Detroit Week, a week dedicated to showcasing the culture and energy of Detroit, kicked off Monday afternoon in the Diag, with students from the Semester in Detroit program promoting events happening throughout the week.
According to Public Policy senior Blair Sucher, the celebratory week aims to gravitate away from the volunteering-based relationship the University of Michigan currently has with Detroit and instead foster a relationship in which Detroit is viewed in a more positive light.
“When the University interacts with Detroit, it is often on the basis of service learning,” she said. “It is important for people to broaden their views and to recognize that to create a meaningful, sustainable partnership with the city of Detroit you need to see it in other lights.”
According to Detroit Week’s website, The Detroit partinership is hosting events and workshops every day from March 13 to March 18 in an effort to promote the rich history and life of the city. Events include a “Know Your Rights” discussion facilitated by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Weill Hall, a workshop for student organizations who are interested in becoming involved in Detroit and a trip to Bert’s Jazz Club in Detroit.
On Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Addell Austin Anderson and Feodies Shipp of the University’s Detroit Center will hold a workshop that shares the best practices and resources for engagement with Detroit’s citizens and organizations.
Nursing junior Matt Bozzo, an alum of the Semester in Detroit program, echoed Sucher’s statements, and said his experiences participating in a longer-term program past a day of volunteering helped him look at the city life through a new lens.
“My semester in Detroit was eye-opening,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself and the city and its historical context. It was very fun, experiential learning.”
The University’s Semester in Detroit program is one of the many entities sponsoring Detroit Week. Alana Hoey Moore, a staff member of Semester in Detroit, stressed the importance of recognizing Detroit as more than a struggling city.
“We on the campus really buy into this narrative of Detroit that it’s devastated and blighted, and while the city certainly struggles, there is so much life happening in Detroit,” she said. “(Detroit Week) gives students who might not normally make a whole trip down to Detroit an opportunity to engage in the city and get a view of some things happening there.”
Detroit Week will also feature “The SOUP,” which aims to capture a sense of Detroit without actually making a trip to the city. According to their website, the SOUP’s crowd-funding intiative aims to promote Detroit-based funding, creativity and collaboration. The SOUP will hold a $5 soup fundraising dinner held in the Trotter Multicultural Center on Wednesday night during which attendees will listen and vote on several presentations about Detroit-based projects led by individuals affiliated with the University.
According to their website, the event aims to create long-lasting relationships between Detroit and the University. The winning project will receive all the money contributed from donors at the event.
Hoey Moore said she thought many positive things that happen in Detroit, such as the projects that will be featured and Wednesday’s “The SOUP” event, don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“There’s so much happening in Detroit that’s been happening for a long time that we largely ignore,” she said.