Food as a Catalyst for Community Change

What is FoodLab Detroit's Annual Network Gathering? At FoodLab you won't hear us preaching about “design thinking”. While we're fans of it, we think it’s flawed, because it’s a system that continues to have too many outsiders. Instead, we start from the premise that design’s greatest value is seeing the problem from the eyes of those that we are trying to serve. We purposefully describe FoodLab's Annual Network Gathering as a space that uses “creative problem solving” to address instances where oppressive structures keep neighborhoods - places where our member businesses are located - from attaining the socially and economically vibrant, culturally rich, and environmentally friendly place they desire to live and work in.

At our Network Gathering, we invited designers, policy experts, food justice activists, FoodLab member businesses and community leaders to address the problem of economic inequality and the rise of the working poor in Detroit. We believe that businesses have the power to create equitable economic opportunity for everyone, and that food can be a vehicle for that opportunity. Because of this, this year's Network Gathering focused on the role of food in equity and inclusion, and the importance of ensuring that good food and good jobs are accessible to all people.

Our Network Gathering, which took place on June 15th, 2017 at Cass Corridor Commons, became a space where FoodLab member businesses, our community partners, and allies could use their backgrounds, learned experiences, and insight into their own neighborhood to redefine how we think about good food and good jobs. Together, we worked to determine how we all can do our part to ensure that these things are accessible to all Detroiters.

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