We couldn’t do what we do here at Detour without our paying subscribers — all of you who support our work and inspire us to keep going! This week, we caught up with Detour member Nicole de Beaufort, founder of EarlyWorks and a Jefferson Chalmers resident. We love Nicole’s commitment to her neighborhood and her love of all things natural inside our wonderful city. Read on to hear about how Nicole works to make her community a better place — and for some expert recommendations for a vibrant life in Detroit.
What neighborhood do you live in? I live in Jefferson Chalmers on a canal. Here’s a CuriosiD story about the specific part of Jeff Chalmers — my house was built after a British bomber plane crashed in the neighborhood. You can hear me in this story talking about my neighborhood.
What’s your favorite thing about where you live? Parks and nature! I am less than a mile from AB Ford Park, about a mile from Lakewood Riverside East/Angel and Mariner’s Point parks. I have a canal in my backyard and there’s a community healing garden down the street.
What do you do for a living? I run EarlyWorks, a strategy and communications consulting company that I founded in 2015. We’re a small (4-5 people on any given day) group of people who are using our communications, marketing, research, and policy superpowers to help clients jumpstart change. By this I mean that we work with organizations to listen, serve as thought partners, surface strategic insights, develop program strategies and communications plans, and then launch them. We are successful if our work ultimately contributes to more equitable and thriving communities. We are also successful if people feel heard and a deeper sense of connection to their communities. (Ed. note: Through EarlyWorks, Nicole has lent her expertise to organizations including Detroit Head Start, CitizenDetroit, Co.Act Detroit and Design Core Detroit.)
How do you give back? There are things I do through EarlyWorks, like sponsoring events or contributing in-kind services and there are things I do as me. I serve on the Jefferson East, Inc. and CitizenDetroit boards. Both focus on Detroit and Detroiters. I think it’s important to give where you live and sometimes that takes shape in a visible way and sometimes it’s more quiet – like contributing to someone’s campaigns, volunteering to fill sandbags, etc.
What’s the most important change you’d like to see in the city? Aside from much, much lower car insurance rates and economic desegregation, I’d like to read a public opinion poll in the not-so-distant future that says that long-time Detroiters feel like they are experiencing prosperity, that the investments being made in the city are for them and are benefiting them, and that they feel a sense of opportunity and hopefulness about their future here.
Why do you love living here? Ultimately it comes down to people. We’re a big city with a small-town feel. In this often isolating and virtual time in our existence, it’s a privilege to live in a place where I am connected to people from many backgrounds and walks of life. That’s meaningful to me.
What’s your favorite thing you learned or read in Detour? I like seeing projects that the EarlyWorks team has worked on show up inDetour. Last week you included information about the New Economy Initiative’s recent report, Community of Opportunity, about the business support network for entrepreneurs in our region. Very cool to see that and think about an entrepreneur reading it and then investigating what might be available for them to tap into for themselves.
How would you describe your community in 5 words? Be the change you seek.
Favorite meals in the Detroit area: Warda’s pastries, a healthy macro bowl lunch at GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale, Norma G’s up the street from me for a quick dinner. The tuna melt at the Greenwich Time Pub (guilty pleasure). The shrimp and grits at Le Petit Dejeuner.
Favorite independent shop: Does Canine to Five count? If so, them!
Favorite Michigan-made products: The maple syrup at Rose’s Fine Foods.
Favorite place for a fancy night out: I’m not sure I do fancy nights out, but I’m always up for any place with a rooftop deck.
Favorite dive bar: Not exactly a dive bar but I really like Kiesling.
Favorite place to watch live music: I just saw David Murray andKahil El’Zabar (progressive jazz saxophone and percussion artists) play at N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art and that was pretty rad.
Favorite park: AB Ford
Favorite place to take a visitor: Usually the riverfront or Belle Isle is first on the list.
Favorite place to spend a lazy Sunday: At home watching the paddle boarders and kayakers from Detroit River Sports go by.
You and a friend have less than $20 and a full day in the city, what do you do? Grab a picnic lunch scavenged from our kitchens, take a walk on Belle Isle with our dogs, get ice cream or a cold drink and people watch in Cass Corridor or Eastern Market, and find a public art or music event in town.
Who is a Detroiter you consider a mentor or a source of inspiration?Sheila Cockrel has been a tremendous mentor and source of inspiration and wisdom for me.
In 10 years, Detroit will be… the world capital of inclusive design.