How do you learn a city?
We often study other places using Google or as a tourist, hitting the spots labeled as well-known destinations. There are reports and diagrams published, books written, movies created, and songs sung.
For me, you learn a city through the people. I am now knee-deep in the graduate program called Detroit, a city everyone has fidelity to—but few dare to have a claim on. I have learned that the rivalry between Michigan State and the University of Michigan has nothing on the smack talking that follows when a Cass Tech and a Renaissance High graduate get going. I have learned it is not about what knocks you down that makes you a Detroiter—it is how you always rise, one eye squarely on the horizon line.
When you study Detroit, you are looking at the future. The grind, the grit, the hard work, the bold ideas—our future is manifesting in real-time here every day, make no mistake.
The Listening Tour has been on the move for eight months now. There have been 12 sessions, with hundreds of people meeting in groups and individually. We are creating, documenting, and debriefing what we are learning about how we must evolve to meet this moment and how we can improve our philanthropic practice to have the most impact for Detroit youth.
While spending time with every group has been transformative, the light of the tour sparks brighter when young people are in the room. They are the heart of our work at The Skillman Foundation. Their brilliance is bar none.
If there’s more you’d like to share with me as on continue on this tour, please do so here.
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