My Detroit Challenge

I Didn’t Get Selected To Compete For The Challenge Detroit Fellowship Community Vote, But I Would Still Love To Compete For Your Hearts Detroit!

A month and a half ago, I applied to participate in the Challenge Detroit Fellowship. It was prompted by my love of the city, my thirst to be part of the hustle, and my hope to bring my urbanist skills to Detroit to contribute back to the community that I had grown fond of from my years of attending the University of Michigan.

On Saturday, April 6th, I found out by searching #ChallengeDetroit on twitter that the Community Vote had begun, and that I was not selected to continue on for Phase Three.

Though I didn’t get selected, I thought it would be cool to share what I created for the application ‘til now to give folks an insight of the process, and also put my name out there to anybody or any companies who are looking for a pretty cool dude to hire!

This blog meant to show you what the reviewers saw. It is not meant to be a what I could have done better, woe is me blog. I’m proud of what I submitted!

Phase One

Along with some preliminary background info, I sent Challenge Detroit my LinkedIn profile, and answered the following question:

In 500-characters, tell us your story! Who are you and why do you have a passion to be a 2014-2015 Challenge Detroit Fellow? Concentrate on a concise, well-branded message written with professionalism and creativity.
I want to be a Challenge Detroit Fellow. If you want me back, then we’ll be a great fit!
I’ve lived in big cities with big personalities who invest in building a lot of stuff, but they neglect to invest in the community. Great cities are made by great people. I believe that Detroit’s success is that it sees the people first and that there’s camaraderie among them.
If you want somebody who will get shit done, who can dream, and elevate the people around him, then let’s talk.

Phase Two

Phase Two of the application process asked for a video and blog submission. The purpose of the (optional) video was to give folks a little more insight into who we were and the blog was to give Challenge Detroit a sense of how well we could construct a blog.

The video is meant to convey my beliefs and talk about why I’m inspired by Detroit — what I refer to as The Great American Spirit. Click Here for Video with Narrative

For the blog submission, we were given three questions and asked to submit a 250 word response. I chose to answer the question about opportunities for the revitalization efforts taking place.

Challenge Detroit addresses issues and opportunities centered around Detroit’s revitalization efforts. In your perspective, what do you think is the most overlooked issue and / or opportunity facing Detroit and why?
Getting The Community Perspective To Inform My Own
At the moment, I live in Carrollton, TX. To get a more on-the-ground perspective, I solicited the help of Detroiter, Virginia Stanard, University of Detroit Mercy professor and Director of Urban Design at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center. I asked Virginia what she thought were Detroit’s biggest issues in the revitalization effort:
“Complete neighborhoods that offer shopping, recreation, schools, housing, transportation, work, and cultural options in walkable distance to one another. There are not many neighborhoods in Detroit that offer these basics in walkable proximity. I enjoy driving but do it far too often here!
Education. Education has not been seriously addressed in recent land use and economic planning initiatives. No city can be healthy without a strong education system and a demographic that includes school aged children and families.”
Her response looks much more at the every-day, neighborhood relationships in the city rather than the big swooping changes of a Tech Town or Eastern Market. Putting Detroit’s families, education, and walkable neighborhoods at the center of revitalization efforts is an overlooked issue that would make a world of difference.
I am excited for the possibility to contribute my urban design background to focusing in on these issues. Hopefully, the next time I write about Detroit it’ll be as a Challenge Fellow with my own on-the-ground perspective.

Phase Three

The phases that I got to participate in were pretty great! They helped me hash out some personal views and reflect on what I wanted from future employers.

Of course, there are always things that you replay in your mind that you could have done better, things you could have said to make more of an impact or create an emotional attachment, etc. But like I said earlier, I’m proud of what I submitted and I have no regrets!

I still think very highly of Detroit. I’m inspired by the city daily and believe that Challenge Detroit’s mission to bring passionate folks to the city is a unique model that a lot of other cities around the country will start to emulate.

I wish all the terrific candidates participating in the online vote lots of luck. Voting goes until April 13th, so cast yours today!

Phase Four

If I’ve won your heart and you are looking for a kickass Urbanist/Designer/ Social Media Marketer who will get shit done, who can dream, and elevate the people around him, then let’s talk.

Email me at, and check out my blog to see all the cool stuff I make on the daily. Spoiler Alert — I’m Magic!

Phase Five

I’ve been back to Detroit every year since graduating from Michigan in 2011. This year, I’m coming back June 12-15th for the Association for Community Design and Detroit Collaborative Design Center eMERGEnce conference at Detroit Mercy. If you’re in Detroit, and want to meet up, you can email me or tweet at me.