Marlowe Stoudamire has the kind of energy that lights up a room. He has the gift for bringing people together to create change. When he speaks, it’s inspiring. When he works, it’s for people.
Marlowe says this drive to learn from people started when he was a young boy. He grew up in a tough neighborhood, the 48205 neighborhood of Detroit.
“The FBI had named it one of the deadliest zip codes in America,” he said. “Growing up in that neighborhood, I saw everything.”
But Marlowe also saw opportunity. He would sit and read or watch TV and see other ways of life and culture. This drove his curiosity. It made him believe there was more ways to live life. He went to Cass Tech for high school which showed him that the African American community could be smart, successful, and talented.
“I learned there were people who had different lives in Detroit. Instead of feeling bad or jealous, it made me want to learn and see more,” he said. “I think that was the early seed planted.”
Marlowe later learned he was a student of culture. He could embrace different types of people and he could embrace ways to create change together. This drives his work at Butterfly Effect and MASH. At Butterfly Effect, Marlowe leads business and public engagement strategy for dozens of clients. He figures out ways to strengthen relationships and strengthen their impact.
“I saw that a lot of businesses saw engagement as critical to their bottom line,” he said.
“How do you really have impact? How do you really connect to the market? Where are you building trust and loyalty?” I apply business principles to the community work that I’ve been doing over the years.”
MASHing people together
Marlowe believes that people have what they need inside of them to be successful. He works to create more opportunities for people through “social collisions” in Detroit. This is where his new space on Detroit’s East Side, MASH Detroit comes in.
When you walk into MASH Detroit you see a funky, artistic and fun space that’s full of color and energy. But Marlowe wants you to see something else. Marlowe wants someone to walk into MASH and face their bias. He wants people to walk in and be totally shocked by the space they see. That something this cool and fun could can be right here in their neighborhood.
“MASH is the hub where people can connect and support each other,” he says. “I want people exposed to a world of diversity, culture, different ways of thinking.”
Diversity he believes is critical to Detroit’s success.
“Diversity can help eliminate the gaps -- cultural, generational, and geographical gaps we face,” Marlowe said. “These are the gaps that existed when I was a kid. I don’t want my kids to face it. I don’t want others to face it. It slows us down. The more diversity, the more understanding, the more working together, the more building together.”
And with the work Marlowe is doing, we’ll see more building for an inclusive city in Detroit’s recovery.