Some Flint residents think their city's got a bad rap — and now they're trying to change that.
In a video made by Michigan photographer Mike Naddeo, several Flint business owners tout the city and the vibrant community they live in, using the hashtag #FlintFwd.
“Flint isn’t everything you see on the news,” Naddeo said. “We still have a very vibrant bustling economy here and a great downtown.”
In the video, Flint business owners gave strong pitches for the city, reflecting Naddeo’s statement.
“Flint is home for me and a lot of other people,” says Kathleen Gazall of Gazall & Lewis Architects in the video. “We’re going to stay here, and we’re going to fight this crisis and win.”
Among the smattering of testimonials, some common themes emerged: Flint’s resilience, its family-friendly community, and its bustling economy.
“In a lot of ways, coming downtown is a way for me to sort of do a family reunion,” says U.S. Rep Dan Kildee, D-Flint, in the video.
Naddeo, a lifelong resident of Genesee County, said the idea of the video was conceived by him and several Flint business owners in an effort to “reestablish trust in the city.”
“We want to make sure that people feel safe and let them know that we still need their business in Flint,” Naddeo said.
The video comes amid the Flint water crisis, which has received national media attention over the last few months. The city has seen contaminated drinking water, children suffering from lead poisoning, and a public health crisis as a result of the city switching its source of drinking water in April 2014.
In January, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in the city, and Michigan residents have called for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s resignation as a result.
Naddeo said the video, which was posted on YouTube on Feb. 1, has received positive feedback so far.
“It’s probably too early to gauge if it’s had an impact on downtown business, but it’s getting a lot of views and incredible feedback,” he said.
This may not be the last #FlintFwd video. Naddeo said the group is considering producing another video at some point.
“Flint’s strong,” says Bryce Moe of Skypoint Ventures in the video. “Flint has more resolve than any community I’ve ever seen.”
Watch the video here: