Natalie Pruett: New Community Progress hire lends unique viewpoint as Flint native

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Natalie Pruett Bio PhotoWe are pleased to welcome our newest staff member, Natalie Pruett, Program Officer of Michigan Initiatives, to the Community Progress team. To introduce her, we asked her a few questions about her work and her perspective as a native Flintonian.

Here are her thoughts:

How did you first get interested in working on urban revitalization, especially vacant and abandoned properties?

As a Flint native, working on urban revitalization seems very natural, as vacant and abandoned properties seem very unnatural. I am driven by a desire to make the community that I grew up in a better place for those who live here.

Why do you love Flint and choose to live there? What would you say are the City’s biggest assets?

The story of Flint is exceptional. While its narrative of deindustrialization and depopulation is common to many other cities, the severity of its decline is not. But there is more to Flint’s story that will come in time. I am proud to be a part of the effort and cause working to ensure that the next chapter in time is defined not by decline, but by ascent.

Chevy in the Hole Phytoremediation - Flint, MI - Chelsea Allinger for the Center for Community Progress - 2014

Chevy in the Hole Phytoremediation – Flint, MI – Chelsea Allinger for the Center for Community Progress – 2013

What’s one lot-level revitalization project in Flint that you find inspiring?

Chevy Commons, formerly Chevy in the Hole. The name change nearly says it all. The site is located on the bank of the Flint River, the lifeline upon which the city was formed. The historic site was developed for automotive manufacturing. Eventually it was vacated and posed a threat to the city’s quality of life. Now the site is being repurposed as a natural area that will be accessible to the public.

What excites you about joining the team at the Center for Community Progress?

I am honored to join the Center for Community Progress team. The breadth and depth of their expertise and experience is impressive. I am excited to learn from the team and their work, and contribute to building greater bridges between national and local vacant property initiatives. As someone who is primarily interested in adapting systems and policies to address vacant property challenges, the Center for Community Progress feels like home.

What advice would you offer to someone who is interested in supporting revitalization efforts in his or her hometown?

It brings additional motivation as well as additional pressure. The stakes seem higher. Your work may shape the condition and lives of your family, friends, and ultimately those that shaped you.

Learn more about the Flint Blight Elimination Framework, which Natalie will be helping implement, here.