Black Families, Community Continue to Pass it On  

Speak Easy Detroit listeners attend a pop-up event and listen to engaged speakers in the community.

Photo courtesy of Nik Renee’ Cole

 

 

He only has 10 minutes to captivate them.

 

Calvin Colbert, executive director of Detroit Impact, a nonprofit organization that helps local youth grow into their potential just has 10 minutes to make an impact every time he’s before a group of young people. And whenever he addresses them in those 600 seconds, he always makes it count.

 

He’s Got Next 

His audience – whether they are his grandchildren and younger family members or the hordes of young people within Detroit Impact – will always learn something new from the proud 73-year-old.

“We’re at a different generation – this generation is about how do I apply what you say?”

Colbert added that in today’s world the luxury of time to talk about things and mull them over is not there anymore — especially for young people.

“Life is happening to them very hard and very fast — I had to learn we are at different levels of understanding,” he said, adding that if he goes beyond 10 minutes of talking to young people, they will tune him out. “Because they moved on to something else. Now they’re going to give you your time, it depends on how you use it.”

Colbert has made it his mission for the past 30 years with Detroit Impact to show young people how to grow beyond themselves through career-based tools his organization implements in the community.

“I am trying to instill in young people to think globally … I’ve seen too many young people who never left the block,” Colbert said.

Detroit Impact is steadily changing that narrative and continues to do so this year, despite pandemic-related challenges.

Non-profit organization Detroit Impact youth members.   Photo provided by Detroit Impact     

This summer, Detroit Impact is hosting a solar camp for their Kids Club program which is broken down into groups of kids ages six to 12 and 13 to 17.

Colbert said the club allows children to learn about the solar industry, including DTE’s O’Shea Solar Park.

“We’ve been making sure our young people understand what that solar park is all about,” he said, adding that they are opening doors to potential careers in the science field.

“Education fits into the family — we never stop learning,” he said, adding that it’s important to bring the family into the fold of what the non-profit is doing so everyone benefits. “We’re bringing the family together. … I always tell the parents, ‘Your voice counts – these are your children.”

For more information or to sign up for the camp visit https://www.detroitimpact.org/.

 

Let’s Talk About It 

Nik Renee’ Cole, creator, and Chef of What Nik Ate, co-founder of Fried Chicken and Caviar, founder of the Speak Easy Detroit and current head chef at The Kitchen by Cooking with Que, knows the gift of words and how to share them with others – especially her children.

“I am a storyteller,” she told The Michigan Chronicle recently. “I try to tell stories [through] different mediums [like] food.”

Cole said that she speaks directly to people and explains to them stories about the community, experiences and more through her Speak Easy Detroit platform, a not-for-profit pop-up-style event in Detroit.

“[We are] now expanding to tell stories about the community and I tell how it is important,” she said, adding that “everything has a story.”  “From the way we eat to [how we] raise our children.”

Cole, who laughed when she was described as an “anti-traditionalist,” said that she is raising her children in a way that is the polar opposite to her upbringing.

“Some of the things I do they have zero interest in,” she said of her children. “A lot of the traditions of my family have stopped with me and so things that I read about that I’m really interested in … I want to share and make a tradition.”

Her project serves as a safe, nonjudgmental space for people to connect through the art of storytelling, networking and paying it forward, according to the website. Cole plans to start a nonprofit to raise money so that resources are connected on a larger scale in the community.

“We use storytelling and transparency as a tool to encourage and bridge the gap between doers and the hopeful,” she said. “The Speak Easy doesn’t just give people a platform to tell their stories, it gives hope to people who feel alone in difficult spaces. I wanted to create an atmosphere that was comfortable, laid back and felt non-judgmental. I, literally, wanted there to be a feeling of commitment to uplifting your neighbors filling the room and give people the opportunity to not only ‘empower’ but to be assessable.”

For more information visit https://www.thespeakeasydetroit.com/.

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