Con Game


It was on the second day of the Motorcity Comic Con that I realized that that show marked twenty years of doing conventions and indeed twenty years of doing the MCC.

Crazy, I know!

A lot has changed in those twenty years in that con, cons in general, and in me. SO this is sort of my further adventures and most recent thoughts. I am not going to dissect this show because it’s a well put together show and any issues I have are either minor or just come with doing these bigger All Encompassing shows and over the twenty years I have done their shows they have been consistently good with the rare hiccup. I mean, you can’t get upset if you don’t think people are coming by your table if 30K people came to the show. I mean, you can only do so much. But, having helped to put on a show for three years and having done shows for twenty, I do have my opinions on some things.

Every Show Is Different

For me, I have done comic shows, art shows, horror shows, and random shows in between and if there is one thing that is certain it’s that every show is different. Each one is run by different folks, for different reasons, and with different goals and it serves you well to know what the show is about before you do it. Know what to expect lets you plan accordingly, stock accordingly, and to have your expectations in check. The two biggest shows I have ever had was this past comic convention and the close runner up being a weekend long art festival. If you were to ask me I would say I would have done better at the horror shows but so far, that hasn’t been the case. Usually a lot of comic con folks don’t care much for books but I think the one I just did has reached so many people that more open minded folks are turning up, which is pretty great. It’s best to know what you’re getting into though so checking what the other vendors have, who the guests are, and how the show is being promoted will really help you get a feel for what to expect. There are always surprises but some surprises you can control.

Friendliness Counts

Speaking as someone who does, has done, and has gone to cons no one likes a pushy merch bully. No one. Sure, you may be able to bully someone into buying your gear but do they really want it? And do you need the sale so badly that you want to become a carny barker? Really? I may not always sell when folks come check my stuff out but at least I know I didn’t pressure them and accepted that sometimes you just don’t have what someone is looking for and that’s how it works out sometimes. I’d rather someone leave curious about me and my books and with my name on their lips and the knowledge that I was polite and friendly than to badger someone and give them a poor impression of my work and myself. I have seen that time and again and it drives me batty. I have worked shows and have been stuck next to the loud mouthed barkers and it drove me up the wall. Sure, they got sales, but mostly it was to people familiar with their work…and people who just don’t have the ability to say ‘no’. Again, I’d rather not bully for sales. Just how I am. It’s disappointing to get someone that’s interested but won’t pull the trigger but welcome to the fun of putting your work out there for the world. Welcome to retail.

I Hate Convention Economics

This is just a personal aside and not meant to reflect any one con or all cons, just something I see and dislike. I am tired of conventions that load their shows with SO many guests that it increases their costs SO much that all other costs go up dramatically. I love going to shows with a lot of guests, I do, but not when it costs me money to park, a load of loot to get in, then a lot of money for autographs. It’s crazy. There is only SO much money to go around. As a vendor you have to factor in the cost to DO the show into what you have to make and then it makes the show that much more stressful. If you don’t make your initial investment back then you feel like you didn’t work hard enough.

I get that costs rise. Believe me, with the small-ish show we put on here in Flint I get how much things cost, can cost, and will cost, but there are ways to push back against that and dumping the expenses on fans and vendors just seems like a lousy way to do it.

The economics of a con, to me, is pretty simple –

It has to be inexpensive enough for you to be able to put it on, pay your bills, and have money for the next year.

It has to be affordable enough to DO the show that vendors can make their money back and hopefully a profit. Look, if you don’t set the table for vendors to at least have a chance to re-coup their money then they won’t come back and will not speak well of your show and that can be death to what you are doing.

Fans have to feel as if they can afford to not just come to the show but can get some things as well. The show is about them. They want to spend money. Let them. If the guests and vendors do well, even if you don’t do AS well, then it means you can do another show. Sure, you need to make enough to keep doing shows but if you make it so no one does well but you then no one will come back.

One thing you can never forget if you do shows – it isn’t about you. Ever.



I hate that autograph fees go up and down from show to show based on the show.

I hate that we are on the verge of pricing cons into oblivion. ESPECIALLY since so many celebs doing shows act as if doing a con is beneath them. Trust me – I am sure it pays more to do terrible film that embarrasses you but is it really that shameful to spend a couple days meeting fans of your work?

THOUGH…in saying that I will also say that the cattle call shows don’t really do much for actors past their prime. It really is sad when you see well like character or background actors at huge shows and NO ONE is going to see them, speak to them, or even acknowledge them. I cannot imagine how embarrassing that must be for them. Sure, they are being paid to be there but dang, no one likes to be ignored and when you are among a lot of your peers and you are ignored it has to hurt even worse. Me – I’d lower my prices and up my fun. Have fun, make sure the fans have fun, and if you are affordable enough – like ten bucks an autograph – then even the casual person is willing to pop for that signature and photo op. (Though as I write that I have to wonder if the reps decide on the prices for shows and keep them to that, hmm…)

Nothing makes a con more memorable than a celebrity that you really like and admire opening themselves up to you, having fun, and being kind. And nothing ruins a show faster than a rude, bored, or indifferent guest. It’s one of those things that can make or break an experience. I don’t get why guests would do a show they don’t want to do or will have no fun in doing but people don’t always make sense.

Don’t Forget!

Bring change. Small bills. Lots of it. And keep it safe.

And bring signage. Clean, clear, and easy to read.

And bring personality. You don’t want TOO much going on at your table but you want enough to show your personality and your work’s personality. This is your store so treat it that way.

Have fun! If you aren’t having fun then why do it? And if you look miserable then no one will buy from you, just a fact.

Look at people. You’re there to work, so work.

Make friends! The people around you are usually pretty good folks that are in a similar boat as you. You are with each other for the duration of the show – get to know them.

Be clean. For the love of Pete, clean up after yourself. Seriously.  

Look Out For Each Other

I never noticed, consciously noticed, how many straight up creepers are at cons until the last few years and it’s chilling. I think it’s fair to say that anyone – man or woman – who dresses in a revealing fashion is OK with being seen in that state. I think that’s fair to say. For SOME reason people at cons – again, men and women – take that when someone dresses in a costume, or is scantily clad, that they must really, truly want to be touched, fondled, and peeped at by strangers. Not quite sure where that thought comes from other than a broken view of people and a twisted way of looking at the world. I feel for the people that just went to a show to have fun, to dress up in an outfit, and to let their freak flags fly among peers only to have people make lewd comments, try to get grabby, or snap creepy pictures when they aren’t looking. Heck, I am still dumbfounded by the crazy things people just say to you at shows. Me, I just get the random insults to my art – which are infrequent, thankfully – so I cannot fathom what it’s like to be told you look like someone’s favorite porn star – which a vendor I know told me she has been told by a fellow vendor time and again.

What. The. Crap?

Aren’t we all supposed to be safe together?

Not really.

At our first show we had a vendor who approached someone with the con in an elevator and propositioned them. This vendor was at the show with their wife. People are nuts. Absolutely nuts. The person who was propositioned came to me, told me, and I contacted the vendor to clear things up and they apologized…and disappeared. Never to be heard from again. But still…

We’re nuts, right?

It’s as if folks want to live down to the stereotype people hold of them.

But we gotta look out for one another and make sure we’re all safe. If we can’t take care of our ‘own’ then what the heck good are we?

Give A Damn

One last thing that I admire when it happens and hate when it doesn’t is when the con promoters, creators, and show runners are actively involved in the show. When they care about it and the folks who are part of it. Most focus their attention on the guests, and I get that because that’s where the money is and those are the ‘stars’. Some will even take into account the fans who are coming to support the show and will do their best to make sure they are happy. This year the MCC did just that and addressed what had been a huge issue in 2013 and made it much, much, much less of an issue. That shows they care. Very few shows indeed get so involved that they check on the vendors. Usually it’s a Green Room that may or may not have much to offer and that’s about it. To me if you wanna have not just a successful show but a great show you have to spin all three plates and keep all three factions happy.

Guests came here because they trusted you’d take care of them so you need to take care of them. It shouldn’t take a contractual obligation to do that.

Fans should always be in your mind when you build and populate your show. These are the folks that will drive you crazy with what they THINK you should do but who you need to take into consideration as far as what you really NEED to do. If the fans don’t like your show then why are you doing it in the first place?

Finally, and not lastly, come the vendors. Again, if they love your show they will tell everyone they meet and thus promote it more than you ever could. If they hate it they’ll make sure the circuit knows it. Treat them well, feed them well, and give a darn when they give you feedback. They are the spine of your show.

                I cannot believe it’s been twenty years. I can’t. It’s crazy. I started doing shows with the ‘zine my friends and I did and I have done shows since. They are fun, frustrating, scary, and some of the best experiences I have ever had. I have made so many friends over the years and have seen some crazy, hilarious, and strange things. It’s funny because I have done shows long enough that I don’t take as much pleasure in just GOING to shows anymore. It isn’t nearly as much fun. I have had some crummy experiences at shows but many were because of my expectations, though some were due to the show runners. What matters was that, for me, I have kept at it. You learn a lot about yourself, your product, and how to sell and promote your product by doing shows and that sort of experience is more valuable than words can hope to capture.

My next scheduled show is in August. Wish me luck!


The Collection


index cemetery-earth-chris-ringler-paperback-cover-art   kreep covermeep sheep cover

When I began writing as a teenager I didn’t really have an end-goal, didn’t have an agenda, and didn’t see anything but the words as they spun out before me. The older I got the more ambitious I got and the wider my view became. The words and stories still seem like magic, like a spell woven by someone else, something else, and I am but a conduit for it. I love telling stories and love writing. I love dark stories because they dip into worlds of imagination where a simple shadow can hold untold things and hidden worlds. I feel like I can tell the same sorts of stories that the ‘literary fiction’ wants to tell but can add an element to heighten things, and to emphasize things. And really, I just like to wander into the shadows from time to time.

These books, different as they all are, have one thing in common and that is hope in the darkness. Light in the abyss. Not every story can have a happy ending but there’s something pure and revelatory even in the bleakest of tales.

Why do I write? Because I love to tell stories and occasionally it’s fun to creep people out…or maybe make them smile.

These books are my worlds and I promise to take you places and show you things you have never seen before. These books are doorways and you hold the keys.

Enter if you dare.

Of Art And Public


There is a certain sort of madness that you need to suffer from (and give in to) to pursue art. You have to be willing to open yourself up, artistically and emotionally, to the world’s derision, judgment, and to the expertise of everyone who is a sudden expert on whatever it is you were trying to convey. There are definitely success stories in the arts but more often than not there are burned out remains and locked away books and pictures and songs that no one will ever see. And none of this is to say that the artist is some transcendent genius sent to lead the people to enlightenment.

Not at all.

Artists can be vain, selfish, delusional, and a half dozen other things that aren’t pretty to be but you do have to be a little mad to create something for the world (wide or small) and to hope that more people appreciate it than don’t. In that madness though, charming as it can be, is that pesky delusion, and that’s where we little artsy folk can get into trouble.

The notion of public art is awesome. Coming at it as layman, public art is a great thing. It brings beauty, a sense of place, and a sense of community to an area and gives people to admire and talk about. Now, you don’t often get controversial pieces as public art, as far as subject matter goes, and you really shouldn’t because by putting your art in the public you are taking on their trust that you won’t shove their nose into things that need a dialogue and not a lecture. No one likes to be told what to think or feel and by creating a public piece that is made for the purpose of controversy betrays the public trust and immediately closes off dialogue. Which isn’t to say that every piece of public art needs to be obvious and generic but that to make a piece for the public, to be displayed in a public place, is to be trusted that you won’t abuse your gift and the honor you’re being given. You have the opportunity to inspire thought, idea, discussion, and in some rare instances another artist. So don’t be a jerk!

As wonderful as public art is, there’s a notion that art can be more impactful and immediate if that public art is temporary. Now, again, I come at this as a layman and a very raw and questionably talented writer and artist, so I have no expertise on the socio-art ideas and such so hang in there with me for a moment. This sort of art can be very interesting. Look at some of the talented street art out there (a whole other dangerous topic for another person and another day), the art displays as simple as painted elephants and frogs and cars on street corners and as grand as a display in Central Park. In a weird way our holidays do the same thing – we decorate in lavish and exciting ways to celebrate an event over a generally short period of time. So temporary public art is a pretty fun thing and can definitely get people talking. There is something about that immediacy of knowing it isn’t there to stay that intensifies the experience and that can create a special experience. Heck, personally I think that if you could take a certain bunch of raw materials/’parts’ and artists and then make and re-make art from it so it’s an ever evolving piece that’d be fascinating as to the process of art and how art changes with the creator. But there is a definite beauty to temporary art. Simply looking at the Buddhist sand art you can see what amazing beauty can be created but too that all things are temporary in this life but that a feeling, an inspiration can live on.

Public art, done well, can be amazing. Alas, public art done poorly harms not only the artwork, the vision, and the artist but the community. Poorly planned and executed art and art that does not take the public trust into account serves nothing but to frustrate everyone involved. If you are going to undertake a public art project first and foremost you need, and I stress need, to take into account the public trust. You are putting art into a public place (even if it is on private property if it’s in a community and out in the open it’s still public art, ergo part of the public trust) then you have to take into account that people will see this all the time and have to live with it for the entirety of its stay. Depending on its placement this is something the public will have become a part of their lives, if even just temporarily, and that needs to be respected. So, the artist/s need to appreciate that when they create this art. You cannot push the public trust and take advantage of it and expect people to see the art through that frustration. Then you have to have an actionable plan to create, maintain, and then remove that art. You cannot place it and walk away unless it is made of such things that it can safely erode and not harm anything. You can’t just put the art up and leave though. The process isn’t that simple, nor is the public trust that forgiving. And here’s the rub, the more that’s spent on the art, reasonably, irrationally, or extravagantly, the more people will focus on the flaws of the art. Fair? Not always, but it’s reasonable because as soon as you put the word ‘public’ into the art it becomes something that a lot of people feel an entitlement towards and ownership of, and again, that doesn’t make it fair but it makes it so just the same.

I certainly don’t envy anyone who takes on a public art project because it’s an often thankless and hard task. To some you will appear (and with some groups fairly so) to be telling an area how they should see art, create art, and feel art so you need, need, NEED to take that into consideration. You cannot walk into an area which will have an established arts culture and scene and tell them they are wrong and that you can do what they do better. You need to go in with open arms and open mind and ask what the community needs, what the community wants, and see where you can all meet in your thinking. With funding comes responsibility and with public space comes trust and you cannot betray that trust. You can’t.

The arts have it bad enough. With funding cuts, and schools moving away from the arts, and as a culture we don’t appreciate the more classical forms of arts as we used to and so artists have a rough road to get positive notice and to create impactful pieces. It’s not enough to be controversial because controversy with no meaning, no reason, no dialogue is simply a sort of violence against the public and any who question it or don’t understand. But art doesn’t have to be safe, or gentle, or kind. It has to be passionate, and it has to be real in some way and if it’s public it has to stay true to the public and their trust or you’re just wasting time, money, and effort. And the arts  have very little of all of those things.

I look at it this way – don’t create something you can’t stand behind, beside, upon and feel good about (even ‘ugly’ art about horrible things has beauty and truth if done well) and don’t create something you cannot take ownership of maintain, destroy, or let go of if that becomes necessary.

If you build a shiny castle, make sure the people are allowed inside or it’s just a tinfoil tenement with no purpose, use, or reason to exist. 

An Interview With This Guy


I recently did a pretty neat interview with the folks from the Creative Alliance here in Flint. The audio is a bit echoey due to some limitations in where they had to film but it turned out a lot better than I had thought. AND there’s a nice interview with a local performer as well.
So, if you wanted to hear me ramble about my writing and the newer books and such give it a look. I am the first interview, about ten minutes in.

Support System


In the excitement of creation it’s really easy to forget that essentially you’re on your own with that excitement. Unless you are in a band or worked on a collaborative piece it’s pretty much you on your own that did the work, put in the time, and will usually take the risks and reap the benefits. It isn’t that friends, family, and loved ones don’t care and don’t support what you are doing but everyone has their own things going on, their own projects, and their own lives and in the world of social networking EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT! We have reached a point where we all  have the means and ability to tell everyone everything at all times and suddenly everything is desperately important. And you know what, it is, but it isn’t always important to everyone. I know I have been inundated with so many event and rock show and craft show and jewelry party invites that I don’t even pay attention anymore. Too many people invite everyone they know to everything they do and it’s numbed us to things we may actually want to know about. We’re over saturated with information. And even we creators forget that, well, it’s pretty awesome that we did something but someone else feels exactly the same way about their child’s birthday, or an anniversary, or just the fact that they are going to the movies. Often it feels as if we’re all just trying to shout over one another to get heard. And it isn’t that we don’t care about what everyone else is doing but that we just want other people, people we care about and have in our lives, to get as excited about things as we do.

I know for me that I think there’s a bit of a disconnect with how excited people get about my books. Not because they don’t care but because I have put eight books out in a small matter of years. I did this because It took ten years just to get a second book out and now that I can get them out without anyone else having control over that. For me, a writer, that’s HUGE! And I get that to some it just isn’t that exciting anymore. A book a year (and a couple times two books in one year) and the excitement wears off, at least for them. It is old hat. For me though, each one represents something special, something precious. Part of the problem is that, for me, I know books are not my Future. They just are not. I don’t have the time or money to invest in them and their support – something that really does drive me crazy – so it may seem like a ‘hobby’ to some. Something I don’t take seriously. I take my writing seriously but it’s something I have been doing for so long that the lack of any momentum has really made it hard to want to throw parades all the time for my accomplishments. And I also realize that, as much as my friends and family love and support ME the writing isn’t always their cup of tea. And like I said, we all have stuff going on.

We do this for ourselves. Sort of. I write because I love telling stories. I paint because I like to paint. We all do the things we do because they calm us, let us express ourselves, and let us find joy and peace in the day to day madness of life. We do it for ourselves but…that’s not always enough. There is a point in the growth of your art, whatever it is, where you need to share it. For me, to keep focusing as much time on it as I have and want to I need to be able to show myself – OK, there’s a market for all of this weirdness, awesome, keep it up – otherwise I can just write when I have the time and post it on here. If people see it they see it, if not, whatevs. I have been writing long enough that I want people to see the stuff, need them to see it but I also need the validity of people WANTING to read it. Otherwise it’s vanity. I will blog it up like no one’s business out of vanity but to keep putting books out that no one is reading is too far even for me.

We do it for ourselves. We do it because sometimes we need to escape and sometimes we need to celebrate life’s beauty but it isn’t always about us because without sharing what we do it doesn’t mean as much. Art is meant to be shared. It’s the sharing that makes it special. And just like art, our lives are meant to be shared. Our support systems are not always going to understand the things that make us who we are and that make our hearts sing and we won’t always know the same about them. And it is disappointing that not everyone gets as excited about our triumphs as we may but it’s that these people are there at the very worst of times and not just the very best of times that makes them so crucial to our lives. These are the people that keep us grounded and remind us that art isn’t the only thing that matters and even when we’re all yelling at one another on social media it’s that we all care about one another enough to stick around to see past the bad, past the good, and to remain there that means something and sometimes the hardest art of all is mastering the art of being there when someone needs you most.




   Despite what bloggers may think blogs change very little. At best they make you think, or make you laugh, or show you something you didn’t know was out there. But it’s in those moments that the spark of an inferno lays.  

Flint is a city notorious for its issues and it gets frustrating to see people focus on them and not the world being done by the people here to better the city. For someone like me, that lives here and has lived here for some time it gets upsetting to see that the work people do and want to do gets pushed aside by some glory hounds and wanna-bes that have the connections and gloss to get the press, the funding, and the attention that these others don’t. I am tired of seeing people granted money to do art shows for people who are not held out of traditional art shows and events. I am tired of seeing money funneled into groups that want to bring in and compensate outside artists before and above the local arts community we have here. I am tired of the same people doing the same shows over and over and over. For too long the arts establishment has stayed safe and not fostered the arts scene as they should and then you hear people decry the ‘brain drain’ when all of our young people leave the area. With little work being done to create jobs in the area and less being done to support the young and struggling artists it’s no wonder these people feel the need to leave.

I do art from time to time but I am no artist. I don’t focus on it enough and am terribly sketchy in my talent but that I was invited to do shows out of the city and was able to show my work in Detroit to any degree meant the world to me. Heck, selling art to strangers was amazing for my confidence and is the sort of reinforcement artists need. They don’t need people criticizing them for their style and for their lack of experience they need support and opportunity. It says something that there is a grant funded super arts group that focuses on press friendly art shows that tackle such great issues as POVERTY, HUNGER, um…STUFF with an emphasis on out of town artists when so many locals have felt the need to create their own collectives to encourage, support, and create together. My first foray into Flint’s arts scene was in such a group and that group has definitely influenced the arts in the city but they never were able to make real in-roads to changing the culture.

And the arts culture in Flint HAS to change.

Flint is a city struggling for a new identity and we have the things to create one – multiple colleges, lots of college students, a brilliantly conceived cultural center, a successful monthly Art Walk and young and established artists that are desperate to show their work. This is your identity. This is your key to retain young people and draw older folks into town for shows, for the city to capitalize on the assets that are here. There is a criminally under utilized waterfront performance space. There is an openness in the local businesses to work with artists. And by building off of the Art Walk there is an established and regular event that can used as a base to draw more people here for arts events. But there needs to be a change.

There needs to be more support for the smaller art shows, for the more unique events, and more work needs to be done to spread the funding around. Let organizations that have established themselves stand on their own and find their own funds and stop granting them the same money over and over because it’s safe and looks good. Stop rewarding mediocrity and hold grantees responsible for the money they take as well as the trust they lean so heavily on.

There is a divide in Flint that is growing by the day. A divide that is more than just money – though that is clearly a mammoth in the room – and it is between the people on the inside and those on the outside. Those on the inside keep getting the funding, the press, and the lights and those struggling to just survive and find their voices must beg, borrow, and all but steal show space and then have to decide if it’s worth remaining here if they have to fight so hard just to keep doing something that for them feels like the most natural thing in the world.

The arts cannot save a city but it can revitalize, reinvigorate, and renew a city’s people and can serve as part of a foundation that a future can be built upon. Look to Grand Rapids, Michigan if you doubt me. Art will not save Flint but it can give the city an opportunity to retain the very young people that it will rely on to repair the damage that has been done to the city over the past decades.


Because Giving Up Is What We Do


Living in Flint, Michigan isn’t easy.


Yeah, I know, run through your Open Mic Thursday stand-up routine for me about how crummy the city I love is and I’ll move on when you’re done.



The thing about this area is that yeah, there’s a lot of things that are going on here that are bad, not ‘not good’ but bad. I am not going to belabor that point because the local and national media has a pretty good grasp on things here, at least the crime and all the bad things going on. It’s a drag. The thing is though that in pointing out all the bad things here the good is overlooked. Hope and all that stuff doesn’t make for engaging news, I get it, and I am not going to act as if the story of someone murdered or robbed is less important than the story of a festival or a new business. The math doesn’t work out, nor should it.

Tragedy, bummer though it is, is universal. Joy isn’t. I wish that wasn’t the case but it is. We all feel pain, we all know tragedy. Not everyone knows joy. And in a city that has a lot of struggle to overcome it doesn’t really seem reasonable to expect everyone to jump for joy at the small successes and the little victories.


It’s so easy, so very easy to burn the world down.

All it takes is a match and something flammable.

It’s building things, things like hope that create a foundation for people and for the future, that are hard to do. Hard to make.

There is no glory or honor or true joy to be found in tearing things down yet we are a city that thrives on negativity. And again, some negativity is natural and reasonable but there’s a point where you start hurting yourself for attention and a point past that where you hurt yourself because it’s the only thing you know and that’s where we are. We just don’t know HOW to be hopeful anymore. So many have been waiting so long for the clouds to part that you begin to wonder if there was ever a sun at all. Ah, but the thing is that sometimes you have to make your own light. And you know what else fire is good for – creating light.

The same passion people put into their negativity can be put into doing things. And sure, an art show, a craft show, a concert, a bicycle tour, a car show, none of those things alone makes the city a better place but together they start to change perceptions. They start to change minds. Every little act, builds to bigger acts. Every small event opens the door for more events and bigger events. Events and ‘happenings’ lead to more people coming into Flint, spending money in the city and spending time here. The more good and fun things going on the better chance that all the young people that go to school here will spend time here doing more than just GOING TO SCHOOL. And the more people coming here, being here, spending time and money here the more attractive it is for businesses to come here to take advantage of all those people.

Simplistic reasoning?

Sure it is, but it’s HOPEFUL reasoning and there is reason TO it.

I’d rather be hopeful about Flint than to spout nonsense like it should be bulldozed and burned and ignored. It is just so easy though to give up because then you can’t get hurt, you can’t get disappointed, and you look like a genius when things go or stay bad.

Only, you shouldn’t root for the fall of a city and its people.

You shouldn’t root for destruction.

It’s petty. And small. And mindless. And childish. And it’s so black hearted that it makes you wonder what it is that gives those people any joy at all, because if watching people flounder and watching a city die is your kick then you’ve got way more trouble than Flint.

We’re at a point in Flint where we can burn the city down or light it up and I choose to light it up. I choose to believe that the small things, the small events, the small businesses, and the little bits of kindness and civility we offer one another can make a different and can change the tide. There are a million reasons why things got bad in Flint – jobs left, poverty grew, education fell, people moved away, drugs and violence grew, and apathy and frustration skyrocketed. Those are just SOME of the reasons things got bad but you know how they can get better – Hope. And yeah, it takes more than wishing on a four leaf clover to change the fate of a struggling city but it’s like kicking an addiction – if you don’t take that first step, no matter how small, you can never learn to kick.  You can never learn to run.

And who knows what will happen in the end? I know where I stand though and isn’t with a can of gasoline in one hand and a match in the other. No, I stand here blowing on the embers of the spark that makes Flint so special, hoping that eventually those of us who believe and work to make this a city to be proud of will be here to see the Phoenix rise from the smoldering ashes.