Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mistake I made yesterday - But not today!

Yesterday I made a big mistake.  I needed to buy some toilitries for Rotary to donate to the Clio Community Services drive coming up December 10 so I went to the local dollar store in front of Walmart on Linden.  I don't know who owns that store, who works there, nor did I check on the origin of the product. 

I was reminded that Borden's also carries $1 stuff too; so I went there and bought more shampoo, soap, and laundry detergent to contribute.  Borden's does a lot for our community, I know everyone in the store, and I don't know anyone at the other place...so I should have checked local first! 

We just have to get it in our heads to check local first.  Buy gift cards to local businesses.  Look for things with a USA tag on the label.  We can do better! Did you see how many thousands of jobs can be created if every American bought one product made in the USA? WOW. We need to do it.  I'm fired up for shopping local!  How about you?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Squint Your Eyes

Squint your eyes a little and imagine a new partnership to serve adults and children in the Clio Area that has been in development since about 2008, but may be coming together here in late 2011.  The new health partnership would do a better job of diagnosing our health problems, remediate the most obvious issues, and then prepare a new plan for a more healthy future.

As many of us know, the health stats from 2008 are not good for those of us within the 48420 zip code.  In fact, our number of overweight folks with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes. and even cancer are higher than in the City of Flint or in other suburbs.  The Healthy Community Initiative has been a unique attempt by the Clio Area to get better, but we need to do more on two fronts: 1) keeping track of our progress, and 2) working closely with school children. 

We need more research based activities and we need to start with the youth!  Squint your eyes a little and we can now imagine a new partnership that can meet those two goals.  It's not done yet, but recently, three new developments give me hope that we can do it!

1)  After many meetings and conversations since the fall of 2009, a Clio Area Health Center opened October 1st on Vienna Road thanks to Hamilton Community Health Network.  This Health Center is a family health center, and because of its federal status, our Clio Area Health Center will serve all residents regardless of the level of income or insurance.  Access to health care for every Clio Area resident!

2)  The Greater Flint Health Coalition, in late August of this year, provided the Healthy Community Initiative a small grant to work at Carter Middle School to overcome some serious health deficits. The idea is to help 1000 children and families get more fit and eat better by creating a model healthy school building.  So far, the new project has found that parents and students are interested in becoming more healthy, but need a little help to get it done.  We also know that the need for services may be greater than we had imagined at the beginning.

3) Maybe the most important leg of the three legged stool is the recent designation of Hurley Medical Center as a "Children's Hospital."  Most of us know that Hurley is known for dealing with the most at-risk kids, but this designation will enable Hurley to add more children's services, conduct more research, and do more outreach throughout the county.

Now, squint your eyes and imagine a project that creates a model healthy building for 1000 Clio kids and their families that could be duplicated in other school buildings in Clio and throughout the State.  Imagine that Hurley's new staff would assist the Carter Middle School project do more research and determine individual health needs; and imagine that the new Clio Health Center would make sure that every child and every parent has health services to meet those needs; and then imagine that the all of our friends work together to develop a new plan based on the data collected. 

After nearly four years of work, all three of these developments have happened this fall, and it is like it is meant to be!  It's not done yet, but stay tuned at everythingclio.org for more news.  Please feel free to go to "contact us" or email nate@everythingclio.org  with your comments.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do We Have Poor People in Clio?

Clio Faces New Challenge

During the last few years, the Clio Healthy Community Initiative has led some programs and activities to improve the quality of life in the area, but now a new challenge has emerged that will require new resources and a new understanding of the world today in Clio.  Poverty.  Yes, we have poverty in the Clio area.

Time Magazine’s November 28th issue lays out the challenge in their article, “Below the Line.”  The article documents the fact that more Americans (46.2 million) are living in poverty than at any time since the census bureau has been keeping track.  The point of the article seems to be that poverty is now seen in every state and in every neighborhood.  The article says:

1.       Poverty is everywhere.  Of all the poor in American, suburbs have 33%, Cities have 28%, small metropolitan areas have 21% and rural communities 19%.  The income in the city of Clio has declined over the last ten years, and the number of children living in poverty ($22,314 for a family of four) has increased from 20% to 48% of Clio kids.

2.      Poverty is more than not having enough money.  Costs are up dramatically for Clio residents.  Gas and transportation costs are up and no public transportation is available.  Health care costs are up, and few resources reach out this far.  People are working two jobs and child care costs are up.  The new poor do not know how or where to access the state or federal safety net that are usually housed in the inner cities.

3.      Neighborhoods need fixing from within.  In every community, it is now necessary to “put the neighbor back in the hood.”  While Clio enjoyed numerous block and neighborhood clubs in the past, they have all but disappeared on Poplar and Clarion, on Marjorie and Delwood, and on Renee and Ataberry among others.

4.      The international economy affects some more than others.  In Clio’s past, Clio residents worked at GM or at the small auto-suppliers; and enjoyed the family farm after work.  Now, the family farm is owned by corporations, GM went bankrupt, and small auto-suppliers have literally disappeared.  The suburban Clio Area has been hit as hard as any community in Michigan!

5.      Solutions are available.  Poverty can be addressed in Clio and throughout the US by increasing the knowledge of how to access the current safety net before falling into “generational poverty,” by increasing the number of students in apprentice or technical programs, by raising the number of residents who have at least a two year degree or certificate, and by taking advantage of the new generation’s knowledge of technology.

Some of my friends and neighbors have told me recently that “we don’t have poor people in Clio;” and further, we don’t want poor people in Clio.  As a community, we need to understand the reality of our situation in order to address it.  We need to reach out and embrace the problem, not ignore it in hopes it will get better.

The crisis of jobs, educational levels, and poverty in the Clio Area will not solve itself. We need to take action.