By Kim Sherobbi
December 12, 2015
For years, I’ve been attending community gatherings on the northwest side of Detroit near the Jefferies Freeway and Wyoming. In the past, I would see the same faces at neighborhood events. Recently new faces have emerged. These newcomers appear eager to learn more about our community and have their voices heard.
On Friday, December 4, 2015 people from the area attended a Race & Power in Detroit discussion about blight sponsored by the Michigan Round Table (MRT). The event was held at the Northwestern Christian Church. It was the first time that several people had attended a MRT conversation. That evening, I was the moderator for the panel discussion, table dialogues and report-outs. Although the definition and framing of blight needed more grounding, many first timers experienced the satisfaction or frustration of hearing differing opinions about blight.
The community engagement that was taking place was just as important as discussing the deterioration in our neighborhoods. This increased level of residents participating in neighborhood activities is a welcome change because it is only through interacting with one another that we will be able to make collective decisions.
Another event that took place in the area, where both regulars and newcomers were present, was the Detroit Police Commission meeting. Adams Butzel Recreation Center hosted the event on Thursday, December 10, 2015. Those who attended the meeting were able to get policing updates, celebrate ten police officers for their outstanding work and hear acknowledgements about the dedication of recently deceased community activist Ron Scott. The majority of the meeting was focused on Ron’s commitment to the people of Detroit. A salutation about Ron was read by Police Commissioner Rev. Edgar Vann, comments of admiration for Ron flowed freely, and a moment of silence for the usually seven minutes that Ron took at the mic, when he should have taken 3 minutes, gave people in the room a moment to smile as we reflected on his dedication to humanity. Having new people hear about the life of Ron Scott was a wonderful way for them and us to learn what community participation is all about.