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A year ago, we set out to organize a 10th anniversary weekend that would reflect the spirit, mission and values of the Semester in Detroit program. Through the help and consultation of alumni, faculty, donors and student staff, we came up with five key goals for SiD.10 - in essence, to reconnect, highlight, celebrate, challenge and reflect upon our first decade. For the over 150 folks who joined us during the weekend of April 5-7, 2019, we can say with confidence the celebrations were engaging, impactful and fun!
In case you need a little refresher, or if you missed the weekend altogether, here are a few highlights from the extensive program agenda of activities and happenings that early spring weekend in Detroit:
Detroiters Speak “The New Abolition Movement” - The weekend kicked off early on Thursday night, April 4th, with a dynamic session of our “Whose Safety” Detroiters Speak class featuring remarks from Amanda Alexander and others from SiD Community Partner, The Detroit Justice Center. Watch a video here.
Round-Table Discussion with SiD Instigators - If there is one thing everyone should know about Semester in Detroit, it is that the original idea for the program came from a UM undergraduate student, Rachael Tanner, back in the fall semester of 2006. Now an Urban Planner in Palo Alto, California, we were fortunate to have Rachael join us for our Friday night discussion, along with fellow student co-instigators, Molly McCullough, Aditi (Sagdeo) Murthy, and Jaime Nelson. They, along with other key SiD student organizers, Jen Cowhy, Matt Clayton, and Jawuan Meeks, and original faculty director, Charlie Bright, joined Stephen Ward in a wide-ranging discussion that placed SiD’s founding in the longer, rich history of UM involvement in Detroit. Excerpts from this discussion can be heard in Episode 14 of the fabulous new RC Podcast created by Robby Griswold.
Saturday Morning Neighborhood Breakfasts with SiD Alums - Four SiD Alumni and their neighbors welcomed guests into their living rooms all around the city for community conversations. Sam Morykwas (SiD ‘12) hosted folks in his Woodbridge apartment to learn more about this historic and changing neighborhood just west of Wayne State; Lisa Tencer (SiD ‘13) filled her SW Detroit living room overlooking Clark Park with SiD.10 attendees who learned from long-time community and environmental justice organizer, Emma Lockridge (see photo); Dani Wilson (SiD ‘12) welcomed folks into her home in Old Redford to hear from Val, a long-time Detroit resident and neighborhood block club leader; and Katey Carey (SiD ‘14) facilitated a group project in the backyard of neighbors who run the Taproot Sanctuary.
Saturday Afternoon SiD Faculty-Community Workshops - Saturday afternoon gave SiD.10 attendees several opportunities to revisit the SiD pedagogy with three community workshops organized by SiD faculty: Over 40 guests joined Detroit historian, Baba Jamon Jordan of the Black Scroll Network, and SiD Faculty Director, Stephen Ward, on a 2-hour historical walking tour around the Cass Corridor; long-time SiD faculty member, Diana Copeland, joined Detroiters, Zoe Villegas (Gemineye Tarot) and Christy Bieber (The Aadizookan), in a Healing Justice Workshop; and newest SiD faculty member, Darcy Brandel, facilitated a creative writing workshop with Rose Gorman of the Tuxedo Project on Detroit’s west-side.
Saturday Night Community Partner Celebration Dinner - We filled the entire McCollister Hall of the Cass Corridor Commons for the marquee SiD.10 event; over 140 people gathered together including dozens of SiD friends and community partners. In addition to celebrating the over 60 organizations SiD has developed partnerships with over the past decade, the evening’s program featured poignant perspectives from Detroit community leaders on U-M’s growing presence in the city of Detroit. Janet Jones of the Source Booksellers urged U-M to substantially widen and deepen access for young Detroiters; Malik Yakini of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network raised critical and foundational questions about U-M’s larger institutional role in relation to capitalism and white supremacy; Kadesha Baker brought her late father, General Gordon Baker Jr.’s, legacy and activist wisdom into the room; Simone Sagovac of the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition talked about the important ways SiD students have contributed to their perennial community struggles while learning transformative lessons about how the world works; and Larissa (Carr) Richardson, native Detroiter, SiD 2011 alumnae, and current chief of staff for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, reflected on how her engagement with Detroit and Detroiters has evolved over the past decade.
Sunday Visioning for SiD’s Next Decade - After this action-packed and event-filled weekend, somehow, three dozen SiD.10 attendees still had enough energy to gather on the final day to do some collective visioning for SiD’s next decade. Thanks to the vibrant facilitation skills of SiD alumni, Emily Zonder, Katey Carey, Alexis Lowe, Alyssa Garza and Hannah Myers, folks came up with a wide array of ideas and aspirations for SiD’s continued growth and development in the years to come. Stay tuned this fall to the SiD E-newsletter for next steps in engaging and building from these creative ideas!