Model D is proud to announce the launch of our latest "On the Ground" series, where we embed an editor in one of Detroit's neighborhoods for several months to help tell the story of the people, projects, and innovations that are moving the neighborhood forward. You may remember prior entries from Osborn and Brightmoor.
This series will take place in the Live6 neighborhood in northwest Detroit, which is situated on and around the Livernois and McNichols corridors, and contains both Marygrove College and University of Detroit Mercy.
We're also excited to introduce the editor who will be covering this neighborhood for us: Terryn Hall, a writer and Detroit Revitalization Fellow. As a way for you to get to know her a little better, here is an interview we conducted with Hall.
Model D: First, tell our readers a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you make your way to Detroit?
Terryn Hall: I'm originally from Virginia. After school, I lived for D.C. for five years doing management consulting, and then I went on to work for a healthcare nonprofit. When I learned about the Detroit Revitalization Fellows
program, I was excited about the opportunity to live and work in Detroit. I've lived here for over a year. Currently I'm in the Eastern Market/Lafayette Park area and really digging it.
MD: What were your impressions of Detroit before moving here?
TH: I'd been to Detroit before, so it wasn't a totally foreign place. My best friend is from here. She always had glowing things to say and would bristle when people said bad things about Detroit. She also showed me parts of the city that you don't necessarily get exposed to.
And thankfully the fellowship doesn't just plop you down in the city without context. I learned a lot about the history of Detroit and some of the larger issues going on. I'm really glad I had that context before coming here and never had any bias against the city.
MD: How has your experience been so far? What things stand out to you?
TH: I've really enjoyed the experience so far. The culture is different here from other places I've been. It's a big city, but doesn't move quite as fast as others I've lived in.
Because I'm a black woman in a majority black city there's some continuity of experience, but it's also different than any other city in America. I've really enjoyed the warmth of Detroiters and the richness of the history and also the real work that people from here are doing to shape the city, in good times and bad. Seeing the commitment and loyalty of Detroiters to their city is inspiring.
MD: Tell us about your current work through the fellowship program.
I work at a youth organization called Teen HYPE
and my mission is to help build capacity, wherever they need attention or help organizationally. When people say "revitalization" they think of someone coming in with a hardhat and hammer. Actually it's about building connections with people. And often it's not about you, but instead supporting people who've been here their whole lives and helping them achieve their mission.
It's a fantastic, woman-run nonprofit that's been doing community building work among youth for 12 years.
MD: How have you enjoyed working with youth?
TH: I'm constantly reminded of how brilliant they are, but also how much they have to grow. Young people face a lot of challenges, and it's great that youth in our program have the space to grow. That's the best part.
I'm also at an age where kids think I'm corny. I'm not cool anymore. But you don't have to be; you just have to be present and meaningful and intentional. Young people respond to that. And not just young people—anybody.
MD: Much of your previous writing has focused on popular culture. And you've generated some really interesting discussions through the lens of celebrity. But in this series, you won't be talking to or writing about any celebrities. Any you excited about this change and challenge?
TH: First of all, the personal is political. All politics is local, as the saying goes. Even though this series is not about popular culture, everybody has a story to share. And a lot of the best journalism in last five years or so has come from stories not in the mainstream news. For example, I think of Nikole Hannah-Jones's work on This American Life
. It was very local and specific, but had broad themes that can be applied to culture generally. That's what I'm most looking forward to—finding the interesting story in people's everyday lives, people who live here and are from here.
I'm still newer and understand that. Sometimes folks drop in, do a story, and pop out. But as a journalist you should get to know the people you cover because you can easily miss the nuance when you're not present to pick up on stuff. That's what I'm most looking forward to.
MD: Anything unique or funny you'd like our readers to know about you?
TH: I love to dance. I can do salsa and other types of partner's dancing, but cannot do ballroom. If there's anyone out there who can teach me how to ballroom, I'd love it. It's a very difficult, Midwest form, and I'm not there yet. Please help!
A formal announcement of this series will take place in the Live6 Alliance's new headquarters at 16651 Livernois from 5:00 to 10:00 pm as part of the Detroit Design Festival. Please join us and stay for the nearby Light Up Livernois event.