillars of their communities is a crucial step towards bridging the gap between skilled individuals and groups. In collaboration with Marygrove Conservancy, the Ecosystem Mapping team’s goal was to create a map template detailing the services and locations of culture-bearers in the area. 

Being human-centered in our thinking processes, one of the main questions we’ve asked ourselves since the kickoff of the project has been “how can this map be of utility to the people it’s highlighting?” To answer this question, we spent quite a bit of time conducting empathy interviews with key stakeholders and reflecting on their insights. We found that a culture of individualism and a lack of accessible knowledge of what’s happening in the community can contribute to a disconnect within the community. To combat these issues, our team decided to create a survey, directory, and map that are both accessible and intuitive for culture-bearers and community members alike. 

The survey is intended to be used by Marygrove Conservancy to collect data for a directory of culture-bearers in the area. To increase accessibility we have designed examples of both online and print directories. In addition to this, we also crafted an ecosystem map that displays the locations, services, and information of the culture-bearers. We hope that this format will be of use to the community, and work to aid in Marygrove’s effort to be of service to the neighborhood!