Detroit Documenter Kendal Kuneman heard about the program through a friend who thought she’d be interested in serving Detroiters. Kuneman previously worked as a surveyor in 2014 with Loveland Technologies, where she documented Detroit foreclosures.
“We went out every single day and went around the entire city of Detroit in many different neighborhoods, and we were documenting … occupied homes that were currently going through the Wayne County foreclosure process and so with the information that we gathered, we were able to share that information with a larger community of people,” Kuneman says.
The Documenters program is a partnership between City Bureau, Citizen Detroit and media partners to increase civic engagement. WDET works with Documenters to train people to take notes or live-tweet at public meetings.
“There are people that are present and documenting and wanting to share this information with the Detroit community.” —Kendal Kuneman, Detroit Documenters
Kuneman joined Documenters in 2020 and took notes for three Detroit City Council meetings and a Board of Police Commissioners meeting. She says the BOPC meeting was overwhelming and contained a lot of important information.
“It was that meeting that I really recognized just how important the Detroit Documenters program can be, you know the meeting wasn’t necessarily any longer than the others, but it felt a lot longer just because I felt really uncomfortable with how it was being run and how some of the commissioners were being treated,” she says.
She says the meeting was filled with important information, she says, ranging from Black Lives Matter protests from the summer to the increase in violent crimes in Detroit over the past year.
“I needed a little extra time to pull my notes together, just in order to properly document,” she says.
Kuneman says her full-circle moment came when her notes were published and utilized by media partners of the Documenters program.
“It felt really good to know that my meeting notes were so helpful for other reporters as well,” she says.
She says the Documenters website is a great tool to learn more about what’s happening in the city.
“There are Detroit residents that are being hired to cover some of these public meetings that are scheduled at various times during the day during the week that might not be easy for you to attend. But there are people that are present and documenting and wanting to share this information with the Detroit community,” she says.