Civic Park Summer Kickoff Celebration rallies for next 100 years of transformation

FLINT, Michigan — It was a time to pay homage to the Civic Park neighborhood’s historic legacy and issue rallying call to residents for another 100 years of transformational progress and community investment. 

Residents, community partners, and volunteers came together on Dayton Street in the Civic Park Centennial Pavilion on Tuesday for the Centennial Summer Kickoff Celebration with nostalgia, hopes, and anticipation of budding changes for Civic Park.  

Resource tables were lined with Britta water filters from Civic as well as information from Crim Fitness Foundation, Families Against Narcotics, and Hurley hospital. There was face-painting for kids as well as drop-In yoga and mindfulness exercises by the Crim Fitness Foundation. 

A center stage provided plenty of room for performances by Jowanne Carrigan, Joy Tabernacle praise team, and music by the Dayton Family. Hands came together in praise of honorary certificates presented to residents of Civic Park by Jamall Merritt of the Urban Renaissance Center to neighbors including Lynn Williams, Joe King, and Inez Taylor for their long-standing presence and commitment in the community.

Beth Stephens, 67, a resident of Civic Park for seven years, said she initially had little knowledge of Civic Park as a historic district. Now she proudly embraces the legacy. She has high standards for her neighborhood and appreciates the many centennial celebrations planned for the year. 

"It lets the neighborhood know that we do care. We care about our community and what’s going on in our community,” said Stephens. "This is (the positivity) that should be going on in our community and we don't have enough of it."

Claressa Shields also announced she would be opening a summer camp at the recently established Claressa Shields Community Project house. An open house for kids and volunteers to sign up is set for 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 25. 

A large part of the project is to teach coping skills needed to face stress, anxiety, and depression said Shields. “You have to figure out a way to deal because sometimes boxing isn’t enough,” she said.

Through a collaboration with the University of Michigan-Flint, the event also featured visionary installations showing what the neighborhood could look like with a grocery store and aquaponics center as well as a mobile Farmers’ Market food truck and other recreational structures. 

UM-Flint also is helping to add signage highling the history of Civic Park neighborhood. A historic timeline will span Dupont and Dayton streets. 

"Because this is a neighborhood that was built to house and welcome people who came to Flint to work, to live, and to thrive, and good places like this never, never disappear. Roots that go deep into good places like this never, never really go away,” UM-Flint interim Provost Susan Alcock said.

Each sign being installed features an architectural style unique to Civic Park, said Professor Thomas Henthorn, chair of UM-Flint’s history department and of the Civic Park Centennial Committee. 

"It’s important to kind of look back and take a look at the neighborhood and kind of see what our heritage is--some of that heritage is problematic, but it  helps us understand better about the present conditions,”said Henthorn. "More importantly too, it's a good moment to think about what we're going to do for the next 100 years.”

The centennial celebrations continue next month with the grand opening of the Urban Renaissance Center’s recording studio and special guest attendance by Bryan Leach on June 8.

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