We Are Not Ghosts

May 23, 2012 Leave a comment

“Somebody’s gotta tell them, that we are not ghosts, that we are in this city and we are alive!”

– Jessica Care Moore

Feeling nostalgic, shaken, stirred, and inspired during my current trip to Michigan, and my first return visit to my hometown of Flint in 15 years.  So much here has changed: foreclosures – 2,000 last year alone, 40% of all property parcels in the city are vacant or abandoned, jobs have disappeared now to the point of 25% unemployment, 36% of all residents live in poverty, half of the student population in the public schools has left in the last 10 years resulting in numerous school closings including my high school, of those students that remain 81% qualify for free lunch.  And the flip side, there are anchor institutions, physical landmarks, and stalwart active citizens (thank you, Sylvester Jones and Harold Ford, among others!) that remain and provide some sense of backbone, continuity, and hope.

Like many other small industrial towns, Flint has had to come to grips with the reality of downsizing, along with a legacy of racial inequity.  The reality here feels particularly stark, and yet, people keep on keepin’ on.  After 30 years of recession (talk about the canary in the coal mine!), it is time for rebirth, “human scaled for a post-industrial world.”  The same holds true for Flint’s bigger and more popular sib-city, Detroit. Years of resilience may be leading to new opportunity, but perhaps not if we fail see their story as part of our own.

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  • Michelle Strutzenberger says:

    We have posted a link to this blog and video off our Thriving Communities page: http://www.axiomnews.ca/Thriving_Communities, http://www.axiomnews.ca/Cincinnati.

    Hope this is OK.

    Let me know if you have any concerns.


  • Curtis says:

    Thanks, Michelle. That’s great!


  • Lori says:

    Wow. This video is a fantastic piece of work.

    “I love stories! I love stories!”

    That’s my voice too. My community too. My neighbors too. As a woman in the grocery store said to me the other day (as I was trying to decide if I could afford spices and she apparently read my mind): “We will be here, honey. Long after they’re gone. The regular people will still be here.”

    Not ghosts, indeed. You, and this work, are amazing.


  • Linda says:

    Wonderful and inspiring video a story about story really and one that truly shows the power of commitment and network to transformation and rebirth.

  • Melissa Youong says:

    Thanks to IISC for reposting the preview for We Are Not Ghosts, and for all of the appreciative comments. As producer of the film, I found the Detroit people and stories inspiring. They provide creative, concrete examples for those of us who are working to create a more just and sustainable society.


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