The Flint Water Crisis

 

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This has been a momentous month for all of the wrong reasons…

For almost two years, a growing chorus of parents, children, scientists, and everyday people in my city have been complaining that our water was dirty, unclean, unsafe, and undrinkable.  It was foisted upon us by an unelected manager, then we had to endure month after month of local, state, and federal agencies vouchsafing its safety, only to have, last October, incontrovertible proof that it was poisoning dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of Flintstones with lead, which causes severe and irreversible brain damage.  In December, our new mayor declared a State of Emergency, the county, state, and federal government filed suit, and in January we are starting to look toward solutions.  This manmade disaster has come to be known as the Flint water crisis, and is already being described by some as an “environmental justice disaster.”

I was invited to contribute an essay on the crisis to Vox.com, dealing with the experience of my friends and family, and my interpretation of some of the root social causes.  If you wish you may read it here.

However, my chief reason for posting this is to ask for your help.  The crisis is deep and long and will be playing out over decades to come.  My city and its people are in need of your help.  Even if you just have a little time and money to give, you can help make a cumulative big difference. Here are two suggestions:

Please consider making a donation to http://flintkids.org administered by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. At this moment (at least) Flint has plenty of bottles and filters. Negotiations are ongoing about funding infrastructure repairs. But there are a lot of sick kids who are going to need medical attention for the rest of their lives, and that will be true no matter what they do and no matter where they live. Even if you can only give a few dollars, please do so. The CFGF is a worthy recipient.

If you live in the Flint area or are traveling to Flint to donate water, please send water donations to St. Mary’s Church in Flint on the Eastside (2500 N. Franklin) at (810) 232-4012. As reported by ABC12, up to 1000 undocumented residents living in Flint have been informed late about the water crisis and have been reluctant to go to official distribution centers. St. Mary’s is seen within that community as a safe space, whereas most other Flintstones have a number of other options. If you are considering donating water, please make sure it winds up at St. Mary’s.

About

Connor Coyne is a novelist living and working in Flint, Michigan. His first novel, Hungry Rats has been hailed by Heartland prize-winner Jeffery Renard Allen as "an emotional and aesthetic tour de force." His second novel, Shattering Glass, has been praised by Gordon Young, author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City as "a hypnotic tale that is at once universal and otherworldly." Connor represented Flint's 7th Ward as its artist-in-residence for the National Endowment for the Arts' Our Town grant, through which artists engaged ward residents to produce creative work in service of the 2013 City of Flint Master Plan. Connor's work has been published in Santa Clara Review, Moria Poetry Zine, East Village Magazine, Flint Broadside, Moomers Journal of Moomers Studies, The Saturnine Detractor, and Qua. Connor lives in Flint's East Village, less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

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