Monday, February 23, 2015

Pre-ASB Reflection

         Before I began to share my thoughts so far, I just want to express how excited and grateful I am to be given this wonderful opportunity for a memorable life changing experience.

          The more information we learn about Detroit, the more surprised I become to learn about a completely different part of our world.  I am astonished with how much change Detroit has been through over these years. All these change of poverty levels, homelessness and overall dynamic of the city has changed in such relatively short amount of time. It is incredibly sad how many people have been affected by the city's economic repercussions.  So much can happen in a short amount of time that many people do not expect to happen to their home.

       I am excited to see the vast differences of culture in one city, caused from years of trouble. Although I am sure we will experience and see the downsides of the city such as all the abandoned buildings, I am eager to see all the beautiful changes the city is undergoing in hopes to improve it altogether. In a video we saw, some of the people who currently live in the are frustrated with the way the media portrays the city. These residents say if the media took a picture of the building next to a rundown building, they would also experience all the wonderful things the city is trying to improve and fix. I want to see the other side of the camera to experience all the positives the city has to offer. The city was once an amazingly strong place ahead of its time setting new standards in history, I want to experience the city that changed the world one car at a time.     

       My hometown is a very small town with more buffalo than people, not really it is just a saying we have in Rutland, MA because we have a buffalo farm. There are many differences between Rutland  and Detroit because one is a very small town as the other is a large city. The only similarity I can find between these two places is the fact they are both going through a renewing processes. Rutland was once a town with hospitals for people who need fresh air of the country after being in the polluted city.  Many of the hospitals were knocked down when the neighborhoods were being built, but one remained until recently. This hospital was in a large gated area to prevent anyone from entering.  I have a family background in real estate, so I only thought about this empty building the way I was conditioned to think of vacant homes. I never really considered people could be living in the building or using the empty space for bad things. After this building was knocked down, a pathway was built in its trail leading to my towns middle school. Along with this new pathway, the town is trying to make it more appealing for all the residents by building new residents and creating fun activities for families.

Victoria Gibbs
Class of 2018

Pre- ASB Reflection

1) What was the most surprising thing you've learned about Detroit?
       Perhaps not the most shocking of things, but throughout the experience so far I've become more aware of the good qualities of Detroit. I've been conditioned to believe that Detroit is a ghost town, a conglomeration of abandoned buildings, murders, and corruption. I suppose the most surprising thing is the amount of conditioning people outside of Detroit have.
        It struck me when I watched the video and saw the differences between the two high schools. The abandoned high school was always the one to be highlighted in media, while they disregarded the brand new, beautiful building.
       There are some incredible things to be seen in Detroit and it's still unknown to me all of the beauty that I'm sure I'll be seeing in a few weeks.

2) What do you expect to see in Detroit?
      The truth is I'm not all that sure what I'll be seeing in Detroit. I'm sure I'll be seeing what the media portrays (i.e. the abandoned buildings and run down nature of the city). The homeless population may come as a bit of a culture shock.
     But, like I said in the previous question, there are parts to this trip that I can't even imagine quite yet. The stories, the experiences... these are the things that I believe will make the greatest impact.
   I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm expecting to put a face to the blank page that is Detroit to me right now. However, I'm just not sure what that face will be quite yet.

3) What are some of the similarities that your hometown and Detroit will have?
    Growing up in a suburban Massachusetts town, I can't think of many surface similarities between my hometown and Detroit. However, I have a feeling that once I spend a week in Detroit, I'll find a lot more similarities between the two than I ever would have expected.
Devon Garufi

Class of 2018

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Colin + Barry Forever

So far ASB has been a life changing experience, and we haven’t even gone on the trip yet! I have been surrounded by so many incredible people that have all inspired me in different ways. You are all awesome. Especially Barry.

I am excited for our mission to go to Detroit and help the homeless. We have learned about Detroit’s rough past the last fifty or so years, but I know that when we go we will see a Detroit that is much more than the negativity that it's usually associated with. Amidst a city with a rough past will be hope. I am excited to meet and connect with the people of Detroit, and to bring my passion and hope for change.

It is hard for me to draw comparisons between my hometown Acton and Detroit. Acton is a small, privileged town and I have been blessed to have been able to grow up there. While Detroit and Acton may have obvious differences on the outside, I know that deep down we both share common humanity, compassion, and dignity.

Peace out,


Down, Yet Not Out

While growing up, I've always known Detroit as the home of the Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings and Lions. I grew up hearing about Motown being the birthplace of Eminem and countless other personalities that one could see in various pop culture areas. I never heard of the White Flight in the late 1960s and the 1970s, the corruption, the shift and decrease in population in any history classes or the media because it wasn't something that was considered important enough to gain national attention. That changed in 2013 when the city filed for bankruptcy. I couldn't go an hour without hearing about Detroit filing for bankruptcy. Media outlets constantly asked the question, "Where does Detroit go from here?" We constantly hear that it is always darkest just before the dawn and Detroit is proving that with the direction that they're going. They've created a bankruptcy plan that has been approved so that they will work back towards the black, rather than the red. They have hunkered down on the corruption that plagued their political system. They are using creative expression to show the world that they're still there and that Detroit will be back and better than ever. This is an ongoing process and I'm sure there will be many abandoned or decrepit buildings and houses but there will also be areas being re-built or repaired and areas showing this growth and improvement. I'm from a small town where very little excitement happens. Uxbridge is a white-collar town that is home to doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc., yet it's history is steeped in blue-collar work. It once served as the midpoint between Worcester and Providence and was a hub for mills on the Blackstone and Mumford Rivers. Similar to Detroit, the town focused on manufacturing for its income. It took time to transition and the mills are now home to various independent businesses and apartment complexes. Sadly, one of the mills burned down, which caused over 100 small business owners their life work. Considering the size of Detroit and taking into account the sheer amount of income they gained through manufacturing, it will take so much time, patience and tireless work not only from the citizens of the city, but also of volunteers to help this city return to its former glory.

Dan Larrivee
Class of 2017

Pre-ASB Reflection

I think that the most surprising thing that I have learned about Detroit is the number of people that have left the city. I knew that there was a decline in the population but I never realized how many people actually left and trying to imagine such a decline in population is hard for me to wrap my head around. Since I have been to Detroit a few years ago I know what to expect going into the city. I know that we will come across multiple abandoned buildings and see the poverty that has taken hold of the city and that is something that I believe I am mentally and physically prepared for. That being said I am excited to see if there have been changes to the city. It has been about 5 years since I have been and I am looking forward to seeing the progress and changes that the city has undergone. Coming from a city that struggles with homelessness and violence I think Detroit and my hometown of Lynn will be similar however not on the same scale. Detroit is much larger than Lynn and its problems are far worse however Detroit and Lynn both deal with similar issues. In my opinion, Lynn is able to deal with the issues of homelessness and violence in ways that are more effective than how Detroit deals with its issues of homelessness and violence. While both cities address the issues of homelessness and poverty in different ways these are two characteristics that both Lynn and Detroit share.

Lauren Donnelly
Class of 2017

Pre-ASB Reflection

I was most surprised to learn about all of the abandoned homes and buildings in Detroit. When I first told my family and friends I was going on this trip, many of them reacted in a negative or confused way. So before even learning anything about the city, I kind of had negative preconceived notions of what was going on there. I knew the city was in trouble, but I never imagined that there could actually be so many abandoned buildings in a city. It just seems strange and so unheard of to have a major city actually be abandoned.

I expect to see those buildings that we learned about. I think I might initially feel very out of place or out of my element because I have not spent much time anywhere where I am the minority. It will be interesting to be put in that position. Also exciting. I'm not sure what else I expect to see.

On the basic level, Detroit and my hometown are similar because both places serve as a home to families and individuals that are trying their best each day to live a happy life. I also think my town and Detroit are similar because both are recently experiencing a revival. The joke throughout my life is that my town is a ghost town after 8:00 pm because it's a small town and not much goes on there. Recently, new businesses and restaurants have been built and running and have really turned my small town into a hip downtown that all different kinds of people enjoy. While still much smaller than Detroit, it's cool to see that even small communities can rebuild themselves.

Maria Motta

Class of 2017

Hey there, ASB 2015!

New year, new ASB! It has been quite a whirlwind becoming part of ASB 2015, and I feel like I have learned a lot, but I know I still have a long way to go. I really enjoyed George's presentation today at the meeting, and I think the numbers were that most surprising part for me. I really can't even picture a city that has only two thirds of the buildings occupied. It's also hard to picture a city that is three times the size of Boston and 5 times the size of Framingham, but had less than half the number of people than there used to be. When I think of Detroit, I feel like I picture what the media portrays and I think it will be really shocking to see for myself how it actually looks now. I know that this is a situation that pictures just cannot do justice, but I also realize that the media's depiction is not necessarily accurate. However, while I know Detroit has had more than its fair share of challenges over that last few decades, I was really inspired by the video that George showed us. It showed people who live in Detroit and see it as a place that has seen struggle, but is still a great place to live and work. I am excited to be there and get to meet people who believe in Detroit and see it as a place that can come back from all of these challenges. Meeting people that have positive attitudes despite adversity has always been one of my favorite parts of ASB, and I really hope that is something we will find in Michigan!

Molly Buckley
Class of 2015

My First Post: Pre-ASB Reflection

1. One thing I was surprised to learn, and see, is how vacant and worn down many of the houses are. I have continually heard how many people have fled the city, so it makes sense that the houses are vacant, yet, I never thought of what this meant for the houses themselves or never pictured a city having so many physically empty building. Not only is having people leave the city problematic for Detroit, but with people then trying to illegally vacate the houses there are even more possible problems.

2. I expect to see very passionate people living in Detroit! I think many of the people we are going to be seeing and possibly interacting with are going to be very enthusiastic about Detroit. I know the people who have stuck with the city so far must believe their city and all it's potential to be rebuilt. Just like any of us who have fond memories of our hometown, these people have great memories in Detroit and I look forward to learning from them and hopefully being able to help in some way.

3. Despite how much we have been talking about Detroit, I do not feel like I know enough to be able to compare it to where I grew up. At this point, I feel like Detroit is going to be so incredibly different from my hometown BUT I definitely think that I will be surprised once we get there and I hope that I am able to make more connections to my hometown once we get to experience Detroit and all that it has to offer.

Only 3 more weeks!!!
Emily :)

Expectations of Detroit

It has been really interesting to learn about Detroit this year! I think that the most surprising thing that I learned is the history of Detroit and how it used to be a booming city at one point, and how it got to where it is today. I did not realize how large the city is, and how the size of Boston compares. I am curious to experience the city due to the fact that so many people have moved out. I am curious to see whether the area we are working in will be highly populated or if it will appear abandoned. I think it is very positive that people like us are going to Detroit to help with it's rebirth and I look forward to seeing where Detroit is in the future. When we get to Detroit, I expect to see some abandoned buildings like in the videos that we have watched. However, I also expect that it will look very similar to other cities that I have seen such as Lowell which neighbors my hometown. I am not sure that my hometown and Detroit will have too much in common, but I expect that there will be similarities such as similar sized neighborhoods and similar spacing between businesses and homes. I am so excited to get to Detroit with this wonderful group of people and to see how my expectations of Detroit will change or be the same!

Katie Moreau Class of 2016

Looking Forward!

The most surprising thing that I have learned about Detroit is that the city is currently in a state of rebirth. When we are in Detroit this spring break I will want to keep that in mind because our group will be adding to the rebirth of the city. Volunteerism is one of the best ways to aid the city because we want to benefit the people there as much as possible. I expect to see lots of the abandoned buildings and homes that are a common part of Detroit, but will take notice of the new structures being built such as new schools, parks, and community gardens. My hometown and Detroit were known for having large factories. We are the furniture capital and a majority of those buildings have minimized. I notice how my town is working on the rebirth of certain areas as well. I hope that coming back home for the summer after visiting Detroit I can bring something back to my home town to help.

Samantha Joseph '16

Pre ASB Reflection

22 February 2015

It's been surprising to learn where Detroit has come from to where it is today. I grew up in New Hampshire but spent much of my childhood in the Lowell area where my family was from. Alot of what I'm seeing from images of Detroit is very reminiscent to me of Lowell. People are always scared to go there or have certain doubts and opinions formed about the area, but once you've been there everything changes. I've got hope for Detroit and what we'll find there during ASB.

I expect that the rebirth in Detroit will be incredibly apparent, despite many of us having doubts. The power of the drive of our younger generation is something that I've been in awe of before and I really am expecting that Detroit will be no different. I know that the abandoned buildings will be incredibly apparent (1/3 is alot), but as an artist, I also know that the streets will be alive: artists will have gotten there already to put some beauty onto the vacant walls of old buildings. I'm excited to see and feel the energy from our group but also from the people we work with. I'm betting money on Detroit being an experience to remember.

Comparing Detroit and my hometown (or as I like to say, New Hampshire) is like comparing peanut butter and jelly to a filet Mignon; there is no comparing (though I myself would definitely prefer the pb&j, just saying). I am finding almost no similarities to Detroit and the quiet, wooded suburbia that I grew up in. However, I'm drawn to urban areas and I personally always feel incredibly comfortable traveling to new places. I'm ready to experience Detroit!

Calvin Ridley

Class of 2016

Pre-ASB Reflection

The most surprising thing I've learned about Detroit is the amount of poverty. Before starting ASB, I really didn't know anything about Detroit, besides what I would see on the news or read on the internet. Another aspect that I found surprising, which I learned from George's presentation, is how much the population of Detroit has changed throughout the years. Finally, it was surprising to hear that the city is in a stage of rebirth.What I expect to see in Detroit is emptiness due to abandoned homes and buildings. I am hoping that during the trip, I will have the opportunity to see what the city of Detroit has to offer and how it may go against the labels that the city has been given by the news.  Some similarities that my hometown and Detroit have are abandoned buildings due to financial problems in the town and not being able to keep it open. I'm so ready to make my mark in Detroit with service. I am so excited to be in a new place and work with a wonderful and special group of individuals.

Stacy DeGrazia '15

Thinking about Detroit

1. I did not know how rural it is; when I think of a city I think of something similar to NYC or Boston. However, looking at the video that was presented to us, I saw that there is quite a large rural section. I enjoyed hearing that there is more of a rebirth coming about today in Detroit. It is easy to just think of the city as being in shambles, and as the video discussed, there is more attention given to the fact that the city is suffering. However, it is important to consider the alternative life that people are uplifting nowadays. The younger population (teens and young adults) are seeing the city as having potential to be in a good standing again. I am happy to see that people are really working together to put the broken pieces of Detroit back together.
2. I originally expected to just see a lot of buildings and commercial lots; however, after watching the video I saw that there was also a large rural area in Detroit. It was discussed how going through the streets, you will see vacant houses among elaborate houses. I think that would be interesting to see because usually when you think of a neighborhood, you think of a singular "look" or pattern. I also think that there will be a very spaced out population, as it has shrunk so much over time. I am excited to see Detroit and learn more about it via the trip.
3. My home town is small. It is a densely populated, rural community and it does not really have many commercial residencies. Detroit is huge and seems to have both a rural portion as well as a more city- like feel to it, including places to go and activities. My town lacks this, however I think the most that they will be similar is the rural portion.

                                                                                        Julia Jarvis, Junior

Detroit: What I have learned so far

1) The most surprising thing I have learned so far is how the city has worked to shut down entire neighborhoods because of the lack of funding and resources first responders - like police and fire - have. You hear about Detroit in the news and how entire neighborhoods are abandoned, but you think it is of peoples own volition to move out of their homes. To learn that in some ways people had no choice BUT to leave is crazy. I cannot imagine being forced out of my childhood home where I have so many memories because there is no money in the budget for first responders to serve my neighborhood, water in being cut off from the area, etc.

2) What I expect to see in Detroit are abandoned buildings - as it seems that many people focus on this negative - but I also expect to see very vibrant buildings and people. I loved that the video George showed had people talking about the positives in Detroit; so often we focus on the negatives when there are just as many, if not more, positives. Detroit is a vibrant city and even in its current state I am certain I will see and feel this vibrancy!

3) A similarity between my hometown of Arlington, MA and Detroit is that it is currently going through a revitalization with the many young, hip people who are moving in. Arlington never experienced the economic hardship that Detroit has experienced, but there were times that lots of people moved out and it did not have a lot of rich culture going on. It is now an "it" place to live and lots of young people, families, etc. are moving in and giving Arlington a flair - for better and for worse. This can be seen in Detroit where lots of young people are moving in and breathing new life into a struggling city.

I am beyond excited to get to Detroit ... 20 more days!

Michelle McGonagle
Class of 2015

19 days 17 hours 23 mins and 45 seconds... but who's counting

I have learned so much about Detroit through this whole experience. Mainly how much it has changed. It is crazy to me that a major city can go through so much change. Looking at how many of the houses have changed from being vacant to demolished amazes me. I have been to poor parts of the world but I think this will be a totally different for me because it is in the states.  I have no idea what to expect to see in Detroit. Part of me feels like it'll be like Brooklyn or some other major city, of course adding in the vacant buildings. I feel like the people that live there will be grateful for what were doing, just like they are grateful for the young 'hipsters' who have moved there over the past couple years. I know I will be excited to see they way community comes together in Detroit. I love the fact that the people of Detroit are trying to make parks and gardens and different places for community. It is something that my hometown of Attleboro has and something that I know will make me happy.

I have an idea of what to expect Detroit to be like, but I know as soon as I get there the city will change me.

Caitlin Murray
Class of 2016