After going over a week without meal prepping, I was craving a real homemade meal so I set out to make a big pasta dinner on Tuesday night right after our group meeting where we were reflecting on “How to Kill a City.” I rode back from the cohort meeting with Nina and mentioned that I would not be going to Life group as I usually did on Tuesday nights, but would instead be making dinner with some groceries i’d bought but hadn’t come to use yet. I then thought to myself, “why not make a whole affair of this?” and decided to invite Nina to cook with me. Food, especially good food, is known for it’s power to bring people together and spur meaningful conversation between people among other beautiful things such as joy and laughter. On the menu that evening was salsa verde-flavored rotini pasta, garlic flavored groundnut soup, and saucy pinto beans with a nutritious mix of cabbage, carrots, green bell pepper, onions, and tomatoes.
Shortly after getting back to the apartments, I received a text message from Anna that read: “wanna sushi?” to which I replied: “I’m actually making a big dinner tonight :(” and as you would know it, Anna was going to be joining us for dinner as well. Nina and I, with a guest appearance from Sierra (my wonderful roommate), got to cutting, chopping, blending, stirring, and chatting and two short hours later, Dinner was served. We put out some plates and had the privilege of Chloe joining us as well! We all made a plate and the five of us settled around the living room table and as food often makes people do, we somehow got to reflecting about the many conversations about gentrification and capitalism we had in the duration of the program.
This time the conversation did not center around understanding gentrification and its relationship with capitalism, or about the effects of it. This time, we started a conversation about what solutions to gentrification could look like. Coming into this program, I knew about as much as a definition when it came to gentrification, but by living here in Detroit and going around the city, reading about it in “How Kill a City,” and listening to Detroiters share stories of their realities of gentrification, my understanding of it began to grow. Every new discussion bred a shared desire to find out about solutions to this problem and how we could all be involved in the solutions, even beyond the end of our internships and time in Detroit.
Our dinner that span two hours into that Tuesday night, long after all our plates were empty and stomachs satisfied proved productive as we all got to share and ask questions about the roles that our various identities afforded us in the fight to combat the many ills of our society today. Having learned as much as we had during these several weeks, what could we do with that knowledge to respond to the injustice, misinformation, and inequality that existed in the world around all of us, wherever we come from? This experience stood out to me because it demonstrated how this program is inspiring and equipping all of us to illicit positive change through the process of learning from and listening to each other, a practice that seems to be scarce in the process of gentrification.