Model D's "On the Ground" series embeds a journalist and engagement editor in a Detroit neighborhood for three months to produce weekly content and help organize local events. They meet with residents to find out what stories or issues aren't getting enough coverage and how to support the work of locals.
This installment is taking place in the North End, a neighborhood just north of New Center that borders Highland Park and Hamtramck. With new mobility options, developments, and homebuyers, there's great potential to grow opportunities for residents. But the renewed interest in the neighborhood has also stoked local's fear of displacement. Can those in the North End have a say in the future of their neighborhood?
The North End is a fascinating microcosm of many discussions take place around Detroit currently. And the members of our "On the Ground" team are going to explore those issues for our readers.
We'd like to introduce you to them.
Imani Mixon - journalist/series editor
Imani Mixon got her degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Afterwards she moved to Chicago, but didn't stay for long.
"I tried to make myself fall in love with Chicago," she says. "But Detroit was too much of a cooler cousin to me."
Mixon was born and raised on the eastside of Detroit, and most of her family still lives in the metro area—this city has always been her home, and the choice to move back was easy. "I had the feeling that if something good was to happen to me, I wanted it to happen in Detroit."
Being away for just six years was enough to witness a massive difference between the Detroit she grew up with and the one she came back to. There are the more obvious signs of development and infrastructure projects. But there was a noticeable difference in how the city was perceived. "When I left it was a scary, weird place to be from," she says. "When I came back, it was cool and cutting-edge."
Mixon has always enjoyed telling stories and feels that's served her well. Now is a great time to be a storyteller, she says, because everyone's voice is being amplified. "I understand the importance of being able to tell your own story. And I'm really enjoying diversity of stories being told in this particular moment."
When not doing journalism, Mixon follows trends in fashion, culture, and music—and writes about those topics as well. Her work has appeared in Complex, Condé Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, The Billfold, and WeTheUrban.
- Favorite Cafe: New Order
- Favorite Weekend Activity: "Hanging out at Motor City Wine or El Club or listening to Video7 wherever they are"
- Favorite Book Featuring Detroit: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"
- Detroit Role Model: Diana Ross
- Random Thing About Detroit: "Detroit is the best place to be if you are young and vibrant and okay with making mistakes."
Cornetta Lane - engagement editor
Cornetta Lane doesn't have a typical job. Instead, she's carved out something much more interesting. "I say that I am a cultural entrepreneur and storyteller."
Lane believes that there's a value in stories, that they help people work through issues and increase community visibility. That's why she started the organization Stories & (__), which currently supports two initiatives.
The first is Pedal to Porch
, a bike ride through a Detroit neighborhood where attendees stop at porches of residents and listen to their stories. The series has gone through several neighborhoods, including Southwest Detroit and the Mack Avenue Corridor.
The more recent initiative is Dinner for 30, where a cook will prepare a dish for 30 guests and tell a story about its significance. The first dinner, which took place on Sept. 30 and featured chef Satori Shakoor, has the goal of preserving family traditions through cooking and storytelling. The event also coincided with the launch of the initiative's Kickstarter campaign
ending on Nov. 18.
Lane developed her reverence for storytelling after the death of her father. They had begun the process of reconnecting and made dinner plans when she received a call saying he had been shot and killed. She says she fell into a depression and it wasn't until writing in her journal that she realized, "I wanted to honor my father by telling his story."
She got that opportunity, and it forever changed her life.
Lane, who is from Detroit, plans to bring her storytelling expertise to the North End by organizing a series of local potlucks. "It's always an honor and a privilege to hear the stories people tell for the first time, when something private gets brought into public, something they've been holding on to is shared in community."
This article is part of the "On the Ground" series, where a journalist is embedded in a neighborhood for three months to provide regular coverage.
- Favorite Cafe: Narrow Way
- Favorite Weekend Activity: "My partner always has something fun planned"
- Favorite Detroit Musician: Pasalacqua and Coldman Young (her partner is in both groups)
- Detroit Role Model: Satori Shakoor
- Random Thing About Detroit: "Shoutout to the University of Detroit Mercy, grad program for Community Development" (Lane is currently enrolled in the two-year masters prog)
Support for this series is provided by the Kresge Foundation.