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Drinking Water Lead Contamination in Flint, Michigan, 2016

In April 2014, Flint changed its water source to the Flint River. This water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply. 6,000 – 12,000 children, in addition to thousands of adults, have been exposed to drinking water with unsafe levels of lead.

Plumbers have volunteered time to install filters on household faucets, but levels in some homes may be too high for these after-the-fact measures to be effective. This crisis is being called a case of environmental racism because it disproportionately exposes ethnic minorities to pollution.

At Broadsided, we believe that art and literature belong in our daily lives. They inspire and demonstrate the vitality and depth of our connection with the world. We had to speak out—we had to make a space for you to speak out—on this issue.

Three Broadsided Press artists provided images they’ve created that, for them, speak to the Flint drinking water contamination in a wide sense. We then asked writers to respond with words.

There was a deep upwelling of work for this feature—poems about the body, about systemic wrongs, about history and hydration, and poems that played with the elemental nature of lead, the stuff of flint. Our decision was not easy.

Below are the collaborations that resulted.