… to Push for Justice
Flint continues. There are so many words I can use to finish that phrase. For certain, living in Flint continues to present its challenges. It would take all my fingers and toes to count the number of times people have suggested that we move. I’d be lying if I say my husband and I haven’t discussed it. However, there is a remnant here in Flint who envisions a better future. Better water and schools. Better economy and community. For certain, it’s not going to be easy.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not naive. Six years after I shared about the “Flint Water Crisis”, our battle for legal justice continues. In the meantime, most of our water lines have been replaced. Our water quality has been restored.. This Politico article explains why we have clean water, but people still don’t trust it. Until all lead lines are replaced, we are encouraged to still filter our water.
The previous mayor and city council canceled a previous agreement to get water from the Karegnondi Water Authority, because of concern of our inability to treat it properly. Instead, we agreed to pay Detroit for water for the next 30 years. Sadly, it may take 30 years to replace the trust our city has broken. A new mayor has us in negotiations to undo this.
… to Fight Crime
Flint continues to battle high crime. Police response times are terrible. Someone stole our central air a few summers ago. The police department never even showed up. Citizens have become apathetic in calling police for the crimes in their neighborhood. Therefore, statistics look like crime has diminished here in Flint. Flint continues to have its silence shattered by the gunshots of hateful violence. A few yearss ago, a gas station attendant was murdered in broad daylight, a victim of angry drug dealers. Only a block from my house. It pierced my heart, and I shared about it in my gluten-free Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles recipe.
There are so many more negative things that I could highlight. To be honest, I have a hard time focusing on the good myself, sometimes. However, Flint continues to have bright shining moments, if you look for them amidst the darkness. New investment. Education expansion. Demolition of blighted houses, making way for new development. Sources of joy.
Flint continues to persevere.
There are people here with vision. Let me share a few, and bare with me if I run long-winded.
Communities First, Inc
Don’t pass this video by. PLEASE watch it. It makes me cry. It makes me cry, because the brokenness you see in this video is literally my neighborhood. The burnt out, abandoned apartments you see in the first 30 seconds were only half a mile from our house. But now they have been torn down. Natural beauty has now replaced ugly destruction.
We walk these streets. We volunteered at the abandoned, graffiti – covered Coolidge Elementary Glenn speaks of. However, it also makes me cry tears of joy. Of hope, because Communities First, Inc. has decided to take a stand. As Flint continues to rebound, it is non-profits like this that will change this city. If you want to help Flint rebound, invest in organizations like these.
St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center
The N.E.W. Life Center started when two nuns had a desire to see real change happen. What started as a concern to clothe the needy turned into a full scale sewing educational center and business. New Life Center started training women to sew and make scrubs for local hospitals. Now they clothe hundreds in Flint and beyond. Maybe thousands, as they now produce high quality vests for one of Michigan’s most iconic brands, Stormy Kromer.
New Life Center does more than job training. They house a food pantry, run a lawn care business run for men looking for jobs, and so much more. You can read more about their amazing accomplishments in this Flintside article. Want to invest in their vision? Visit their page to donate time, materials or money. Buy a tartan red and black Stormy Kromer vest, which may allow them to employ and impact even more women.
Flint Crepe Company, Robb Klaty and Coffee
In my opinion, one cannot talk about downtown Flint without mentioning Robb Klaty. During a time when others were quick to leave Flint, Robb set up shop. Quite literally. Robb opened the Flint Crepe Company location in downtown Flint in 2011. He focused on great food with locally sourced ingredients. He also chose not to focus on himself. Every Tuesday a different charity is highlighted that receives a portion of the days tips.
Klaty’s investment continues to factor into Flint’s reconstruction. What started as one small business turned into a continuing downtown expansion. He now owns Tenacity Brewing, where he brews his own beer, and now Heyday Coffee. Klaty opened Heyday coffee when he realized he could provide an outlet for Blue Line Donuts, a business run by the local homeless shelter that used the project to teach men and women business skills.
Kettering University and the University Avenue Corridor Coalition
The transformation that Flint continues to experience along the University Avenue Corridor is astounding. Kettering University, formerly General Motors Institute, realized the positive impact they could, and should have on the community around it. Mobilizing surrounding businesses, they inspired the creation of the University Avenue Corridor Coalition. The result? Blighted, dangerous homes finally removed. A historic football stadium now resurrected to its former glory.
The change to the neighborhood is nothing short of breathtaking. Maybe breathtaking is the wrong word. Maybe the word is breath giving, as it restores hope. Want to help further the hope? Run in the CRIM that passes through this space. Attend a Flint City Bucks (USL league) soccer game. Did you known they’re national champtions for their league? Donate to Carriage Town Ministries, benefiting the homeless and the poor.
Uptown Reinvestment Initiatives
Flint continues to improve, partially at the hand of major investors. Uptown Reinvestment, wanting to “build a vibrant future for Flint,” invested big bucks into our downtown. With their help we have a new Flint Farmer’s Market, voted one of the best in the country. Uptown’s investment helped create the new Michigan State University campus downtown. This campus focuses on healthcare, training interns at local hospitals. Also, they use their resources to help mitigate the effects of the Flint Water Crisis
Most recently, Uptown’s passion for making old things new included the grand restoration of the Capitol Theater. Originally opened in the 1920’s, a new generation of Flint residents now appreciations the beauty of the past. Want to help in the reinvestment of Flint? Visit the Farmer’s Market. Take in a show at the renovated theater. Dine downtown, and enjoy the beauty of our city.
Flint City Art Project
In 2019, the Flint City Art Project started an ambitious goal. To paint beautiful murals across the city of Flint. Murals of chidren, the homeless, Beyonce, and so much more. Even Anthony Bourdain. Over 40 exist, and the Flintside website created amap to see all of the Flint murals, in less than an hour. It’s a perfect reason for a roadtrip.
And So Many Others
There are so many others investing in this city, more than I can possibly name. (Flintside strives to share many of them. I highly suggest subscribing to their online newsletter.) People and organizations and businesses that chose to stand up to fear and put down roots. Support them.
Come to a Flint Firebirds hockey game. Donate to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, as they feed over 330,000 people a year. That’s what Flint needs, people and businesses seeking out the good and encouraging it to grow.
As Flint continues to rebound, those of us living here will roll up our sleeves to help. You can invest in us too. Donate to those doing good. Visit our city. Run through our streets. Buy our goods. Join us for a cup of coffee. Quit using Flint on social media as a meme or potlical clapback.. And although some gave me flack for it four years ago, continue to pray for our city.
Pray that hearts and minds change, both for our citizens and our leaders. Most of all, stand up for us. When the media kicks us down, when memes make light of our stuggles, speak up for those who might be starting to lose their voice. Lend us a bit of your emotional strength, maybe your financial support, and let us show you just how amazing Flint can be.