Service and teamwork mark 2012 Ford School Staff retreat

June 7, 2012
The 2012 Ford School Staff Retreat is one for the history books, but most of the participants still felt it the next day. The June 5 retreat entailed a day of community service and teambuilding in Detroit, with 35 staff members in two groups volunteering at Earthworks Urban Farm, a program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and Gleaners Community Food Bank, both located on Detroit's east side.

Earthworks promotes sustainable agricultural practices and provides fresh, locally grown produce to markets, the soup kitchen, and to low-income families through Project FRESH. Gleaners distributes more than 40 million pounds of emergency food to more than 600 partner shelters, soup kitchens, and pantries throughout southeastern Michigan.

Staff members set out early on the crisp, sunny day in order to volunteer labor to these longstanding Detroit community organizations. The Earthworks group got their hands dirty preparing soil, planting, and sifting compost. The Gleaners group flexed their muscles packing food boxes and preparing them for distribution.

At midday, staffers headed to Belle Isle Park to enjoy a lunch catered by Slows Bar BQ. Ford School alum Olga Savic Stella (MPP '99), Vice President of Business Development at Detroit Economic Growth Corp., gave a talk on current challenges in the city and the ways numerous revitalization efforts are bolstering community development in Detroit. Stella contextualized recent growth booms in Midtown and the Woodward Corridor, gave an overview of promising new development proposals for the Riverfront, and explained how urban agriculture may be scaled to fit into the big picture of Detroit's future. Afterward, staffers celebrated colleagues Shawn Nelson (IT Manager) and Tom Ivacko (CLOSUP Program Officer) with the annual Staff Recognition Awards for their exceptional contributions.

Before heading back to Ann Arbor, Ford School staff wrapped up their day in Detroit by enjoying some down time in the park.

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