After an eight minute drive away from the house we are staying in, the group arrived at Whole Foods to buy groceries for the remainder of the week. Personally, we viewed this choice of store as problematic in terms of the context of the community and who can afford to shop there. This concept was emphasized through the drive there. As we travelled, the stream of burned buildings, abandoned houses, and broken windows slowly morphed into the gilded, gentrified vision of luxury apartments and costly natural food stores that are out of reach for a large majority of the surrounding community. In this case, this seemed as though some suffered under the feign of "social responsibility." In contrast, later in the day we visited a local grocery store just 3 blocks from our house and noticed that the customers were of the community. The store appeared to have prices that were reasonably priced for the community.
Our next activity was visting Detroit's well-known Heidleberg Street- home of the Heidleberg Project. Initially, the reactions of the group seemed to exude the excitement of visting a tourist attraction. However, as we walked along the street filled with houses and installations permeated with art and symbolism, the reality of what we were viewing set in. We began to feel the weight of the art we initially distanced ourselves from. For a very brief moment we were forced to view the atmosphere of Detroit as they presented it: struggling, isolated, misunderstood, and aware of the burden of living in a city that is a ghost of its former glory.
To end the day, we visited Detroit Historical Museum. The overwhelming response was that there was a disconnect between the accurate portrayal of history and reality. Although some exhibits, such as the Motown tribute or America's Motor City, were more enjoyable, we could sense the outdated nature of some of the information presented.
Overall, the first day's introduction to the city reminded us to recognize our position and goals as visitors in Detroit.
-Kalli W. and Tiara A.