Flint — The Transformation to Hero Town USA From Crime Town USA


When I think of Hero Town USA, I think of a city like Gotham from the Marvel comic books. That was until recently, when I learned that metro Detroiters have their own Hero Town close by.

Many of us know that Flint has struggled with high crime and economic woes for years. Its image as a depressed, dangerous community was cemented in Michael Moore’s documentary film, Roger & Me.

That despondent image is changing, thanks to Adam Hartley and Matt Langdon.

To shift the paradigm within the Flint community, Hartley and Langdon — the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Swartz Creek Community Schools

and founder of the Hero Construction Co., respectively — have created The Hero Round Table, to be held Friday and Saturday (Sept. 19-20) at The Whiting in Flint. The event provides an opportunity for those interested in heroism around the world to gather together for networking, collaboration, and discussions from the world’s leading experts on the subject.

“People here in Flint are learning to create change from the ground up,” Langdon says. “The Hero Round Table helps give them the tools to do that, by bringing in both heroism experts and regular people who have made huge changes in their own communities.”

Talks and discussions will come from experts in psychology, education, philosophy, sports, storytelling (books, movies, TV, games), and the news media.

Among the speakers will be the Dalai Lama’s former security chief, Stephen K. Hayes, who will recount his experiences and discuss how to practice wisdom.

“The opposite of a hero is not a villain, it’s a bystander,” Hayes says. “We’re here to help people overcome the urge to be a bystander and to start being active in changing their own lives and the community around them.”

Others presenters include Daniel Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger called “the most dangerous man in America” after he released the Pentagon Papers; Chase Masterson, actress and founder of the Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition; and Jeff Tungate, Oakland University’s head women’s basketball coach.

“We’re seeing a real shift,” Langdon says. “Flint is ready to change from Crime Town USA to Hero Town USA.”

Todd Palmer is founder and president of Troy-based Diversified Industrial Staffing and Diversified PEOple LLC.