Bring more iconic alley lights to Flint: Your help needed

FLINT, Michigan—They are simple strings of lights … except they are so much more.
Those lights that string through Buckham Alley are a great symbol—of all that we can achieve together, of Flint’s growing nightlife, of dreams becoming a reality.
Well, guess what? The future is even brighter.
The same forces that mobilized to first string those lights through Buckham Alley have come together to do it again—but they need all the help they can get.
Next up: Brush Alley.
Light Up Brush Alley
Wine Party Fundraiser

6-8 p.m.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Cork on Saginaw

RSVP and more info

A campaign kicks off on today, Monday, April 17, 2017, to raise $50,000 in 30 days to secure a Public Spaces, Community Places grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that will double their money. 
The plan: Install the strings of lights THIS summer, in time for Brush Alley to be included as a second destination during Buckham Alley Festival on July 15, 2017.
The stakes are high. The goal is aggressive. And the timeline is short. Donations are being accepted through Patronicity.
“We are reaching out to everyone who loves our city to help,” said Kathleen Gazall, downtown advocate and chair of Friends of the Alley board, which ran a virtually identical campaign two years ago to put the lights in Buckham Alley. “We need to do this.”
While Buckham Alley sits behind the west side of Saginaw Street storefronts, Brush Alley sits on the east side—and a growing hub for downtown Flint investment.
The lights would go up in the 500 and 600 blocks of Brush Alley, an area that cuts behind popular eateries including Blackstones Bar and Grill, Table and Tap, and Cork on Saginaw.
And, it is right at the heart of one of the city’s largest commercial developments.
Brush Alley is adjacent to the Capital Theatre, the landmark downtown building now undergoing a $32 million overhaul that will make the storied facility an operational theater again. In fact, these days, the alley is half-filled with construction equipment related to the project.
The alley also sits behind the Mott Foundation Building, SkyPoint Ventures, and the under-construction Ferris Wheel project.
Additional features also are being planned in Brush Park—a green space on the property where Genesee Towers once stood and directly across from Michigan State University’s medical school.
Table and Tap is investing in an outdoor-seating area, including new massive patio umbrellas lined with solar-powered LED lights, and is expanding to double its size and expand its kitchen.
“This will continue the momentum already happening,” said Kristy Bearse, secretary for the Friends of the Alley.
The group’s first official fundraising event—Light Up Brush Alley WINE PARTY Fundraiser—is 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2017, at Cork on Saginaw. Donations also will be collected on Patronicity. 
Gazall said she hopes to convince enough people who love Flint to make this investment to bring lights to Brush Alley.
“It’s everybody’s alley,” Gazall said. “This is everyone’s way of saying: I helped with that.”
The lights bring beauty, safety, and even more of a sense of place to downtown. They are a part of a larger ongoing effort to make Flint a place where more and more people want to live, eat, work, and play.
“Come see what we have. You won’t be disappointed,” Gazall said.

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 and has provided nearly $3.5 million in matching grants for more than 100 successful projects. The crowdfunding and matching grant program is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Pertinacity.

“The Michigan Municipal League strongly believes in the concept of placemaking and creating places and spaces people will love,” said Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. “It’s especially exciting to see projects like this in Flint where they will take an under-used space, in this case an alley, and make it something people will enjoy for years to come.”

Read more articles by Marjory Raymer.

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