The last time anyone in the world connected with the City of Flint (Michigan) was probably in one of Michale Moore’s many movies, dealing with the implosion of “Vehicle City” operations of General Motors to the impact of gun control and healthcare. The documentarian turned political activist is perhaps one of the city’s best known sons, but offers only one lens through which you can really get a new vibe of this old, rust belt city.
For years I had been coming to Flint every weekend once a year for the CRIM Foundation annual festival of races. Regardless of the weather, this is the city’s finest day each year when nearly 50,000 athletes and spectators, merchants and families, come from around the world to take part in a week-long fitness program culminating with the Annual CRIM 10-Mile run. Race day festivities also include an 8k and 5k run and walk, and the 10-miler serves as the USTAF championship wheelchair athlete competition. Set “on the bricks” in downtown along Saginaw street, my family shares many memories of good food, friends and even beating their dad in the 5k run.
My other impression has been in the area of academics, having lectured at UM and now at Northwood University which both maintain campus and classroom facilities in the area. In fact, along with Kettering University, some ten institutions of higher learning call Flint home. That is more than the cities of Grand Rapids and Detroit – combined (according to my brief Google survey).
This past weekend I discovered another rare gem, the Flint Farmer’s Market. Started in the early 20th century, the Farmer’s Market has seen nearly a century of war, civil strife, and families of all walks of life come and purchase fresh cut flowers, meats, produce, and prepared foods. Things the new Millennial Generation consider “sustainable” and “organic” and “locally grown” the Farmer’s Market has been providing for nearly 100 years. These food stuffs find their way to the dinner tables and kitchens of not only the local families and restaurants in the city but throughout Southeast Michigan due to its reputation and consistency (the market is open three days a week, year-round, with a mall-esque walk pattern for inside use and complimentary parking and wireless internet).
I for one was grateful for the opportunity to discover more happening in Flint, and expect that, with a look to the future steeped in timeless traditions of the past, this City has new bright days yet ahead.