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Detroit Orientation Institute celebrates 25 years of changing assumptions about the city

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Detroit can be daunting for new arrivals – executives, journalists, students and residents alike. They wonder “where can I find out about the city’s history, businesses, possibilities, challenges, politics and culture?”

“Is everything I’ve heard about the city true?”

“Where can I meet the change makers?”

“Where can I do it easily and quickly?”

For 25 years the Detroit Orientation Institute (DOI), housed at Wayne State University, has been the answer to those questions. It will celebrate that anniversary at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Wednesday, November 16 from 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. It will be a reunion of those who went through the program, those who were on panels, those who led tours and more. You’re invited. Click here to buy tickets.

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Over the past quarter century, the DOI has introduced more than 3,000 business, community, media, nonprofit, political, civic and student leaders to Detroit, challenged their assumptions and fostered connections between participants. It’s done in small groups that explore contemporary issues and learn about the region’s history, institutions and traditions. They hear from experts who provide a historic perspective and candid look at the region.

No questions are off limits. The goal is to help those attending understand the city from all angles and perspectives. Testimonials abound.

“The Detroit Orientation Institute programs are outstanding. There is nothing better to give newcomers to the Detroit area an insight into the history, the issues, the personalities, and the relationships that make this diverse region what it is today and what it will be in the future,” said Robert Noble, former Consul General of Canada.

“Even after living in Detroit for five years, I found the DOI to be a very meaningful learning experience. The quality of the speakers and the chance to see the city up close and personal was excellent,” said Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO, Henry Ford Health System.

The program is also great for those who were born here or have lived here for long time.

“The Detroit Orientation Institute program is time well spent for any newcomers – or people who have lived here for a long time and want more perspective. It dispels myths, adds context, provides information, and it’s uplifting,” said Paul Anger, former editor and publisher, Detroit Free Press.

For those of you who want to know even more about Detroit and region check out Regional Roots: The Birth and Evolution of Detroit and Its People, a documentary film produced by the DOI and One of Us Films. It covers 300 years of history including how immigrants created our diverse landscape from the time of the earliest French and German settlers to today.

It has footage of Diego Rivera painting his mural, Detroit industry, and selections from Detroit News reels that haven’t been seen since theater showings in the 1930s. The film is also available on Amazon.

Here’s a little background on the DOI. It launched in 1991 in response to a recommendation in the City of Detroit’s 1987 Strategic Plan. Its goal was to offer the media and business community an objective, balanced view of the city.

Today, the DOI continues that mission. It reaches a hug audience and engages business, community, media, nonprofit, political, civic and student leaders. Here are some of its programs.

Detroit 101

  • In-depth, half-day excursions for groups of approximately 30 people. Tours led by the Detroit Experience Factory feature visits to several Detroit neighborhoods and institutions, and conversations with community leaders along the way. Each tour will conclude with lunch and a group dialogue featuring local change makers who are driving progress in our Detroit.
  • Registration opens in November for the December 7 tour.

Detroit Dialogues

  • Two-hour topic-specific lunchtime conversations for groups of 10-15 people in a Detroit restaurant or catered venue. Conversations are led by moderators well versed in the topic and include additional subject matter experts and practitioners. The most recent was on regional transit on October 19.

Dig Deeper

  • An in-depth study of Detroit and its surrounding communities for cohorts of 20-25 people over the course of consecutive days. Eligibility for Dig Deeper is based on a participant’s completion of Immerse Detroit or a Detroit Dialogue.
  • The program includes introductory presentations or experiences to orient each topic, short guided tours that connect topics to specific communities and dialogues and meals in metropolitan Detroit communities that include practitioners, residents and subject matter experts.

For more information contact Jeri Stroupe, senior project administrator at 313- 577-9778 or email jeri.stroupe@wayne.edu. You can also join the mailing list.

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The DOI is celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Wednesday, November 16 from 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a strolling dinner reception, valet parking and live music. It will be a reunion of those who went through the program and those who sat on the panels to share their knowledge of our city.

Ticket cost varies.

  • A Legacy ticket is $250 and will help fund future Detroit Orientation Institute programming. It includes an open bar.
  • A Leadership ticket is $125 and funds future need-based and student scholarships. It includes open bar.
  • A basic ticket is $25 and you have to buy your own drinks.

Click here to buy tickets.

Your attendance will help support the region’s future leaders by making sure the DOI continues.

Since its inception, the DOI has been housed at Wayne State University and has worked closely with the school’s faculty, staff and community partners. It was originally a program of the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs. It is now run by WSU‘s Office of Economic Development.

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