July 13, 2016
“The power is out.” That’s never what one wants to hear after a quick and ferocious storm but that’s exactly what my husband told me when I called him after the rain had stopped last Friday. I had waited it out in my office, watching trees come down all around campus, including an old pine outside my window. At first, we were told the power would be on in a few hours, but then the estimate was changed to Sunday. Whelp…there went the weekend. Or so I thought.
But, instead of wallowing in our darkness and lack of air conditioning, we made peace with the fact that we’d be throwing out all our food and decided to find our light elsewhere. We hopped in the car on Saturday and headed to Detroit for the day.
Our first stop was the Detroit Institute of Arts – a true crown jewel of the city. The light there doesn’t just come from the painter’s brush or the architect’s design but the abundance of beauty, hope and peace I always feel when wandering through the collections. After a few hours there, we drove around the city checking out new construction, recently opened businesses and a vibrancy that shone and excited me.
There were people out everywhere enjoying what the city has to offer. We saw huge family picnics on Belle Isle, bike tours on every corner, packed restaurants and smiles on many faces. We had an incredible lunch at a crowded Mudgies in Corktown and enjoyed a great afternoon. Of course the city still faces many challenges, but Detroiters are resilient and strong, just like Spartans. There’s so much good happening in the city if you choose to look for it.
Of course, I always get excited when I see signs of MSU’s partnerships with Detroit, like at the medical centers and the Community Music School. But that’s not all of MSU’s involvement. The university has been working with partners in Detroit for decades to support economic development, advance the arts, transform schools, improve health and sustain the environment.
And Detroit isn’t the only city MSU has partnered with. While we got a lot of attention for helping with the Flint water crisis recently, the school has been working with Flint for more than 100 years.
MSU public health researcher Woody Neighbors is one Spartan who is making a difference in Flint. He’s collaborating with community partners there to empower men to make health a priority. Men live four and a half fewer years on average than women, and it’s six years fewer for black men. To Neighbors, that’s unacceptable and he’s looking for solutions. Check out the video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: A healthier tomorrow, to learn more about his work.
Rick Sadler, also an MSU public health researcher, is using his mapping expertise to help a farmers market and other local food sources go mobile in Flint later this summer, bringing healthier options closer to those most in need. Check out the MSUTODAY STORY to learn more.
Both Neighbors and Sadler are determined to help the citizens of Flint have healthier, longer lives. Amanda Toler Woodward, an associate professor in the MSU School of Social Work and an expert on aging research, aims to help those lives be full and wonderful, without the ageism that often exists. Read her FACULTY VOICE: We need to talk about aging, to take a quiz that will help you understand aging myths and truths.
Third-year MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine student Jon Benton began helping the citizens of Flint in his junior year of high school when he trained and worked as an emergency medical technician. That experience helped guide him toward a career in medicine and he hopes to return to his community to provide care as a physician after graduation. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Taking medical training back to his roots, to learn more about this dedicated Spartan.
That’s the thing about Spartans — we never stop looking for ways to help communities and the people who live in them. In the grand scheme of life, a power outage is a pretty small inconvenience. There are a lot more challenging problems in the world, but Spartans will always look for the light and find solutions.