This summer, we conducted a sequence of in-depth interviews and contextual surveys with Flint residents and a handful of professional stakeholders in the area whom have been involved in recovery efforts. Through this process, we had the opportunity to learn, both broadly and in very nuanced ways, about people’s experiences living and working in Flint, navigating the water crisis, and engaging (or decidedly not) in state and local politics.
I took the picture below at the Amtrak station in Flint, on my way back to Chicago, in September. The baby blue paper sign reads: PLEASE DO NOT DRINK FROM THIS FOUNTAIN! THANK YOU! And scribbled under it by a shrewd visitor: FLINT WATER = SICKNESS! (sic). One wonders how many of these signs are up at various stores, restaurants, factories, and schools in Flint and beyond, with drinking stations – and how many should be.
Our data collection efforts took us to a variety of community gathering spaces, including Flint Public Library, the downtown MTA Bus Station, Flint Farmers’ Market, and the YMCA, allowing us to do some meaningful face-to-face engagement in places that Flint residents frequent. (We even got creative, doing some visits at a Pro Clean laundromat on the city’s northside). Below is a picture I took in June of the Flint River, looking north, on the edge of the University of Michigan-Flint campus after I conducted a set of interviews with residents.