We often take for granted the things in which we aren’t directly responsible. The way the cake is decorated before it reaches the wedding party is the responsibility of the baker. The chair you sit in at work should stay upright at all times and support your weight which is the responsibility of the manufacturer. The computer you use at the office should be secure and virus proof, which of course is the responsibility of your IT department. These are just a few of the millions in which we take for granted every day, because while they have a profound impact on our lives we simply aren’t responsible of the process. So when it comes to our health and wellness, who is directly responsible? How about the city streets we drive on, the neighborhoods in which we call home, the schools where we send our children and so on? For many of us, these are just things we take for granted, and why shouldn’t we.
Until a few weeks ago, the average unassuming American had never thought twice of Flint Michigan, and with a city that has been quietly on a decline there is no reason to. It’s just an average small city of 100,000 residents about 70 miles northwest of Detroit. Then over the weekend, your news feed on Facebook and Twitter looked different because the Flint crisis was everywhere. Was this Michigan’s best kept secret or a really big mistake gone wrong and publicized by the right people? As you begin to watch the videos, read the stories and hear the pleas for help from the children, seniors and everyday residents of Flint, your heart begins to feel their pain and their worry. A city that had for many years just went with the flow was now facing one of the greatest disasters in history, lead drinking water. Flint, like all other cities has a well documented and tumultuous history. The once bustling automobile city of Flint had 200,000 residents at it’s peak in the 1960’s, then during the late 60’s and early 70’s the city began suffering from disinvestment, deindustrialization, depopulation and of course like most of it’s counterparts, urban decay. This lead to high rates of crime, unemployment and record levels of poverty. Flint has been facing a crisis for over 50 years, and who is responsible?
The best part of working for such a progressive architecture, engineering, urban and interior design firm is that we don’t just stop at the prettiest new building like many other firms. Instead, we take a whole picture approach to the communities in which we serve, because communities are what drive us. We have created Hoch Talking Points as a place where ideas are nurtured and feedback is encouraged. So why is an architecture firm going to spend the next several days talking about the crisis unraveling in Flint Michigan? We believe that no matter where we are in location or in life, our responsibility is to create better, healthier, stronger and more vibrant communities. We know that CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and every other news outlet in America is chiming in with their stories on the water crisis, but at Hoch the water is just the tipping point and the sensational story that has brought Flint Michigan to the headlines. A city that has an outstanding 40%+ poverty rate is a crisis that has lead to the current water crisis we face today. This has more to do with the way our cities our built and designed than high levels of lead in the water. Sure, that is an important headline and we have no disrespect for that issue or how the lack of support from the state government caused people to get sick and unfortunately die, but we will do our best to leave those topics to the national news agencies who are covering those stories more in depth.
We hope you will join us in our discovery of how Flint Michigan became “the most dangerous city in America” in an unfortunate way that has been decades in the making. We will talk about why this is important for not only Flint, but other cities around the country and why it’s our responsibility as leaders, neighbors and residents to fix this now. While none of us may be directly responsible for the events unfolding in Flint, we should all have a sense of heart for the city in need.