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Latina Leaders x Design

Me and My Shadow

Through this blog, Gary shares his moments of wonder, reflection, and learning as an early-career professional at HFLI.

By Gary Tubbs, HFLI Design Fellow

For my first shadowing event with Henry Ford Learning Institute, I had the pleasure of attending workshops for Latina Leaders x Design, led by our implementing partners at Michigan Hispanic Collaborative. 

Latina Leaders x Design is a new program that addresses fundamental problems that face our community through culturally responsive, authentic, and equitable learning. The program also advances these practices for young Latina Leaders to potentially impact the communities in question. They were tasked with creating a community solution to tackle the problem of food insecurity in their communities. “Home base” for the summer program was the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Southwest Detroit.

Over the course of four weeks this summer, our three teams of young Latina Leaders, who are high school age coming from different communities within Southwest Detroit, connected with each other to envision a community project that would further improve the food scarcity that was impacting their communities. The three teams created, prototyped, and pitched a solution that combats food insecurity within the Detroit community. 

Each team of two to four young women brought forth an idea that would further improve engagement within their communities to combat food insecurity. One of the groups came up with the idea of a community kitchen which was created with the ideal consumer being those of a single family household with very limited resources and income. The kitchen would provide food that those of the community could take home, with no need to pay. The second group created a recurring event that would utilize community garden areas around Detroit for food distribution to visitors in need. As you could conclude, the food would be grown in the garden and when the time came to harvest the plant foods, the community would come together and take some of the food home.

The First Look pitches were an opportunity to demonstrate for the community our participants’ growth throughout the course of the program. Their ideas were presented in front of a panel of judges to help the Latina Leaders further their ideas, and their personal development. I saw the growth of their public speaking over the course of a few days, and could only imagine their growth from the beginning of the program.

When asked what they have learned from this opportunity, the young women were more than excited to share their experiences, such as “I’ve learned about teamwork and how basically it has to do with your outcome. If you all work together, it’s almost certain that your team will come up with something great.” Another participant told us, “I learned how to be more social with new people I meet and how to be a better public speaker. I was really anxious when I first started this program.” The young women were encouraged to interact with not only each other, but visitors so that they could become more comfortable with receiving feedback and public speaking. 

“It’s an amazing experience, I was able to build great relationships with others that are a part of the program as well.” 

While I only had the opportunity to watch these young ladies work for only a few days, I was amazed by the dedication, team work, and overall growth of these young women. To my fresh eyes they seemed to work flawlessly together to combat obstacles that they may have faced while in the program and working on their solutions, but I know that it was a reflection of their belief in the process and the trust they placed in each other. As a new team member at HFLI, I quickly came to see the excitement and achievement of watching our students grow personally and professionally by being put into situations that may seem uncomfortable and learning from the mini-workshops that were a part of the program. 

Gary Tubbs joined HFLI in mid-August as our newest Design Fellow. In this role, Gary works closely with the Programs team to acquire design thinking mindsets, skills, knowledge, and tools, especially as they apply to innovative use in social innovation, K-20 and youth programming. He is currently finishing his degree at Michigan State University which focuses on Experience Architecture and User Experience Design, with graduation expected in December. Over time, Gary will bring his education and experience in the design field to bear in the effective development, administration, and coordination of multiple major engagement series for HFLI. 

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