‘Re: Saginaw’ teaches history of the city in new ways

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Counter Culture Arts Collective in Saginaw on Aug. 21 hosted a screening of a documentary about the city of Saginaw called “Re: Saginaw.”

After the screening, Counter Culture staff and filmmaker Alex Mixter took participants on a group bicycle ride that toured some of the locations featured in the documentary. The screening was free, with donations being accepted at the door.

Mixter is a Saginaw native who decided to create a documentary about Saginaw that would put the region’s economic decline in historical context and place a spotlight on efforts to revitalize the city through volunteerism, entrepreneurialism and networks of mutual support between residents.

The documentary explains some of the history of Saginaw, detailing its industrial growth, which culminated in Saginaw becoming a lumber capital. This provided its residents with middle class stability.

The film also uses historical documents to demonstrate the practices of redlining and white flight, which led to the racially segregated geography of Saginaw and the surrounding area.

The film then documents the economic downturn suffered in Saginaw, as well as its current difficulties involving crime, stigma and blighted buildings.

The main focus of the documentary is on residents who are working to make positive change in their Saginaw neighborhoods. It highlights non-profit youth programs, local businesses and churches who are all working to combat negative stereotypes about Saginaw while improving their communities and refurbishing historic buildings in Old Town Saginaw.

Mixter told the audience that the documentary is still a work in progress, with some changes having been made since its April premiere.

“Part of it is just needing to know when to end, because once you start paying attention to what’s happening, everything can just unfurl in front of you,” Mixter said before the screening.

The screening took place before Counter Culture’s weekly group ride, called Counter Cruise.

The objective in combining the events was to help give viewers some geographic context on the people, businesses and buildings highlighted in the documentary.

Nearly 100 people showed up for the bike ride after the screening, many of whom were Saginaw residents.

“I love this movie,” Josie Norris said. Norris is a Saginaw native who studies photojournalism at Central Michigan University. “It’s so positive, and it was a great idea to take people out to see these places in person.”

The Counter Cruise group ride snaked a route through downtown Saginaw and adjacent residential areas, passing many of the locations filmed in the documentary.

Counter Cruise is a weekly group ride open and free to the public. The ride generally starts and ends somewhere in downtown Saginaw, and occasionally travels to other cities like Flint. Counter Cruise rides will be organized at 6:30 p.m. every Monday for the rest of the cycling season.