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"There's No Way We're Gonna Drink That": Fighting for Clean Water in Flint

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
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I'm Not Gonna Drink ThatFor many, water crises don't get any more horrifying than what was initiated by city officials in Flint, Michigan when they switched the city's water supply almost three years ago, a story we explore in the second of our ongoing comics series on water, land and housing in the state (read the first here), below. While the Flint water crisis remains a popular touchstone, a useful example to consider in light of rampant government misspending and corruption, few understand what the ongoing crises really means -- or how they might identify signs of similar contamination in their own homes.

The biggest problem with Flint has always been identifying what the problem even is. The media narrative about lead levels focuses attention on contaminants more severe in 3,000 other US cities; too, the increasing evidence of bacterial infections, including deadly Legionella get ignored. Ongoing government noncompliance and backroom deals halt any progress the city could be making to limit the effects of the crisis, which makes even good news like the EPA's $100 million grant for infrastructure improvements fall a little flat. The deeply flawed emergency management law, under which both Flint and Detroit's crises emerged almost overnight, is still on the books. And threats to repeal the ACA [Affordable Care Act] -- particularly Michigan's expanded Medicaid program -- throw into jeopardy all progress made by residents to reconstruct their health and their lives.

And yet, as in Detroit, brilliant women in Flint are leading the national conversation about water rights. Have questions about what's really going on in Flint? Meet Melissa Mays in this month's strip, "There's No Way We're Gonna Drink That."

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

  1. Personal interview with Melissa Mays, conducted on February 21, 2017.
  2. "2 former Flint emergency managers charged over tainted water," Monica Davey and Mitch Smith, The New York Times, December 20, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/flint-water-charges.html?_r=0
  3. "City warns of potential health risks after Flint water tests revealed too much disinfection byproduct," Ron Fonger, MLive, January 2, 2015. Accessed February 28, 2017: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/01/flint_water_has_high_disinfect.html
  4. "Michigan attorney general sues France's Veolia in Flint water crisis," Ben Clayman, Reuters, June 22, 2016. Accessed February 28, 2017: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-michigan-water-idUSKCN0Z81PD
  5. "Federal judge orders delivery of bottled water in Flint," Paul Egan, Free Press, November 10, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2017: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/11/10/delivery-bottled-water-flint/93613760/
  6. "Soaring pneumonia deaths in Genessee County likely linked to undiagnosed Legionnaire's, experts say," Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Bridge, January 26, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2017: http://www.bridgemi.com/children-families/soaring-pneumonia-deaths-genesee-county-likely-linked-undiagnosed-legionnaires
  7. "Flint: 'All clear' for drinking water years away," Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, March 7, 2107. Accessed March 16, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2017/03/07/flint-water-conference/98862674/
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes is the author of Freddy Stories, a Xeric Award-winning, all-ages graphic novel. She received her Master's of fine arts degree from The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2010, does comics-making workshops for kids, has been an art teacher and once worked at a convenience store. Melissa lives in Hancock, Massachusetts. You can see more of her work at www.mmmendes.com.

Anne Elizabeth Moore

Anne Elizabeth Moore is a cultural critic and author of several award-winning, best-selling nonfiction books including Unmarketable (The New Press) and Cambodian Grrrl (Cantankerous Titles). She is a Fulbright scholar, a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and is the recipient of a 2016 Write A House Fellowship in Detroit. Her work has appeared in The Baffler, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Onion, Talking Points Memo, Wilson Quarterly, Tin House, and in international art exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial and a solo show at the MCA Chicago. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Voice of America, and in The New York Times, among others. Her most recent book, from Curbside Splendor, is Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.

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"There's No Way We're Gonna Drink That": Fighting for Clean Water in Flint

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

I'm Not Gonna Drink ThatFor many, water crises don't get any more horrifying than what was initiated by city officials in Flint, Michigan when they switched the city's water supply almost three years ago, a story we explore in the second of our ongoing comics series on water, land and housing in the state (read the first here), below. While the Flint water crisis remains a popular touchstone, a useful example to consider in light of rampant government misspending and corruption, few understand what the ongoing crises really means -- or how they might identify signs of similar contamination in their own homes.

The biggest problem with Flint has always been identifying what the problem even is. The media narrative about lead levels focuses attention on contaminants more severe in 3,000 other US cities; too, the increasing evidence of bacterial infections, including deadly Legionella get ignored. Ongoing government noncompliance and backroom deals halt any progress the city could be making to limit the effects of the crisis, which makes even good news like the EPA's $100 million grant for infrastructure improvements fall a little flat. The deeply flawed emergency management law, under which both Flint and Detroit's crises emerged almost overnight, is still on the books. And threats to repeal the ACA [Affordable Care Act] -- particularly Michigan's expanded Medicaid program -- throw into jeopardy all progress made by residents to reconstruct their health and their lives.

And yet, as in Detroit, brilliant women in Flint are leading the national conversation about water rights. Have questions about what's really going on in Flint? Meet Melissa Mays in this month's strip, "There's No Way We're Gonna Drink That."

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

I'm Not Gonna Drink That

  1. Personal interview with Melissa Mays, conducted on February 21, 2017.
  2. "2 former Flint emergency managers charged over tainted water," Monica Davey and Mitch Smith, The New York Times, December 20, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/flint-water-charges.html?_r=0
  3. "City warns of potential health risks after Flint water tests revealed too much disinfection byproduct," Ron Fonger, MLive, January 2, 2015. Accessed February 28, 2017: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/01/flint_water_has_high_disinfect.html
  4. "Michigan attorney general sues France's Veolia in Flint water crisis," Ben Clayman, Reuters, June 22, 2016. Accessed February 28, 2017: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-michigan-water-idUSKCN0Z81PD
  5. "Federal judge orders delivery of bottled water in Flint," Paul Egan, Free Press, November 10, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2017: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/11/10/delivery-bottled-water-flint/93613760/
  6. "Soaring pneumonia deaths in Genessee County likely linked to undiagnosed Legionnaire's, experts say," Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Bridge, January 26, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2017: http://www.bridgemi.com/children-families/soaring-pneumonia-deaths-genesee-county-likely-linked-undiagnosed-legionnaires
  7. "Flint: 'All clear' for drinking water years away," Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, March 7, 2107. Accessed March 16, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2017/03/07/flint-water-conference/98862674/
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes is the author of Freddy Stories, a Xeric Award-winning, all-ages graphic novel. She received her Master's of fine arts degree from The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2010, does comics-making workshops for kids, has been an art teacher and once worked at a convenience store. Melissa lives in Hancock, Massachusetts. You can see more of her work at www.mmmendes.com.

Anne Elizabeth Moore

Anne Elizabeth Moore is a cultural critic and author of several award-winning, best-selling nonfiction books including Unmarketable (The New Press) and Cambodian Grrrl (Cantankerous Titles). She is a Fulbright scholar, a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and is the recipient of a 2016 Write A House Fellowship in Detroit. Her work has appeared in The Baffler, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Onion, Talking Points Memo, Wilson Quarterly, Tin House, and in international art exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial and a solo show at the MCA Chicago. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Voice of America, and in The New York Times, among others. Her most recent book, from Curbside Splendor, is Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.