Flint, as a city, is shrinking, or moving, or growing by
shrinking, or something--it's hard to tell right now.
What we do know is that Flint lost 60,000 jobs during
the 1980's when GM began closing factory doors. Quick
math tells us that's about 1/3 of the population hitting
the unemployment line, or moving out, or moving to the streets.
So now, Flint has a lot (think: thousands) of abandoned,
unsafe, unkept buildings. These buildings sometimes
become crack houses, or targets for arson fires, or
places to dump bodies.
The goal of the city, like any city, is to build a place
where people want to live. So the county land bank
assumes control of these properties and, in some cases,
demolishes them (right now, at a rate upwards of 3 per
week). What else can they do?
Flint is building by tearing itself apart. Believing
this statement, though, doesn't make house demolition any
easier to watch. Under different circumstances, families
could live in these homes.
Families did live in these homes.
These houses are artifacts of a city-that-was, a time-that-passed,
an infrastructural collapse.
How do we build quickly enough to satisfy needs, while remembering
that explosive growth can cause, well, explosive collapse?
Remember what journalist Steve Jessmore told us:
"Flint isn't all lost--there's a lot of hope."