Our Common Future – Day 1 In Review

Day One of Our Common Future was as exciting, jam-packed, and compelling as you’d expect at a conference that is harnessing the creativity, inspiration, and energy of the entire charitable sector! Jointly hosted by Independent Sector, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Michigan Nonprofit Association, changemakers from all over the country are here in Detroit to focus on and plan for the future of the charitable community.

First thing in the morning, attendees had the opportunity to explore inspiring spaces and innovative communities that are part of the social change work giving rise to Detroit’s resurgence. These special tours, called Detroit Inside & Out, featured visits to:

  • Ponyride, a nonprofit where innovators parlayed the Detroit foreclosure crisis to provide affordable work space for artists and entrepreneurs to share knowledge, resources, and networks;
  • Techtown, Detroit’s most established business accelerator and incubator;
  • the Detroit Zoo, a renowned leader in education, conservation, animal welfare, and sustainability;
  • Eastern Market, a neighborhood and 150-year old farmer’s market that is home to a new initiative to guide downtown Detroit’s economic development through 2025;
  • Artesian Farms and the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, shining examples of how Detroit is using sustainability to empower communities, solve problems, and create redevelopment models that can be used in America’s urban communities;
  • the Arab American National Museum, the country’s first and only museum devoted to the history and culture of Arab Americans; and
  • the ACCESS Community Health & Research Center, North America’s largest and most comprehensive Arab community-based health and mental health center.

Other conference goers opted to attend Our Common Future 101 for breakfast, networking with fellow changemakers, a rundown of the full conference schedule, and insider tips from conference organizers.

Our Common Future officially kicked off at Main Stage – Day One, which treated attendees to an uncommonly entertaining and thought-provoking start. CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca invoked his trademark wit as he moderated a discussion among three of Detroit’s most innovative social entrepreneurs: Amy Peterson, Co-Founder and CEO of Rebel Nell; Gary Wozniak, President and CEO of RecoveryPark; and Devita Davison, Executive Director of FoodLab.

Then, La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Patricia Mooradian, President & CEO of The Henry Ford, engaged the audience with their insight on how innovation and creativity can enable a more inclusive economy.

And what would Day One be without entertainment and plain ‘ol fun? The Main Stage audience was treated to a virtuoso performance by the musicians of the group, Sphinx, fresh off an appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; and attendees were encouraged to get in touch with their inner child and the freeing power of play with an exercise led by Jill Vialet, Playworks CEO and Founder. Playworks supports learning and physical health by providing safe and inclusive play to students in urban schools. The national nonprofit is embedding “play time” throughout each conference day to help everyone stay loose and open to the freeing and innovative power of play.

After a short break, attendees headed off to pick and choose among multiple breakout sessions that focused on a number of issue areas, including engagement of faith communities, using data to achieve impact, public policy, advancing a plan for racial equity, and impact investing.

Later in the evening, attendees relaxed, mingled, and enjoyed a special evening of exploration and innovation at the Opening Reception at one of the nation’s premier museums — The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for a recap of activities at Our Common Future Day Two – including Part 1 of Breaking Bread, Dialogues on Democracy – an evening of dinners at sites throughout Detroit intended to engage attendees in a reflective conversation about how we all can contribute to a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive democracy.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Conference