Gooooood morning, Detroit! This month, when my alarm went off at 5:30 in the morning (okay, fine, 6—er, 6:30), the sun was streaming over the top of my unfinished bedroom wall, pouring in from the wall of windows in my lofted living room. And I’m that much readier to face the day, the day that now holds 12 hours of sunshine.

All winter long, I was in denial about the Michigan winter, brushing Detroiters off when they warned me of the winter blues and seasonal depression. Only now that it’s not cloudy all the time do I realize how much I hibernated through the cold months. I didn’t realize it at the time, because I found all the ways to have fun during the winter season (the restaurants and bars around the city have great soups and stouts to keep you warm and full). But this will be my first summer in Detroit and I’m excited!

Already over Memorial Day weekend, I spent Monday out on Belle Isle, soaking up the rays and barbecuing on the beach. I’ve never seen so many people on Belle Isle before — and we did a Challenge with Detroit in March. It was wonderful to see a community space full of friends and families, as it was intended to be used.

The Movement Festival that weekend was also packed and featured a total transformation of Hart Plaza. I found nooks and crannies I never knew existed, and barely recognized the spots I usually go laze at with a book or laptop.

This weekend was an ode to the power of community spaces. Summer seems to bring about a vibrancy in Detroit that dims during the winter months. Or so we think. It’s not summer that connects Detroiters, but the accessible spaces that come alive during the summer months for the community to enjoy.

A few months ago, I listened to Janette Sadik-Khan talk about transforming empty spaces in New York City to build better community experiences and better cater to pedestrians. Her work is inspiring, because her ideas are attainable. And I think that transformation is slowly happening in Detroit, but we don’t see that progress until the weather is more cooperative.

How can we create more year-round community spaces in our city? Is there a way to bring a touch of summer connectedness to the wintry months where everyone sticks to the comfort of their homes? There were many events in Campus Martius throughout the winter, but they were geared towards those who wanted to be outside or engage in some 21+ fun. There were also many bars and restaurants that held different events. But all of those happenings were costly or inaccessible from many of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

I don’t have an answer — I don’t know Detroit well enough yet to have an answer. But it’s something I’ll think about as I explore Detroit’s community spaces this summer.