Principles for a Detroit Organizer Who is Not From Detroit

Update: Outlined below are principles that I have learned from reflecting on my lived experiences doing community-based organizing work in Detroit while not being from the city. An Anti-Oppressive Practice framework underpins these principles. Amidst the current demographic shift occurring in some areas of the city, it is important to me to have a framework for entering a space and community that is not originally my own and working in a way that is anti-oppressive and transformative for myself as well as others.


1. Detroit's history is rich and complex. Learn it. Understand it. Embed it in the way you conceptualize change in the city and use it to decide who to join in the struggle.

2. Whether or not you are from Detroit matters. It matters in regards to how you enter communities and participate in social change movements. Heighten your consciousness; struggle with the contradictions.

3. Detroit is resilient. It has resisted decades of institutionalized oppression and current occupation. It doesn't need a "savior." Honor those who have been here doing the work.

4. Detroit is practicing democracy at the community level. In urban gardens and farms. At block parties and neighborhood organizations. Participate with.

5. Detroit is creating transformative change from visionary work. This work requires ongoing personal transformation. How are you transforming yourself?