Community-Centered Products

Public Scholarship & Workshops

  1. On October 23, 2019, Mitra and Donnellan gave a brief talk, titled Trans-Media Oral Histories of Water Insecurity: Detroit Water Stories, at the Sustainable Detroit Forum organized by the Detroit chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), at TCF Center, Detroit MI.
  2. On October 15, 2019, Mitra was a panelist for the session titled Greening the Curriculum: Sustainability in the Classroom, during the “Green Street: The intersection of learning and sustainability” symposium, at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
  3. On September 9, 2019, Mitra facilitated a workshop with Detroit Jews for Justice on Disrupting Water Privilege, based on research published by the DWS team. First, the workshop encouraged participants to consider what basic assumptions, misinformation about water shutoffs, and value-based beliefs they saw as preserving social privilege. Second, workshop participants brainstormed what alternative frames could be deployed and actions taken, instead of falling in line with these dominant assumptions. Finally, workshop participants mapped out (up to three) specific action ideas to disrupt privilege related to water affordability and get people to be more inclined toward social justice. (Download worksheet here)
  4. On July 12, 2019, Faculty members Mitra and Donnellan, along with graduate students Mesmer, Aniss, and Gant facilitated a workshop on Community-based Participatory Research and Trans-Media Storytelling at the Michigan Science Center (Detroit, MI), as part of its STEMinista Project. We were excited to collaborate with We The People of Detroit and We The Youth of Detroit for this workshop. (Read blog post here)
  5. On May 20, 2019, Mitra presented Stories of Water Access and Security in Detroit, at the inaugural “Dip in the Water” symposium organized by the interdisciplinary Healthy Urban Waters Research Group at Wayne State University, Detroit MI. The team also showcased a poster for visitors, featuring two papers from the DWS project.
  6. On April 23, 2019, Mitra presented an overview of the Detroit Water Stories project, at the annual Population Health Forum, organized by Authority Health, at Detroit, MI.
  7. On March 22, 2019, Mitra provided an interactive workshop with community members, on Detroit Water Stories for Collective Action, for the Michigan World Water Day symposium at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Detroit, MI. (View slides here)
  8. On November 3, 2019, Mitra facilitated a workshop titled Communication for Sustainable Organizing: Negotiating with Multiple Stakeholders at the Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit 14th annual conference, at Detroit, MI. (Read blog post here and View slides here)

Social Work and Engagement

  1. In January 2020, the Detroit Water Stories project team organized a Clothing Donation Drive for the Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry, in partnership with the Wayne State University Department of Communication, the Department of Classical & Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (CMLLC), the Department of History, and Auntie Na’s Student Organization. Thanks to all those who participated in the drive, we donated several bags and boxes of used and new clothing, towels and sheets for those struggling with Detroit’s mass water shutoffs, and worked with local stores like Target to donate gift cards to purchase vital hygiene products and cleaning supplies. (Read blog post here)
  2. On April 6, 2019, Mitra was part of a Community Conversation with Detroit youth, talking about Detroit’s Water Security Crisis and What You Can Do About It, in partnership with the Green Door Initiative and We The People of Detroit, at the Salvation Army, Detroit, MI.
  3. Information brochures created and distributed at community engagement events and focus group sessions for participants. Information sourced from local Detroit community groups and the EPA.
  4. World Water Day 2019 – We were on the Planning Committee and helped organize the event, also provided with audio gear (microphones and XLR cables), gathered video footage of events, and facilitated a workshop.
  5. Engagement with Erie Hack organizers Cleveland Water Alliance and TechTown Detroit, taking video footage of key events, and served as mentor (Mitra) for water equity challenge 
  6. Hosted information table at Green Your Neighborhood event by Sierra Club and Friends ofthe Rouge 3/16/19 

Film & Media Panels

  • Mitra organized and chaired a Film Session panel, titled Environmental Justice Research at the Crossroads: Community-Centered Documentaries of Resistance Against Institutional Apathy at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, sponsored by the Environmental Communication division. The DWS Team will be one of two film projects featured in the film session, screening three webisodes or documentary shorts: “Detroit Water Stories: Affordability, Black Matriarchs, and Community Organizing” (Creators: Donnellan, Gant, & Mitra)
    In consultation with our community partners, we decided to produce a series of easily shareable and digitally searchable documentary shorts (3-4 minutes each in duration) exploring different aspects of Detroit’s water crisis, to more effectively shape public discourse of the shutoffs and combat the (often racist) misinformation dispersed by institutional authorities. These webisodes will address: 1) the impact of older black matriarchs organizing for water justice (focusing on the late Mama Lila Cabill), 2) legal and socio-historical reasons for high water rates in Detroit, and 3) community efforts to raise funds for and deliver water to affected residents.
  • On September 18, 2019, Donnellan was part of a panel titled Drink & Learn: How Race, Money, and Politics got into our Water, organized by nonprofit group Women To The Front (WTTF) at the Co-Collective, in New York, NY. All proceeds from the session went to The Human Utility, which has worked tremendously to help Detroiters pay off their outstanding water bills.