In Rush to Lay Blame, Media Ignores Positive Community Movement in Flint, Michigan

flint-marketBy Chris “Kikila” Perrin

Like any moment of catastrophe that flitters through the mainstream media, the Flint Water Crisis cannot be boiled down to a moment. With media focus on the disaster coming long after it began and waning before it comes to a conclusion, the long-term effects of what Flint citizens are experiencing is being forgotten and marginalized.

Moreover, while the mainstream media has focused its attention on the legal, recognition awarded to those who spoke out, and the “incompetent politicians” who allowed the situation to unfold, much is being missed by this top-down approach to information.

Exploring how the community and alternative systems came together to work towards a solution to the issues caused by lead poisoning offer an important look into how the people of Flint began to make far-reaching positive changes in their time of need.

Leading the community push-back against failures on multiple governmental levels, the Flint Farmers’ Market is working towards creating positive change through this time of struggle. Eating healthy foods have been shown to counteract the effects of ingested lead contamination. What this means is that by increasing the amounts of healthy, whole foods, the people of Flint can combat lead poisoning while positively impacting their overall health. These benefits have not been lost on the Flint Farmers’ Market.

Under the leadership of the Flint Farmers’ Market, and with the assistance of local NGOs and nonprofits like FlintNOW and national entities like the National Basketball Players Association and Fair Food Network, healthy food, food preparation, and food-system access and cost-reduction are being used to mitigate the ongoing lead issue. Although these might appear to be temporary measures, created to help in a time of need, the long-term impact cannot be understated.

It’s no secret that North Americans have been increasingly alienated from healthy foods and the food system in general, and while Flint’s lead contamination is in no way helpful, the community is manufacturing positives that come out of this complete failure of governance.

For one, the community is being brought together in new ways and is being made stronger from their shared adversity. By offering free cooking classes that show attendees how to work with nutritious, lead-fighting foods, the Farmers’ Market is building bridges that extend beyond the crisis, linking Flint citizens to new ways of interacting with their food and their bodies.

Other than the international attention, the partisan blame-game and posturing that leads nowhere, and the rising cost, the people of Flint are finding their own way to see themselves through this crisis. By activating the community, foods, and sharing knowledge, the crisis might just have a positive outcome that even Pierre-Joseph Proudhon would be proud of — relying on their own community-based and non-government structures while government continues to debate fault.

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This article (In Rush to Lay Blame, Media Ignores Positive Community Movement in Flint, Michigan) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris “Kikila” Perrin and If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to Image credit: Flickr/NatalieMaynor.

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