Photo by Alan Levine
Article by Dawn Maturen and Chey Davis

Residents and citizens in Saginaw, Michigan have come together to organize a three-day conference to create the connections necessary for all citizens and residents to survive the current economic times and to initiate a renaissance of the city. The conference is scheduled to run from 9am-3pm on April 1st and 2nd, and Noon-4pm on April 3rd at several locations throughout the city. Organizing residents have created a Michigan non-profit organization to spearhead this effort—S.C.R.A.P. (Saginaw Cooperative Regenerative Action Project). Pre-registration is required, the cost to attend all three days of the event and meals is $25; however, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

All Saginaw residents and interested parties throughout the county and region are invited to join together for Building the Ark - Saginaw 2011. The three-day conference will give us an opportunity to look at where we’ve been, decide together how to ride out the economic storms that surround us, and how to create a more stable future. The conference will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; April 1st, 2nd and 3rd; at several locations throughout the city of Saginaw. A benefit dinner is scheduled for Saturday evening to fund projects developed at the conference, featuring a talk by Michigan filmmaker, Chris Bedford.

Friday’s conversations will focus on where we are, and how we got here. City and county officials will be present to reflect with us on city neighborhoods and county needs from 9am-3pm at The Houghton-Jones Resource Center, 1708 Johnson St. Saginaw, MI 48601. On Saturday, we’ll talk about where we can go from here. We’ll take a looking at all of our assets, and what kind of future can we want to create for ourselves as a city and a county. We’ll be dreaming big from 9am-3pm at Holy Family Catholic Church, 1525 S. Washington Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48601. Then on Sunday, this is where the rubber hits the road. All the exciting ideas and opportunities we’ve uncovered—this is where we figure out how to make it happen: 12-4pm at Dawn of a New Day Coffeehouse and Cafe, 210 S. Washington Ave., Saginaw, MI 48607.

Organizing citizens have come together for this effort because we have faith that we can have healthy, vibrant neighborhoods; local food, and a locally focused economy. We can build the relationships to carry us through job loss and foreclosure. We can create jobs for ourselves. We can support the small local businesses we have—and incubate new ones to stabilize employment. We know our non-profit sector is poised to support us in this process. There is a new, re-localized economy, waiting for us. We just have to look at the wide variety of assets we have as a community, and figure it out together.

S.C.R.A.P. is a Michigan non-profit organization working to create the network and relationships necessary to redevelop Saginaw, Michigan from the inside out, and the ground up. We see on the horizon a new economy that is worker owned, locally focused, and self-sustaining for Saginaw. This new economy, is ethical, humane, and supports healthy bodies, minds, and spirits in a community that is rooted in a sustainable local food system; stable, locally supported jobs; and friendly, safe neighborhoods to grow up in, and grow old in.

© Dawn Maturen and Chey Davis, 2011