By: Nia Barger
bad thoughts turned empty mind
ceiling fan now wind
spots of moonlight now monarchs
sad now bliss
cold now warmth
darkness now sunlight
eyes now wide
sunlight pressed against your cheek
butterflies drifting in the wind
leaves never seen again
flying into the air
picked up by the perspective
clouds rolling into view
wind gaining speed
newly bloomed flowers
as butterflies spread pollen
the scent of freshly wet pasture
reality turned to dreams
your issues fly away
no emphasis or burden
feeling pure happiness
it was just a dream
OEG51 Crew made up of Flint artist trio Michael Cobley- Anthony (Tony) Reyes (Yarsini)- Charles Sharon, formed in high school, starting with Michael and Charles, with Tony joining just a couple years later. The crew started doing graffiti lettering, which sparked their passion for art. Michael took up drawing and practicing painting more detailed pieces after mastering the art of graffiti lettering, while working as a house painter during the day. Charles went on to study art and Tony worked at perfecting his skills as a graffiti writer and street artist. The crew has done several jobs with Gallery on the Go and Flint Public Art Project, including a mural on Court Street, Mott Park Club House, Flushing Rd, Lewis Street, along with several popup pieces like adding artwork to electrical boxes around the city. OEG51 Crew has assisted several visiting artists that have come to Flint, wall prep, and mural repairs.
Ballenger Square Community Association
Crime wasn’t unusual on Campbell’s block. Her neighbors on either side and across the street had all been broken into, but it was still shocking for it to happen to her. More shocking, though, was when a man from down the street returned with her television. “That’s when I realized that people cared, and that people will get involved. That was just amazing to me,” she says.
Campbell started the block club by passing out fliers just to the people on her street. She wanted to talk about what to do about the blight and crime. About 13 people came over — not bad for a neighborhood where many of the homes sit unoccupied. A few months later, after more fliers and finding a home for meetings at the church, about 45 people showed, wanting to know what they could do.
It’s a familiar story in Flint, a city strapped for cash and struggling with park maintenance and vacant properties. But where the city’s capacity falters, residents, in the form of community groups large and small, are picking up the slack. Block clubs are vital in that mix, bringing focused determination and advocacy to the neighborhood level, street by street.
“In a sense they ensure that basic municipal services are provided that cities like Flint don’t have the manpower for,” says Kevin Schronce, Flint city planner. “It’s interesting because you go to other cities, even in Michigan, and there’s an expectation as it relates to city government. I think in Flint it’s basically the MO that, we can’t rely on them … they know they have to rely on other things.”
Between 2015 and 2017, Flint citizens have mowed more than 94,000 properties (the city’s population is just under 100,000) and boarded 1,300 vacant buildings — a combined effort worth about $4.3 million. In 2013, community groups removed 1,305 tons of garbage from blighted areas.