Years ago I lived a few miles north of where I live now, in the city of Flint Michigan. You’ve probably heard of it. Last year it came to light that the pipes connecting many of the homes to their water supply were corroded and the water was contaminated with lead. Many children in the city tested positive for lead poisoning.
The water crisis garnered national attention. Presidential candidates visited promising to help. CNN arrived and interviewed residents. Congressional hearings were held. Celebrities donated thousands of bottles of clean water.
We were all outraged.
The tainted water had already been running into households for more than a year back then. And now it’s been more than a year since. This is what being local to Flint means today:
I heard this week that a grant has been won by the city of Flint to help resolve the problem. Some pipes have been replaced, others have been coated with something to stop the corrosion. A few families now have clean water.
Many still do not.
And most people there don’t trust that their water will ever be safe to drink. After all, they’d been told it was safe before and now their children are poisoned. Their future is uncertain.
There are no easy solutions, but I can not imagine using bottled water for everything. For washing dishes, for bathing children, for cooking.
I’m not proud of the fact that these images define local in a city just up the road. That we seem to have forgotten, moved on with our lives, assumed someone was doing something to fix the problem. Someone else.
But this is still the reality of ‘local’ in Flint Michigan.