This Cool Story comes to us from Cool Cities Intern Emma Landgraf, who is working in Detroit’s Eastern Market. Note to readers (and potential employers): Emma recently proved herself both fearless and helpful by volunteering amidst total silence during a workshop activity. She cements her awesomeness in this post by including some multimedia for your viewing pleasure!
On Saturday, July 17th, 2010, Eastern Market held a rededication ceremony for Shed 3 as part of a project to make Eastern Market a “healthy urban food hub”. As the ceremony began, I attempted to set up my video camera and tripod. I’m not a master filmmaker, so I spent most of my energy trying to get the best shots and sound quality, not really processing what each speaker was saying. But, after the ceremony was complete and I sat in my office watching the film, I was amazed at how a shed renovation was able to demonstrate how Eastern Market helps make the city of Detroit a vibrant cultural hub.
Though each speaker had a unique message, certain subjects came up over and over again. More than anything, Eastern Market is a family place, where parents, children, and grandparents come together to enjoy food, culture, and fellowship. One vendor described how his family had been coming since 1891, when Eastern Market first opened. By renovating the sheds, Eastern Market was creating a sustainable environment that would support his family for many years to come. In a city that suffers from a lack of food resources, Eastern Market provides a bountiful harvest for tens of thousands of people. But, as representatives of the W. K. Kellogg and Kresge Foundations discussed, Eastern Market symbolizes the rebuilding of a food system in Detroit. The city can invest in something that will provide rewarding returns, and the renovation process sparks inspiration among those in Detroit who want to make a difference in their city.
The more I watched video footage of the ceremony, the more I realized that Eastern Market wasn’t dedicating Shed 3 to a handful of people; they were dedicating it to everyone. Each speaker represented a portion of the Eastern Market family. A pastor opened the dedications by thanking God for being a master farmer, builder, and producer. Following him were a representative from the Eastern Market Board of Directors, Mayor David Bing, benefactors from the W.K. Kellogg and Kresge Foundations, and two Shed 3 vendors. Every speaker made mention of the concept of teamwork, indicating that nothing would have been possible without every person’s unique contribution. And, even though they weren’t directly represented by a speaker, Eastern Market patrons and the city of Detroit wove their way throughout the ceremony, for it is the atmosphere of the market and its presence in Detroit that truly sets it apart.
At the ceremony’s conclusion, Dan invited all contributors to the Shed 3 project to come forward and cut the ribbon in front of the shed’s entrance. As the group gathered at the front doors, participants from all walks of life stood on even ground. In this moment, everyone was reminded how crucial each member of the Eastern Market family can be to defining its vibrant culture. And, as Dan counted to three and the participants cut the ribbon in unison, their image symbolized the relationships that will keep Eastern Market alive for years to come.