Blog: Kate Baker

Ferndale's progeny became this hip city's prodigy. Meet Kate Baker, director of development at Wayne State University Press and Ferndale city councilwoman. Kate, who goes down in legend as the city's youngest-ever elected official, will be writing about community development and culture in Metro Detroit.

Kate Baker - Post 4: Community

As I hear bad economic news and sense general feelings of fear and negativity all around me, my natural inclination to be a pro-Detroit cheerleader becomes eroded and my batteries need to be recharged.  Rather than try to block out the bad news by pretending this isn't happening, or, worse, leave the state in search of something "better", I recharge my batteries by focusing on what I can do right here, right now to make my community a better place to live and work.  It is the energy that I get from the community of active, intelligent, involved individuals and families in which I live that keeps me here and keeps me going.

The value of community, and the security and support afforded by a tight-knit community, is something that Detroiters are particularly proud of.  I'm proud of the way that my friends and neighbors in Ferndale have responded to the economic downturn by rallying around local businesses to help them keep their doors open and by supporting each other through initiatives like Ferndale's soon-to-open free clinic, FernCare.  This all-volunteer-led effort is well on its way to becoming a haven for the un- and under-insured in our region, offering free physical, mental and dental health care.  Without the work of community members committed to supporting their neighbors, this effort would never have gotten off the ground.

Although blogs like Metromode do a great service in highlighting new developments in metro Detroit, it is important to disconnect from the computer and reconnect with actual humans who are making these exciting new things happen.  The energy at a fundraiser for a local charity, a youth sports event, a community garden, or among a committee of volunteers at your local Downtown Development Authority office is contagious and can do wonders for your tired soul. 

I encourage everyone to get involved in a local community initiative this spring and to recharge your pro-Detroit batteries.  It's an ugly economy out there, but if we take the time to know and care for our neighbors and our neighborhoods we will get through it and come out with stronger, more connected communities.