by Janet Kreger, MHPN President
Taken from the opening remarks at the MHPN 32nd Annual Conference, May 10, 2012.
Michiganians may think that they know Flint’s legacy, but likely they do not. While everyone knows the name, forgotten is the fact that Flint was a major-player in the early automobile industry. In the early years when Detroit was growing, Flint was a competing center of invention.
It revolutionized the world’s manufacturing and altered class, racial, and ethnic structures in ways that had global repercussions. Its range of impact was wide. On the one hand, it was perfecting unionization techniques like the sit-down strike that forever altered the balance between worker and owner. On the other hand, it was simultaneously re-sculpting the lines of early automobiles and nurtured a national psyche in love with sleek metal bodies, chrome, and speed.
What we DO know is that Flint has exceptional buildings – from 19th century legacies to stunning Mid-Century Moderns. We know that for decades the auto industry produced unparalleled wealth and the need for modern, world-class designers. It’s this architectural legacy that brings us to Flint in 2012 because as the city faces a model change-over – the theme of our conference – this legacy can be celebrated and used as the economic driver that it is… or lost.
What might be YOUR role in this model change-over while here in our host community? The MHPN has never really made a homework assignment to those who come to the conference, but I’m about to make one now. I know that as you experience this city over the next several days, you’ll be affected by the City’s challenges. But I challenge you to be a reflective audience that will not dwell on this but speak to the richness of Flint’s built environment.
In other words, don’t remain silent while here in Flint.
We need to have you accelerate acknowledgement of Flint as a center of architectural excellent. You’ll do this like you normally would when you want to get the word out:
- By beginning to Tweet while you’re here, and continuing to do so throughout the conference.
- By sending text messages.
- By talking on your Facebook page about what you’re seeing and up-load your photographs.
- By e-mail your colleagues.
- By hammer out your first 300-word blog before you go to bed tonight and sending it off.
Let’s create electronic traffic sufficient enough to be noted, so that the state is reminded that Flint is here and so are we. What better gift can we give our host community than to be able to say that “we helped change its narrative”?