MEET THE TEAM |
| A MESSAGE FROM OUR DIRECTOR |
Flint has been my chosen home for more than 20 years. I moved here for college in 1999 without intending to stay, and grew roots. Life in Flint opened my eyes, making me think deeper about disparities, privilege and structural racism. It fueled my passion for environmental justice and made me a more compassionate human being, attuned to the fact that where you live largely determines your quality of life and longevity.
If you ask residents what the best part of Flint is, everyone will tell you it’s the people. Flintstones are a spirited people and I am raising my son here so he will be spirited and compassionate too. Flintstones young and old also deserve better. I’ve learned lessons about how to achieve environmental and restorative justice that can help us solve a range of issues that touch our lives daily and mar our city’s efforts to recover. I love to share these lessons with others so we can be stronger together, for our lives and future generations to come.
The next generation of environmental justice leaders will emerge from Flint. I want to support them in taking their personal bravery to scale, to protect our environmental health and future. If this is you, come talk to me! Let’s work together!
- Mona Munroe-Younis
HOW WE WERE FOUNDED |
The Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint (ETM Flint) was founded in 2018 by a passionate group of Flint residents and champions who are working to create change for environmental, social, and economic justice in Flint and our world.
ETM Flint was born after Mona Munroe-Younis navigated Flint’s water crisis as a pregnant resident in 2015 and her family was harmed - as all Flint families were - by the dangerous water beginning the year before.
Mona talked with many people who shared her concerns about Flint’s environmental future and environmental racism. Some of these people - powerhouses for social justice in their own right! - came together to form the initial ETM Flint Board of Directors. They agreed that a formal organization was essential to lead and sustain a concerted, strategic, community-led environmental movement in Flint. They wanted to take a bold stand to proactively shape our city’s environmental future and bring more residents into the movement. That way, we will be more powerful together to solve a range of environmental justice issues our city faces, even beyond the well-publicized ongoing water crisis.
Flint, MI has been an environmental justice (EJ) sacrifice zone for more than 25 years.
In the 1990s, Flint environmental activists were the first to use the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act to address environmental racism. They challenged the creation of Genesee Power Station, a wood-burning energy plant (which burned lead-containing wood from torn down houses) on Carpenter Road across the street from a strong Black neighborhood. In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally closed the case, siding with residents that it was a case of environmental racism.
Decades of disinvestment from redlining, white flight and closure of 80,000+ industry jobs crippled the tax base for public services and cut the city’s population in half over several decades. The remaining half of the population shouldered the cost of infrastructure repairs and investments.
According to the 2013 Imagine Flint Master Plan, residents as a whole are surrounded by 1,000 acres of brownfields and over 20% blight/dumping and vacancy. However, Flint’s most underinvested neighborhoods experience as high as 80% vacancy.
The Buick City brownfield alone takes up 413 acres in the heart of our city. Polluting industries are concentrated on major corridors like Dort Highway and the I-475/St. John’s Industrial Park area which wiped out the strong African-American St. John’s neighborhood, as described by Andrew Highsmith’s “Demolition Means Progress” article.
The FBI reported that Flint’s high violent crime rate increased 23% in 2017 alone (MLive, 9/24/2018), as Flint residents have reported feeling overwhelming stress for years following the water crisis. Many residents talk about feeling tired, anxious and uncertain about the future of their neighborhoods especially in neighborhoods zoned as “Green Innovation” to address 80% depopulation . They want to make real and deep change and have their voices heard in planning efforts that leave them vulnerable to encroaching polluting industries and gentrification.
ETM Flint was born to heal these hurts, build our collective capacity for transformation, and create a new narrative about what's possible for Flint's environmental future, including making our city a magnet for 21st century green jobs for residents.