Effort aims to bring people to Flint, two at a time

By Jessica Strachan

The Flint Journal

FLINT (AP) -- Swartz Creek resident Terry Wisner is just a regular guy who has been involved in the Flint-area community most of his life.

The father of four has been married for 41 years and considers himself a regular at downtown Flint events and local Genesee County venues.

But he knows that not everyone sees the same Flint he does, so he took it upon himself to launch a community-wide program and challenge called "Bring Two to Flint."

"One of my main questions is, why don't more people from the area take part in these activities? It seems like we see the same folks at the Second Friday Artwalks or the Applewood Estate tours or the Sloan Museum or Blackstones and on and on," said Wisner, founder and president of the CPO Institute.

"My solution? Have everyone bring two people who have never been to the event or venue, or at least haven't been in at least two years, to the activity along with you."

He was inspired to kick-start the program this spring and unveiled it at Pecha Kucha Night in Flint during the June ArtWalk. He believes that "if Flint thrives, the whole area will thrive."

His goal is for people to get involved in something new around Flint, to give the city a chance and to connect with it in a way they haven't before.

"There are many great things to do and see in and around Flint. Our focus is to get people to try it," he explained.

"We all know that word of mouth is the best marketing in the world. That's why we want to leverage those folks who already support Flint events and businesses to get the word out."

So, how is the program faring?

Not too badly, considering it has reached not only locals, but also people from as far away as Colorado.

Emily Carlson of Denver recently came to visit friends in the area, and they decided to try something new downtown, courtesy of Bring Two to Flint.

"A friend saw the invite to the VCCA show on Saginaw Street last month. Since neither of us had been to the cruise or Cork on Saginaw, we thought we would bring each other," said Carlson, 30. "What a ball! I still can't believe the cars from all over the country, and I wish we had a Cork in Denver."

Tina Nies, a small business coach from Flint Township, says Bring Two to Flint is an "idea full of surprises," even for locals.

"I've been attending and participating in the Second Friday ArtWalk for several years. When I read about the Bring Two to Flint Challenge, I was talking with my brother and I was shocked to learn that (he) had never attended an ArtWalk," said Nies, 44.

"It was a great reminder to invite friends and family to the events I love."

Wisner recommends encouraging people you know -- or letting it be the personal push you need -- for hot Flint events such as Back to the Bricks, the Crim Festival of Races, Second Friday ArtWalk or even just a trip through the Flint Cultural Center or to a grand opening of a local business.

Wisner said he finds truth in the old adage, "When all is said and done, more is often said than done," and that's why he hopes this viral initiative on Facebook will go much further.

"We can all bring two to Flint."




Published: Wed, Aug 31, 2011