Flint, MI—When St. Clair native Pastor Christian Jones, 29, was called to Flint in 2019 to work with the Franklin Avenue Mission on the east side, he was astonished by the amount of public and street art bringing barren walls to life around the city.

“I got here and I was just amazed walking around and seeing the incredible things. The one that’s over here on the east side on Lewis Street the ‘I am my ancestors wildest dreams’ that was the first real piece I saw and was just blown away by it.” Jones said.

The first F.A.M. Jam event took up most of the block around the church Sept. 3 and 4. On one corner artists from Flint and throughout the state spray painted the walls of the church and surrounding structures. In the parking lot there was a stage for community conversations and live music featuring Grammy-nominated artist FLAME, as well as chalk art and bicycle giveaways. The yard out back was sprinkled with children’s games and face painters, and the basketball court had a break dancing workshop put on by Flint’s Vertical Ambition Crew.

Flint artist Zeb Molina works on a mural during the first annual F.A.M. Jam at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

Around a month after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns started, Jones noticed a group of young people tagging several buildings in the neighborhood—including the church and the garage—with their signature pink and teal colors. Instead of vilifying them for painting illegally, he said he knew that graffiti was their entertainment and wanted to find a way to engage them, so he turned the Franklin Avenue Mission campus into a canvas.

“Being able to spend time with their art, not just trying to tag and run, but to engage them and say ‘dude go for it!'” he said.

Claudia Burns, and Sabella and Anasthasia Tan paint a mural on the shed at the Franklin Avenue Mission during the first annual F.A.M. Jam on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

Jones says that many things drove him to put on the event, but one of the most important to him is giving east siders a sense of community.

“The past year, not only is there not a lot to do on the east side, but everyone was told to stay home, stay inside. So you saw this implosion of community here. Before the pandemic we’d regularly have 250 people in the building every Tuesday and Thursday for dinner, and then they couldn’t. Everything was just shut down. And so being able to restart community, restart relationships, have neighborly discussions, being able to see them face to face, that’s huge. They haven’t been able to have that for over a year.”

Jones said he hopes to continue to host community events in the future. He said beginning in October the Franklin Avenue Mission will partner with Our Savior Lutheran Church to bring similar ministries and opportunities to Flint’s north side.

Kike Riera, 27, of Pontiac break dances during the first annual F.A.M Jam on Sept 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Flint artist Zeb Molina works on a mural during the first annual F.A.M. Jam at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Toni Kane, 50, of Flint gets her face painted by Kathy Tuttle, 55, of Campbell Township. Tuttle said her face painting career began just three hours before working with Kane at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 3, 2021. Kane is originally from New Orleans and moved to Flint after Hurricane Katrina. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Shawny Neubecker of Mundy Township is part of the Vertical Ambition break dancing crew based in Flint who came to host a breakdancing workshop at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 4, 2021. The Vertical Ambition dance crew holds practices every Wednesday evening from 7-10 at FLI City Studios. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
F.A.M. Jam attendees get their faces painted in the yard beside the Franklin Avenue Mission in Flint’s east side on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Pastor Joe Schafer, 62, of Flint plucks a guitar next to his grandson at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Reverend Christian Jones, 29, moved to Flint in 2019 to work at the Franklin Avenue Mission raps a song about gun violence at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 3, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Flint artist Michael Cobley teaches painting techniques at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Isiah Lattimore’s completed mural painted during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Michigan graffiti artists participated in painting the Franklin Avenue Mission campus during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Michigan graffiti artists participated in painting the Franklin Avenue Mission campus during the first annual F.A.M Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Michigan graffiti artists participated in painting the Franklin Avenue Mission campus during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Artists Sabella Tan and her mother Anathasia Tan from Detroit paint the garage at the Franklin Avenue Mission during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. Sabella Tan designed the figures in the painting. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Michigan graffiti artists participated in painting the Franklin Avenue Mission campus during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Children circle the parking lot of the Franklin Avenue Mission on their new bikes that were given out at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Flint artist Michael Cobley teaches paints on one of the Franklin Avenue Mission campus walls at the first annual F.A.M. Jam event on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Grammy-nominated artist FLAME takes the stage with Mike Real and DJ Code during the first annual F.A.M. Jam event at the Franklin Avenue Mission on Sept. 4, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

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1 Comment

  1. This was such an awesome event! Especially the breakdancers and the bike giveaway! I got in on the breakdancing act myself. I can still breakdance at 56. I was so glad to get blessed with a good bike at the the end of the day after waiting hours to get my raffle ticket number called. They were given away after 6:30 pm. They had two good bikes I really wanted too and someone else got them! Dang! I got their last good bike! It is almost new! Thank you F A Mission for an awesome event that should happen every summer! Praise God! No trouble either!

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