To mark this 150th anniversary, AIA implemented a nationwide initiative to promote grassroots involvement in local communities. With the goal of creating a “more livable future”, each local chapter was encouraged to collaborate with the community to facilitate improvement through design. The end result would be a “Blueprint for America”, a network of grassroots initiatives undertaken at the same time throughout the nation to revitalize our communities.

AIA Flint accepted the challenge and began a process that would span three years time. The AIA150 Committee formed and was soon introduced to an active and engaged neighborhood group, the Metawanenee Hills Neighborhood Association (MHNA). The neighborhood is located in a declining area of the City of Flint, although reminders of a prosperous history are still evident in the form of tree-lined boulevards and splendid homes interspersed among empty lots and abandoned homes. AIA Flint and MHNA planned and facilitated three collaborative workshop-style meetings to study needs, assets, and priorities within the neighborhood.

Four key areas of concern were identified: the now-closed Cook School, commercial nodes, residential areas, and Ramona Park. The final meeting, coined the “Solutions Charrette” established strategies and options for each. As with any complex system, there was no single answer to address the issues that plague the neighborhood. Positive change in the neighborhood must recognize the inter-connectedness of issues such as housing, green space, local retail and neighborhood identity.