Greening of Flint: Mama E and the Mayor

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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.

The Greening of Flint main page is where to 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. It also contains links to each of the published segments and tells which ones are coming up.

This week:

Central to the urban agriculture efforts and the move toward sustainable economic development in Flint is the debate on “shrinking the city” because of the large inventory of vacant, overgrown lots and abandoned homes. Estelle Holley or Mama E lives in one of Flint’s dead zones or no-service sections of the city. In this clip, she and Mayor Dayne Walling are on the same side of the debate.

Related stories:
Urban pioneers turn vacant lots verdant in Detroit
Inmates harvest food, savings, education and jobs from jail gardens
Growing Power sprouts in Wisconsin
Farm to Spork: Kids see fruits of partnering schools with farms
Shifting carbon from roads to roofs

3 thoughts on “Greening of Flint: Mama E and the Mayor

  1. Does the University have so much money it can afford to play with this? Greening!?! Greening what, to allow the gang bangers and dopers a more comfy place for business and killing? Come on, nice frippery, from the halls of wisdom, but greening is hardly the answer to Flint’s recovery. I think I must be missing some thing here in the whole mindset that this has any place in the discussion of helping Flint. What a non-issue when the rest of the town is being abandoned, burned and trashed. I know of more than one person who have just literally walked away from their homes and they were paid for, not behind on payments. But there is no reason to stay and every reason to get out. Greening. Nice, thoughtful, dreamy, but not practical or realistic.

  2. What it comes down to is the old saying “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”
    Consider it this way: if you live in a 6-bedroom house, with a big family, and all the kids grow up and move out, then you’ve got too much house. You either sell the house, and get one that fits your new needs, or you do like my my mother-in-law: close off the upstairs so that you don’t waste energy to heat and cool the unneeeded space.

    A similar situation holds true for post-industrial cities like Flint (and even more so, Detroit). They’ve got an urban infrastructre that was built for a much, much larger population, one that’s unlikely to return. So what do you do with limited resources? You consolidate, and focus on places that have more population density. It sounds harsh, and for people in the Dead Zone of Flint, it is harsh. But what’s the alternative? If you’re one resident, in a blighted neighborhood with blocks and blocks of vacant houses, then you are disproportionately using more than your share of resources such as police and fire coverage, sewer, utilities and street maintenance. To extend those services to a handful residents ends up costing the city far too much per capita. In a democracy, you’ve got to do what’s best for the majority, and until you do, everyone will suffer more because of it. And that’s an even larger injustice.

  3. I’m left with the impression that they just don’t get it…Mama E more than Walling in this case… It’s hard to quantify that statement, and frame in a context that’s helpful to the development of your documentary… Perhaps the best way to put it is neither of them, nor most of anyone else in this discussion, is one the same page (let alone the same side of the debate)and nothing is being done to change that–though I think things like this documentary are a part of improving everyone’s knowledge and education on the matter.

    Again, the notion of what ‘green’ is raises its head. She says “the city wants to make it a greener Flint.” I’m curious as to how she would support and back up that statement. What makes her say that? I’d like to see how she’s connecting her statements, understanding and experience to the mayor and his statements, understanding and experience. Who’s accountable for the ignorance?

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