Featured photo: Concerned area residents (left to right) Barbara Culp, Earl Murry, Charles Tutt, Jane Richardson and Roy Howard are looking forward to a remarkable fall community celebration and candidate event.
Written by Tanya Terry, with photos by Tanya Terry
Dedicated members of King Avenue PLUS, a north Flint neighborhood organization, have been planning a Fall Community Celebration! The group members decided the candidates in the November 7 general election and area residents need to be familiar with each other. So, the celebration will allow community members to learn more about candidates for the city of Flint while celebrating together with free snacks, music and games. The event takes place from 1:30-4 p.m., on Saturday, October 22, in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Garden. The group welcomes all members of the Flint community to attend!
Charles Tutt, president of King Avenue PLUS, said group members have been busy cleaning the garden and passing out flyers. They have invited the local mayoral candidates, state rep. 70th District candidates, candidates running for the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and all 15 candidates for the Flint School Board.
“We’ve invited everyone on the political polls,” Tutt said.
Tutt said several candidates had already confirmed they would attend the event.
“It’s important for the neighborhood to know who they’re voting for,” he added. “It’s important for the candidates to know the issues the people have on their hearts and minds. They need to know exactly why we’re voting them into office so we can hold them accountable for what they say they are going to do.”
Jane Richardson, another King Avenue PLUS member, said they designed the event to be informal and to help make the ballots less confusing for Flint residents. She doesn’t want voters to feel overwhelmed by the fact there are 15 school board candidates. She pointed out nine of them are running for three six-year seats. Two are running for one four-year term, and four are running for a 1–2-year partial seat.
Group members will not tell attendees who to vote for but encourage everyone to vote in local elections.
“Most people are interested every four years, but for these off-term elections, I don’t see enough excitement,” said Barbara Culp, treasurer of King Avenue PLUS. “This is when most of the important decisions are made, at this level, on a local level. So, we need more participation.”
Earl Murry wants to attend the event to talk with candidates. He wants to speak to them about ensuring money that has come into the state and city is implicated in programs. He is interested in officials putting money towards the blight program or programs that help provide residents with job opportunities.
Murry works in tool shed management for Neighborhood Engagement Hub, which rents out tools to the group members.
Roy Howard is also involved in the neighborhood beautification project at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Garden. He was born in Flint, lived in Las Vegas and returned to his hometown about a year ago. He likes it in Flint and is looking forward to seeing the community coming together to make Flint prosperous.
With the help of various community organizations and volunteers, King Avenue PLUS designed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Garden to be a meeting place for the neighborhood. Applewood-Ruth Mott Foundation helped with the design and provided advice for the plants there. John Cohoon with the Genesee Conservation District has been making recommendations for the long-term beautification of the garden. He helped the group decide on perennials and hardwoods. Ben Gaydos and the University of Michigan-Flint Design Studio designed signs. Church groups who visit the city have also helped with large projects.
King Avenue PLUS members are concerned not only with the garden but with the improvement of the entire area. A mural of Martin Luther King goes across the bridge on Martin Luther King Avenue. A mural of Former U.S. President Barack Obama also points to Martin Luther King Avenue.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Garden was once nine vacant lots with weeds growing. Culp, who lives across the street, saw the weeds and decided she wanted to do something about it. Culp visited Martin Luther King streets and avenues in major cities across the United States, and she began working with other members of King Avenue PLUS. The peace garden in Atlanta, Georgia, was highly inspirational to her.
MLK PLUS members, partners and volunteers have great hopes for the garden. They would like to see the community come to appreciate the efforts many groups and individuals have put into it. The group meets every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at MLK Peace Garden.
The MLK Peace Garden is located at the corner of Martin Luther King Avenue and W. McClellan Street.