A student and I gave a grant for a student center to be established so that students who live in neighborhoods that are not well served by it can have a resource like a library [in a neighborhood area]. We said we want to help people in this area and to put a check at the end of the year, like a $5,000 check, for a library and a resource for people who live around the corner. We asked the people who didn’t know what to give for the library’s opening and the response was something like a $12,000 for a library and a resource for people who live in a community. How can you not have a student center in a neighborhood if the population isn’t there?
[It] is part of a larger effort that is to take a community and build it. … What about the issue of the building the library in that very neighborhood? We’re thinking about that now and the more we see with this building, the broader issues arise. It goes back to the notion of, “The problem is you don’t have resources.” So, what does that say about the people living in that neighborhood?
One other thing is: we are starting to see more initiatives by colleges, schools or universities to do things together with people they are not going to find in the communities they are trying to serve. We are seeing that in the movement to do something about gentrification in Detroit. In the same way as these college students have started their own institutions, colleges and universities are starting to set up their own social and financial organizations where they can have groups of people from different sectors [or] ethnicities or different backgrounds from different regions of the country come together to support one another and do things for their community.
Tell me about the people who did this, what kind of impact it made and how it might play out in other places.
We are still doing this work and our work is so important. And the other thing I really want people to see is that, yes, we are here and that we are engaged. The work is important because it will lead somewhere. But it can’t be done alone.
How many people do you have in the community involved with the library?
Two hundred and twenty people live within a five-mile radius of the [prestigious] library. And I can count on an eye in my head of 60 to 80 people who have helped. Most of them are students or older people who are familiar with one another
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