Community Plus Art

Kalamazoo iota moment

Greetings, Earthlings!

Today let’s catch up with some of the journey of my #Minivanifesto — murals in communities I have visited in the last few weeks.

John Grider’s powerful mural in Duluth

While I prepared for the drive through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, across the Mackinaw Bridge and down to Flint, Michigan, I had the great joy of hanging out here and there with John Grider as he brought forth this powerful mural for Adeline’s new creation of community offerings in Duluth, Minnesota. I could just walk down the alley a couple of blocks to see the day’s progress. Heaven.

In Ashland, Wisconsin, I found many murals which were not only historical, but very moving. The faces of the individuals in these block-long paintings certainly look real to me. Indeed they are — the faces of military men and women who lived in the area.

In Ironwood, Michigan, all these faces of miners who worked in the iron mines stare out at you. It might seem disturbing, given what we know about the treacherous effects of mining, but their faces show strong, capable men who seem proud to do their work. I wondered, as I stood taking it in, where we find this depth of camaraderie today.

These community murals bind the community together as only a powerful art piece can. Beyond that, the casual visitor also becomes part of the community’s heartbeat by acknowledging and sometimes sharing this rich history.

Flint, Michigan

What’s going on in Flint, Michigan deserves its own post — or three. For now, here’s one I found while looking for another mural. That’s one experience you can have visiting Flint today. You can also take a tour of the 50+ murals already completed in their 100 mural public art project. Flint is very rich with modern culture, drawing on its diversity and its vision for the future.


One of my favorite places in the entire world is Totem Books, in Flint. My time there was terribly short, and I don’t know when I’ll be in Flint again, but Totem Books will surely lure me back.

We have Ironwood and its brethren to thank for “The Metal That Made America,” (book by Brooke Stoddard), and we have Flint and its brethren to thank for our decades of automotive freedom on these long and beautiful American roads. By traveling the country in a minivan (or whatever matches your lifestyle), we can revisit what built us, learn from communities who are transitioning into new identities, and possibly even discover ourselves in the context of these times.

The five words of the “Minivanifesto” are: Mobility, Community, Diversity, Gifting and Art. What would you like to find along the road?

Looking forward,

Suzanna and iota

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