I thought that the most violent city in America was probably going to be Detroit but it actually turns out it’s a small town in Michigan (so not too far from Detroit) called Flint that you probably haven’t heard of unless you’re a big Michael Moore fan as it’s actually his hometown. My friends in a punk rock band called The Swellers are actually from there too so maybe if you’ve heard of them you might be familiar with it too. The Swellers always made out that it was an OK place to live – at least not as bad as these statistics make out anyway – so I’m kind of surprised to hear about all this but I guess you can’t argue with statistics.
For the third year in a row Flint has been named the most violent city in America, with over 2700 reported violent crimes in 2012 including 63 homicides. Photographer/journalist Brett Carlson decided that when he moved there for an internship at the local paper in 2012 that he wanted to get more involved with documenting the lives of the local residents and set about meeting and photographing a whole bunch of them.
He discovered that the town has faced a lot of hardships since the collapse of its once thriving auto industry that pretty much provided employment for the majority of the town during its hey day. If you want to know more about this listen to some of The Swellers’ records as they touch on this a lot, or watch Michael Moore’s 1989 documentary Roger & Me. A lot of people living there are still very proud of the city but they all yearn for a return to the good old days and its obvious that the collapse of the industry has led to its current status as the most violent city in America.
Carlson eventually asked his friend and fellow graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology Juan Madrid to head out to the town to help him document it, and both set about capturing images of the city in their own unique styles. Carlsen is more of a photojournalist and looks to make connections with people and shoot ‘behind closed doors’ whereas Madrid shoots based on random encounters and whatever comes his way. Together their work comes together to form a pretty definitive look at what it’s like to live in a town like Flint at this point in time.
Both of them feel like the project is ongoing and even though neither of them are based in Flint at this point in time, that they’ll both be visiting it regularly in the future to try and document its future. They’re currently trying to raise money on Kickstarter to print a book of the work so far so if you feel like helping them out head over here.
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