Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Ruins to Grand Boulevards and Striking Vistas

GaryG gets visionary about Flint's possible future:
On a visit to Flint a few years back, I was struck by the vistas that had materialized as an unintended consequence of the vast areas of land that had been cleared over the years. The hilltop prominence of the Hurley Medical Center was never more visually apparent than it has become since so many of the surrounding blocks have evolved into an expansive podium of lawn and trees. Even more surprising, was the view of the stately columns and pediment of the MSD Faye Hall, as clearly seen from the distant Kettering campus. They appear in the distance as apparition-like symbols of the community’s cultural and institutional strength, stubbornly surviving through turmoil and neglect.

Out of the wasteland resulting from a hundred thousand missing persons, there may be some unique, extremely visionary urban design opportunities that even the most attractive cities out there could never attain owing to the density and value of their built environment. The first might be the construction of grand boulevards visually connecting these places of prominence noted above, vis-a-vis the manner in which L’Enfant used the monuments, Capitol building, and White House in his plan for Washington DC. New development would be encouraged to locate along these new public esplanades in the hope of creating a series of vibrant and leafy urban links that would start, stop, and transition at the best areas the city has to offer, using abandoned lands that today sit idle.

The second idea consists of the construction of several millpond sized dams that would transform some of the worst portions of the urban wasteland into waterfront property. The creation of in-town lakes, supplemented by strategically planned parkways and the creation of inspired vistas, could be what it takes to attract the kind of urban dweller that can contribute to the vibrancy of the reinvented city.

Impractical pipedreams? You bet. But alas, with the right vision, inspiration, coordination, cooperation, (and star alignment), pipedreams sometimes can come to fruition. I once dreamed that the Durant Hotel would one day be restored and live on as an enduring monument to the great and colorful history of this ultra-challenged town. A funny thing happened on the way to oblivion, an impossible dream came true.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Shrink a City

Neither of these examples come from cities losing population, but they do give concrete examples — literally, in the case of Portland — of the steps you can take to make a city more livable by removing some of the things people typically associate with thriving urban areas. Portland and NYC are doing this by choice. Cities like Flint and Detroit need to do it out of necessity.




Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flint Expats Who Returned Home

I'm doing some research on Flintoids who left the city, lived somewhere else, and then returned. If you fall into that category, send me an email at gordieyoung(at)sbcglobal(dot)net. Thanks.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

49 Square Miles Surrounded on All Sides By Reality

I've lived in San Francisco just about as long as I lived in Flint, but there are still times when I'm left wondering what sort of fantasy land, divorced from the reality of countless cities and towns across the county, that I've landed in. Today was one of those days. While Flint confronts its very existence, San Francisco contemplates the psyche of local dogs.

Multi-tasking, San Francisco style.


A real live unicorn! Sort of.

I want to see more of this on Saginaw Street.

Not exactly sure, but I believe this dog is talking on an iPhone.

When people ride tricycles built for seven, you know the economy is booming.

Art Before Commerce...Especially If You're Short on Commerce


An example of art before commerce on 24th Street in San Francisco.

San Francisco has a program called Art in Storefronts that seems tailor made for Flint, although the concept might get a little depressing if you think about it too hard. As the name implies, artists create fake storefronts in empty buildings. Presto, instead of an example of economic decline, you've got an art exhibit. Flint's got plenty of talented artists. And it's got plenty of, well, you know.


Flint Pride in a Bathroom Stall

Flintoids are making their presence felt in San Francisco. Because this is a family publication, I had to pass on the photographic evidence, but you can see it here. This ode to the glories of Flint was found in the bathroom of The Latin American Club in the Mission District. And, no, I am not the author.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flint and Twenty-Somethings

An example of some Flint-esque signage from Pretty Faces, a student blog devoted to typefaces. In this case, it's "unknown geometric."


It's always interesting to see what twenty-somethings are thinking. In February, I got some feedback from college students on the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial and their perception of Detroit. Lately, I've been working with students who are creating their own blogs. I thought I'd pass along some links to give you a glimpse of the variety of topics they're interested in covering. Flint obviously has a problem hanging on to residents once they graduate from high school, as well as attracting younger people to the city. It's highly unscientific, but when I look at these blogs, I wonder how Flint could attract these young, well-educated students to the city after they graduate.

The Trial of Miles


Pretty Faces


A Peace in Mind


Zen Cupcake


What About Love


The Modern Mad Man


Sustainable Student


My Heart is in Hawaii

Michael Moore Tweets about Osama bin Laden

A collection of tweets from Michael Moore following the death of Osama bin laden:


"The monster we created-yes, WE-in the 1980s by ARMING, FUNDING, &TRAINING him in the art of terror agnst the USSR, finally had 2 b put down"

"10 years, 2 wars, 919,967 deaths, and $1,188,263,000,000 later, we managed to kill one person. (Next time START w/ the Seals 1st)"

"Now that bin Laden's dead, can we put shampoo in our carry on? Can I keep my shoes on? Can we bring all the troops home?"

"Which reporter has the courage to say it? 'American-armed terrorist from the 80s, Osama bin Laden, was killed earlier today by America.'"

"OBL buried at sea according 2 Muslim tradition. Yes most Muslim funerals I've attended, we got in a chopper & tossed the deceased in L. Erie"

"Beloved character actor Osama bin Laden, star of TV's "Fox News", dies age 54"


"From the Book of Ezekiel: "As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people" - Ezekiel 33:11"


"He may be dead, but in a way, he won. We gave up our rights. We passed a PatriotAct. We spent trillions on needless wars. Fear now rules us."

Flint Artifacts: Shriners Mug

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Flint Postcards: McFarlan Park in the Early 1900s


This is an early photo of the small park in front of the Durant Hotel.

Calling All Intrepid Reporters...The Flint Journal is Hiring

Who says there are no jobs in Flint? And who says it's tough to find work as a journalist these days? It appears The Flint Journal is looking for a full-time, entry-level reporter. Not exactly an easy job, but it would probably be pretty exciting, especially for someone fresh out of journalism school who grew up in a tranquil suburb somewhere. I'll leave it up to readers to question the accuracy of the Journal's description of itself in the want ad below. Gilding the lily is more than acceptable if it means luring someone with journalism skills to Flint.
The Flint Journal — a newspaper that prides itself on investigative journalism and award-winning online news reporting — is looking for an entry-level reporter. We want a reporter who can dissect tough issues, sniff out hard-news stories and write compelling features. We also want a reporter who brings a passion for technology and online reporting. We’re looking for that perfect combination: Someone who can go beyond the inverted pyramid and can incorporate blogging, social media and sometimes shooting video into their reporting. We don’t expect you to already have all these skills, but we want journalists who are on the cutting edge and eager to adapt to the next best technology. E-mail your resume, clips and cover letter to newsjobs@flintjournal.com.

Senior Prom for Parochial Schools

St. Michael's School is having a prom, and you don't have to be a teenager to attend. Go here for more info.