In February, Samantha, Adria and I traded in our Syracuse winter coats for Long Beach sunglasses. We touched down in Long Beach, California and geared up for a three-day workshop on designing human-centered solutions to complex social challenges, like economic opportunity.
As we neared my block, I started to worry. Yes, we had already seen blight in other Flint neighborhoods, however, I wasn’t fully prepared for seeing this on my old block, where there were over a dozen vacant houses and empty lots. My house was still there, and lived in, but the neighborhood had a completely different feeling than what I remembered. Seeing this filled me with a mix of thoughts and emotions. How would my life have turned out if we stayed here? What are the resident’s lives like now? Will my street ever be active and lively again?
Flint's infrastructure crisis has been well documented, and many of you are probably already familiar with their challenges. In April 2014, the City of Flint changed its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The new water source proved to be corrosive and, without proper treatment, caused lead from water service lines (the pipes that bring water from the larger water mains into homes) to leach into and contaminate the water.