Saturday, March 28, 2009

semantics

i've accepted a job with the guidance center in southgate, mi (southwest of detroit, or "downriver"). starting in mid-april, i will be working with first-time juvenile offenders who have elected to participate in "the program" in lieu of serving time. "the program" consists of support groups, community service activities, and individual/family counseling. i will be leading and organizing groups and activities, respectively. in a nutshell, this is how i feel about it: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (breathe.) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

so it's official - i'm staying in detroit for a long while. which brings up a lot of questions: how do i feel about living here? what do my city roommates (e.g. mom & pop) and summer cottage hosts (e.g. sam, velia & kids) have to say on the matter? what type of bike should i get? which summer music festival will i attend?

rediscovering metro-detroit and acquainting myself with southeastern michigan has been an adventure. mostly, i've realized my definition of home is even more blurry than when i left 7 years ago.


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describing detroit is tricky because the city itself covers almost 150 square miles, and the metro area (including oakland and macomb counties) is even larger and more diverse. to give you a picture of my detroit experience (please refer to letters on map):

A/J. mom & pop's in midtown. an art deco hotel-turned-residential building. located in the museum district near wayne state, ccs, and avalon bakery. it's a beautiful place with great views (like this one from the rooftop).point B shows you its proximity to downtown (near the riverfront) and, more importantly, good girls go to paris crepes.
C. the guidance center, where i start working next month.
D & E. ypsinlanti and ann arbor, respectively. where i attend church, and home to the wolverines. the map illustrates why i feel a bit disconnected.
F. f is for farmington hills, where i grew up and where sister sarah resides. hosts nostalgic destinations like heritage park and the civic theatre.
G. "the summer cottage" (a.k.a. sam & velia's) in beverly hills. yes, everything in this northwest suburb looks and sounds like west la.
H. bloomfield hills, home to the queen of soul and the lds temple.
I. oak park/detroit. 8 mile, the great divide. this is where i've been delivering sandwiches for the past few weeks. the city-suburb divide is as real as the us-canada border. differences exist, but mostly in people's minds.

then there's detroit according to time magazine.this detroit is interwoven with the city i know. every bike ride i've taken has included sights like the one above. georgia street community collective is no more than a 10-minute bike ride from home.

can you see the tension that surfaces when people talk about "detroit?"

4 comments:

Melissa said...

Congratulations on the new job, I am sure you will do really well at it, I love checking in on your blog because you always inspire me with your dedication to serving others.

That Girl in Brazil said...

You summed up Detroit perfectly, girl.

... good luck ...

Jordan and Jessie said...

Congrats!

Jess and I are so excited to see you in July! Speaking of music festivles. You should come to Bliss Fest in the second weekend of July. You can get in for free I am sure with Jess and I. Her dad has the hook-up!

Hope all is well and don't miss Jimmy Johns too much.

Maxine said...

Hey, congrats on the new job!! I mean, it's no Wellington, NZ, but it'll do quite nicely (and I think will be a perfect fit for your awesomeness). Good luck when you start and keep tearing down those Detroit stereotypes! :)