News & Events
Giving Back to a Shrinking City
Communication Senior Lecturer and author Gordon Young is doing his part to fight blight in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. He raised more than $11,000 in crowdsource funding to tear down a vacant, decaying home that attracted squatters and drug users on Parkbelt Drive in the city. The surrounding neighborhood is comprised of homes that have been well-kept by hard-working families.
More than 150 people donated to the Indiegogo campaign. The idea came from Young’s book Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City that explores the struggle of Flint residents after General Motors eliminated more than 70,000 jobs in the city. Thousands of abandoned houses still attract crime, depress property values, and destabilize neighborhoods. He says he discovered pockets of hope where people refused to abandon the city his family called home for four generations.
“Flint is on the edge of an important turning point that I’m happy to take part in,” Young said. “Despite heartbreaking conditions, people are fighting back and taking pride in their neighborhoods. It’s an important reminder that community is ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.”
Crews tore down the house November 11 as neighbors cheered. Paulette Mayfield, who grew up in the house next door, plans to adopt the vacant lot through a city program and maintain it.
Learn more about the project here.