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Flint Public Library to archive stories of residents living through the water crisis

Mar 31, 2016

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Now anyone in Flint can preserve their story of living through the water crisis.

The Flint Public Library is opening its recording studio for residents to tell their experience of living with poisoned water. 

The library is partnered with StoryCorps, a spoken-story archiving organization. The interviews are done in a conversational style, and the group will archive the recordings. With the storyteller's permission, StoryCorps will also send the story to the Library of Congress.

Kay Schwartz, director of the Flint Public Library, said this is an opportunity to hear from everyone in town. 

"You know, a lot of the news coverage has talked to the same people over and over and over again," Schwartz said. "We're looking to make this opportunity available to ordinary people." 

The library partnered with StoryCorps last year, taking all varieties of personal stories from anyone willing to share. Since the recording equipment is already set up and the staff are trained to interview subjects, Schwartz said the only change now is focusing on water crisis stories. 

Michael Blaque is a Flint resident who felt the disruptions of the poisoned water. He said most of the people he knows have talked about the crisis plenty, but mostly among friends and neighbors. 

He plans to share his story with the library, and he encourages others to do so if they're comfortable with it. He said it's important to save these stories for future generations.

"They're babies now, so they don't have any idea what's taken place," he said. "When they get a little older, they have the right to know what happened, when it happened, and how it happened."

The program starts Friday, April 1 and runs until mid-September.