Michigan Weather Says It All

Many people familiar with Michigan understand the complexities of the weather. Unforgiving winters, welcomed springs, sticky summers, crisp autumns — sometimes all in one day… That is life in the mitten.

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Needless to say, as winter fades into memory and as seedlings emerge from their slumber to bloom, Michiganders welcome the warmth and potential that spring signals. As much as we know there is never a guarantee of sunshine, we brave the days ahead with little thought to which may darken and test our resolve, because when it is good in Michigan it is really good.

Not unlike the ebb and flow of life as an entrepreneur.

Like Michigan, despite the harsh winters Detroit always has a steady hum of expectation as spring begins to stir us from our shells. We emerge just in time to see the City shake away the chill and blossom with the spring blooms.

This is truly a fascinating time of year to be in Detroit. It is clear that the biter cold of winter does little to deter the unwavering grit enthusiasm of a City that has clearly weathered many storms.

Community Gardening

Startup Weekend for Social Entrepreneurs brings occasion to celebrate the power of innovation through social enterprise. It is clear that Detroit is an entrepreneurial city — we put the world on wheels… Yet, it is not widely clear how entrepreneurship is redefining the City at a block-by-block level. This is in one part because there has been sporadic opportunity to share such stories, and in another, because access to resources critical to encourage such stories has been limited. This Edition seeks to shine light on the stories not necessarily found in news headlines, while making it easier for entrepreneurs to gain access to the critical resources helpful in elevating the impact they have in their communities.

It is clear that Detroit is an entrepreneurial city — we put the world on wheels…

Moreover, this Edition has the potential to break down the confounding narrative about Detroit and open the dialogue to allow for more inclusivity, authenticity, and representativeness. And, for such a narrative to be told by people who have had little opportunity to share their voice. Generally speaking, Startup Weekend is more than an exercise in entrepreneurship; it is an exercise in community building.

Startup Weekend is more than an exercise in entrepreneurship; it is an exercise in community building.

Similar to the way in which the warmth of spring tempts people out of their shells, and in doing so weakens the barriers that ordinarily separate us, this Edition provides reason for people to not just share space for a weekend but to also work together, even through perceived differences, in the name of shared value and purpose — creating social value for a community.

Winter has a similar temptation — one that calls to us to retreat and forget that buried under the snow and cold are seedlings full of life. It is not until spring, with the sun’s rejuvenating glow, that the cold is forced away, and the seedlings are tempted from their slumber. This is when we begin to see the nurturing effect of the sun in their growth as they blossom. Even through the coldest and darkest of Detroit’s winters the seedlings have remained active, humming in anticipation of the sun’s return.

Now, as spring’s touch warms Detroit once again we wait with a reserved anticipation to learn of what will become of the seedlings. Will these seedlings blossom into their full potential or will their growth be eclipsed by the excitement of the change in season?

Feeding the Garden with Startup Weekend

Spring brings with it the need to garden, to plant new life and make way for the return of the vibrancy of the seedlings as they creep out of hibernation. As with many things, success comes in harnessing the balance of the new and the old. Some new seedlings will undoubtedly blend with the others, perhaps even in balance and complement. Yet, new seedlings are equally capable of stifling the returning life, preventing the sleepy seedlings from fully reaching their potential. In some ways this is the way of the ecosystem (environmental or entrepreneurial), yet, as gardeners we can learn to plan before we plant in an effort to nurture a well balanced, unfettered, and diverse garden. In doing so, we must understand the needs of the garden and find the unique balance of the ecosystem to support it’s prosperity.

Startup Weekend is a unique addition to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It allows for the new and existing to mingle and collaborate. This Edition will be no different. And in our attempt to nurture the co-existence and mutual success of Detroit’s ecosystem, this edition seeks out and encourages existing community-minded innovators from all walks of life to attend, connect, and grow a business.

Detroit’s history, while at times tumultuous, has nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit strong enough to offset the absence of basic government services, institutional racism, and chronic disinvestment. Many residents, businesses, and organizations have become entrepreneurial to simply maintain a quality of life.

These entrepreneurial residents and organizations have struggled, many in silence, to maintain and sustain their communities and neighborhoods over the years. Finding ways to disrupt the cycles of crime, poverty, and disinvestment, they have survived by disrupting their status quo through building community. These residents and organizations have plenty to contribute to the ecosystem and could benefit from more opportunity to share their valuable insights and channel their experiences into (more) action.

Many residents, businesses, and organizations have become entrepreneurial to simply maintain a quality of life.

The City has seen a noticeable influx of new residents. Often young educated professionals, drawn by the promise of the “blank canvas” that is Detroit. Despite the accuracy of this depiction, it is clear these new Detroiters have an affinity for being a part of something special. They bring ideas, perspectives, and their own respective life experiences to the ecosystem and certainly the Startup Weekend dynamic.

The City also has successful homegrown businesses with reputation and experience that lend to the Startup Weekend dynamic. This Edition seeks to blend these Detroit-based entrepreneurs with entrepreneurial residents and new residents to augment collaboration, direct ideation, and inform implementation throughout the weekend.

This Edition is a contribution to the ecosystem as it cheers on a harmonious balance of thw existing and the new. It is through the shared value that this Edition seeks to ground participants in that the City can find the true benefit of innovation through social enterprise.

This Edition has front row seats to watch all of the seedlings grow to new heights.

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This spring, in particular, is a very exciting time to be in the City of Detroit…