On the Ground is coming to Brownell-Holmes

FLINT, Michigan — Flintside’s community reporting series, On the Ground, is coming to Brownell-Holmes with the intent of reporting the many stories in the area that are often overlooked.

Tucked neatly between Clio, Pierson, Dupont, and Carpenter, the northside neighborhood is home to two of Flint’s nine elementary schools and one of its four senior centers. Though one of the city’s smaller communities, Brownell-Holmes residents are always actively working toward making their neighborhood a better place to live.

Despite this, Brownell-Holmes’ inextricable ties to the city it’s located in have left it vulnerable to all of Flint’s shortcomings. The neighborhood continues to suffer the impacts of the Flint water crisis and has repeatedly fallen victim to citywide budget cuts, the overwhelming presence of blight, and the city’s ever-shrinking public school system.

This mixture of widespread community engagement and constant strife has led to organizations like the Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association making leaps and bounds in securing both partnerships and grant money with local nonprofits.

These partnerships have proven essential. From raising funds to host a community cookout to park cleanups attended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Brownell-Holmes is becoming a shining example of what an embattled community can turn into when pride in one’s home reigns victorious.

In an effort to highlight both community members' hard work as well as the steps yet to be taken, Flintside is proud to launch its second On the Ground series in Brownell-Holmes.

Flintside’s parent company, Issue Media Group, has been overseeing On the Ground series in communities across the country since 2013. Focused on in-depth and hyperlocal journalism, On the Ground has been present in over a dozen cities including Detroit, Ypsilanti, Tampa, and Memphis.

The program launched in Flint in 2019, where it sought to celebrate, study, and underscore Civic Park neighborhood’s rich 100-year history.

On the Ground Brownell-Holmes’ project editor, Santiago Ochoa, will be serving as the neighborhood’s dedicated journalist. He has been a student at the University of Michigan-Flint for four years and has lived in the city for three.

Ochoa has worked for the Interamerican Press Association and freelanced for The New York Times, Flintbeat, and Flintside. He also serves as The Michigan Times’ current editor-in-chief.

“We live in a time where every story matters,” Ochoa says. “In a small community like Brownell-Holmes, the most inconspicuous event can have an effect on everyone. If a story is in service of even one person in the community, then it’s worth reporting on.”

On the Ground Brownell-Holmes is being supported by the Ruth Mott Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and Google.

For more On the Ground Brownell-Holmes, click here to read the first story in our coverage, which digs into the neighborhood's history.

Read more articles by Santiago Ochoa.

Santiago Ochoa is a freelance reporter and communications student at UM-Flint. He is the project editor for On The Ground community reporting series and currently serves as The Michigan Times' Editor-in-Chief. Santiago has worked with publications and organizations like The New York Times, the Interamerican Press Association and Flint Beat. You can reach him @santi8a98 on Twitter and Instagram and email him at [email protected]