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Flint, MI — The opening of the McKenzie Patrice Croom Community Lab inside of the Flint Development Center (4121 Martin Luther King Ave, Flint, MI 48505), is the epitome of Flint’s residents taking charge of healing this traumatized community. And fighting through problemed times is what the people of Flint are all about.
Flint is well known for its blue-collar mentality as well as the grit and resiliency of its people. They are tenacious, relentless, and the erection of this lab is proof.
This lab is paramount for a city that has gained the attention of much of the world in recent years because of the Flint Water Crisis. The lab which opens March 25, 2020, is an integral part of the recovery from the tragedy which started April 2014.
Many residents of Flint were already wary of government leadership, but that fragile relationship was further fractured by the Flint Water Crisis in 2014. Now, instead of relying on government-sponsored water tests, residents of Flint will be able to have their water tested by people they are more likely to trust. The lab will employ a chemist who will teach local youth how to test water samples. The Mackenzie Patrice Croom Community Lab is a multi-faceted elixir that can help spur Flint through recovery from the Flint Water Crisis.
This will be an opportunity to rebrand Flint while rallying around the city’s youth. This lab will augment the scholastic lessons that students are presented with. Students will be able to apply what they have learned in their science, math, English, social science and fine arts courses while working with this lab.
Students will be involved in all aspects of the lab. They will test water samples. They will also work on marketing the lab. They will educated on driving public policy. These youth will be trained to be advocates of the future.
Imagine the opportunity to take science from the books to a place where you can apply lessons learned from lectures. Much like the Community Education program that made Flint a hotbed for athletes, the Community Lab has the potential to make Flint a spawning pool for future scientist environmentalists or more.
While Flint has garnered the sympathy of the world behind the water crisis, the opening of the community lab should serve as a source of admiration. That is right, the city that been painted as a source of pity is now working to be an example for cities from around the world who face adversity.
Approximately 140,000 individuals were exposed to toxic drinking water when city officials made the decision to switch from its Detroit water supply to Flint River water.
At the time of the decision to switch water sources, Flint was under the leadership of an emergency manager who was put into place by Governor Rick Snyder. The switch to the Flint River water was only supposed to last until the new Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline from Lake Huron to Flint was operational. Once complete Flint was to receive its water from the KWA pipeline.
The improper treatment of the Flint River water caused leaching. Residents began to complain about the water’s smell, taste, and color. The Environmental Protection Agency reported dangerous lead levels in Flint’s drinking water in 2015.
This was a stunning blow to a city already struggling to deal with employment rates above state and national averages. But that is the beauty of people of Flint. Through years of adversity, they have learned to survive.
Flint is a prideful city with a reputation for being a gritty blue-collar type of town. It and its people have personified resiliency. There is an obvious rebirth happening in the downtown district. This lab has the potential to serve as a lighthouse for the rest of the city as the farmer’s market buoys downtown.