EAST LANSING, Mich. - When most people think of Flint they think of a place abandoned by the automobile industry, but two Michigan State University academics hope to change that image.
Geri Zeldes, assistant professor of journalism, and Troy Hale, media specialist in the Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media Department, launched "The Greening of Flint" documentary project in August 2009.
The latest initiative of the project is "The Kings of Flint," an eight-minute documentary film showcasing the Youth Karate-Ka: Harvesting Earth Farm, in Beecher, Mich., and the people behind the urban farming phenomenon happening in Flint.
Zeldes, originally from Flint, and Hale have big plans to continue the project for as long as they can.
"I feel like the Earth is moving every time I go to Flint," Zeldes said. "I hope the word gets out about urban farming and viewers see that there is a community of people in Flint who have taken things into their hands and are making their own solution for the city."
For example, karate masters Dora and Jacky King, who own the Beecher farm, teach students how to farm by blending karate and food. While karate is a form of physical defense, urban farming is a form of economic defense, they believe. Their goal: to make Flint the No. 1 city for urban farming.
The Kings use grants from the Ruth Mott Foundation and other organizations, but intend on being self-sufficient soon.
"Kings of Flint" also features the city's mayor, Dayne Walling, along with all those involved in the Kings' farm. And a music video incorporated with the project features rap by teens who work at Harvesting Earth Farm.
The film will be featured at TEDx Flint Oct. 23.
"We went from having an eight-minute piece to a 15-minute piece, and now hope to have a 30-minute piece very soon," Hale said. "The film isn't even finished and we're getting accepted to film festivals.
"It's remarkable how this story has evolved and one day it will definitely be aired on public television stations around the United States."