Right now, the whole world is watching Detroit.
For those attending SHAPE North America 2014 (SHAPE NA), many came to the city thinking about cars and bankruptcy with maybe a couple of Motown songs humming through their heads. They left with a whole new respect and admiration for Detroit, dismissing superficial stereotypes after encountering the city's charisma, vibrance, creativity, and resilience.
SHAPE NA, which was facilitated by the Global Shaper Community’s
Detroit Hub, drew 18- to 30-year olds from across North America to participate in an open platform on urban development through which they could share best practices, act on regenerative ideas, and become catalysts for sustainable economic Development.
The majority of participants stayed in residential suites on the campus of Wayne State University and commuted on foot while in Detroit. SHAPE NA started with exhilarating greetings by Mayor Duggan’s Office and Pashon Murray
of Detroit Dirt
, followed by two days within TechTown’s Junction 440 co-working space where panels of Detroiters, Michiganders, local business reps, and Hub representatives showcased their home cities. In the last hours of the final day, the North American Shapers hacked Community Impact (changing the state of their urban worlds) and devised eight plausible projects to become reality through proper planning and stakeholder support.
Thanks to a Detroit team of judges and a generous donation from VIACOM, one project proposal, the multi-generational story-telling LifeBook,
was awarded $1,000 in seed money. The day closed in conjunction with Michigan Corps Social Entrepreneurship Challenge
and the honoring of Nettie Seabrook with a Spirit of Detroit award for her lifelong contributions and leadership in the city.
Global Shapers visited and listened, shared issues and exchanged solutions, established relationships and got connected with the city. Our recent guests saw the city for themselves and have all gone home with a renewed energy to re-engage their own urban dilemmas with Detroit as their inspiration.
SHAPE NA 2014 participant Sarah Peerani, author of the blog Choose Love & Go
and founding member of the Orlando Global Shapers Hub, had the following to say of her work with Global Shapers and her thoughts on this year's SHAPE NA event in Detroit:
As a founding member of the Orlando Hub, I try to soak up as much information as humanly possible at SHAPE North America to bring back home and figure out what will work best for our city. I look for different practices implemented by the other hubs from how they finalized their city's goals and objectives to how they measured different initiatives.
The content of the activities and themes for the speaker panels were incredible for SHAPE NA 2014.
I personally loved how Mary from Ford Motors touched on human rights. I think transportation and environment, among other issues, are all very important, but some events miss mentioning human rights.
I'm glad we had a diverse group of speakers, from big companies like Coca-Cola and Ford to individuals such as Andrea Pavia and Dr. Rowe, come in to share the variety of views and experiences they each experienced.
The media is a terrible thing when it comes to what it wants to share. When you hear stories about how Detroit is bankrupt or other difficulties the city is going through, you never hear about the people we got to meet and hear from that are doing things to promote positive changes and growth within the city. They're also why the city is as beautiful as I felt it is.
All said and done, this is just the beginning. Be on the lookout for more Detroit Hub actions and partnerships
, and more of the Global Shapers Community shaping our cities.
Josh Etim is a resource recovery advocate for the city of Alexandria in the Washington D.C. area with a background as marketing specialist for Detroit's CDC Farm and Fishery, a past recipient of Green Garage Detroit's El Moore Apartment and Greens Fellowship, and a marketing analyst and administrative volunteer for Detroit's Peaches and Greens Produce Market.