Thursday, July 10, 2014

Suite Brigitte Updates: "Perspectives & Voices" ~ Blooming Orchid Wellness Center in Detroit

For several years, it has been my dream to travel with my work to various American cities. I imagined working on the road; planning events and working on various neighborhood initiatives; meeting new people and savoring new experiences in each location.

This year, my dreams have come true in many ways. I have been working with others in great cities such as Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia; Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia and recently, Detroit, Michigan.

One of the many reasons I chose Detroit, is that I have believed it to be a great and rich city with a lot of potential and so much to offer. I have always seen Detroit as an amazing canvas that is awaiting innovation, ideas and people who are interested in co-creating long term goals for the success of the city as a whole. The great architecture and churches have always fascinated me; the art and entrepreneurial spirit in the face of financial hardships have been absolutely mind blowing. The financial pressures that the city has faced also encouraged my interest to visit in my role as an Energy Practitioner/Wellness professional and to connect with other entrepreneurial agents of change with respect to public health and neighborhood support.

I collaborated with Laura Montalto, a massage therapist and owner of Blooming Orchid Wellness Center in the neighborhood of Corktown (very close to downtown Detroit). On the first day of my arrival, we held an energy healing reception in which I offered energy work and it turned into a highly charged creativity session.

Instead of focusing on negative media imagery or perceptions of negativity in general, we had a very candid discussion about some of the challenges as well as revelations which opened our minds for the possibilities of the people of Detroit -- the businesses, the residents as well as our dreams and our desires to generate positive conditions for everyone. We were all truly inspired and elevated – so that we took a 4 mile walk after our late afternoon event to check out the downtown area.

According to Laura, "Detroit is a city where all our main industries are gone. Many of our jobs have been outsourced so finding a job with benefits poses quite a challenge." She said several times that Detroit is not very walkable or bikeable. I walked around town during my entire visit (mainly downtown and arts district) and I believe the city has great potential for more biking, walking, running and responsive to need the public transportation demands.

Laura also noticed the changes around attitudes toward health and healing: "I see a big change in the city as more people are turning to the healing arts instead of reaching out to their doctors. Many more gyms/yoga studios and martial arts schools are opening up around the city. Before you had to travel to the suburbs to find these services. The progression here is slow but is steadily happening." While Laura stated challenges that many business face such as high insurance rates; lack of public transportation and crime, she also acknowledged:

"The great thing about this city though is it takes dedication and absolute love for not only our city, but our state. The revitalization of Detroit is essential for the health and wellbeing of the future of Michigan. Detroiters are fighters we lose our jobs well then we just create new ones, we open businesses in a decaying city because we believe in our city and through all the constant uphill battles we just keep pushing through."

After our energy work together, the group decided that they were going to create an empowerment program; that they would use poetry as well as their healing gifts to re-shape their future. In the weeks after my visit, we have continued to discuss other areas of concern to us as humans, as business owners and as women who care about neighborhoods. I will be sharing more of that discussion with Laura through this blog and I also intend to share other perspectives and voices that I encounter in other cities. I look forward to many conversations and actions that we will take as a result of experiencing different cities and insights offered by those who appreciate and support their neighborhoods -- residents and businesses.

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