I think I would be hard pressed to find someone at my firm who said they have lots of time on their hands… or find someone that would say work just wasn’t that challenging right now. The truth is, we’re busy. And it’s easy to get swept up into the hustle of everyday work life and forget there are bigger things than your work and ultimately yourself. I was reminded of this last week when I volunteered with AIA-Detroit during the Life Remodeled 6-Day Project in Detroit.
Every year AIA-Detroit promotes the 6-Day Project event to their AIA members and architecture firms around Detroit to get volunteers to roll up their sleeves and give back. Life Remodeled is a Detroit-based nonprofit that continuously works on bettering Detroit neighborhoods. Every year Life Remodeled invests approximately 5 million in cash, labor, and materials into a Detroit neighborhood. This was the biggest 6-Day Project to date.
How We Helped
The AIA-Detroit group was bused to a block in Detroit near the old Central High School (the first high school ever built in Detroit and opened in 1863). Our job was to clear the over grown brush and tree branches that covered the sidewalks and abandoned houses so members of the community would feel safe to walk the streets to get to school, or perhaps to go to the new community innovation center that is currently being created from the old elementary school a few blocks away. (click here to donate for their renovation efforts. Just $10 gets your name on the gym floor which I thought was a pretty cool idea.)
I cannot say I am a fan of yard work or noisy landscaping tools… But you would’ve thought our group of architects, engineers (and marketing professionals like yours truly) were professional landscapers. We all jumped for weed-whippers, lawnmowers, and hedge trimmers. It wasn’t exactly fun work but at the same time, I was having fun. Everyone at the event was truly working their butts off to give this block the face-lift it needed to be safe for the community. It was especially rewarding when a car stopped by and invited everyone to a block party later to thank us for our work (true story).
My Takeaways from the Event
Driving around the surrounding neighborhoods was a true eye-opener that the everyday annoyances I encounter from people not returning my emails, or missed deadlines are a very small speckle compared to the problems that communities like this face every day. While many of us consider ourselves to be “busy” we need to make sure we fit in community-enriching things too. Life is much bigger than bottom-lines and deadlines. Giving back when we can really needs to be more of a priority for us all.