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December 26, 2013 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-12-26

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>> ... Next Generation ...

Walking
netrnif

Among our many community partnerships
is Bagley Elementary School. I go there
twice a week to read, write and play with
students in the Bagley Book
Brigade. To engage the students
and volunteers, I've started a
journalism pen pal program
partnering Bagley students
with Hillel of Metro Detroit and
Chalkfly, a school supply company
with a social mission.
This past week was the first
exchange of notebooks. The
smiles on my students' faces as
they discovered a full-page letter
— addressed and responding
directly to them — filled them
with wonder, appreciation and enthusiasm.
The week before, these same students had
assailed me with questions of whom we were
writing to and how much information they
had to give about themselves. But, as soon
as the notebooks arrived, the barriers melted
away and the rare guest of silence visited

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do a lot of walking and traveling. This
year, my feet brought me to Detroit. Here,
I serve as "boots on the ground" — a
notion I've always been
uncomfortable with. Thick laces
constrain and hard soles leave
a deep impression on the Earth.
But, as a Repair the World Fellow,
I'm learning to tread well in
Detroit.
Prior to signing on with
Repair the World, I lived on an
ecological farm in Israeli grew
up in Cincinnati, followed by
DePaul University in Chicago.
(But really, my story began in
Ann Arbor, where I was born.)
As my time overseas came to a close, I
learned about an entrepreneurial fellowship
based on community service, volunteering
and Jewish reflection. This year, four of my
"fellow Fellows" and I are living and working
together to help support robust and resilient
communities in Detroit.

the room, followed by the quiet scratching of
preconceived notions about the city.
pencils on paper as they promptly responded.
Detroit has stories being lived out in
Moments like those at Bagley are what
neighborhoods, shops, gardens, schools,
Repair the World is looking to foster all the
churches and local block clubs. We need to
time: to build relationships, foster communal
respect those stories —just as importantly,
connection and engage in service involving all
work to understand them — and, ultimately,
sorts of people and all types of communities.
to be part of them.
From Downtown to the Metro area, I work,
The task of repairing the world is not as
learn and serve. Which brings me back to
grand as the English for tikkun olam makes
footwear.
it out to be. Rather, the work of repairing the
There's a lot of ground to cover and, when
world is a small and personal task to mend
I walk, I prefer wearing soft shoes on my feet.
ourselves — and through our own listening,
Soft shoes tread lightly and give a strong and
learning and healing — the world.
natural grip on whatever surface I come upon.
In just two short months of walking Detroit,
Michael Evers is a Repair the World Fellow liv-
the stories I've heard from city residents, the
ing in Detroit this year. To get involved with
people I've met and what I've witnessed with
Repair the World, visit werepairorg, email
my own eyes have taught me a few lessons.
detroit@werepairorg or call (313) 338-8236.
There is an atmosphere of
scarcity in Detroit — kind of.
People are clustered in some
neighborhoods while scattered in
others. One evening while driving
on the east side, I entered a stretch
of city blocks with no streetlights
on my way to the James and Grace
Lee Boggs School. When I arrived
at my destination, the building was
full of light and packed with people.
The contrast between the emptiness
Michael Evers hanging out with friends at
outside the school and the people
Bagley Elementary School in Detroit
inside made me confront my

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oecember 26 • 2013

Di

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