My Flint…

So recently a video was posted online at http://www.thisaintflint.ca that was produced to show how swell Ottawa, Canada is. Now, while I am always for showing how great the place where you live and work is, but this campaign uses Flint (circa 1989) as a counterpoint to how great Ottawa is, which I tend to take issue with. The video is biased and ill-conceived and uses fuzzy numbers and facts to support something that really doesn’t add up. Truly, this is a video you have to see you appreciate.

I live in Flint.

I love Flint.

I have been putting on indie art shows with friends here for three years and have lived here for nearly four. This is my home. And this is my response to their video.

With such a statement to accompany ‘your’ inflammatory video, I can’t say I disagree – this ain’t Flint. If this WERE a video representative of Flint you’d have seen the growth in business, the growth of the University of Michigan – Flint’s campus, and the overall sense that a very long shadow may finally be moving away from Flint. Ah, but then this video campaign was launched. How brave and bold a statement when a place the size of Ottawa takes aim at Flint (circa 1989) to prove that their city is doing well. Seeing that Ottawa has an NHL team, and is a capital city, I would certainly HOPE that it’s doing well. Whereas Flint is a small city, a modest city, and one that seems to draw undue scorn and criticism. What strikes me as absent from your video, is the truth. Say, that two Hollywood films have used Flint as not just settings, but as shooting locations. Now, if the city were as dead and decrepit as your video claims, I can’t see why Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and Christina Ricci would risk their lives shooting films here. What is also interesting is that in the footage from your commercial you show two multi-million downtown building projects during their construction, and show them as if they are proof of past city failures. I would have at least hoped your video would have had a disclaimer that all information contained within was meant as a joke, or at least an exaggeration. We in Flint see it as neither. We see it as slander, pure and simple. How dare you pick on a city that has never been seen without the glasses of the past, where the only thing people think exists here comes from a movie that is twenty years old and, while engaging, was not exactly representative of the truth. I chose to live in downtown Flint nearly four years ago because I love this place. My father was born, educated, and worked here. My mother owned a salon here. I met some of my greatest friends and loves here. I have worked in city schools in an afterschool program with kids who many give up on and loved all of it. And I am an arts activist here helping to revitalize a city many seem to believe dead. I am here to assure you that it is far from dead. The economy has not helped it, to be sure, but the resiliency of the people is far greater than that but when such sad, narrow-minded, and wrong-headed things as your video are released and only makes it harder to retain our youth here, and to bring new people here to live. The VERY least Flint deserves is an apology, but what we truly deserve is respect and understanding. If Ottawa is doing as well as is claimed, so well that its national news can be ignored (what sort of logic is that, by the way?) then why prove it by diminishing a city that isn’t nearly the same size, scope, or importance as a capital city. No, your video ‘ain’t’ Flint, it’s easy enough to see for me, and those of us who know the city, because Flint is a city of hope, strength, beauty, history, art, love, and a future, and we don’t need a video, or rhetoric to prove it. We know it.

Chris Ringler writer/artist/resident of Flint

Post Script –

I received a reply to my email, and it was basically – we got your email, we understand the concern of you and others, here, read our press release. The press release amounts to more rhetoric about how they are not responsible for how people in Flint view Roger and Me, the film they get their facts regarding Flint from. The release is a bucket of crap that claims to care about Flint and that they didn’t intend to offend us, and hey, they even added a disclaimer page about how rad Flint is now. Yet the campaign remains. Something doesn’t add up.

I wrote back, much more agitated, and that is that. In other news, Flint is alive and well, and its demise, though mused over, has yet to be seen.

Something I am grateful for

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2 thoughts on “My Flint…

  1. Well said, Chris. Flint has such a storied history, and so much potential to get things back to the way they were before GM bailed. sometimes it takes things awhile to turn around, but it is happeneing, as anyone who visits the downtown area these days will see. I grew up in Flint. I was born there in 1971, lived near the downtown area until I was 13, when I moved to the south side. I’ve actually lived all over Flint throughout different periods of my life; therefore, I have many fond memories there. Like many urban areas, Flint has been hit hard by the collapsing economy, but it definately has more potential than many other American cities, and it’s time people start recognizing this.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, as someone who lives in Ottawa this is the dumbest ad campaign we’ve ever seen. And this company has produced a few doozies. I’m pretty sure whichever ad company is promoting this inane drivel is staffed by a bunch of art-types who believe they are significantly more intelligent than they probably are. Ignore them, just like the people of Ottawa are.

    Anyway, I’ve spent less time visiting Flint then I probably should, and I now resolve to stop and appreciate the city next time I’m heading through Michigan.

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