I remember that much of what I did initially at my work didn’t feel like what a community-based organization should be doing. It didn’t feel like what non-profits usually do. I was sitting in classes about the community organizing and struggle of Detroit’s Black community throughout history into the present. I would come home at night and hear about one of my roommates directly helping people fight against the foreclosure crisis. And I would say that I had spent the day doing economic/business development and social media communication work. I felt especially distraught after a day we took a tour of the far end of Southwest Detroit, where a myriad of factories and such produce noticeably terrible amounts of pollution. And I had to turn around and spend that afternoon doing work on facebook posts promoting small business events.
But over time I came to think further about what the goals of my organization were, about what the day to day work I was putting in was aspiring to move our community towards. And that was where I realized the value of the work I was helping my organization do. Our work is so multi-faceted and varied, and the economic development work and communications work that I do are only a piece of the puzzle. Others run vacant property task forces and safety meetings, help the neighborhood associations run events for the community. And myself and my supervisors do the work of helping build local small businesses and local wealth, especially in a Black community that has been so deeply disenfranchised from economic success and still is. So I was able to look around at my neighborhood, Grandmont Rosedale, and see that we didn’t need to be on the front lines of social justice to be doing important work for our community.