I am an intern at EcoWorks, working on the Michigan Energy Efficiency for All (MEEFA) project (kind of). MEEFA is supposed to be my focus at EcoWorks, as I am an economics and international studies major focusing primarily on poverty alleviation. MEEFA is the Michigan branch of a national non-profit focusing on ensuring energy efficiency for all, regardless of socioeconomic status. Specifically, MEEFA focuses on bringing energy efficiency to affordable housing, through workshops, community interaction, and working with owners and managers of affordable housing projects. This is of great importance in Detroit because utilities comprise a huge expense for city residents, and place a heavy burden on impoverished families. My role is supposed to include surveying affordable housing residents in order to conduct “storytelling” to influence policy and interventions. This role is housed at EcoWorks because two of MEEFA’s steering committee members are at EcoWorks. EcoWorks is a great base because its mission is to “create opportunities to learn and practice the sustainable use of energy and natural resources through innovative education, job training, consulting, social business, and advocacy.” The organization does this both through community interaction in the form of workshops, home water and energy assessments, consulting, municipal energy plans, and youth engagement.
So far, my role has been a little unclear. Just before I started, my supervisor, who is also in charge of MEEFA at EcoWorks, went on leave. The result was a new supervisor who works with MEEFA but does not oversee it and doesn’t know a lot about my slated work plans. She’s trying to rearrange my work to include my old plans, but as of now, I haven’t done anything of much importance. It’s a little disheartening, just because I don’t know much about energy in the first place, so being at EcoWorks is a little out of my area, but that was okay because my project was related to my interests. Overall, EcoWorks is a fantastic organization that accomplishes a lot and manages to coordinate a lot of different projects. Everyone is very friendly, committed, and knowledgable. I can also tell that they’re really trying to accommodate me and what I want to do this summer.
This week and a half has overall been really great. I absolutely love being in Detroit, exploring, making the most of everyday, finding new hangouts, and meeting my cohort. There are some really great people here. I have felt a little uncertain at my placement, but it’s been a really nice environment to spend time in. Everyone is welcoming and there’s a very diverse group in the office. It’s nice to have other DCBRP interns with me. I am still getting used to the heat in the office and sitting for hours each day, but every experience has much to offer and I’m simply learning to take it in.