The Detroit Documenters program trains and pays Detroiters to attend local public meetings and monitor elected officials, in collaboration with journalists. Hundreds of local residents are active in the program, bringing more transparency to local government through their meeting notes, live tweets and civic participation.
This month, we’re featuring Documenter Afua Osei-Bonsu, a creative and technical writer in Detroit.
Afua Osei-Bonsu is grateful her technical writing professor at Washtenaw Community College recommended she join Detroit Documenters. A prolific writer, Afua finds the range of public meeting assignments satisfy her thirst for knowledge.
She “really just likes to write,” and that includes anything from articles to poetry to research papers. She said her blog, “Revolving Stream,” is essentially an incubator of thoughts and a collection of documents she hopes to use to write books.
Afua began documenting in late January and has covered meetings related to housing, development, transportation, the environment, utilities and health. From Detroit City Council to zoning appeals and beyond, Afua has learned about the difference in wages for bus drivers in Detroit versus Ann Arbor, the effects of inadequate training on paratransit and the disparities between renters and homeowners.
“Even the water and sewer one was so fascinating to me,” she said about a Great Lakes Water Authority meeting.
A lover of interdisciplinary studies, Afua cannot name just one assignment that has been most interesting. She said one can “learn the whole poetry of a government” by documenting these public meetings, which gives her a “backseat view” of how policy decisions are made in Detroit.
Afua said she wants her notes to be as accurate as possible in case someone needs to use them in the future. What she finds most challenging is when speakers in meetings are not easily identifiable because they don’t introduce themselves or don’t make their nameplates easily visible. All Documenters can relate to that!
Afua recommends the Documenters program to any writer, especially technical writers and academic researchers. Check out some of her reporting for the Washtenaw Voice and the Eastern Echo. Then scroll down to read more about Afua and how you can connect.
Documenters, fill out your own Community Profile for your chance to be featured.
What I do
I have some published books. I am a student of creative writing/English and poetry. I am also a student of technical writing. I spend most of my time writing.
What I love about it
I think writing is like divine action.
One thing I want to get from the Documenters community
I want to hone my technical writing skills, learn about breaking news and learn new ways of research.
One thing I can give to the Documenters community
I have written for four newspapers. Journalism. Technical writing. Editing.
What snack food represents the mood you’re in right now?
I was interested in a healthy feeling and picked up a big bag of trail mix from Kroger. It was absolutely satisfying as I began the chant to welcome spring!