Friday, December 27, 2013

The Past, Present and Future of Flint



I want to comment on a recent article about Flint that was posted today on the PolicyMic website. Obviously, I didn’t write it. The author interviewed me for 45 minutes about Flint. I told her about my book — Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City — and my experiences growing up in Flint. As I always do, I emphasized that despite its well-documented problems, there are positive, hopeful things happening in the city where four generations of my family lived.  I pointed out that there are a lot of talented people working very hard to make it a better place. I suggested she talk to people like Michael Freeman and Perry Compton, who restored their home in Carriage Town, and Pastor Sherman McCathern of Joy Tabernacle Church, who is doing great things in Civic Park. I feel they represent the real essence of the city.

I also gave permission to use any photos I took from the Flint Expatriates website, but I didn’t choose the photos. Of course, I had no control whatsoever over the finished article, the angle, the content, or the headline. That’s a choice that’s left to the reporters and editors who interview me. But in this particular case, I wish the author would have devoted less space to all the negative statistics and old news about Flint’s decline, and more to the inspiring residents of my hometown who are using innovative approaches to improve the city.

9 comments:

  1. Just read the PolicyMic article. I agree that the author did a fine job of summarizing the challenges and afflictions of Flint over the past 30 years. I had hope when I clicked on the 'Portraits of 16 People ..." who refused to be defeated by their hometown. While the photos were nice, there were no captions, no explanations, no stories of courage or conquest. This is a sadly narrowly focused article. Ms. Dimon took the easy road to delivering a story (maybe she had a deadline?). Once again, the 'press' doesn't get the entire story.

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  2. I read the article today too - and frankly couldn't find a point... The only purpose of the article seemed to be to just say that Flint sucks.

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  3. Don't sweat it Gordon. Your dedication and obvious care for this city shows through this website. I only discovered this website about 4 months ago and love it. Thank you for all you do to keep it going!

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  4. I'd never heard of that site until today. I'll assume that article represents their editorial standards. That'll save me the need to visit there again.

    Thus some good comes of her piece...it's been helpful to me in managing my reading workload.

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  5. A further thought, relative to both Flint and Detroit...places about which many many negative articles have been written:

    It's ignorant at best to infer that the troubles of a small part of the total area, or population, or gross economic product of a metropolitan area are characteristic of the whole metro area.

    Detroit is a small part of the several-county SE Michigan metro area. Much of that metro area is doing very well, is broadly diversified, and has has hardly slowed down economically with the much-discussed recession of the past few years. "Detroit is Hell on earth" and similar hyperbolic comments are absurdly misleading.

    Similarly, Flint-the-core-city's issues are not at all characteristic of the overall metro area. That's important because it's why the Flint-facts of too few jobs, too little household income, too much old, low-value housing stock and too little tax revenue aren't especially dragging down most of the metro area.

    Maybe those folks who don't understand these most basic of facts about urban economics, but get off on schadenfreudian articles like the one at hand, are irrelevant to our concerns here at Flint Expats because they'll never be part of the solution.

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    1. I tried to tell people here that annexation and consolidation are what makes cities appear to be better on paper. Go to any Olympic city and walk a few blocks away from the excitement and you'll find the same things.

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  6. One thing I have noticed is that people who post on national message and news websites are incredibly ignorant about the whole state of Michigan. They think that Michigan is Detroit. Flint is hardly a blip on the radar screen to them. Even people who are from outstate Michigan think Detroit is anything South of I-69 and East of US-23, which includes the South part of Flint. It often sounds like a parrot when they comment on Michigan. I doubt that many have ever even been to Michigan, and that includes people from East of The Hudson and West of Nevada. But they think they are the experts on this part of what they call "Flyover Country", how we ought to think, and how we ought to live our lives.

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  7. Charles Thomas, Jr., a Powers Catholic grad now working as a management consultant in Fairfax, Va., tells why Flint loyalists should "not give credence to the negativity."

    More from his forceful reaction to Laura Dimon's article:

    "The media has a myopic conception of what it is to be from and live in Flint. They only show the bad. I know better. We, as a city, know better. We are here to thrive, not merely survive."

    It's posted at the Deadline Detroit news site: http://bit.ly/1ceuKDf

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    1. Alan, thanks for the update. And thanks for the excellent reporting on this strange story.

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