Meet The D3 Staff: Stephanie Edlinger

Stephanie came to Data Driven Detroit (D3) to work as a Data Analyst on Phases 2 and 3 of the Motor City Mapping (MCM) project. Since the close of MCM in July she has been busy with several other mapping projects, as well as preparing for D3’s transition from a 501(c )3 to a L3C this October. Stephanie hopes to use her environmental background to help curate more “green” datasets that will highlight the amazing work being done by environmentally focused groups in the Detroit area.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Freeland, Michigan, a small, village near Saginaw. At the time of my graduation I think we had one stoplight.

What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?

I have a BS in Environmental Economics and Policy from Michigan State University with a minor in GIS. I’ve always cared a great deal about the state of our environment, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to expand that thinking. I can no longer address environmental sustainability without accounting for economic and social equity. To that end, I’ve learned that maps and data can better articulate the things I wish I could.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I have been on a steep learning curve the last few years since I found out that I love working with power tools! One of the highlights would have to be last year when I helped build 14 custom solar-hybrid generators.

What is your history with Detroit?

My personal history with Detroit begins in 2012. I came to Highland Park for a summer and I haven’t been able to stay away since. It reminds me of Saginaw with a lot of the same difficulties, but somehow Detroit is so very different and inspiring. I’m looking forward to growing my roots here.

What did you do before working at D3?

Before D3 I have worked in planning, office administration, small business development, environmental consulting and related research, among other things. For me, working at D3 has been a convergence of many of my prime interests.

What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region?

On the most fundamental level I honestly love who we are, what we do, and how we do it. My colleagues aren’t just intelligent but compassionate. We don’t just make maps, we make tools. We live our mission every day by helping others to live theirs.

I know the value of our mission first hand because long before I ever had the opportunity to work with D3 I was an avid user of their data in my community to inform our decision making. My experiences working with small, community-based organizations have instilled a huge sense of gratitude that D3 and other organizations like ours exist. It’s been a privilege to experience both sides and better understand our data ecosystem.

What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization?

Everything on the Open Data Portal.

What are your favorite type of data?

“Happy” data are my favorite. It is no coincidence in my mind that those are the more challenging maps to do; and more worth doing. It’s easy to highlight negatives. It’s easy to place blame. But I think most Detroiters will agree that there’s a lot more to our communities than the number of reported crimes on a block. I would love to see a more even, realistic representation of Detroit through data.

Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?

I think Detroit has always been inevitable for me. In college, a lot of people I knew were saying how Michigan doesn’t have any jobs, so they would have to look elsewhere for work. While we can hardly blame college grads for this belief, it was never one that I adhered to. If anything, it made me more determined to make a difference in Michigan communities. I do that most effectively through the work I do with D3. That just always seemed like the best path for me and I’m so grateful it led me here.