For our fifth challenge of the 2020-2021 program year, teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they are passionate about. Utilizing skills developed throughout the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their nonprofit partner organization. Fellows Andrea Daldin, Chelsie Thompson, Emi Mitsusada-Boylan, Madeline Miller and Sydney Thomas  partnered with nonprofit Detroit Greenways Coalition and Executive Director Todd Scott. Learn more about the collaboration below.

Challenge #5 took a fun, unique turn, where we as Fellows had to find our own nonprofit. Sydney, Emi, Maddie, Andrea, and I wanted to pick a nonprofit that has a bit to do with environmentalism. After some consideration, we went with the Detroit Greenways Coalition, where we were led by Todd Scott!

The Detroit Greenways Coalition (DGC) works to promote and build a network of greenways, Complete Streets, and bike lanes that will connect people and places, improve the quality of life, beautify neighborhoods, and stimulate neighborhood-level economic development in Detroit.

From Mean Girls to Green Girls, am I right?!

We learned so much about the history of Detroit and its relationship with greenways, cycling, and more! One of the shock factors from the past were the roles that the Big 3 like GM, Ford, and Chrysler (now Stellantis) have had on the policy of speed limits, and the infrastructure of the roads we have now. Another learning is how cycling was freedom for women in Detroit, and in the 19th century cycling fashions pushed gender equality, from long skirts to bloomers (trousers).

Some current shock factors we discovered are the prevalence of cycling and pedestrian fatalities – through data we learned that African American men 40-50 years old and African American boys between 12-15 years old are the ones that make up those cyclists fatalities in Detroit. As a result, we want greenways like the Dequindre Cut to continue improving safety and accessibility in our communities. To support the creation and improvement of our greenways, we focused on the importance of data collection for furthering grant requests and effective storytelling.

After a lot of reflection the design question we developed was: 

How might we utilize bike and pedestrian data to support the development and improvement of Detroit’s greenways?

Background research, paired with insights from our stakeholders, informed our final deliverables:

  1. A best practices infographic
  2. A counting system proposal
  3. A social media toolkit with a cyclist testimonial component. 

The best practices infographic shares cyclists statistics, data collection practices, and other relevant information to be shared with potential funders. The counting system proposal shares information regarding technology and costs required to implement a new counting system. 

Lastly, the social media toolkit provides templates, as part of a #whyiride campaign, where quotes from diverse cyclists can be shared to Detroit Greenways’ online community. This campaign challenges Detroiters to consider what the face of a cyclist looks like, beyond stereotypes commonly associated with cyclists in developing urban areas.

Being Apart Together (The Dequindre Cut)

We are so thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the Detroit Greenways Coalition and the knowledge and contacts our partner liaison, Todd Scott, shared with us.

We plan on supporting and telling the story of the greenways even after our project presentation and this fellowship. If you would like to get involved or learn more about Detroit’s Greenways check out their site:

It is filled with events, opportunities to donate, their current and past greenways projects, map & data for biking and walking around the city, and more!

The Dream Team, and yes you CAN sit with us…