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Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC)

Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC) is an initiative exploring the benefits of multi-disciplinary teams at UM working on stakeholder-based community engagement efforts. During the semester-long process, students from different disciplines learn from each other as they collaborate on complex projects.

Project Updates

Summer Sailings with the Detroit River Story Lab

Thank you to U-M media videographer, Harry Mayers, for compiling this video from footage taken during the DRSL skiff building and schooner sailing programs that took place from July to August 2021.

Envisioned and created by University of Michigan English professor David Porter, the Detroit River Story Lab (DRSL) finally kicked off the ground and began work last year. This project’s main goal is to tell all sides of the story of the Detroit River by working with local organizations along the riverfront. By partnering with a wide variety of stakeholders, the DRSL works to highlight the history of the river, from its importance as the final passage to freedom as part of the Underground Railroad, to its cultural and environmental significance to Detroit communities today.

Local Detroit teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit Riverfront | Photo courtesy of David Porter
Local Detroit teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit Riverfront | Photo courtesy of David Porter

Thanks to partnerships with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Dossin Museum, and other groups, the DRSL was able to host a series of educational sails for local teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner this past month. A variety of speakers joined the sailings as part of the educational programming including historian, activist, and founder of the Detroit River Project, Kimberly Simmons. They also hosted skiff building workshops where local Detroit students were able to build their very own skiffs and test them out on the Detroit River. MECC supports the work of the DRSL through our own project focused on the Detroit River (read more about this and all our current projects). MECC and the DRSL are hopeful that these summer sailings are just the beginning of tall ships educational programing along the Detroit River corridor.

David Porter working with Detroit High School Students during a boat building program that took place during the summer of 2021 | Photo courtesy of David Porter

David Porter working with Detroit High School Students during a boat building program that took place during the summer of 2021 | Photo courtesy of David Porter

The Detroit River Story Lab is grant-funded and a part of U-M’s Poverty Solutions. Read more about their work.

MECC Contacts

Paul Fontaine, Program Manager/Lecturer
paulfont@umich.edu
(248) 571-1926

Melinda Verhage, Project Manager
mverhage@umich.edu
(858) 735-3158

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