FLINT, Michigan — Seven years ago, Syrah Scott was consumed by the news reports of the Flint Water Crisis on NPR. She listened to reports every morning and night for two weeks straight. Hundreds of miles away in New York City, she was starting to ask herself what she could do to help.
“I asked God because I am very spiritual…I said, God, is this what you want me to work on?” said Scott.
She soon went on to partner with 18 organizations across the United States to find ways to serve Flint amidst the water crisis. Now, Scott is the executive chairman of the National Clean Water Collective (NCWC), a non-profit organization that has provided more than $475,000 worth of supplies and support to Flint residents.
The NCWC’s goal is to ultimately create a holistic and sustainable model for the city of Flint to empower residents and bring an end to the effects of environmental racism.
On September 6, the NCWC started the #CheckYourTap water testing campaign with the Pen Pals Youth Environmental Justice Forum to test 100 homes and businesses. The goal was to build trust in the community, ensure Flint residents have safe water, and engage Flint’s youth by allowing them to perform tap water testing across the city.
Young Flint residents were given a chance to engage in the process of finding a solution and participate in the complete process of testing from collecting water samples and sending them to the Simplelab.
A youth volunteer for the NCWC poses for a portrait holding a Simplelab environmental testing kit. Courtesy photo provided by Syrah Scott.
Following the testing campaign, the NCWC hosted a town hall meeting on September 17 to make recommendations on solutions to improve any issues that were identified during the testing campaign.
For Scott, the highlight of the town hall meeting was watching the different students, ages ranging from high school to early college, read personal letters giving feedback on their experiences during the campaign.
“Some decided to write a letter to Flint residents, others decided to write it to public officials and they each addressed their concerns. They talked about their solutions, simple solutions to the problem, and what they wanted to see in their city,” said Scott.
Nine years after the start of the Flint Water Crisis residents are still asking for a sense of normalcy to return. During the town hall meeting, students suggested water pods, filtration devices, and pipeline replacements.
“The letters that they wrote were definitely touching,” said Scott. “They want people to remember Flint as a city that not only has gone through a water crisis but a city that is resilient. They want folks to know that if this could happen in Flint water, it can happen anywhere.”
For more info on the National Clean Water Collective, find them on Facebook.