Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hoping for the Best in an Age of Uncertainty

Sherry Lee Linkon, writing about Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City in Times Higher Education, reminds us that there are no tidy, clear-cut solutions for shrinking cities like Flint:
While scholars and urban planners throughout the US and Europe debate strategies for revitalising former industrial cities that are “shrinking”, “forgotten” or “failing”, Young reminds us that storytelling, including the kind of inconclusive ending we might find in a contemporary novel, sometimes reveals more than the most careful study can. Better yet, a good story shows us why we should care, even if it doesn’t provide any solutions.
And she points out that while Flint may seem unique to me and those of us who grew up there, the city's plight is, in many ways, all too familiar:
Flint will survive, he tells us, because it has many “tough people fighting…in their own ways”. But it will be a long, hard battle without a triumphant conclusion: Flint will never again be “a bastion of the middle class”. At best, it might become “a different place that still had pride and dignity”. That may sound like a disappointing conclusion, but it’s an honest one. The economic and social challenges of the post-industrial austerity economy are complex, and we may never return to past prosperity. Like Flintoids, we need to keep fighting in our own ways.
Read the entire review here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Flint Photos: Connor Coyne

Flint writer Connor Coyne arrives in Chicago via his minivan/chariot/objet d'art for the publication of his latest novel, Shattering Glass.

Flint Artifacts: 1977 IHL All-Star Game Button

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Flint Photos: Trolley Bus in 1954

Flint Photos: You Auto Buy Now

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flint Photos: Corner of Pengelly Road and Browning Avenue in 1975

Thanks to Flint attorney Benjamin Allyn, in the middle carrying a big stick, for the photo.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Consider Donating to Flint Expatriates

This little experiment in blogging about Flint has been unexpectedly fun. I no longer annoy non-Flint people with stories about The Vehicle City because I funnel all my lame recollections about the Dupont Street bus or Sam Isaac's motivational techniques into Flint Expatriates; I've connected with dozens of Flintoids; and I've discovered the identity of a shadowy figure from my past known as Gypsy Jack.

Even better, a surprising number of readers have discovered the blog. Since January 1, 2008, when I started tracking interest on Google Analytics, 268,020 unique visitors have racked up more than 1 million pageviews. And visitors have come from 150 different countries and every state in the union. (Granted, quite a few probably landed on the site accidentally while Googling Semi-Pro t-shirts or a bizarre hobby called flint knapping, but let's not get picky.)

I'd like to blog more, but in order to do that I need to free myself from my less enjoyable — but marginally more profitable — freelance work.Basically, the only blogs that make money off ads involve porn, electronic gizmos, celebrity gossip, or partisan political commentary. Even though some car enthusiasts get turned on by my posts about the Buick Electra 225, my blog doesn't fall into any of those profitable categories.

So like some bloggers, I'm taking the bold step of asking for donations from readers. (I resisted using the term "begging" because I have my pride.) I'm obviously not in this for the money. I just happen to love the town where I grew up, despite all its flaws, and I really enjoy attacking GM executives. But I would welcome the chance to spend more time on Flint Expatriates and do more actual reporting — like my profile of artist Eric Koziol — instead of simply aggregating material on Flint and making occasionally witty/stupid/annoying comments. After all, I am a journalist, even if many of my editors don't always think so.

So if you'd like to help out, just click on the "Donation" tab in the top right corner of the blog. You can donate via credit card or your Paypal account, if you have one. It's all safe and secure. Any amount is welcome, however small. Consider it a voluntary subscription to a free online publication dedicated to keeping the memory of Flint alive.

And if you choose not to donate, don't worry! It's okay. I'll survive. Just keep reading and sending your ideas.