Flint residents working together on crowdfunding campaign for outdoor downtown events

FLINT, Michigan -- A group of 10 Flint residents is working together to raise $20,000 to use four public spaces for a series of free, community-oriented placemaking events this summer. Their crowdfunding campaign is live through April 3 and has already raised nearly half of the goal.


Kady Yellow, the What’s Up Downtown project’s director of placemaking, put out a call for residents interested in taking a crowdfunding class earlier this winter. Ten participants were chosen from about 40 applicants. In the class, participants learned key elements of successful crowdfunding campaigns, including promotion, finding potential matching funders, and how to identify and court donors both in Flint and beyond.


The overall $20,000 goal is a big number, but with 10 participants, they were able to break that down into less daunting challenges -- each participant developed a “micro-plan” to raise $2,000. They all identified contacts they could reach out to for support.


“Resident-engaged and driven is how I practice placemaking,” Yellow said. “So this was a creative way to approach my job responsibilities and activate public spaces.”


The four spaces that will be used in the projects are: Brush Park (on Second Street, where the blue ‘Flint’ sign is located); Riverbank Park (located on Saginaw Street just across from the University of Michigan-Flint pavilion); and Brush Alley and Buckham Alley (both centrally located downtown).


The community plans developed by the 10 students are:

  • Fitness experience curator Marquita Adams (Harambee Wellness) and local entrepreneur Jennifer Johnson (Elations Health) will coordinate a health and wellness fair, paired with ‘Get Fit in Flint’ a free, weekly schedule of outdoor exercise classes in Brush Park.

  • Phillip Walker of local musical duo PhZD will host a three-part-community music training: a songwriting camp, a recording session at Wav Village in downtown Flint, and a pop-up concert on an outdoor stage downtown.

  • Downtown salons and spas Forever Bold, Uncovered Beauty Studio, 810 Nail Bar, Refinery Hair Co., and Magnificlips will all partner on a self-care advocacy day offering a free-day of self-care to 25 foster parents of blended families. Each participant will receive a starter-kit care package and educational materials on how to care for the skin and hair of children.

  • Anna Winglemire will use $2,000 to hire local craftsmen to build life-sized board games for downtown alleys and parks for families to play, paired with three activations: chess lessons, a chess competition (with prizes), and an expert chess player popping up.

  • Flint producer Jerin Sage will team up with local lighting and digital visual art professionals to bring a one-of-a- kind, multi-sensory pop-up experience to Riverbank Park this summer. This exhibit will be a walkable, immersive experience for all ages.

  • Production manager John Walker will organize a three-channel silent disco pop-up in Buckham Alley. The carefully curated combination of art, music, and performances will offer participants a rare experience using wireless headphone technology called the “immersive silent experience.”

  • Local food & farm advocate Rachel Marsh is preparing a one-day pop-up around vegan cooking for single-household tables. The event will include music, art, and vegan cuisine with demos from places that include The Local Grocer and the Flint Farmers Market.

  • Flint artist Derrick Smith will activate Brush Park for a community event featuring handmade goods produced by Flint residents.


The creativity and diverse backgrounds of the class participants has made the project rewarding, and should create excitement for residents as the events are able to be implemented over the summer and early fall.


“The real reward is the further confirmation of the community DIY approach of Flint,” Yellow said. “They’ve stepped up as a cohort and are almost operating like a production team together. Diversity in thinking in projects is so important, and we just have that here in Flint.”


Although the crowdfunding class isn’t meant to be a recurring program, the intent is to equip the participants with the ability to go teach and inspire others to use crowdfunding platforms to bring their ideas to life.


After the crowdfunding campaign ends, the next step for students in the class will be selecting and announcing dates to further plan their events. So far, the campaign has generated support from local donors, but several from out of state and one person from out of the country have also contributed.


“The response has been hugely motivating and confirms our collective thinking as a community that people believe in Flint and its creativity,” Yellow said.


Contributions can be made to the Patronicity campaign through April 3.

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