Michelle Rubin (MPP '17) submits this field report from her summer 2016 internship at Global Detroit.
I am just wrapping up and reflecting on my ten-week summer internship with Global Detroit. Global Detroit is a non-profit that aims to revitalize Michigan’s economy by making the region more welcoming of immigrants. Global Detroit works to leverage and mobilize immigrant talent in Metro Detroit and strengthen Detroit’s overall connections to the world. I love how Global Detroit works on both a macro policy level and on a micro community outreach and neighborhood level. While staying focused on its mission, Global Detroit is able to support Detroit’s immigrant-rich communities in so many ways, including resource connection, entrepreneurship training, business development, connections to job placements, and more. The most exciting part of my work has been actually engaging with the residents that Global Detroit serves—through door-to-door canvassing and community meetings.
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Global Detroit is located in the Green Garage, which is a coworking space and business incubator in the Midtown neighborhood of Detroit. The Green Garage, which is a rehabbed Model T showroom from the 1920s, is a really exciting place to work. The building houses ~50 small businesses and non-profits, most of which are mission-driven, and this provides great networking opportunities. Additionally, it is a triple-bottom-line business known for its commitment to sustainability. (There is comprehensive recycling, composting, solar panels and even a rooftop garden!) Spending the summer in Detroit has been amazing—the city is changing at such a rapid pace and being able to understand the nuances behind the larger redevelopment narratives has further fueled my already strong passion for Detroit.
Global Detroit is currently in the planning phase of creating a strategic plan for Banglatown, a neighborhood on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck with a large (and growing) amount of Bangladeshi immigrants. Since I am a dual-degree student with the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, a significant amount of my time this summer was spent working on this project. I was able to play an instrumental role in several aspects of the project including planning and facilitating neighborhood meetings, tracking and analyzing community survey findings, and designing a neighborhood map used during a community asset mapping workshop. I also conducted in-depth census analysis of the Banglatown neighborhood to help inform Global Detroit’s work.
From my summer with Global Detroit, I have learned so much about the neighborhood-level effects of federal immigration policies, as well as gained general knowledge about the immigration process on a local level. I have also learned about the role that public policy plays in community and economic development. This has been such an amazing experience at the crossroads of my interests (neighborhood planning, community and economic development, and urban policy). I look forward to using the skills and connections I have gained this summer throughout the rest of my academic career at the Ford School and into my professional career in community development and urban policy.
Michelle Rubin (MPP '17) graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in environmental studies. She is pursuing a dual-master's degree in public policy and urban planning and is interested in urban education and food policy. Her internship is made possible through generous support from the Trehan Family Fund.