The Greening of Flint

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Michigan State University faculty and students are producing a documentary on a vision of Flint as a healthier, greener city. It will show the challenges of bringing fresh produce to a food desert, feeding schools, providing educational options and battling bureaucracy.

On Wednesdays through July, Great Lakes Echo will run a segment expected to become a building block of the finished story. You can help. After each publication date passes, the images below are linked to the segments that they illustrate.

Check them out and then post questions, suggest interviews, make comments or offer suggestions to help producers tell the story of a city trying to re-grow its roots literally and figuratively as a model for post-industrial revitalization.

The Kings of urban farming

Mama E and the city are in a conflict

Mama E faces a dilemma

The mayor says Flint is decades behind

The Kings and the Ruth Mott Foundation

Youth Karate-Ka: Harvesting Earth Farm

Mama E and the Mayor

Greening of Flint Week 8

Youth Farm Stand

July 28: Mr. Rogers

19 thoughts on “The Greening of Flint

  1. I grew up n e van wagoner street. Used to ride our bikes up to ab’s store. Boy wish it was still like that. Things started going bad about 67 or 68 but before that it was a great neighnorhod.Played out with friends till dusk and on good days got to go to the park on Detroit street. Great memories from Garfield elementary. John Wanek my third grade teacher still is my memory.Why in the world have we changed everything.

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  6. Pingback: The Greening of Flint: Mr. Rogers Garden Program | Great Lakes Echo

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  11. Hi Shaun! I’m one of the producers of the documentary.

    What do we mean by “Green”? Good question – one that we’ve received and one that we answer, while leaving open-ended. First, the “Greening of Flint” is a placeholder title for the documentary that allows it to grow, emerge until we discover a definition. At first, we considered “Green” to mainly be converting vacant lots into flower, fruit and vegetable gardens. In that definition of Green we would probe challenges posed with outdated city ordinances.

    While covering that definition of Green though, we’ve met residents with other ideas of “Green” that involve a proposal to build a windmill in Flint, the use of hydroponic growing systems to educate students and grow food for the school district, local restaurants using local produce, an Adopt-a-Park program that builds on the Adopt-a-lot concept, as well as you mentioned, plans to establish walking and biking trails.

    You’re right. With each step toward “Greening” Flint is the counterbalance consideration – city planning. What role will design and planning have in the documentary? We haven’t casted it yet, but it will be introduced. Thank you for your questions!

  12. Looks like the mayor’s segment isn’t working.

    I’ve heard about your project for a while now and wish you guys all the best. I’m going to ask a loaded question (knowing that you can’t cover EVERYTHING in your documentary), but: What in the heck do you mean by “green”? What’s the difference between being “green” and being “greener” and what’s it mean for the future? Everyone I talk to has a different definition and to be perfectly blunt, many aren’t green at all. Well-intended, yes perhaps, but not green. I’m curious as to the role, if any, that defining that word and the role it plays in our perceptions and bettering our community will have in your film.

    I’m also a landscape and urban designer in Flint and wonder about the role design and planning are going to play in the film. As you well know, each currently presents a significant road block in making Flint a “greener” city (and is directly tied to the definition of “green”). How do larger issues of walkability, sustainable urbanism, green infrastructure, etc. tie into the notion of a “greener” and healthier city?

  13. Meirav – Thanks for the heads-up. The links should work now on all three published clips.
    Note that a fourth installment will be published June 23.

  14. Hi,

    I have enjoyed watching two short clips, unfortunately the others are not working. Best of luck with the project and I hope it will get the visibility it needs. I am writing from Toronto where urban gardens including units that can be rented out are very popular. Let’s hope the idea of growing food and reconnecting with our surroundings as humans will continue to grow and even be helped by local and state governments. After all, urban agriculture makes a city more livable as it engages its citizens, increases the beauty of its surroundings and creates a ‘place that matters’.

    Way to go Flint!

  15. I graduated from the old Northern High School in 1964.My Mom also went to Emerson and my Dad attended both Emerson and Northern.
    My Grandparents lived near-by (Alexander Street? and?). Their name was Lehr and they were one of many neighborhood immigrants of Germans from Russia.
    They built a church modeled after the church in Messer,Russia (First Reformed Luthern)which had both English and German services.My parents were married there in 1941 before my Dad left for the war.
    Every Christmas Eve we would attend a special church program and then we would walk back to my Grandma’s house for a feast of homemade German sausage,coffeecakes,etc. They had their own little grocery store where the neighborhood people would buy their meat and talk;(AB’s.
    Flint has a very rich history that needs to be told…beyond the crime statistics.

  16. I love this project. I grew up in Flint(north side) and remember when it was great.I attended Emerson Junior High and Northern High School.My Grandfather was a carpenter who built our house on 3112 Keyes Street. We had enough raspberry bushes in the backyard for eating and jam.The next door neighbors (Matzko? had a huge garden every year.No one hassled people for growing food and fruit trees.
    As I recall in the fifties,”weed-free” lawns became a status symbol.
    Enter DDT. The war on dandelions was on.I still remember the awful smell.My Dad had a stainless steel spray canister filled with this poison. We never considered the health or environmental risks. We used to lay on the lawn and watch the stars and Fireflies, blissfully unaware of the risks and changes these chemicals would bring.We were excited about “new technology” that would make our lives easier.
    We believed in BIG (GM).

  17. Pingback: Greening of Flint: Mama E and the city are in a conflict | Great Lakes Echo

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