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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A “MARSHALL PLAN” FOR THE POOREST CITY IN AMERICA: Flint Native Gordon Young's Provocative Proposal

In 2013, I interviewed Flint native Gordon Young, for a feature I produced that aired on a public radio station. Young's new book,“Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City”, had just been released.

The book chronicled Young’s adventures as he traveled from his home in San Francisco back to where he grew up in Flint. His quest was to buy a home, but the book was more a story of Young trying to reconnect with the city he said made him who he is.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Politico, Next City, Utne Reader, and numerous other publications. 

Since 2007, Young has published Flint Expatriates, a blog for the long-lost residents of the Vehicle City. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.

Young recently published a follow-up to his book, profiling his friend P-Nut, whose home was destroyed in March by a fire.

“Long before Flint had a water crisis, it had an arson problem. And decades before Cher and Snoop Dogg arrived on the scene with their PR teams, or the journalists and presidential candidates showed up, my hometown was vanishing in ways both large and small. Shifting global economic trends aren’t big on taking union industrial strongholds along for the ride, and Flint was left behind to fend for itself. Obviously, it hasn’t fared well. Decades of double-digit unemployment, population loss, and artless budget cuts equal crime, abandonment, and burning buildings.”

Ironically, P-Nut's Civic Park home, shown at left in 2010, “was the childhood home of writer Ben Hamper, the autoworker and bestselling author of Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line, a searingly funny book on factory life in Flint.” 

Flint, Michigan tops the list in two unfortunate poverty departments. 

Numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show 45% of residents and 58% of children in Flint are living in poverty. These percentages not only place Flint as the poorest city in Michigan, but nationwide as well when comparing every American city with at least a 65,000 person population. 

Read Young's entire post, “How to Fix Flint”, at this link.

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