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Living in Detroit: Community at the College for Creative Studies

Before coming to Detroit for college, community wasn’t a very big priority of mine. I was never very involved in the culture of home or the events around me. Since being here, that could not be more different. The community at College for Creative Studies (CCS) is so strong that it’s hard not to be a part of it, and the community and culture in Detroit is truly historic and like nowhere else I’ve ever been. So for me, the community here is two-fold: the first part being the community at my college and the second being Detroit itself.

I live in the dorms at CCS in Midtown Detroit. The culture on our campus is like my own little slice of open-minded heaven. Seeing as though we’re a campus full of creatives, it’s not hard to imagine how open-minded and accepting everyone is. Everything is a construct, and everything is valid at the same time. It’s the perfect place for me. While there are two very distinct sides to life at CCS (academic and student life), across both you’ll find that people are incredibly respectful and supportive – every form of expression is just another day, and it’s easy to forget that many places aren’t as progressive.

My experience tends to reside more on the student life end of things, seeing as I work on the student activities board and am a resident assistant. The people that are involved here are involved in everything which makes it easy to form a community with a smaller group of people. The people that are involved generally get all the benefits of the extensive training that we go through around wellness, empathy, and diversity and inclusion. This makes them the absolute nicest and well-rounded people I’ve ever met – and they were just amazing to begin with. Everyone is there to help and support each other and won’t hesitate to make sure you’re sleeping or not putting too much pressure on yourself.

While my CCS community is very niche in student life and fluid thinking, much of Detroit is also embodied by a sense of resilience and creativity. There are a few points about the area surrounding CCS:

  • There has been a lot of gentrification
  • There’s so much to do, and you’re very close to most of it
  • The people are amazing and resilient

Now, I feel like the first thing I would like to address is the gentrification here. It’s sad to see, and there are a lot of trendy, white-owned shops that keep popping up everywhere. There is such an amazing culture in Detroit, and it has been here for a long time – we need to wholeheartedly embrace and support Black-owned businesses and the people that have been here before us, not push them out.

That being said, I deeply appreciate the Q-line (the newest addition of public transportation in Detroit). Being a female identifying person in a new city far away from my home in Florida, having a more reliable and easier to understand mode of transportation is very comforting! I also love the restaurants here. My favorite is Yum Village, an Afro-Caribbean place that (pre-COVID) would hold small artist markets inside. Great food and great art – plus, it’s within walking distance from my college, which you can’t beat. You also have access to some of the best museums, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Detroit Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Henry Ford. For those above 21, there is also a great nightlife scene in the area from clubs to taverns.

Eastern Market (a huge weekly farmers’ market) is an absolute staple for many people that live here and it’s bustling. There’s so much fresh produce, poultry, meat, jewelry, plants, handmade goods, and just about anything else you could want. Plus, there’s almost always three separate people playing live music which makes it even better. Carhartt is another staple – and in my opinion personality trait – for most Detroiters. It’s rare to find someone not wearing the iconic workers brand beanie, jacket, or overalls. They have a store right in Detroit, and it’s full with all the winter gear you could ever need.

Come wintertime, Detroit transforms, too. There’s a tree lighting downtown, and the roller rink turns to ice skating. Hot chocolate is sold, and the streets are lined with all the holiday lights you can imagine – it’s beautiful. Day to day, away from downtown and the Campus Martius, it can feel dreary at times. It’s cold and the snow turns muddy (not to say we at CCS don’t have our fair share of snowmen and snowball fights on campus). But the cold here is part of the culture, and it reflects in the people. Everyone is sturdier and strong-willed here – things don’t seem to faze them. It could be the difference of North vs. South, but I feel like it’s Detroit.

From the people that have grown up here and opened their own stores to those who’ve faced the gentrification of the past decade and still continued to stay and do well for themselves, this speaks of the resilience of Detroiters. It’s the kind of environment that makes for a strong community.

Written by Sydney Kendrick, Let’s Detroit Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador

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