For our culminating and last challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, eight teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they were excited to support. Leveraging skills practiced and developed over the course of the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their partner organization. Fellows Aaron Jason, Ben Ratner, Karmel Reeves, Haley Schultheis, and Tasnia Chowdhury partnered with nonprofit Artist Village Detroit with Chazz Miller, John George, and Amy Wellington. Learn more about the collaboration below.

On a sunny June day, our team arrived at Motor City Java House on Detroit’s Westside. We were looking for Artist Village. Little did we know: we were already inside.

Mr. John George – founder of Detroit Blight Busters, which houses Artist Village – appeared out of nowhere. Sporting his iconic Detroit Tigers cap, John began to tell us the story of how Blight Busters came to be. That set the mood for the rest of the day. We heard of how Blight Busters and Chazz teamed up to create community and uplift the residents of Old Redford through neighborhood revitalization, conversation, and art. 

The energy of the space and of the stakeholders involved in this project were powerful and impactful. We were inspired to see the efforts of all parties involved to really make a difference in the community, on the ground. 

One of our biggest takeaways from this project was the difficulty of forging consensus and collaboration between stakeholders with divergent priorities. In our conversations, we learned that even when priorities and ideas were different – there remained a centered understanding of the importance of community, art, and mutual aid. 

At the conclusion of this project, we are proud to have worked with the Artist Village Collaborative and contributed to their effort of community building. We hope that our deliverables help The Collaborative create a cohesive social media presence and spread the word about their mission!