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June 8, 2022

Flint Fights Back: Democracy and the Flint Water Crisis

Flint Fights Back: Democracy and the Flint Water Crisis

Professor Ben Pauli discusses the Flint water crisis and the historical activism that helped Flint, Michigan, survive.


Ben Pauli, a Kettering University Political Science Professor, discusses the Flint water crisis and the historical activism that helped Flint survive economically and environmentally for almost 100 years. 

Pauli embedded himself with a group of Flint residents during the Flint Water Crisis. The activist group brought the tainted Flint drinking water problem to the public's attention. The group also was successful in advocating that government fix the cause of the toxic water problem. 

He concludes that Flint has been fighting David vs. Goliath-type battles for generations which helps it survive. Pauli argues that generational activism is an asset to the city's efforts to overcome the economic crisis for the past 40 years. One lasting change resulted in recognizing drinking water as a right in the Flint City Charter. 

Pauli's ethnographical research is now in an academic book, not your typical data-filled one. The book reads like a CIA or police intelligence field analysis of the capability of a group in fostering and accomplishing public policy changes. "Flint Fights Back" is an insightful book and takes an extensive view of the Flint Water Crisis, remarkably different from other books and articles written on the Flint Water Crisis. Most fascinating is Pauli's analysis of the ability of local activists to form an identity and narrative story that sells their cause in the marketplace of public opinion. 

Pauli concludes that Flint is a parable, the canary in the coal mine forewarning for other cities and towns in the United States. Many of whom may catch a glimpse of what their futures may be in years to come. Professor Pauli claims that Flint's activism has sparked change that eventually has taken hold in many other places in the U.S. 

 

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