Lately I’ve been thinking about how I perceived the city before the fellowship and how I perceive it now that we’re about chest-deep into it. In the beginning, I can remember spending time thinking about how “city life” would affect my personality. I’m going to have to not look people in the eye if I don’t know them, I’m going to have to be tougher and walk tougher. I was concerned that I was too suburban white girl to handle the hard-edgedness of the City, that I was too weak to bear the hardship that can be found here. These concerns were ultimately based on notions of fear.

What I’ve found from living, working, playing, praying, and giving in Detroit is what all good works of art should be: a bit surprising and beautiful. I’ve found that Detroit has a waving culture that is alive and well and that people want to support each other and plant seeds of goodness all around. When I’m driving or walking around the city, I try to wave to people that I pass, regardless of the neighborhood or if I know them or not. I think it’s really friendly and it says “I see you” to the person. Or at least that’s what I intend to say. Almost all the time I get a wave and a smile back. And I also feel seen! I feel welcome and like I’m a part of something. Maybe this is me projecting…or maybe it’s genuine care. Regardless, it strikes me as a beautiful overtone of friendliness in Detroit’s love.

During our last project in West Village, we heard from several different community members that their hope for the neighborhood was that it would remain diverse and that people would be friendly and wave at each other on the street. What an unexpected litmus test of the health of a neighborhood – a simple wave.

A few years ago, a teacher of mine (who is now a mentor) in architecture school asked me what color I thought Detroit was. A curious question indeed, and one that continues to be unanswered. If I had to begin to answer it, though, I’d say that “the friendly neighborhood wave” manifests itself as a bright, bold blue. As if the depths of the ocean reached out a hand and met the sky.