“Detroiters Speak”

I am a strong proponent in going to talks to learn about things. Hearing intelligent individuals speak eloquently about topics they are passionate about inspires me to not only become a better speaker, but also a better writer. Great speakers have a way with words; they can move people, evoke emotion and galvanize change.

As I write this (note: posting this several days later), I am sitting in the Ugli alone on a Thursday night (which is rare…I always surround myself with people because I’m scared of being alone). However, it is after hearing something great that I can sit in a library and think. By myself. And it is also when my most productive hours and greatest thoughts come about.

I joined the minicourse Detroiters Speak at the last minute because I wanted to get away from Ann Arbor a little bit and get a perspective on what is going on in a great city that I want to learn more about just a few short miles away. I signed up last night late and 16 hours later I was headed to the UM Detroit Center on a charter bus where I would get free dinner, listen to three Detroiters talk about their neighborhoods for an hour and get my much-needed weekly dose of real life perspective.

One thing that resonated me from the talk was the focus on the power of language. The speaker, a successful urban planner and community activist, explained how Detroit neighbors will either choose to join in the dialogue about neighborhood revitalization or reject the proposals based on how they are included and the language used around the issue. This made me think of the importance of sensitivity in language and how it contributes to building relationships. I strive to be continuously sensitive with language in my own writing and after this week, I am going to be even more aware of language choice and how it impacts people and causes.

One thought to ““Detroiters Speak””

  1. Molly,
    I’m so jealous of you joining the minicourse. I really wanted to do it too but I work every afternoon and unfortunately don’t have the time to take the bus and back. I actually applied to Semester in Detroit last year and was accepted to the program, but couldn’t bring myself to spend a semester away from Ann Arbor.
    As a native of the suburbs of Detroit, I am really pleased to see that what Detroiters have said (even this early in your engagement with the many speakers) has resonated with you. Indeed, the power of language in the planning and reinventing Detroit is an emotionally-charged battle field. Everyone has an opinion and the language they use to frame their side of the debate influences subsequent actions. Detroit lovers are still waiting for the city to be the hub of what it once was, and everyone seems to have an idea on how to bring it back to that point.
    I really enjoyed how you already have learned in what you refer to as your “much-needed weekly dose of real life perspective.” For many students who stay isolated within the walls of the city, Detroit would be the last place they would think to explore or learn from. But the lessons are there, and this class is a direct way to gather them.
    I’m super excited for you and the course and to see what other perspectives you can report back on through the blog.

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