Flint Mayor Says People, Not Government Will Drive Urban Renewal


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"Quality of life is how people feel about their community," says Dayne Walling, mayor of Flint, Michigan. "Government has to be a partner and has to facilitate the planning and organizational structure, but then it's citizen groups that are really the ones that are refining the plans and then providing the real people power to actually get the work done."

The story of Flint, Michigan is similar to neighboring Detroit. After the collapse of the auto industry, the city experienced severe economic hardship—nearly a third of the town's 33-square miles is abandoned and crime rates rival that of Baghdad, Iraq

Forbes cited Flint as one of America's "most miserable cities" and an average of five people leave town every day. 

To reverse the pattern of urban flight and decay, Flint mayor Dayne Walling has made it his priority to bring revive the manufacturing town by reforming outdated zoning codes and engaging citizen groups to take part in city planning. He talked about these efforts with Reason TV at the recent Atlantic CityLab conference in Los Angeles, California. 

"We have a new master plan that's adopted and we're revising our zoning codes because all of this was really designed for the 1950s and 1960s—the big production economy, the single use neighborhood. Well, here today in the 21st century those dynamics have changed," says Walling. 

"People want to be part of making these positive changes. They didn't know where to start. This framework now shows citizens and community groups how they can be involved in moving the community forward as part of a bigger effort."

Produced by Alexis Garcia. Shot by Paul Detrick. Music by Podington Bear

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