For our third challenge of the 2023-2024 program year, we partnered with the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership (JLGP), a nonprofit whose purpose is making the Joe Louis Greenway a space that celebrates the strength and resilience of its surrounding communities through inclusive programming, ongoing beautification, and intentional community engagement. Fellows on the Storytelling team focused on creating a sense of belonging and connection for residents and visitors to the greenway. The team collaborated alongside Executive Director Leona Medley, JLGP partners and community stakeholders to create deliverables – learn more about the project from the Fellows! 

The Joe Louis Greenway Partnership provided the Storytelling group with a unique and valuable opportunity to rethink what it means to capture and share stories on a large scale. We were tasked with the objective of facilitating a welcoming and interactive environment for folks visiting the greenway through the stories of both residents and nonresidents alike. One stakeholder, Bethany Howard, City Project Manager, commented “Storytelling is not limited to a verbal performance or the written word.” In consideration of stories of the past, present, and future, our team determined the pillars of on-site interaction, social media, digital interaction, physical take-home merchandise, and art as the strongest foundation for our framework, in tandem. Using these pillars as our guide, the team was able to imagine specific projects and retrieve logistical information that would collectively be compiled into an index for the JLG team to reference as they begin to build out their chosen storytelling initiatives. 

The overarching theme that guided this project was Detroit’s need for community preservation and retention. Our stakeholders consistently emphasized the importance of communal spaces, and the social and economic engagement that they bring about. The efficacy of the organization’s storytelling will undoubtedly play a large role in the city’s ability to nourish and provide for its existing communities, and those to come.