Every movement starts with an idea. In the case of the Flint Forward (#FlintFwd) campaign, the idea was to promote the strength, creativity, and versatility of the community it represents.
#FlintFwd began as a social media strategy to inspire a city bombarded by unflattering images and bad news. Flint business owner, investor and champion Jocelyn Hagerman knew there were positive stories in need of telling, despite a nationally publicized water emergency, so she launched FlintFwd.org and started hash-tagging away.
Hagerman’s team added marketing flourishes, including photos and videos, followed by t-shirts and “thunder sticks,” cool noisemakers used at rallies and sporting events. It’s all in an effort to elevate awareness of the enormous strength, character and resilience of Flint residents.
“We want the community to embrace this,” Hagerman told me when I met her late this summer. “This is theirs.”
The community seems to agree. In less than a year #FlintFwd has caught the attention of thousands, locally and beyond, and continues to spread. City natives like Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and performer Mama Sol, who recorded a spoken word poem for the website, are among those who’ve saluted the movement. Michigan State University men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo recorded a video in which he fondly remembered winning a championship with multiple “Flint stones” among his players, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio showed his civic love by using the hash tag.
The #FlintFwd campaign has gained visibility among residents and supporters across the country.
Stories of success and determination have become #FlintFwd’s bailiwick. Grand Blanc and Flint movie theaters even screen videos from the campaign between featured showings. Hagerman and her team encourage anyone and everyone to show support by adding a “like” to the Facebook page and helping toward the goal of 10,000 by year’s end.
To some the effort might be deemed merely an innovative public relations campaign, but #FlintFwd is a highly visible reminder of the mission at hand. Without forward movement any community can crumble under the weight of its biggest challenges. A campaign that rallies support, aligns a community behind a common and worthwhile cause, and lifts positive voices is one we all can, and should, join.
Editor’s Note: #FlintFwd board members include founder Jocelyn Hagerman, Rachel Pastukhov, Dylan Straka, Tim Bograkos, Carma Lewis, Kathleen Gazall, Peter Fish, Karianne Martus, George Wilkinson, Linda Moxam, Phil Shaltz and Cole Sanseverino.