Saroki Architecture Hosts Challenge Detroit Fellow
Five months ago, I joined the team at Saroki Architecture as a fellow in the Challenge Detroit Program. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working in the office with the rest of the Saroki Team four days a week. But on that fifth day each week, I have the privilege of stepping outside the office and emerging myself in Detroit, to take part in the city’s revitalization.
What is Challenge Detroit?
Challenge Detroit is a year-long fellowship program that brings together young, college-educated talent, from various intellects and backgrounds, from across the country and locally, to be a part of the urban revitalization happening in Detroit. Challenge Detroit puts a focus on living, working, playing, giving, and leading in the city.
Each of the fellows is given a monthly housing stipend that supports our living within Detroit. I have chosen for myself an apartment in the up and coming New Center business district. I love having the beautiful Albert Kahn designed Fisher Building and Theater in my front yard, as well as the Kahn Company itself. By living in the city, I am immersed in the new and exciting developments happening daily, as well as exposed to the challenges that Detroit still faces, which keep my passion revitalizing the city alive.
Each fellow works four days a week at a unique host company in the Metro Detroit area; these range from Fortune 500 companies to grassroots start up business. With Saroki Architecture as my host company, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved at all levels of many unique architectural projects around Metro Detroit.
Challenge Detroit, along with a social committee comprised of fellows, hosts monthly social and cultural activities, exposing us to the many wonderful things to do in the city. From Detroit Symphony Orchestra events, to a Challenge Detroit Thanksgiving Dinner, to bowling at the historic Garden Bowl, I always have a great time “playing” in the city with my fellow fellows.
Each Friday, Challenge Detroit partners with a local non-profit community to tackle one of the many challenges we face as a city. So far, we have tackled projects focused on improving community art, multi-modal transportation, and homelessness. These challenges are the heart of the Challenge Detroit program, and I’m looking forward to working with more non-profit partners throughout the rest of the year.In addition to the partner challenges, a fellow service committee organizes quarterly service events. As an organization, we’ve partnered with Litterati to pick up thousands of pieces of trash across the city of Detroit. All of the fellows are very active in service activities individually as well.
Between our monthly Challenges, we participate in a leadership program to support on-going skill development. We have had the opportunity to hear from multiple Detroit community leaders and entrepreneurs such as Benji Kennedy of the Kresge Foundation, Past City Council President Saunteel Jenkins, and Entrepreneur Phil Cooley of Slows BBQ and Ponyride, to name a few. Challenge Detroit is supportive of each of the fellows in their own leadership pursuits, in addition to proving a small stipend to be used towards leadership development.
By touching on these five pillars, I have only begun to describe the countless unique opportunities I have been given since the start of this program. It has given me the chance to give back to the Detroit Community and become a change agent in the city’s revitalization. I have enjoyed contributing at my host company, Saroki Architecture, on wonderful, community changing projects, and I look forward to continuing my contributions as a game changer in the growth of Detroit throughout the rest of the program and long after.
For more information| Challenge Detroit
For my Challenge Detroit Blog | Samantha Szeszulski
To apply for Challenge Detroit | Year 3