Making Connections, One Step at a Time, in Detroit

April 07, 2014 | Detroit

Detroit Street PicSascha Drewlo is used to making connections: from the ones you don’t want to miss during international travel to the links between cause and effect.  Or, more specifically in Sascha’s case, between condition and cure.

He moved to Detroit a little over a year ago to found Drewlo Lab, which continues Sascha’s research into, if not a ‘cure,’ a means of preventing high-risk pregnancies. Basically, they’re improving the health and well-being of both mothers and babies. Located within Wayne State University’s Medical School, Drewlo Lab focuses on making it possible for the earlier detection of genetic and physiological abnormalities though non-invasive procedures in pregnant women (the aim is five weeks). And they’re working toward developing new intervention strategies that prevent the issues that threaten the health and well-being of mothers and babies in the first place.

Okay. While all of that sounds incredible and laudable, it also sounds very complicated. And a lot of it does happen in a petri dish…

Yet, when he moved into his Detroit loft at The Lofts of Merchants Row a little more than a year ago, Sascha’s reasons for being here weren’t all that different from his neighbors’ reasons.

While there’s a lot of talk about ‘jobs’ moving to Detroit, that’s just a small piece of a much bigger picture. The majority of people you meet when you live in Detroit are people who want to work in—and for the good of—the city. Your neighbors aren’t people who are here just to collect a paycheck, but are instead people invested in Detroit—in the potential and the possibilities it offers individuals as they make connections.

One of the biggest connections life in Detroit offers is between ‘Living,’ ‘Working,’ and ‘Playing.’ Living Downtown lets these three parts of everyone’s life becomes seamless. (Rest assured: if, like yours truly, you have no idea what ‘transcription factors’ are or think that ‘Sumo’ refers to wrestling—apparently, Sumo also means “Small Ubiquitin-like Modifiers”—living in ‘The D’ doesn’t mean that you will be forced to discuss SUMOs like you’re taking some bizarre-version of the SATs when you chat with your neighbors.) As passionate as everyone is about their work, everyone knows it’s essential to balance that with ‘living’ and ‘playing.’ And being Downtown offers a lot that balances that equation.

Like many other residents, Sascha isn’t ‘from’ Detroit. He lived in Cologne, Germany, Toronto, Canada, before calling Detroit ‘home.’ So I also got to talk to Sascha about his favorite places to go in the city. One of them—for cocktails, great food, and even better conversation with friends and neighbors—is Café D’Mongo’s. If you’ve been to D’Mongo’s, you know how quickly you feel like you’re part of a family, which is one of the strongest connections you can have with others. And then there’s Cliff Bell’s, where the past, present and future of our city come together and connect in a ‘jazzy’ atmosphere. And living at the Lofts of Merchants Row, residents like Sascha are connected by a short walk down Woodward to the Detroit Riverwalk—which is where he enjoys training for a different kind of walk. One that is very important to him. Actually, one that is important to mothers, mothers-to-be, babies, and—really, when you think of it—all of us.

On April 27th, he’ll be walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies, to raise money to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Which is the perfect example of the connection between ‘Live, Work, and Play’ that the people who live in Detroit embody. Sascha came to Detroit, and started Drewlo Lab at Wayne State University to make a connection that is even more important to him: the health and well-being of mothers, babies, and society. And he’s doing this in Detroit because he sees not only potential in his own research, but in doing that research here.

He’s not the only one who sees that potential. The March of Dimes recently awarded the Drewlo Lab a $150,000 grant to continue his search for a cure…to continue his journey to find a way to make moms and babies healthier and safer on their journey. That’s why Sascha is walking three miles to raise money for the foundation. He wants to give back—to make another connection—between an organization that is doing so much good and our city where this good is happening.

So, while not everyone you meet living Downtown may not be walking in a fundraiser, almost everyone you will meet has this same passion for what they believe in: and they believe that, whatever their particular goal is, it can happen. Here. In Detroit.

One step at a time.  It’s a journey we’re all on together.

Which is how blogs about your life in Detroit end up being about someone else’s reasons for moving to Detroit: you can’t help but get caught up in your friend’s and neighbor’s professional and life goals.

And that may be the best connection that is made in Detroit: people connecting with other people.


If you would like to make a connection and support the search for a cure—making life better for mothers, babies, and society—here in our city, visit Sascha’s March of Dimes page where you can learn more about the work that he is doing…while also enjoying Living and Playing in The D.

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