Interns Empowered, Inspired to Keep Seeking a Sustainable, Just and Prosperous Metro Detroit

Our interns have done a lot for metro Detroit this summer. But their labors have also done a lot for them, strengthening the bond they feel with the region’s future and steeling them for the task of making it work.

At the foot of Woodward Avenue, interns stand tall...

When intern Stephanie Chueh first arrived at our office from the UM Ross School of Business, she knew little of cities or sustainability. “I often thought that my dream was to work in a shiny skyscraper in Chicago or New York,” she says. “After this summer, though, I’ve realized that I really enjoy working for nonprofits.”

She’s also developed a passion for climate solutions and metro Detroit. “Since I’ve lived around here all my life, I might plan to go somewhere after graduation for a few years. But, especially after this internship, I’ve grown a pretty strong connection to this place, and I think I’ll definitely come back.” If so, she’ll join a growing list of Michigan “boomerangers.”

...and, crossing Dix-Toledo Highway, they're ready to reach higher.

Like Stephanie, Jordan Garfinkle has picked up a copy of Thomas Sugrue’s The Origins of the Urban Crisis. “I’ve already learned loads about metro Detroit, and really have begun to feel a personal connection to the region,” he says. While he’s likely to leave after graduating to be closer to his family, he will “probably always peruse the Freep.”

Michael has called this place home all his life, but he’s learned a lot about “how things work” inside cities, a process often invisible from the outside. As for Jordan Eizenga, he’s living the dream. Newly relocated to Detroit’s storied Boston-Edison district—into the biggest house he’s ever inhabited, he says—he now counts himself one of the Motor City’s 700,000 souls.

Energy Data Intern Jordan Eizenga is off to Detroit.

We bet we’ll be hearing from these folks in years to come. Here’s one potential scenario, from the year 2021:

Michael’s returned from grad school to help turn the Gratiot corridor into the Midwest’s preeminent promenade, complete with bus-only lanes, separated bikeways, and soul food carts serving passersby with fresh greens grown in the median strip. He finds Jordan E. using his numeric expertise to lead the push for affordable housing in the newly fashionable neighborhood of SoDa (South of Davison), and Stephanie putting her business skills to work administering a micro-loan program that funds neighborhood wind power installations. Jordan G. is a frequent presence too, checking in on the Carbon-Neutral Wayne County pilot project as White House Special Consul for Community Energy Systems.

That story—or another one like it—will have to be told after the fact. But it’s been a privilege to chronicle the interns’ exploits to date, and we trust your attention to the work of building a sustainable, just and prosperous region will continue unabated. Stay tuned for one more quick word from the interns themselves!

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