Monday, October 19, 2009

Land Rush

Harry Ryan prepares for some neighborhood beautification. (Photo courtesy of Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Dan Barry of The New York Times, who "takes readers behind news articles and into obscure and well-known corners of the United States," writes about Flint residents finding hope amid the ruins:

Harry Ryan, 59, the child of auto workers, traveled for years as a rhythm and blues musician before returning to follow his parents into the auto plants. He got laid off, found other employment, and is now retired, with gray in his moustache and a stoop to his walk.

In 2005 he went to the land bank — he is on its advisory board — and received permission to plant a garden on a lot it owns a few yards from the broken side window of an abandoned house. He and some neighbors cleaned brush, removed the remnant pieces of concrete of demolished houses, and planted hardy turnips and greens.

But the garden could not contain their growing sense of pride in their community. Soon they were mowing front lawns all along East Piper Avenue — for free, and without seeking permission. “We just cut everybody’s property, even if they were sitting on the porch,” he says. “Sometimes they wouldn’t say anything, and that would get us mad.”
Read the entire article here. Go here for the slideshow.


  1. This is what, the 4th or 5th story on Flint in the NYT in the last year? Man oh man they love Flint, going so far as to name it "America's Toughest Town"

    That kind of label should help get some grants and Fed money!

  2. Mr.Ryan and his friends deserve this type of recognition from his own hometown newspaper too. He gets my applause. unclebuck

  3. People like Mr. Ryan are an enormous credit to the community - wish there were more like him. He and his friends get my applause, too.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at