The Complexity of Detroit

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Most of our ICT4Detroit research team met today at MSU’s Detroit Center. We discussed the results of our network analysis of collaboration among non profit civic organizations in the city, and developing our plans for interviewing individuals in some of the key organizations and projects.

Members of our Detroit Research Team at the MSU Center

Members of our Detroit Research Team at the MSU Center

The major theme arising during the day of discussion was the sheer complexity of the ecology of actors involved in initiatives to support the revitalization of different parts of the city, from the central business district to some of the most distressed neighborhoods. In this context, one ICT initiative does not fit all. It brought home the challenges for collaboration, open data sharing, and visioning across the diverse actors, areas, and problems of such a dynamic city.

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The Internet, Open Data, and Civic Engagement in Detroit: Video of Quello Seminar

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This video presents a talk by Garlin Gilchrist, the Deputy Technology Director for Civic Engagement in Detroit, with Kat Hartman, and Professor Marc Kruman responding. The presentation is about 20 minutes, followed the responses and about 15 minutes of discussion.

Quello Center Seminar on the Internet and Civic Engagement in Detroit from Quello Center on Vimeo.

Garlin focused on the launch of Detroit’s Open Data initiative, and the work of his office on the role of the Internet and related information and communication technologies in supporting civic and community engagement. He discusses initiatives the City of Detroit has been fostering, as well as other ongoing special projects emerging from groups and institutions working on the revitalization of Detroit. Finally, he underscored areas that could benefit from further research by universities, and other academic institutions.

Prior to his appointment in Detroit, Garlin most recently served as the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org, where he focused on mobilizing MoveOn’s seven million members on issues of civil rights, education, and technology policy advocacy through community organizing and online action. Gilchrist also founded Detroit Diaspora, a network for native Detroiters living elsewhere to connect with one another as well as people doing positive work in the City of Detroit. He was also the former Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change, where he build a base of online supporters to advocate for public policies in the interests of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, and reflect strong community values in ways that ensure that their authentic voices are heard, amplified, and respected. More information about Garlin Gilchrist is available at: garlin.org/about-garlin-gilchrist-ii.html

Our first respondent, Kat Hartman, is a Detroit-based freelance writer, data analyst, and information designer with data visualization firm, NiJeL. She received her MFA from the Stamps School of Art + Design at the University of Michigan and enjoys finding the intersections between design and research. She has worked as a data analyst at multiple non-profit organizations including Data Driven Detroit, a National Neighborhood Indicators Partner (NNIP) with the Urban Institute. She has also designed illustrated health materials for UNICEF in Botswana and German Agro Action in Ethiopia. She is also a former fellow at the Civic Data Design Lab at the MIT School of Architecture & Planning. Her online portfolio can be found here: kathartman.com. Follow her @kat_a_hartman.

Our second respondent, is Wayne State University Professor Marc W. Kruman, who chairs the Department of History, and is the founding Director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship. Professor Kruman is widely published. His current research focuses on the development of the interdisciplinary field of citizenship studies and the history of citizenship. He has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities at Harvard University and a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship. In 1999 he was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Rome. At Wayne State University, he has received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award (twice) and a Board of Governors Distinguished Faculty Fellowship.

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