Community Based EONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME

By Grace Lee Boggs

18th Annual Conference, Association for Community-Based Education

Alexandria, Va. November 11, 1993

It is an honor to be the keynote speaker at your 18th Annual Conference which is focusing on the issue of Community-based Economic Development. I have been a Movement activist for more than 50 years, but it is only in the last few years that I have made the struggle for community-based economic develop-

ment a priority. Since you have been organized around community-based education for so many years, I am sure I have a great deal to learn from your experiences.

Originally I was scheduled to make the Closing Address. So I was planning to listen carefully and base . what I had to say on what I learned from the actual proceedings. I am still planning to listen and learn over the next two days. But now that I have been asked to make the opening keynote, my responsibility is to provide a framework for your deliberations. So, after a telephone discussion with Chris Zachariadis, your Executive Director, we agreed that I should give you some idea of the movement towards commu­nity-based economic development which I see emerging and which I believe will, like NAFA, require each of us to take a fresh look at who we are and where we stand.

In the late 1970s, when ACBE was founded, very few people had any idea how rapidly our cities and communities were being turned into wastelands by multinational corporations replacing human labor with robots and exporting jobs overseas where they could make more profit with cheaper labor. At the UN General Assembly in December 1972 Chile’s President Salvadore Allende had warned the world of the threat to the nation-state posed by transnational corporations. “The entire political structure of the world is being undermined,” he said, because transnational corporations organizations are “not account­able to or regulated by any parliament or institution representing the collective interest.” At the same time, in cities like Detroit people were huddling behind barred doors and windows because crime had spread so rapidly in the wake of the urban rebellions which had given a certain legitimacy to looting as a

form of struggle. So in June 1972 we put out this statement entitled CRIME AMONG OUR PEOPLE – in which we called upon people at the grassroots to begin rebuilding community by pledging among ourselves not to buy “hot goods.”

In November 1976 in a speech at the University of Michigan Jimmy described the dangerous situation we are in because we have for so long believed that our social and human problems could be solved by economic growth and advancing technology and because we have left all the decisions with regard to our economy and the government to the professional politician. “Our cities are mushrooming at the expense of the countryside,” he said. “Our economy is run by monstrous multinational corporations headed by executives and specialists who have no loyalty to this country or to any community. With every year more and more of our old people and our young people, especially, the black, the uneducated and the unskilled, are reduced to parasites. And we have become more afraid of each other than we used to be of wild animals. Each person has become a lonely individualist, narrowed down to a cog in a machine, with no individuality and no sense of citizenship.”

Since then the economic, political and social disintegration of Detroit and other cities across our country has been beyond our worst forebodings. All around us in the inner city young blacks with no hope of factory jobs making enough to raise a family have become increasingly desperate. As a result, with the invention of Crack in the mid-80s the conditions were ripe for the creation of the drug economy which has turned our neighborhoods into war zones where it is no longer safe even for children to go to and from school.

For a while many people had the illusion that only the jobs of the unskilled and uneducated were being eliminated and that there would be plenty of work in the service and information industries for those who stayed in school and got their degrees. In other words, the inner cities might suffer but the suburbs would continue to prosper. However, in the last few years corporations like IBM, Xerox, Kodak, Ameritech et al have been laying off technicians and management personnel by the tens of thousands. Between 1979 and 1992 4.4 million employees of Fortune 500 companies received pink slips. This year, for the first time, white collar unemployed – mostly permanent job losers -outnumber blue collar unem­ployed. It is estimated that in the next decade 30-40% of the remaining 7 million middle management jobs will become obsolete. The New York Times regularly carries articles like these with the headline:

THE PHDS ARE HERE BUT THE LABS AREN’T HIRING.” And a cartoon last spring showed university graduates in cap and gown walking across the platform to receive posters saying “Will Work for Food” instead of diplomas.

All across the country there is a growing realization that we can no longer depend upon big corporations to provide us with jobs and that small local businesses not only provide more jobs but are more loyal to communities. The stubborn popular opposition to NAFrA despite tremendous pressures from eco­nomic and political elites is a sign of deep-rooted resentment of the role that multinational corporations and a global economy are playing in subjecting us to the untender mercies of the market place, robbing

us not only of jobs but of any control over our own destinies.

We have arrived at a new historical conjuncture. For the first time in human history ordinary people in all walks of life, men and women of all ethnic groups, the skilled and educated as well as the unskilled and uneducated, are facing the question “How do WE make our livings now that we can no longer depend upon ‘the Man’ for jobs?” At the same time because our families and our communities have been falling apart while we were making what we thought were good livings, we also face the question of how to rebuild our f arnilies and our communities. And because our addiction to consumerism is causing global warming, deterioration of our forest and arable soil and extinction of species, we face the challenge of making drastic changes in our way of life if we are to save our planet.

Meanwhile, because we accumulated a $4 trillion debt in order to defeat Russian Communism, we now need a daily injection of $18 billion from Saudi Arabia, Belgium, England and Japan just to maintain the status quo. Domestic programs are being eroded, not expanded. So we can no longer depend upon government to resolve these questions for us. We must rely on PEOPLE POWER. We must become more self-reliant.

Thus as we come to the end of the 20th century the conditions are ripe for creating a movement that goes beyond all the movements of the past. The issues we face are not just those of Class which led to the struggle for the dignity of labor and the creation of the labor movement in the 1930s. Class exploitation still exists but instead of Labor freeing itself from Capital, Capital is now using hitech and its mobility to free itself from Labor. Nor are the issues just those of Race which led to the creation of the civil rights and Black Power Movements in the 1950s and 1960s. Racism still exists and we are experiencing some very ugly manifestations of it. But it is no longer possible to build a movement against Racism (1) because it has already been delegtimized by the struggles of the 50s and 60s; (2) because the contradic­tions within the black community are now obvious; and (3) because the main questions being asked by blacks do not center around race but around economics. Equally important, because of the huge immi­gration from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East in recent years, it no longer makes sense to think of this country in terms of blacks and whites or in terms of majority and minorities. By the middle of the next century Euro-Americans and African Americans will be minorities like other minorities.

WHAT IS A MOVEMENT? We may not all have the same textbook or dictionary definition but most of us have a sense of what Movement is. Thus, when youth volunteers were asked “What is a Movement?” at the first session of DETROIT SUMMER this year, these are some of the answers they gave.

A Movement is  to change things. to make a better society for everyone.

dialoguing, coming up with a vision, and then fighting for it about changing values and learning to see different points of view. something we can take back home and spread around. Projects end, but Detroit Summer goes with us.

What all these comments have in common is the sense that a Movement is not just for the purpose of correcting particular injustices or inequities. A Movement advances Humanity to a new plateau of consciousness, self-consciousness, creativity and political and social responsiblity. It creates a new dream, a new sense or vision of what it means to be a human being, a new basis of unity between differ­ent groups. A Movement does not necessarily begin with this new vision, but in the course of struggle the vision has to become increasingly clear to the participants and be made increasingly clear to the rest of society both in actions and words. For example, in the 1770s we had both the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence. In the 1930s we had both the plant sit-ins and John L. Lewis’ speeches. In the 1969s we had both the boycotts and sit-ins and Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.

In order for a Movement to be built, large numbers of people who are critical to the functioning of the society must have reached the point where they feel they can’t take the way things are any more. So if you have your ear close to the grassroots you begin to hear people asking “WHY” and “How” questions which are not easily answerable. For example, after World War II which was supposed to have been fought for Democracy black folks began asking “Why do white folks treat us this way?” with a new urgency. In the 1960s in Detroit black folks began asking why white folks should hold political power since blacks were fast becoming the majority in the city, And these days in Detroit and other cities across the country the main questions being asked at the community level are “What is happening to our young people? Why are they killing each other so mindlessly? How can we begin creating jobs for ourselves?”

These were not the questions being asked 20 years ago in Detroit when the Black Power Movement culminated in the election of Coleman Young. Detroiters were full of hope and pride because through struggle we had achieved what was right and just in a city which was majority black – our first black Mayor. Little did we suspect that we would soon be faced with new, much more difficult contradictions because we had entered a new economic era in which jobs would be exported overseas or done by robots. Changing the color of the Mayor did not, could not reverse this de-industrialization. Over the last 20 years, like other Mayors, Mayor Young has tried to bring back jobs by offering tax abatements

to corporations, sponsoring megaprojects which mainly enriched the developers whose contributions swelled his campaign chest; and offering Casino Gambling as a new industry that would create 50,000 jobs. But corporations and jobs have continued to leave Detroit.

But at the same time, step by step, year by year, in response to reality and through struggle over local issues, a new movement has been in the making. The first sign of this new movement was the founding of SOSAD (SA VE OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS) in 1987 by Clementine Barfield and other moth­ers who had lost their children to street violence. Some of these mothers had been teenagers in the South in the 60s. Now they were ready to go beyond mourning to organize programs for positive change with the goal of creating a movement which would do for our time what the civil rights movement had done for the 50s and 60s.

Then, in 1988 when Mayor Young began urging Casino Gambling as the means for economic develop­ment of the city, a broad coalition of clergy, political leaders and community activists came together and organized UNITED DETROITERS AGAINST GAMBLING (UDAG), among other reasons be­cause we realized that Casino Gambling would increase the fast-buck, quick-fix mentality which was already destroying our young people. After we won the referendum we stayed together as

DETROITERS UNITING to explore alternatives. “Our concern,” we said, “is with how our city has been disintegrating socially, economically, politically,morally and ethically. We are convinced that we cannot depend upon one industry or any large corporation to provide us with jobs. It is now up to us – the citizens of Detroit – to put our hearts, our imaginations, our minds and our hands together to create a vision and project concrete programs for developing the kinds of local enterprises that will provide meaningful jobs and income for all citizens.” In 1989 members of community groups from all across the city came together to carry on weekly anti-crackhouse marches in different neigh-horhoods. Calling ourselves WE-PROS (WE THE PEOPLE RECLAIM OUR STREETS) we warned drug dealers they had “better run and hide, ’cause people are uniting on the other side.”

In the summer of 1990 Mayor Young announced his decision to tear down Ford Auditorium so that Comerica Bank could build a new high rise office building. DETROITERS UNITING again rose to the challenge and under the slogan “Civic Pride, not Corporate Greed” mobilized tens of thousands of Detroiters from all across the city to demand a referendum on whether or not to re-zone a public center for commercial development. On April 23, 1991 a majority of citizens voted a resounding NO! “Detroiters send the Mayor a message on DEvelopment,” the Free Press editorialized. “It was a good week for Democracy,” according to Free Press Development columnist John Gallagher.

In November 1991 to reinforce the new public spirit emerging in the city a group of community organi­zations and activists organized the Peoples Festival, “a multi-generational, multicultural celebration of Detroits, putting our hearts, minds, hands and imaginations together to redefine and recreate a city of Community, Compassion, Cooperation, Participation and Enterprise in harmony with the earth.”

In 1992 DETROITERS UNITING, along with about a dozen other local community organizations, including ACBE member, the WARREN CONNER DEVELOPMENT COALITION, issued a Call for DETROIT SUMMER inviting young people to come to our city from all over the country to work with local youth on community projects, e.g. creating community parks out of vacant lots, planting commu­nity gardens, painting murals and rehabbing homes. We were confident that just as the young people who joined MISSISSIPPI FREEDOM SUMMER in 1964 had taken the civil rights movement to a new plateau, youth volunteers working with grassroots community groups could now create a new spirit and

__         a new sense of direction for Detroit and other cities across the country which have been devastated by multinational capitalism.

This article from the DETROIT FREE PRESS in August 1993 tells the story. “THE HOPE BRI­GADE: A NEW GENERATION TURNS ITS BACK ON TIIE SUBURBS AND EMBRACES TIIE CITY” it says.

Through DETROIT SUMMER, we have discovered that there is a new generation of young people who are very different from the 30 and 40 somethings who came out of the movements of the 60s and 70s. They are more ready to work with and learn from the various ethnic groups who represent the rich cultural diversity of the modem city. For them the main challenge is to make the cities where they live livable. It is not racism. They are also eager to create new bonds between the generations and especially with their elders. They also seem eager to break with the elitist, one-dimensional educational philoso­phy which divorces cognitive learning from practical work and prepares young people for individual upward mobility – and to embrace a new philosophy best expressed by Gandhi who believed that educa­tion has to be of the Heart, Head and Hands and that the three main resources for education are the Community, the Natural Environment and the Work Environment. In other words, they are ready to create a Multicultural, Multigenera-tional Movement to ReBuild, ReDefine and ReSpirit the city from the ground up.

Unlike the young people who pick up litter lackadaisically as a summer job, DETROIT SUMMER youth are volunteers. As 15 year old Tracey Hollins put it in her article on DETROIT SUMMER, “A paycheck continues to cloud the minds of young adults who have been taught that money is everything. Teens continuously walk the streets, not noticing the trash and not caring about the graffiti. Most don’t realize the importance of putting a paper in its right place. Detroit Summer had a special way of making you forget the fact that you weren’t getting paid. It filled your head with answers to questions that you’d

had all of your life and questions that no one can answer. It made you feel that you were an important part of the changing molding of future generations. It made you see that the hole you dug, the garden you watered or the swing set you painted made a difference.”

There are other signs of the growing movement in Detroit. For example, the Detroit-Windsor Labor Community Anti-Nafta Coalition is taking advantage of the Anti-Nafta Struggle to project the creation of a new community-based economy in which we produce for our own needs by growing food, creating fish farms, producing glass and new light-rail and micro-bus transport. As this leaflet says, NAFf A DEMANDS THAT WE WAKE UP AND BEGIN TO CREATE THE FUTURE. WE CAN’T DEPEND ON THE GOVERNMENT OR ON THE CORPORA TIO NS TO PROVIDE WORK OR HOPE FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE.

On November 30 Channel 56, our local public broadcasting station, and the Wayne State University College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs are sponsoring a community forum to make Detroiters aware of how hi-tech is eliminating traditional jobs and therefore the need for us to develop new forms of work and new strategies of Self-Reliance. Throughout the month of January 1994 Channel 56 will be broadcasting programs on this theme, including programs on DETROIT SUMMER.

And it is not only Detroit. Over the last few years I have collected hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles on community rebuilding efforts all over the country. Here is one from the September 22 Lex­ington, Ky Herald-Leader. The headline reads: IN OREGON TIIE FUTURE LIES IN REBUILDING COMMUNITIES. The article tells the story of how the people of Burns, Oregon, a little rural town of 3000, having concluded in 1990 that recruiting businesses, the dominant form of economic development in Kentucky and Oregon, is a failed policy, decided to write their own community plan. In the three years since then, some of their projects have succeeded and others have not. But every Monday at 7 a.m. 20-30 people still meet in a local restaurant to continue the job of creating and recreating Burns’ future.

The article also lists 20 clues to rural community survival which are used by the Heartland Center for Leadership Development, a Nebraska organization. They include:

Evidence of Community Pride

Emphasis on quality in business and community life.

Deliberate transition of power to a younger generation of leaders. Acceptance of women in leadership roles.

Strong multigenerational family orientation. Careful use of fiscal resources.

Conviction that in the long run, you have to do it yourself.

I hope I have said enough to give you a sense of a growing movement towards community-based economic development so that you are asking yourselves the question “How do we as ACBE members relate to this movement?”

Let me give you a couple of examples. All over the country a bitter political struggle is developing between developers who are projecting Casino Gambling as the cure-all for the economic survival of particular cities and local community people who instinctively recognize that this quick-fix solution will destroy what they treasure most about their home towns but who are not yet clear that the only alterna­tive is putting our hands, hearts, minds and imaginations together to build community-based enterprises. How much energy  heart of everything you and we stand for?

Another example. In Detroit I live on the east side very close to the offices of the Warren-Conner Devel­opment Coalition. I own a share in their development corporation and I helped campaign for Deputy Director Angela Brown in her recent bid for a position on City Council. Warren-Conner, like other community development organizations, signed up as a local co-sponsor of DETROIT SUMMER. But its participation was minimal because it apparently had too much invested in its own agenda and because it is not a volunteer organization. Yet I feel that everyone – DETROIT SUMMER, Warren Conner and our community and city – would have much to gain if Warren Conner caught the Movement spirit of DETROIT SUMMER and helped to spread it. Should that be? Can it be? I hope that you will explore these questions with the seriousness that I believe they deserve.

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May 22nd, 2018

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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Urgent Transitions

This week Eastern Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) hosted a conference of activists concerned about creating a future based on regenerative principles of a just economy. People from around the country and several First Nations gathered to share ideas and practices. This was the gathering that Siwatu-salama Ra worked tirelessly to bring to Detroit. It was the gathering she could not see from her prison cell. She is serving two years in prison for pointing an empty gun at a person who threatened to run over her mother and child. Those of us who came together to think about a different future were reminded how urgently we need to change our ways of living, how much pain and destruction we have come to accept as normal in our daily lives.

I was part of panel giving participants an overview of the struggles unfolding in Detroit around Air, Water, Land and Education. Lila Cabill of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute opened the conversation talking about the importance of making a transition from “me oriented people” to “we oriented people.” She emphasized that all of us are affected by the assaults on people and the planet.  She invoked the story of Rosa Parks and Charity Hicks to help people understand that in the face of injustice and racism, “silence is violence.”

Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People of Detroit challenged the idea that Detroit was bankrupt. She emphasizing that no elected officials in the city had agreed to this. Rather, the city had been taken over by the State and its appointed Emergency Manager. She invited people to think about the key roles Emergency Managers had played, not only in the poisoning of Flint, but in the destruction of the Detroit Water Department, removing it from city control. A key part of the process was unprecedented water shut offs, creating a widespread community response to protect people and advance policies that establish water as a human right and public trust.  

Both Monica and Lila made clear that this take over was a reflection of the twin forces of racism and capitalist advancement. The Great Lakes contain 22% of the worlds surface water and the drive to turn this life giving element into private a profit center depends upon demonizing the people of our city as incapable of governing, as less than human.

Emma Lockridge built on the theme of racialized capitalism and its devastation of our communities. As an activist in 48217, the most polluted zip code in the US, Emma shared her struggles against Marathon Oil. She emphasized how much the current power structure reflects the idea that some people are disposable, that their lives do not matter.

For my part, I talked of Detroit as a movement city, where people have always resisted the assaults on our shared humanity. From the earliest encounters with Europeans, we have seen resistance and resilience. Chief Pontiac lead one of the largest anti-colonial struggles on the banks of the Detroit River. Over the centuries we this spirit has continued.

In the 1960s the call of Black Liberation attracted many of us to Detroit. And it was the success of these efforts to challenge the power structure of this country based on values that moved us from “a thing oriented society” to a “people oriented society” that ultimately lead to the take-over by white, right wing state legislatures of centers of African American political power in Michigan. Using legal tricks, 55% of African Americans were denied the right to effective local representation and nearly 75% of all African American elected officials were essentially removed from office.

The struggle over the education of our children exemplifies this assault on our cities. The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools Movement reflects our continued effortto not only resist dehumanization, but to consciously and collectively build new, more loving and caring ways of life.

—–

Last week we received a communication from Nestle in response to our article.

We appreciated Nestle’s effort to offer two corrections of fact. We have reproduced their email in its entirety below.
We do not think these bear on our essential analysis, however. Moreover, we continue our concern about their perception of science. In an article discussing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality decision to allow increased water extraction we find this: “different hydrologists can look at the same data and come up with different conclusions.”  The article continues noting Nestle’s assessment “raises a lot of fundamental questions about who is monitoring.”

Later the article reports:

“The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, which originally sued Nestle and won a 2009 settlement that limited the company’s withdrawal in Mecosta County, issued a statement expressing disappointment at the ruling, saying “the public trust has been broken once again.”

Not only has the DEQ “ignored the scientific evidence that environmental damage has occurred already at 150-gpm, they have ignored the clear opposition of tens of thousands of Michigan citizens who have opposed this giveaway of the water of the commons to a multinational corporation,” said MCWC president Peggy Case.

It is particularly difficult to understand how the DEQ could grant a permit before completing a serious monitoring of the streams by independent scientists, before resolving the issues with the township over the booster station, and before approving a new monitoring protocol for the aquifers and streams in Evart that is not under the control of Nestle,” she said.”

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2018/04/state_approves_nestles_controv.html

Nestle Communication Correction

Shea,

“Its head spokesperson is Deb Muchmore, the wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff.”

CORRECTION:  Deb Muchmore was a consultant who has not worked for the company for nearly two years.

“The science behind the decision to allow increased pumping of water is based on questionable science, especially given the information gathered in a court case in 2003 when Nestle was ordered to stop operations due to “ecological harm and massive reduction in water levels.”

CORRECTION: The court case did not cause a stoppage of operations as an out-of-court settlement was reached that allowed an average withdrawal of 218 gallons per minute at that spring site. 

Nestlé’s recently approved permit is for our White Pines Springs source, a completely different site than the one in 2003. We have been studying the White Pine Springs site for over 16 years and it is important to understand that the wells are different depths and different geology. The science is clear – there is no link between the two.   

We have over 100 environmental monitoring sites and conducted many scientific assessments near the White Pine Springs well. This monitoring network allows us to verify that the groundwater is being naturally replenished and that our water use is managed for long-term sustainability. 

This is supported by the MDEQ’s review of our permit, which itself called “the most extensive analysis of any water withdrawal in Michigan history.”

Glenn Oswald

Vice President 
Marx Layne & Company
31420 Northwestern Highway, Suite 100
Farmington Hills, MI 48334


piper 2 


Bhai Delegation to Detroit
Myrtle Thompson Curtis

This past week in Detroit kicked off the first of many visits to happen at the Feedom Freedom Growers Garden and the Boggs Center. FFG hosted a group of 25 young university students from Ontario and around the globe. A smaller group went to the Center.  They were all under 24 years of age and of the B’hai faith. The visit was part of a series of conversations that had taken place at the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center over the last two years.
32462599_1996905043654873_8044164911489613824_n 2

Once at the garden, arriving by tour bus, we were ready for a day of critical conversation, lunch and garden work, introduction to the staff of FFG and our work here in Detroit.  The students came with very little context of Detroit but were quite eager to learn about our challenges and opportunities here.

We gave them copies of the Riverwise magazine to read to gather context about Detroit. The magazine gave them insight into grassroots efforts happening here and nationwide.  We started the day off by asking what are the pressing questions they may be facing in their path to service. Our goal was to create a conversation that would dive deep in our time allotted. It was important to get to know them, to get a sense of how to build trust, and have transformational conversation. We let them know that in Detroit we are engaged in struggle for a revolution of values, learning through our own experience that just changing political leadership will not end the devastation of our neighborhoods, or the school closings, the water shutoffs, the gentrification, or the rising depression and loneliness among young people.  We work in community to change ourselves to change the conditions, and engaging university students in thought provoking conversation and hands on work in the garden.

As one of the FFG’s members Ebony summarizes her day with the group; “I was like many of the students who worked beside me on Tuesday. Their questions about navigating the social justice world or their later professional field resonated with me. I shared my story with them, discussing the various times I had to choose between being a student and an activist.  There were many die-ins, marches, and round table discussions I longed for, but briefly watched in the distance because I had midterms or a lecturer I couldn’t afford to miss. I understood how many of them felt; wanting to be on fire with a megaphone, chanting “no justice no peace” through the lecture halls, I wanted to assure them that it’s possible to find serenity in a place where they feel foreign.”

“We all can be inspired by others even if the person who inspires us doesn’t see themselves as this kind of activism.  During a discussion with one of the students, I shared my community organizer infant status with him. Letting him know that my friends and family see me as Angela Davis, but in the grassroots revolutionary work I’m and infant, a babbling baby who’s still learning and developing.  We all are infants in new realms. During my time spent with the students, I realized that I was not too far removed from where they are currently. Time spent with them allowed me to see that I too am still learning and being nurtured by those who care and desire to see me succeed in all that I do.  I enjoyed their enthusiasm to not use gloves while working in the garden because they wanted to feel the soil. They embraced the connection we have with it and were willing to fully immerse themselves into unknown territory.”

Aalia, another member notes the conversation was full of young people deciding how to go from thinking about their ideas to putting their ideas into practice.  She saw them even thinking about how to make that decision as a reflection of many young people today. Many having ideas about their lives or what they want their communities to be like, but not really knowing where to start or having any guidance as to what are the next steps in implementing and bringing ideas into fruition.

By the end of our time together we gathered back into a circle and sought the answers to earlier questions. I am prone to believe that most of the answers are inside of us and I encouraged them to go inside and speak truth to power. Our guests were encouraged and spoke in new found ways and to become engaged in service to community.

We concluded thinking about James Boggs (1919-93), Grace’s life partner, intellectual collaborator, and political comrade for forty years who urged us to recognize the role creative thinking and responsible action play in advancing humanity.


“The Latin term “Civitas” is traditionally defined as the social body of the citizens united by law.2 Yet, who gets to be a citizen, and who gets to decide on the law? If the civitas is based on inclusion, who does it exclude?” On Spaces of Liberation

May 14th, 2018
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mlk

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Mother’s Day with Nestle

Shortly after Mother’s Day, three Nestle semi-trucks will roll into Flint with free bottled water. Between Mother’s Day and Labor day Nestle will donate 100,000 bottles a week to three service centers where people can pick up the bottled water.  The Mayor of Flint has graciously thanked the company for its “willingness to help the people of Flint.”

There are so many things wrong with this public relations stunt, it is hard to know where to begin. First there is the obvious problem that Nestle is “donating” water that the entire state, and in some ways much of the globe, is paying for. Nestle is pumping 400 gallons a minute out of the underground springs that feed the Great Lakes.  For this desecration it pays the state $200 a year. That is less than many people in Flint pay for water on a monthly basis. They are doing this in spite of the largest public outcry on record for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Over 80,000 people objected to the authorization to nearly double the amount of water Nestle takes and puts into little bottles.

The decision to allow Nestle to increase its pumping capacity came on the heels of Governor Snyder’s decision to no longer distribute free water to the people of Flint. The Governor noted the water in Flint is now safe to drink, mostly. Nestle is the largest “owner” of a private water source in Michigan. Its head spokesperson is Deb Muchmore, the wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff. The science behind the decision to allow increased pumping of water is based on questionable science, especially given the information gathered in a court case in 2003 when Nestle was order to stop operations due to “ecological harm and massive reduction in water levels.”

Given the series of lies the people of Flint have heard from public officials since 2014 when their Emergency manager joined with the Detroit Emergency Manager to remove Flint from the Detroit water system, it is understandable why the Governor’s comments are greeted with suspicion. Moreover, the glacial pace of removing lead pipes and replacing them means that aggregate testing of water does not mean every home is safe. Some families in Flint are depending on 22,000 bottles a year to live. But people still object to taking water from a company that is essentially stealing a precious resource for its own profit.

This year, as we celebrate Mothers Day, we should all remember just what kind of company Nestle is. Since the early 1970’s it has callously manipulated people around the globe into using baby formulas that require reliance on contaminated water. In 1974 a report called the Baby Killer by War on Want, sparked a global boycott. In 1981 the World Health Organization adopted a strict code of advertising to ban the promotion of formula as “comparable to breastmilk.” In February of this year Nestle was found to still be pushing formula as comparable to breast feeding, violating international guidelines and its own stated ethics.

In many places around the world, baby formula depends on water. Water that is often contaminated and unsafe to drink.

Nestle’s efforts to deflect our concern is foolish. The people of Flint, like people everywhere, deserve clean, fresh, affordable water. Until Flint’s entire water system is replaced, the State has a moral obligation to provide bottled water. We need a thoughtful, region-wide policy that recognizes our responsibilities to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and to respect the people and life they support.

Piper Carter is back for the 3x Dope episode

May 1st, 2018
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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Warning Signs

Early this week people in and around Wayne State University were evacuated because of a gas leak. Across the campus and in nearby residents, the smell of gas was overpowering. The leak was caused by a construction accident. By Friday we were told all is well, classes reopened and people returned to homes. No one was injured. We are back to normal.

This week the Great Lakes Water Authority will begin the shut off process for more than 17,000 homes with outstanding water bills. We are told not to worry, most people will find a way to pay up before the shut off, or within a few days of living without water.

The city of Livonia is recovering from a water main break. Officials said don’t worry about the low water pressure. Water is safe to drink.

Each of these instances is treated in the mainstream media as a temporary, disconnected problem.  They are presented as minor inconveniences, the result of systems that sometimes break, but can be repaired quickly. We shouldn’t worry. Everything can be fixed. Everything is under control.

This way of thinking obscures a very real truth.  These are the warning signs of a system near collapse.  They are not isolated, small glitches. They are the marks of a culture imploding. We are coming to the end of the earth ‘s capacity to bear cultures based on the extraction of resources that are toxic to all life.

Warning signs are everywhere. For more than 300 years, we have been developing ways of living that depend on extracting and using elements of the earth that we know are poison. Yet we persist in believing that our technologies will somehow keep the air we are polluting clean, the water we are poisoning safe to drink, and regenerate the resources we need to continue lives of consumption. In spite of all we have witnessed, all we have endured, and all that we know in our bones, we continue to live as though we can dominate nature. As though domination was our right, especially if we are white, wealthy, and think we can protect ourselves.

This way of thinking, embedded in the settler colonial cultures of this hemisphere and wrapped into the logic of capitalist, industrial production is killing us. As commentator Paul Stoller observed, “The culture of extraction has led us to widespread economic and social inequality and frequent warfare — often over access to extractive resources. It has led to widespread human insensitivity and to the development of societies — like our own — that tend to reward competition as an example of dominant strength and castigate cooperation as an example of timid weakness.”

Across our city and our country people are resisting this extractive, industrial culture, finding new ways to live with one another, new ways to power and empower our lives. In Detroit, as people plant gardens, construct wind mills, find ways to share water and imagine new futures based on care and compassion, a new culture is being born. It is urgently needed.


A Call to Defend Rojava

An Open Letter
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WHAT LIES UPSTREAM

In the unsetting exposé What Lies Upstream, investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the unprecedented loss of clean water for over 300,000 Americans in the 2014 Elk River chemical spill. He uncovers a shocking failure of regulation from both state and federal agencies and a damaged political system where chemical companies often write the laws that govern them.


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April 24th, 2018
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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Dialogue on Education

More than 120 people gathered together for a community dialogue on education and Black Male Achievement this Thursday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The stage was set by the student co-hosts Lauren Danzy, the leader of the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools youth group, and Xavier Clemons, an 11th grader at Frederick Douglass Academy. Sharing their concerns about the importance of thinking together about education, they asked the gathering to focus on central questions. These included: How do we engage Black male youth in our schools and communities? What has worked for us collectively and individually? What is our vision for our schools and our communities? What is the importance of understanding ourselves, our cultures, and our histories?

Quan Neloms, who is now an educator at Frederick Douglass, shared his own journey of transformation and development. He explained that at a troubled time in his life, an adult man took the time to talk with him and challenge his thinking. “When I saw all the things adults were willing to sacrifice for me, it made me change my life.” He said, “At 18 I decided I wanted to be part of the lives of kids and to become a teacher. But I know nothing happens without the community, community involvement is the most important thing.”

B. Anthony Holley of the Conscious Community Cooperative Think Tank shared his experiences of finding his place in Detroit, after he was told by many people to leave the city behind. He said that when he returned in 2012 he was embraced by elders and young people who were working to be “solutionaries” in the city and he began to see the contributions he could make here. He emphasized how much his own sense of confidence was shaped by his Grandmother who encouraged him to ask questions and helped him see that “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Dana Hart of the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools talked about her vision of education as creating opportunities where we can reach our highest potential, becoming confident, competent people, able to evolve to our highest selves. She explained that this means we need to have our own meaning of success that comes out of understanding African centered traditions that inspire our children and community. She talked about the importance of adults doing more listening and providing places where our children “have the protection to be young.”

She emphasized the importance of young men finding ways to talk to one another more deeply and openly. She encouraged us to think about ways our community can encourage young people to better understand their roles and responsibilities. Her suggestion of developing rites of passage resonated with the group.

Most people left the gathering wishing for more time for conversation, knowing we have a lot more thinking to do together. But everyone recognized that we have to find community based ways to protect and develop our young people. Education is up to us.


Demand Freedom for Siwatu-Salama Ra


A/PIA community rallies after Lawsin contract renewal denied by ‘U’
Michigan Daily

Maya Goldman and Nisa Khan

As a student at the University of Michigan, 2008 alum Aisa Villarosa fell in love with the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program — housed in the American Culture Department — because it allowed her to learn about other cultures and her own heritage; she learned lessons she hadn’t been exposed to growing up in the majority-white suburbs of Detroit.

She said she owes this great experience in A/PIA Studies to faculty members, including longtime Lecturer Emily Lawsin. Lawsin has been teaching at the University since 2000.

“The number one thing is just how amazing the A/PIA Studies faculty are — the ones that built our experience as undergraduates,” Villarosa explained.

When news began to surface earlier this year about the American Culture and Women’s Studies Departments’ decision to not renew Lawsin’s contract, Villarosa took action.  KEEP READING


Find Five people and Love Them to Life
Emily Schorr Lesnick, Shelby Stokes, and Shawn Redden

This was the wisdom given to us on our third day in Detroit, where we began the morning at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, founded by Grace Lee Boggs and her husband, James Boggs.  Rich Feldman, a longtime community and labor activist, led our students in a multi-layered discussion around the implications of the word “revolution” and what it means (and has meant) in a city like Detroit.  We then boarded the bus for a historical and cultural circuit of several key sites in the city: Elmwood Cemetery, which was the first fully integrated cemetery in the Midwest; the remnants of the Packard and GM plants, two of the former crown jewels of the booming auto industry in the first and second halves of the twentieth century; and the Heidelberg Project, a series of sprawling installations by Detroit artist Tyree Geiten, designed in response to the crack epidemic of the 1980’s.  Two bold points were established and returned to over the course of our morning: “resistance starts in the soil” and in Detroit we see “the birth and death of the American Dream.”

Indeed, the cycle of transformation was the theme of the day, whether it was in thinking about the interplay between the past and the present, or how art can become a healing response in communities devastated by violence and poverty, or how the urban farming movement, which we learned about in our visit to D-Town Farm in the afternoon, has turned abandoned plots of land into verdant, sustainable sources of nutrition, education, profit and community support.

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We ended our day at DABLS African Bead Shop, where students admired the seemingly endless jars of colorful beads sourced from all over the African continent and purchased some gifts to bring home with them as a tangible reminder of their visit.  A delicious meal from Slow’s BBQ and Detroit Vegan Soul awaited us when we returned to the Inn on Ferry Street, followed by our final debriefing of what has left us all feeling “most hopeful.”
GROUP SHOT

When asked how Riverdale students can bring their transformative experience in Detroit back home, Boggs Center community activist Larry Sparks encouraged our students to “find five people and love them to life.”  It is our hope that these twenty-four young activists-in-training will identify five people in their own communities—home, school, and family—and share the revolutionary spirit and love they’ve received during their time in this wonderful city.

April 2nd, 2018

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Living for Change Grace Lee Boggs More Questions than Answers
Many  of us will be thinking about Dr. Martin Luther King  this week as we mark the 50 years since his murder and the 51st since his call for a radical revolution of values.
To help us think about this moment, we are sharing some of the reflections of Grace Lee Boggs, written more than a decade ago while we were exploring the questions of what we learned about the creation of Beloved Communities since the death of Dr. King. – Boggs Board

First written somewhere between 2004 and 2008…In the last 60 years  I have had the privilege of participating  in most of the great humanizing movements of the second half of the last century – labor,  civil rights, black power, women’s, Asian American, environmental justice, antiwar. Each was a tremendously transformative experience for me,  expanding my understanding of what it means to be an American and a human being, and challenging me to keep deepening my thinking about how to bring about radical social change.
However, I cannot recall any previous period when the issues were so basic, so interconnected and so demanding of everyone living in this country, regardless of  race, ethnicity, class, gender, age or national origin. At this point in the continuing evolution of our country and of the human race, we urgently need to stop thinking of ourselves as victims and to recognize that we must each become  a part of the solution because we are each a part of the problem.
How are we going to make our livings in an age when Hi-Tech and the export of jobs overseas have brought us to the point where the number of workers needed to produce goods and services is constantly diminishing?  Where will we get the imagination, the courage and the determination to reconceptualize the meaning and purpose of Work in a society that is becoming increasingly jobless?
What is going to happen to cities like Detroit that were once the arsenal of democracy? Now that they’ve been abandoned by industry, are we just going to throw them away? Or can we rebuild, redefine and respirit them as models of 21st Century self-reliant, sustainable multicultural communities?  Who is going to begin this new story?
How are we going to redefine Education so that 30-50% of inner city children do not drop out of school, thus ensuring that large numbers will end up in prison?   Is it enough to call for “Education, not Incarceration”? Or does our topdown educational system, created a hundred years ago to prepare an immigrant population for factory work, bear a large part of the responsibility for the escalation in incarceration?
How are we going to build a  21st century America in which people of all races and ethnicities  live together in harmony, and Euro-Americans in particular embrace their new role  as one among many minorities constituting the new multi-ethnic majority?
What is going to motivate us  to start caring for our biosphere instead of  using our mastery of technology to increase the volume and speed at which we are making our planet uninhabitable for other species and eventually for ourselves?
And, especially since 9/11, how are we to achieve reconciliation with the two-thirds of the world  that increasingly resents our economic, military and cultural domination? Can we accept their anger as a challenge rather than a threat?   Out of our new vulnerability can we recognize that our safety now depends on our loving and caring for the peoples of the world as we love and care for our own families? Or  can we conceive of security only in terms of the Patriot Act and exercising our formidable military power?
When the chickens come home to roost for our invasion of Iraq, as they are already doing, where will we get the courage and the imagination to win by losing?  What will help us recognize that we have brought on our defeats by our own arrogance, our own irresponsibility and our own unwillingness, as individuals and as a nation, to engage in  seeking radical solutions to the growing inequality between the nations of the North and those of the South? Can we create a new paradigm of our selfhood and our nationhood? Or are we so locked into nationalism, racism and determinism that we will be driven to seek scapegoats for our frustrations and failures – as the Germans did after World War I, thus aiding and abetting the onset of Hitler and the Holocaust?    We live at a very dangerous time because these questions are no longer abstractions. Our lives, the lives of our children and future generations, and even the survival of the planet depend on our willingness to  transform ourselves into active planetary and global citizens who, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual society.”
The time is already very late and we have a long way to go to meet these challenges.  Over the decades of economic expansion that began with the so-called American Century after World War II,  tens of millions of Americans have become increasingly self-centered and materialistic, more concerned with our possessions and individual careers than with the state of our neighborhoods, cities, country and planet ,  closing our eyes and hearts to the many forms of violence that have been exploding in our inner cities and in powder kegs all over the rest of the world – both because the problems have seemed so insurmountable and because just struggling for our own survival has consumed so much of our time and energy.
At the same time the various identity struggles, while  remediating to some degree the great wrongs that have been done to workers, African Americans, Native Americans and other people of color, women, gays and lesbians, and the disabled, and while helping to humanize our society overall, have also had a shadow side in the sense that they have encouraged us to think of ourselves more as determined than as self-determining, more  as victims of “isms” ( racism, sexism, capitalism) than as human beings who have the power of choice and who for our own survival must assume individual and collective responsibility for creating a new nation that is loved rather than feared and that does not have to bribe and bully other nations to win support.
These are the times that try our souls.  Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies, between our physical and psychical well-being, and between our selves and all the other selves in our country and in the world.   Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferers. Each of us needs to make a leap that is both practical and philosophical, beyond determinism to self-determination. Each of us has to be true to and enhance our own humanity by embracing and practicing the conviction that as human beings we have  Free Will; that despite the powers and principalities that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives, choices that will eventually although not inevitably (there are no guarantees), make a difference.
How are we going to bring about these transformations? Politics as usual, debate and argument, even voting, are no longer sufficient. Our system of representative democracy, which was created by a great revolution, no longer engages the hearts and minds of the great majority of Americans.  Vast numbers of people no longer bother to go to the polls, either because they don’t care what happens to the country or the world, or because they don’t believe that voting will make a difference on the profound and inter- connected issues that really matter. Even. organizing or joining massive protests against disastrous policies and demands for new policies fall short. They may demonstrate that we are on the right side politically but they are not transformative enough. They do not change the cultural images, the symbols , that play such a pivotal role in molding us into who we are.
As the labor movement was developing in the  pre-World War II years, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath transformed  the way that Americans viewed themselves in relationship to faceless bankers and heartless landowners. In the 1970s and 1980s Judy Chicago’ s Dinner Party and Birth Project  re-imagined the vagina, transforming it from a private space and site of oppression into a public space of beauty and spiritual as well as physical creation and liberation. In this period we urgently need artists to create new images of our selfhood and nationhood, images that will liberate us from our preoccupation with constantly expanding production and consumption and empower us to create another America that will be viewed by the world as a beacon rather than as a danger.  

Vincent Harding: Creating America


ADRIENNE

“When you talk to author and activist adrienne maree brown, you feel everything is going to be all right. You’re inspired by her hope, belief, and commitment just enough to muster your own. This must have to do with the way she sees possibility for change absolutely everywhere, which came about through her many roles. Brown is also a poet, social justice facilitator, science fiction scholar who is co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, and a doula.” KEEP READING

THE CRISIS OF THE MASS KILLINGS IS NOT ONLY A DANGER BUT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EACH AND ALL OF US TO MAKE A GREAT LEAP FORWARD IN OUR HUMANITY –Grace Lee Boggs
In his 1967 call for a radical revolution of values against the giant
triplets of racism, materialism and militarism, King said, “a nation that
spends more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is
approaching spiritual death.” In recent years our spiritual death has
resulted in mass physical deaths all over the world and at home, e.g. at
Oklahoma City, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, the
Immigration Center in Binghamton, N.Y. Each of these could have been the
wakeup call that this one can become.

We don’t have to limit ourselves to grieving or to calling for civility. We
are not just bystanders. We are citizens responsible for the safety of
ourselves and our fellow citizens in these very destabilizing times.

The time has come for each of us to be involved in creating what MLK called
a new concept of global citizenship, based on each one of us accepting the
responsibility for the safety of all of us,

This includes instituting more gun regulations and more mental health
awareness and facilities at the local level, instead of leaving it to
Washington, D.C.

It includes many more of us risking arrest by initiating or joining
non-violent demonstrations.

It requires more of us recognizing that the Old American Dream is dead and
accepting the responsibility for beginning to create, from the ground up,
in our neighborhoods, our cities, and our country, a New American Dream,
based on caring for each other in beloved communities, living more simply
in order that others can simply live, ending our wars and military
occupations around the world.

All of us, and not only borderline individuals, need this New American
Dream. And until the whole world knows that we are creating it in our
country, there will be no homeland security for any of us.

The crisis of the Tucson killings is not only a danger but an opportunity
for each and all of us to make this great leap forward in our and the
world’s humanity.

We must seize the time!!

From Grace Lee Boggs, “Beyond Civility,” MLK Day 2011

 

Boggs Center Living For Change News

February 27th, 2017

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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Violent Times

This week the students, teachers and support staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will resume classes. They will find ways to move forward in a place infused with memories of violence, fear and pain. And they will continue to show a deep commitment to organizing people against school shootings. They are planning a March on Washington “to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.” Schools and communities around the country are planning walkouts and marches in solidarity.

As I have been thinking about the passion, persistence and potential of these young people to raise fundamental questions about our country, I happened on an article about Freedom Summer, 1964.  Most of the article reflected the experiences of Thomas Foner and a letter he wrote home, chronicling the violence he experienced in a single day while organizing for voter registration. He wrote:
“Two COFO volunteers were jailed on a trumped up rape charge. Forty M-1 rifles and a thousand rounds of ammunition were stolen from the local National Guard armory. As I write this letter, a Negro church is burning down the street; the fire department is nowhere to be found. Two other volunteers have just been arrested. Last night a Negro freedom worker was shot by white hoodlums. He was taken to the white University Hospital and was released about an hour later with the slug still in his head. Also last night Reverend Smith’s house was shot into about 1:30 AM by white men. The Negro guards fired back as the men got into a city truck.”
Violence is nothing new in America. Yet this moment is an opportunity to move beyond the surface symptoms of the disease that grips our country. Long before Charles Whitman climbed to the observation deck at the University of Texas to kill 17 people in 1966, before Columbine in 1999, Red Lake in 2005, Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Umpqua Community College in 2015, and now Parkland, and the hundreds of other shootings in schools and out that rarely make the news, violence gripped our country.

Violence is at the core of our founding. It is essential to the continuation of our way of life. Beginning with the first killing of an indigenous person by Columbus and his men to the shot fired tomorrow in Syria, throughout our long and troubled history, the willingness to destroy others for private gain has marked us. This willingness has been not only to destroy people, but to deny the very humanity of those we kill, thus denying and distorting our own.

The bravery of the students at Parkland, like the young people of the Movement for Black Lives, and #MeToo invite us all to look honestly and deeply at who we have been, who we have become, and who we want to be. Young white men picking up guns and killing children in schools are not the problem. They are the symptom of a country shaped by the violence of racism, materialism, and militarism. Until we transform these values, violence in all its forms will continue.
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The Hidden History of Solidarity Economy Visions

Asar Amen-Ra  B.A., J.D.
The Life and Times of James Boggs

James Boggs’ life was one of imagination and reimagionation. His narrative was one of hardcore socialist, to Black Power advocate, to Humanitarian solutionary. There was never a time when Jimmy, as he was affectionately called, would get stuck in dogmatic doctrine; he made it a point to constantly learn and adapt to his environment.In his formative years while working in the auto industry, Jimmy predicted and envisioned a time when automation/technological advancement would replace human labor in the workforce. With this understanding, Jimmy crafted a vision into a formidable body of work entitled The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook.

In  Chapter 2 of The American Revolution, “The Challenge of Automation“, Jimmy points out that “Automation is the greatest revolution that has taken place in human society since men stopped hunting and fishing and started to grow their own food.”  At the dawn of the technological age and even today, most of us turn a blind eye to the exponential growth of automation displacing people from the workforce. But Jimmy faced the issue of automation head-on by declaring we must have hope and we must work towards a new way of life, a life not centered around a job but a life centered around community, centered around family, centered around our world environment. Instead of automation enslaving us, Jimmy saw that automation could actually free mankind to pursue those things in life that man so passionately cared about.

With that being said, it is not automation we should fear but what international and transnational corporations will do with those advanced tools of technology. We must make a preemptive strike to replace the job system with a life system.

…even more important than a Solidarity Economy is a Solidarity Culture…

Just as today’s Solidarity Economy economists talk about the permanent displacement of workers/poor people, Jimmy coined his own phrase.  His phrase was “The Outsiders” (who were people permanently locked outside the workforce and thus outside of normal society and the job market).

Furthermore, Jimmy said “once released from the necessity to work, men and women would come up with new ideas for increasing productivity that would astonish the world”.

But even more important than a Solidarity Economy is a Solidarity Culture, because culture is what defines us as human beings with our relationships with each other and our environment. Culture is the glue that holds a society together or a sword that can tear society apart.

So, yet again we point to the landmark vision of James Boggs. He understood and said that “The first principle that has to be established is that everyone has a right to a frill life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness whether he is working or not.”

As an autoworker, Jimmy unequivocally announced “I am a factory worker, but I know more than factory work.” This bold and emphatic declaration was the working man’s emancipation proclamation, declaring to all workers we have value beyond our place in the means of production. We must remove the shackles of work from our minds when thinking about defining our lives. We break these shackles when we see ourselves not as workers, but as humans who have gifts and talents we wish to share with the rest of humanity.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Solidarity Culture was born through the following declaration:

“We must create a society of politically conscious, socially responsible individuals, able to use technology for the purpose of liberating and developing humanity.”

Today, we should admit to ourselves the culture we practice is the materialistic culture. In this culture, there has been a devaluing of human life while value has been added to the material wealth one can gain.  Crass materialism is tearing apart the foundations of our society. By placing our value of wealth on symbols of material status — whether it be a car, a house, or a job — instead of valuing principles such as truth, integrity and kindness, we value products over people.

We need to look at the one person who can make a difference in this world, ourselves, and ask this question: Do we want a culture of Life or a culture of death? According to Jimmy, a culture of death leads to “the pollution of our atmosphere, the erosion of our soil, the threat to nuclear destruction, the withering away of human identity and, worst of all, the loss of our freedom to make meaningful and principled choices.” How would a culture of life look? Well, if we take a minute and think about it, it would be the converse of a culture of death. Our Solidarity culture would consist of respect for environment, full employment, universal health care, education, and housing.

I have sent this article to GEO because, as Solidarity Economy practitioners, it is time that we break out of the chains of the traditional, corporatized Black History Month. It’s tradition that limits our memories to Dr. King, WEB DuBois and a few others, when in actuality there were a plethora of African Americans creating and fighting for a new reality. James Boggs was one of these people. As an autoworker, he saw beyond the industrial revolution to the point in time when workers would control the point of production, not for profit, but for the benefit of planet and people.

Go to the GEO front page

Asar Amen-Ra, is a long time labor and community organizer. With a focus on social and economic justice.

Citations:
When citing this article, please use the following format: Asar Amen-Ra (2018). The Hidden history of Solidarity Economy Visions: The Life and Times of James Boggs. Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) http://geo.coop/story/hidden-history-solidarity-economy-visions

Asar Amen-Ra  B.A., J.D.

January 15th, 2018

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“In the first century BC, Cicero said: “Freedom is participation in power.” Negroes should never want all power because they would deprive others of their freedom. By the same token, Negroes can never be content without participation in power. America must be a nation in which its multiracial people are  partners in power. This is the essence of democracy toward which all Negro struggles have been directed since the distant past when he was transplanted here in chains.”

Dr. Martin Luther  King, Jr. Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community?

The Latest from Detroit People’s Platform

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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Creative Turmoil

The celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes in the midst of a moment of national disgrace. It is not only that the words of the current administration are cruel, hateful, and dangerous. It is also that its policies are. The brutality of a dying empire is seeping into all of our relationships, poisoning us.

This is why it is important for us to revisit the challenges to America embodied in Dr. King’s life and words. This year, I have been thinking about Dr. King not only as an American visionary, but as a global citizen.

In December of 1964 Martin Luther King flew to Oslo Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. He made clear that he was not accepting this as an individual, but “on behalf of the movement.” He characterized himself as “a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity.”

Dr. King begins his speech with a list of the violent cruelties that happened one day before he spoke. In Birmingham Alabama children were attacked with dogs and fire hoses. In Philadelphia, Mississippi young people were brutalized and murdered. More than 40 churches were bombed on burned in Mississippi and people everywhere were in the “chains” of poverty.

Acknowledging this, King decided to speak to his belief that “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace,” and we “must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

He affirmed his “abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind,” saying:
I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

Trump is neither the beginning nor the end of this long, creative struggle for a new world.

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Notes from Midwestern Conversations
Relando Thompkins-Jones

“This summer we are beginning anew, not with what we are against but what we are for; not rejections but projections. We are searching for the fundamentals, the elementals of the new…The solution is not in science, it is how we look at “we”. – (Excerpt from Conversations in Maine, 1978, James & Grace Lee Boggs; Freddy & Lyman Paine)

On November 16th-19th, 2017 I spent time at a retreat called Midwest Conversations: Nourishing our souls for {r}evolutionary living & work. The retreat was sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Bogs Center in Detroit, and hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College.

With other social justice workers engaged in education, community organizing, health, and other areas, the retreat was designed for us to take a time-out “to nourish relationships; engage with pressing questions, ideas, and practices of radical love, and develop “next steps” in our respective social justice living and work.”

The retreat had three guiding questions:

What kind of leaders are we being right now?
What values define visions for living in cities today?
What visionary work is called for in the times we’re living in?

KEEP READING

 

 

“We have just begun to fight”  Grace Lee Boggs (August 18, 2013)

I‘ve been a Detroiter for 60 years and this is the first time in my experience that so many different organizations with different ideologies and personalities have recognized that the time has come when we must join together to resist and defeat the growing counter-revolution.

This counter-revolution is very unprincipled, very dangerous and taking many forms, Therefore its defeat will take a lot of cooperation, courage, and principled struggle.

Rooted in race, and the search for the American Dream, it began at the end of World War II when white people moved to the suburbs to escape blacks in cities like Detroit where whites were becoming the minority. Taking with them their schools, their businesses and their taxes, they impoverished the cities and attracted the attention and money of extreme right-wingers like the Koch brothers.

As a result, over the years the suburbs have become increasingly reactionary. They have elected governors like Scott Walker and Rick Snyder. They have passed anti-union right to work, anti-women, and anti-black “Stand your ground” laws, which have given men like George Zimmerman permission to kill teens like Trayvon Martin as if they were roaches.

It is also mushrooming on college campuses. Professors are writing books celebrating Senator Joe McCarthy, claiming that his red-baiting witchhunts were actually early warnings against the big government that Obama is trying to force on us. Every year the ultra-conservative Phyliss Schlafly hosts a nationally-telecast Collegians Summit at the Heritage Foundation to provide these professors with a youthful audience.

As a result, on some campuses white students warn black professors not to flunk them – or else. At UCLA’s medical school Dr. Christian Head, a black surgeon, was assaulted by a flyer depicting him with the body of a gorilla being sodomized by another professor. He sued and was awarded $4.5 million.

With growing unemployment, the crisis in the Mideast, and the decline in this country’s global dominance, we have come to the end of the American Dream. The situation reminds me of the 1930s when good Germans, demoralized by their defeat in WWI, unemployment and inflation, followed Hitler into the Holocaust.

These days, in our country, a growing number of white people feel that, as they are becoming the minority and a black man has been elected president, the country is no longer theirs. They are becoming increasingily desperate and dangerous.

We need to address their fears, and at the same time invite and challenge them to join with us in creating a new American Dream.

It will not be easy. It will take the willingness to risk arrest that North Carolinians are demonstrating in the Moral Mondays movement.

It will take the kind of militancy that students are exhibiting in sit-ins against ‘’Stand your ground” legislation.

It will take the kind of courage and persistence that Texas State Senator Wendy Davis demonstrated when she carried out a 13 hour filibuster against a bill that would have denied women the right to choose.

We have just begun to fight….

(Note: Grace wrote this column under the heading “In Detroit, We Have Just Begun to Fight” after Detroit was taken over by an emergency manager and plunged into a corporate-styled bankruptcy.)

graceandjimmylfcheading with border

James Boggs, What Does the African American Experience Teach us About Democracy and Equality? 1980

The question is not how to make other non-black Americans less racist while we become more like them every day. As long as we continue to think that this is the main question, our social, economic, and political relationships will get worse instead of getting better. In fact, they will be getting worse even when they seem to be getting better. As we go towards the 21st century, blacks more than any other group in our country—because of our historical role in this country and also because we will always remain at the bottom of this society as long as it remains capitalist—need to recognize that we must give leadership to the entire nation by projecting new concepts of social and political relationships that go as far beyond Democracy and Equality that were created 200 years ago as those concepts went beyond the aristocratic and feudal relationships and concepts of Europe.

Living for Change News January 9th, 2017

It wasn’t all unrelenting doom and gloom in 2017.

Thinking for Ourselves Shea Howell EM Shadows
It is easy to think democracy has been restored to Michigan. The faces of Emergency Managers no longer loom out at us in the daily news. Kevyn Orr has disappeared from Detroit. He is now partner in charge of Jones Day’s Washington D.C. office.
Darnell Earley is gone from Flint and Detroit.  Although in early February he is expected return to view as he is likely to be charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in the poisoning of Flint water.
Detroit has an elected school board. They selected a new superintendent and reports are that some stability has returned. The governor’s office reported that for the first time in more than a decade, “there are no emergency managers in any cities statewide.”
Rarely reported, however, is that standing in the shadows are financial review boards, limiting the scope and nature of decisions elected officials can make. From water rates and school closing to merit pay, local democratic controls remain out of the hands of local officials, and voters.
Financial management continues as both a theory and practice of the right wing republican dominated state legislature. At the close of the state legislature in December, Democrats and a few bold republicans offered legislation to repeal emergency management legislation. In response, the governor’s office reiterated that the state has a “legitimate purpose in intervening” in local governments. Likewise the proposed legislation dealing with pension funds originally depended on establishing authoritarian emergency management boards.
It is hard to imagine a more clearly failed policy. The role of unchecked, unilateral authority given to emergency managers in the name of financial responsibility is clearly to blame for the devastation of Flint. Two decades of emergency managers left Detroit Public Schools with greater debt, more chaos, and less support for students and teachers than when elected boards were in charge. The New York Times assessed the experience of emergency management saying:
In Flint, emergency managers not only oversaw the city — effectively seizing legal authority from the mayor and City Council — but also pressed to switch the source of the financially troubled city’s water supply to save money.
In Detroit, the schools are on the brink of insolvency after a series of emergency managers dating to 2009 repeatedly failed to grapple with its financial troubles, while also falling short on maintaining school buildings and addressing academic deficiencies.
Supporters of Emergency Management often point to the Detroit bankruptcy process as a sign of the success of the policy. This success is embedded the corporate narrative that Detroit is “coming back.” For these supporters this means Detroit is becoming whiter, wealthier, and more supportive of corporate take-overs of public assets and responsibilities.
In the midst of the Detroit bankruptcy process, the fundamental problem of emergency management thinking emerged in the water shut off crisis. In order to make city assets valuable on the open market, Orr ordered a crack down on overdue residential water bills. This set off an assault on our communities that brought universal condemnation to the city and those who backed the shut off policy.  It revealed the essence of emergency management bottom line thinking that overshadows the essential interests of people.  In his ruling refusing a moratorium on water shut offs, Judge Steven Rhodes, later emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools explained, “Detroit cannot afford any revenue slippages.” Thus he denied a moratorium on shut offs, even as he acknowledged the irreparable harms being done to people. Economics, not people, matter.
The current legislation enabling emergency managers needs to be repealed. Statewide, voters have already said this law is undemocratic. Our task is to create local governments as essential places for people to practice meaningful democracy.  This possibility is what frightens those in authority.

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January 11th 

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Grace Lee Boggs, “The Black Revolution in America,” 1970

Any fundamental change in this system must begin with the concept of the individual as the maker of history, responsible for creating his social environment, convinced of his actions as historically significant, and therefore of how he thinks, feels, and judges and the positions he takes on social issues as not only personally but socially relevant. This sense of one’s personal-political value cannot be developed in private or in secret. It has to be developed (a) in relationship with others with whom one feels a sense of community; (b) in the course of actual and continuing struggle and conflict with those in power; (c) over issues in which positions taken or decisions made can be evaluated in terms of their consequences; and (d) with the perspective of finally taking power which will bring both the authority and responsibility to create new forms of social organization.

______________________________________________

Living for Change News January 3rd, 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
SO LONG 2017

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Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell     A New Year

The turning of the year is a time for reflection and recommitment.
Many of us are glad to see 2017 end. As the new year arrives we find ourselves drawing on fragile signs that longings for peace and justice persist, emerging in the resistance to acts of inhumanity that mark those in authority. Throughout the country people are recreating ways of living together based on values that hold the promise of protecting life and restoring health to our communities and the earth.
These signs of hope are revealing a tension in our country as we confront the limitations of a federal system dedicated to protecting power and privilege while destroying much of what people cherish. Increasingly those in authority disregard the passions of people and the values necessary to sustain life.
As the national political leadership demonstrates petty, greedy, and destructive behaviors, state and local leaders are stepping forward to provide methods of establishing alternative values.  People are organizing new forms of democratic practices as communities practice making meaningful decisions about our futures. Local resolutions of resistance, inventive policies confronting real problems, participatory budgeting, and people’s movement assemblies are all emerging as vibrant practices of an enriched democracy.
A fundamental distinction is emerging between we, the people, and the national government.. For example, as the US officially withdrew from the Paris Accord on climate change, 20 States, 50 cities and host of universities and civic organizations reaffirmed a commitment to the Accord goals for reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy. As limited as these goals are, it is an important step and reveals the weakness in such federal decision-making.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg explained the new America’s Pledge action saying, “It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us.”
Marking a new level of cruelty and fear mongering, the Trump Administration announced it is considering a policy on immigration separating children from their parents if they are caught crossing the border without documentation. This move, coupled with the recent tweets from Trump announcing his decision to tie protection of young, undocumented immigrant Dreamers from deportation to building a wall along the US southern border highlights the importance of Sanctuary spaces.
California is currently leading the way on how states can create counter power bases to protect people.The California effort takes effect this week.  A recent report noted:
“This sanctuary state act contributes to building community and state-level resistance to the White House attacks against the growing “sanctuary” movement among communities, institutions and local and state governments in California.”
“As signed, the bill does away with several local deportation practices, such as local police arrests for “civil immigrant warrants”, and it helps to ensure that spaces like schools, health facilities, courthouses and other spaces are safe and accessible to all.”
“State Senate President Kevin de Leon, the lead author of the bill said, “With today’s signing of SB 54 into law, one of the most important parts of that legal wall of protections is now in place. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions will not be able to use California’s own law enforcement officials in an effort to round up and deport our fellow Californians.”
As we approach this New Year we face a federal government that is increasingly abusive, capricious, and dangerous to life. Confronting it requires our rededication to creating new governmental forms and sources of power that reflect our best hopes for ourselves, one another, and our futures.
A Poem for Erica Garner Tawana Honeycomb Petty
What becomes of the broken hearted? Ventricles rotted with despair
Your father lost his air for us You shared your grief with us Y’all gave your lives for us

A lineage of reluctant Ancestry Two bodies Deceased prematurely Molded out of tragedy
Like Whitney and Bobby Kristina We grieve your tragic endings Though we watched you suffer publicly
May the air be clearer where you are May the universe heal your broken heart May your father gain his breath at sight of you
Dear Erica, we mourn for you We sympathize with you We agonize for you
May we be better human beings because of you

A Poem for Erica Garner
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

What becomes of the broken hearted?
Ventricles rotted with despair

Your father lost his air for us
You shared your grief with us
Y’all gave your lives for us

A lineage of reluctant Ancestry
Two bodies
Deceased prematurely
Molded out of tragedyLike Whitney and Bobby Kristina
We grieve your tragic endings
Though we watched you suffer publicly

May the air be clearer where you are
May the universe heal your broken heart
May your father gain his breath at sight of you

Dear Erica, we mourn for you
We sympathize with you
We agonize for you

May we be better human beings because of you

_____________________________________________

DC2ChurchFlyer

Reflections on Midwest Conversations Lisa M. Perhamus

In the spirit of Conversations in Maine, during which time James and Grace Lee Boggs and Freddie and Lyman Paine, spent reflective time with comrades, deeply engaged in questions about revolution, evolution and the politics of seeing the human dignity in one another, a small group of political activists from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Chicago convened in Kalamazoo, MI in mid-October for a similarly reflective retreat, Midwest Conversations.  A more multi-voiced reflection of Midwest Conversations, and the echoes of the work of James and Grace Lee Boggs’ Conversations in Maine, will be part of future Bogg’s Center Living for Change writing, but here are a few of my reflections…

The idea of the retreat was conceptually simple:  Engage with one another in humanizing ways about our work and let our dialogue with one another emerge organically.  One of the lessons that I learned from Midwest Conversations was that the implementation of the retreat was more complex, for how does a group of leaders work with a strong sense of intentionality and purpose without the clarity of conventional leadership?  In alignment with the wisdom of adrienne maree brown’s concept of emergent strategy and of “longing, a will to imagine and implement something else” (p. 21), we embraced our struggles with horizontal leadership and our questions about the idea of accompanionship rather than leadership.  We, a group of people who mostly did not know each other but who cared deeply about the political questions facing the human race at this historical moment, also collectively worked to figure out the authentic, courageous and loving connective tissue that had brought us together for this retreat.
We began our first evening together with adrienne maree brown’s idea that a few people gathered together, in a particular place, in a particular moment, could have a conversation that could only flow in those conditions—our job was to find that conversation with each other.  This was an idea from emergent strategy, and proved to be a powerful one, as people who were meeting for the first time dialogued in ways that only they could, and dialogued in ways that were rich and meaningful as we began the retreat.  Coming back together as a larger group felt, to me, more tentative, more cautious, laced with uncertainty about what our time together would be like.  In emergent strategy, adrienne maree brown, states two critically important principles.  First:  Trust the people.  Second:  What you pay attention to grows.  People in the group who felt the tentativeness and cautiousness articulated a desire to develop a set of Common Agreements for our group conversations to help build trust.  Trust the people.  Folks did develop such agreements and the trust that it helped to foster deepened our work together and our relationships with one another.  Folks paid attention to the need for strengthening our connection with one another, and our attention to nourishing the tissue bonding us in the retreat allowed our work together to grow and deepen.  These are important principled lessons—lessons that saturate the human need for connection amidst today’s fragmentation and fractures.  In the face of hostility, trauma, violence and division, people are uniting in social movements; in political discussions around kitchen tables; through the galvanizing power of social media; and through innovation hubs that are making different ways of living current realities.

flip 2

Midwest Conversations folks were able to see the power of growing neighborhoods; repurposing artefacts; and building local economies through the regenerative power of humanity when visiting the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago on day number two of the retreat.  The work of the Sweet Water Foundation and its co-founders, Emmanuel Pratt and Jia Lok Pratt, demonstrate a third important principle of emergent strategy:  There is not a social problem that nature has not already solved; our job is to find how nature has navigated the problem so that we may learn.  It was a powerful day of learning.  As one participant articulated, what we witnessed happening at Sweet Water was, “Beyond my imaginary.”  As Grace Lee Boggs stated, “A different future is possible, if our imagination were rich enough.”
We spent the last day and a half of the retreat articulating what we were learning; stretching our collective growth; laboring through difficult moments; crying in moments of recognizing trauma; and feeling the graciousness that we all stayed at the proverbial table through it all.  I do believe that James and Grace would have demanded no less of us and would have respected our willingness to keep working, even through the hard times–and laughed with us through our moments of the pure joy of getting to know one another.  Mia Henry, Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, really helped us weave our experiential growth together and her modeled “accompanionship more than leadership” style highlighted the possibilities of living the future we want for tomorrow, today. ACSJL provided us a space that acknowledges the ancestral land upon which we were meeting; the Center’s partnership with neighborhood communities; its respect for the natural environment; and its commitment to social justice with the Kalamazoo College community.  Through learning about the work of ACSJL, Midwest Conversation participants experienced first-hand the elements outlined in emergent strategy.
On our last afternoon together, I felt that we needed all of the energy of our collective to help us bear witness to the traveling Jim Crow Exhibit that we went to at the Kalamazoo Museum.  There is no escaping the racism that was on full display in that exhibit, or ways to alleviate the pain I felt about the apparently cavalier way many white people seemed to flow in and out of that exhibit.  History matters. As a retreat group, we spent some of our time that evening talking about what we had experienced, but, to be honest, we did not spend enough time—or perhaps there is never enough time.  Perhaps the idea of time is part of the root problem of having difficulty envisioning a different future.  I am reminded of adrienne maree brown’s, emergent strategy, words in her chapter about fractals.
“We hone our skills of naming and analyzing the crises.  I learned in school how to deconstruct—but how do we move beyond our beautiful deconstruction?  Who teaches us to reconstruct?  How do we cultivate the muscle of radical imagination needed to dream together beyond fear?  Showing Black and white people sitting at a lunch counter together was science fiction…When we speak of systemic change, we need to be fractal.  Fractals—a way to speak of the patterns we see—move from the micro to the macro level…We must create patterns that cycle upwards. We are microsystems” (p. 59).
The next morning, our last morning together, was, in my experience, truly a collective, microsystemic, upward movement toward change that nourished and strengthened our connective tissue.  We generated questions organically and dialogued passionately about pressing dilemmas many feel faced with in doing justice work. It was a dialogue time designated for articulating our thoughts, feelings, ideas—a time for sharing work we are doing that is going well and for seeking collaboration about the things that feel more disheartening in our justice work.  On this last morning together, we articulated “take-aways” AND a stronger connective tissue.
We ended in a circle, sharing our reflections of the retreat.  During this circle, as during many of our times together throughout the retreat, I wished that we were audio-recording our conversation the way that Grace Lee Boggs had done during Conversations in Maine. Within our small group there was tremendous wisdom, passion, vision, commitment—born of pain, living, studying, partnering, loving.  To have recorded our conversations together would have been tremendous.  But, we can each carry the conversations with us into our next conversations, and in that sense, Midwest Conversations really happened in the spirit of Conversations in Maine.  The Conversations in Maine are still happening, as the upcoming reprinting of the text evidences, and the Midwest Conversations will continue.  I believe this will happen because of the power of the experience—thanks to the Boggs Center, ACSJL and the Sweet Water Foundation.  I also believe that our ongoing experience is echoed in adrienne maree brown’s emergent strategy:
‘What are the root problems in my community, and what do deep foundational, rooted solutions look like?’ (citing the Ruckus Society’s operating principles).  This is thinking from a place of healing, more than dominating others with our beliefs.  It is not enough to adhere to these values, however—we want to see our beliefs in practice.  Now, how does it feel (to release assumptions)? (p. 66).

I believe that the Midwest Conversations will continue with formal and informal partnerships; move forward with continued shifts in thinking; enrich new friendships; nourish a sense of knowing that we are not alone in doing justice work; and strengthen the somatic knowledge we each now embody as we dialogue together.  We, along with our neighbors, are the change we want to be.IMG_7517 2

Living for Change News
graceandjimmylfcheading with border
December 26th, 2017


“Men don’t need to show our manhood, we need to show our humanity” — James Boggs, 1990


Together We Make a Family
A disabled, biracial, (and totally normal) American family

WATCH


With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June. Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

You can contribute directly at our website
www.boggscenter.org
or mail a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, MI 48214.


Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
In Quest of Peace

For many of us this is the season to turn toward family and friends. It is a sacred time, calling for reflection and affirmation of our deepest longings for peace on earth. Rarely has such a hope been so far from our daily reality. We are living in a moment when relationships among people are marked with causal violence and intentional brutalities. Since 2001 we have been a people at war. It has been the backdrop of the lives of an entire generation who have never known a time without active US military interventions.

Recently, Nick Turse documented the increased use of Special Operation forces under the current administration. He notes, “On any given day, 8000 special operations from a command numbering roughly 70,000—are deployed in approximately 80 countries.” In 2017 troops were deployed “to 149 nations.”

The reach of these forces influences every part of our globe. As a report from TomDispatch explained, these troops are in “about 75% of the nations on the planet.” Under President Obama, and now Trump, this is an increase “of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House.”

General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some chilling views on what this global reach means. He said, “We operate and fight in every corner of the world.” He went on, “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key integrating and enabling capabilities to support their campaigns and operations.” 

Over the last two decades we have drifted from the doctrine introduced by George W. Bush of “preemptive war” to the acceptance of perpetual war. Anywhere we choose. We have become the most dangerous predator on the planet. We have allowed military solutions to become normal.

The idea that military force can create security is a false and deadly way to think. Rather, we need to acknowledge that we are a people without restraint, promoting violence and disruption across the globe.

Willful blindness to such violence corrodes our souls. Often carried out by bombs, drones, missiles and a few men and women, the use of massive force has become ordinary. We are barely stirred by even the dropping of the largest mega bomb on earth, the Mother of All Bombs. Talk of nuclear destruction is tossed out in tweets.

This is perhaps the gift that Trump has given us. He has made our hypocrisies transparent. While the United States has always depended on violence and destruction to secure its wealth, we have often hidden that ugliness behind aspirations of becoming something better.  But in the age of Trump, we can no longer pretend. We see daily the cruelty and violence that support our ways of living.

We can no longer evade the reality of who we have become as a nation. Nor can we evade how much force and violence shape not only our relationships around the globe but our public spaces at home and our most intimate relationships.

As we turn to each other this season, the questions before us require the courage to re-imagine what it means to create peace in our lives and on the earth that sustains us.  Finding our ways to peace and respectful relationships has never been more urgent.


DC2ChurchFlyer

Round the corner on Grand River Avenue onto Vinewood Street on Detroit’s West Side and you’ll encounter a building covered in mirrors. The eye-catching Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum is a striking, immersive introduction to African material culture.”
rendering_2
(Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum renovation rendering by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

Look for the new edition of Riverwise is out in your favorite stores and community spaces!
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Detroit, Michigan 48214
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Living for Change News
Jimmy and Grace

Grace Lee Boggs, “I Must Love the Questions Themselves” 1985

Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable. At the same time we must love the questions themselves, first, because every time we act on our convictions, we create new contradictions or new questions; and secondly, because we have no models for revolutionary social change in a country as technologically advanced and politically backwards as ours.

_______________________________________

December 19th, 2017


Jimmy No Way


With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June. Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

You can contribute directly at our website
www.boggscenter.org

or mail a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, MI 48214.


Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell
Business and DemocracyThe undermining of democracy is accelerating in Michigan. A new frame is emerging from our business owners and their publicists. They are claiming business, supported by public money, is better for people than political decision-making.The efforts by Dan Gilbert and Bedrock to use public money for their latest projects illustrate this dangerous shift. Major news media is celebrating Gilbert’s plans for the former Hudson’s Department Store. Gilbert is promising a million square foot development that will include 400 apartment units, the tallest building in Michigan, and a large complex of with retail markets and exhibition spaces.  laiming it will be a “city within a city” the space will offer a maker’s space for children, a market hall for encouraging new ideas, art, music, dance, and Ted Talks.

Behind all of this media hype are some troubling realities. First, an initial $250 million in tax money, collectable by Gilbert, thanks to the Michigan Legislature, supports the project. The right wing legislature has put into place a legal framework to allow corporations to collect income and property taxes in designated redevelopment areas. This initial public support for Gilbert’s projects is expected to balloon to $618 million over the next few years, including money that should go to public schools.

The developments, part of more than a dozen scheduled over the next year, are not governed by any substantial community benefit agreements. In fact the community is being told to be quiet, stop interrupting progress, and be glad you are getting some jobs, maybe.

The Detroit Free Press columnist John Gallagher, who considers himself liberal, uncritically embraces the development. He notes in passing that it will have a “big public assembly space.” What kind of “public space” exactly is he envisioning? Gilbert, who has both a large private security force and state of the art surveillance technologies positioned throughout his emerging fortressed area, has not exactly encouraged robust public discussion. Gallagher’s thinking about democracy appears to extend to offering suggestions of names for the new building. The point of his short article is to invite readers to send suggestions to him so he can pass them along to Gilbert.

Gallagher does say we “need to figure out what to do to ensure that Detroit’s recovery creates opportunity for all.” Opportunity, of course, is not the same thing as justice, and is a long way from sustainable, equitable development. His solution for opportunity is to give more tax breaks, this time for historic preservation.

A much more meaningful solution would be a real community benefits agreement. Last year Gilbert and his pals did every thing they could to sabotage a community led initiative. Many of those who fought for this substantial agreement gathered outside the fake ground breaking event to challenge this use of public money for private gain.

Predictably, instead of engaging seriously with the questions being raised by the group, Gilbert’s media mouthpieces resorted to name calling in an effort to delegitimize thoughtful discussion.

On the other side of the spectrum the Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes offered the view that business is better than democracy. Howes argued that Detroiters need to “embrace” business, because “commerce is often more likely to improve lives and build communities—not politics.”

This kind of framing is dangerous to all who care about democracy and justice. The idea that business interests, not public values, should be our only consideration has justified the genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement of millions of Africans for generations, and the continued assault on land and people everywhere.

Gilbert responded to the demonstrators saying, “I don’t think they understand” and “I think they should do their homework.”  It is Gilbert and his cronies who don’t understand history and who should do some homework. If the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, they are on the wrong side, and playing a disastrous game.


DC2ChurchFlyer

Shifting the Language: From Ally to Co-liberator
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog
If you are a black person or another person of color, I am asking you to participate in ushering in a new narrative. I am asking you to relinquish your pursuit of white people as privileged beings. If you are a white person, I am asking you to relinquish the narrative that you live a privileged existence.For those of you who made it through that first paragraph, we are well on our way towards visioning a more humane society. A society that allows everyone to show up in the conversation with their full humanity.

Discarding the narrative of privilege is not an invitation to ignore the brutality that black people and other people of color endure under the system of white supremacy. It’s an invitation to contribute to a dialogue that moves us beyond the false dichotomy of hierarchy we have been unintentionally fostering through our anti-racism organizing. It is an invitation to recognize the more connected to our humanity we become, the less we will tolerate the dehumanization of others.

I have participated in dozens of mixed-race discussions around racism that left me feeling even more dehumanized than I felt before the discussion began. I have witnessed testimony after testimony from white allies giving their white privilege testament under the auspice of acceptance by black people and other people of color into the anti-racism organizing circle. Not only did I leave feeling dehumanized, but I felt dehumanized for the white people who I believed came to the events either seeking their humanity, or in pursuit of some measure of transformation.

It’s complicated, I know. But, what has capitulating to the shrinking of blacks and other people of color as the underprivileged and white people as privileged actually done for the struggle against racism, or the dismantling of the system of white supremacy? I am personally exhausted by what has begun to feel like scripted performances by all parties.

At one of the recent gatherings I spoke at, a woman who identified herself as white stood up to counter my challenge towards the white privilege narrative. She described the ability to let her son walk “safely” two doors down from their home as a privilege. I was grateful that she provided her analysis of privilege, as it provided an opportunity for a deeper dialogue. A dialogue that moves beyond the misconception that there is some sort of magic bubble that protects you from the suffering in society if you just move far enough into the suburbs. One that removes the misconception that there is no suffering in the suburbs. A dialogue that challenges white people to take a deeper look at the impact racism and living up to the backwards standards of white supremacy, has on them. A dialogue that interrogates the sort of survival that encourages you to disconnect from the “others” of the world in order to have the perception you are moving up in it.

My assessment is that the ways in which we have been identifying privilege are very limited in scope. The privilege narrative does not take into consideration the rich history and culture that has been historically and actively practiced in black, brown and indigenous communities. A culture that is consistently borrowed by the mainstream while the people whose culture it belongs to are hated by that very same mainstream. The privilege narrative negates the perseverance and stick-to-itiveness that black people and other people of color have demonstrated to the world through some of the most inhumane conditions inflicted upon us. The privilege narrative invisibilizes the ingenuity, artistry, creativity and “make a way out of no way,” resilience that blacks and other people of color have employed in order to survive in a society that till this day has failed to recognize us as fully human. But, even with all the social ills inflicted upon us, we are not underprivileged. I’m not claiming that existence any longer.

That fact that black, brown and indigenous humanity has been subjected to the interpretation of a society that suffers from the detriment of white supremacy is an even greater reason not to succumb to that analysis. Enough is enough. We have known the brilliance of black people and other people of color for long enough. There is no reason to keep pleading with anyone to recognize us as human.

What is imperative now is that we stand together in our power to shift the language and the narrative, and encourage those co-liberators who are serious about struggling against racism and dismantling the system of white supremacy, to shift their language and analysis as well.
We will not rid the world of all the ‘isms that plague us by shrinking to them. None of us will.

I’ll end with a quote from a powerful Ancestor, Fred Hampton.

Black people need some peace. White people need some peace and we’re gonna have to struggle religiously to bring about some peace because the people we’re asking for peace, they are a bunch of meglamaniac war mongers! And we got to struggle with them to make ’em understand what peace means!

It’s time we moved onward and upward, together!


What We’re ReadingComedian Jenny Yang on Grace Lee Boggs


What We’re Watching

For more than 30 years, Judith Heumann has been involved on the international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of disabled people.

Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs

How Do “We Reimagine?  Grace Lee Boggs
We reimagine by combining activism with philosophy. We have to do what I call visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition. That’s why it’s so wonderful to be here today—that we dare to talk about revolution in such fundamental terms.”

Living for Change News

December 10th, 2017

There’s something amazing growing in the city of Detroit: healthy, accessible, delicious, fresh food. In a spirited talk, fearless farmer Devita Davison explains how features of Detroit’s decay actually make it an ideal spot for urban agriculture. Join Davison for a walk through neighborhoods in transformation as she shares stories of opportunity and hope. “These aren’t plots of land where we’re just growing tomatoes and carrots,” Davison says. “We’re building social cohesion as well as providing healthy, fresh food.”

WATCH How Urban Agriculture is Transforming Detroit

Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell
Small Victory, New Questions

People in Michigan can celebrate a small victory this week as public outcry forced the state legislature to scale back its latest attack on local government. The Emergency Management Team provision was withdrawn in the series of bills aimed at pension finances. The proposed package of bills sponsored by right wing republicans to deal with pension commitments would have established a new level of emergency financial managers, setting aside basic local control in the name of financial responsibility. Both Democrats and moderate republicans baulked at the provision, acknowledging the new legislation was more emergency management by a not very different name. Since the disaster in Flint, Emergency Management by any name has not been a popular idea. So the provisions attempting to expand this were withdrawn.  Few elected officials are willing to support extending Emergency Managers.

But this is a small victory surrounded by larger questions.  Embedded in the issue of emergency management is the deeply held right wing belief that democracy is incompatible with responsible choices.  Local control of local decisions do not matter, they argue. In fact it is the official position of these right wing extremists that people have no right to local self-government. This is evident in the continual pursuit of Emergency Managers to replace locally elected governments. Those who lost this time have pledged by to keep the effort to establish emergency management teams alive.

They are supported by the right wing analysis that infuses all levels of government these days.  Last spring three republican appointed justices to the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Emergency Managers, finding them a constitutional exercise of authority. Judge John M. Rogers, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that it “undoubtedly is a legitimate legislative purpose” for the governor to be given authority to appoint emergency managers with broad authority to run communities and school districts. The decision affirmed Bill Schuette’s bold assertion that people simply “do not have a Constitutional right to local self government.”

Undergirding this thinking is the belief that local financial distress is the result of mismanagement by local officials. Rogers wrote in his opinion, “The solvency of a local government is the result of the management of the finances of that government,” Or mismanagement. In this perspective, if local governments face financial difficulties it is because elected officials haven’t made the necessary decisions to “discipline” aggressive unions and public employees. They have bowed to political pressures. Or they were just plain corrupt.

Notions of mismanagement and corruption are widely held by the right wing to be endemic to communities governed by African Americans. As the Center for Constitutional Law pointed out, “Since 2013, at one point or another, 56% of the black population of the state of Michigan has lived under emergency management.” Meanwhile just three percent of the white population has endured these circumstances.

This racialized blaming of local officials evades fundamental, systemic problems in financing local governments. As a recent report from the Michigan Municipal League argued, “We have built an unsustainable method for funding local government, and unless the administration and Legislature take steps to correct it, we will be damning Michigan’s future.” The report concludes, “We must reevaluate how we fund the services that matter most and back it with the resources needed to create places that people want. “

The beginning of this reevaluation is a conversation about the intricate connection of democracy and the places where we live. How do we make meaningful decisions? Who is responsible? What are the values that govern our choices? In pursuing these questions we will find our way to a deeper understanding of why cities, communities, and people matter.

 

 

Violence is not privilege, it’s detriment
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

Violence is not privilege, it’s detriment.

I’m not writing this as someone who has always thought this way. I wrote an entire poem around privilege in my book Coming Out My Box in 2016. However, my thinking has since evolved. The urgency to be free of the system of white supremacy has become even more prevalent.

My mind can no longer connect a violent, oppressive and genocidal system with privilege. I can no longer encourage potential co-liberators to accept their history and collaboration with this system as a privilege. For me, accepting the ongoing legacy of trauma inflicted on blacks and other people of color as a privilege is dehumanizing for all involved. In fact, the terms privilege and ally within the anti-racist organizing movement have been so watered down that mentions make me a bit nauseous and triggered at times.

If someone snatched a child and raped and killed them, would we tell them to admit that they had the privilege of being with that child? Why then would we encourage well-meaning white people who hope to grasp the magnitude of slavery and the current system of white supremacy, to identify their connection to that violent history and current brutality as a privilege? Why are we framing white supremacy as a benefit from our Ancestors’ brutal history of torture (many of whom were children). Why are we framing it as a perk to benefit from our ongoing displacement and marginalization in this country?

Even with the resources gained and protections afforded by the system, based on whiteness, I would much rather hear white co-liberators say, “I recognize my detriment. I am actively struggling against white supremacy, here is how…” Because to identify with those gains with such affirmative language is detrimental to healing and progression in this country. It is detrimental to any real systemic change. If we reframe the connection to this brutality as a detriment, rather than a privilege it removes the optional ally-ship that is so prevalent within anti-racism organizing. If white co-liberators can see their connection to the legacy of slavery, lynching, redlining and other forms of racial violence as a detriment to their humanity, rather than a privilege to their existence, we can begin to balance the racial seesaw a bit.

The argument around privilege verses detriment has been used in the past to think about how whites and blacks relate to the system of white supremacy. However, in those instances, the argument has been that we should refrain from calling white people privileged and instead identify black people as having the detriment. My argument is that this still reinforces the historical hierarchal narrative that got us here in the first place. It is a narrative that makes it a global phenomenon to consistently fail to recognize blacks and other people of color as fully human. I am also arguing that it is the indoctrination into the system of white supremacy and the connectedness to a legacy of violence and brutality towards human beings based on race, that is the actual detriment. Rather than determine a person’s value (privileged or underprivileged) based on what one of my comrades would call, stuff and status, we can begin to reconnect morality with humanity.

It is a mistake to continue to teach black children and other children of color, even those who are without basic necessities, that they are underprivileged. We must begin to take care of their spirit. Society has already told them that they are less than, that they are hopeless and helpless. We must teach them that as we struggle against these systems that seek to dehumanize them, we recognize their full humanity and will do everything in our power to strengthen and restore our villages, so that they don’t have to go without.

Dr. King said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” I firmly believe that we all have greater control over the edifice than we have allowed ourselves to believe.
What We’re Watching 

 

This week’s Laura Flanders Show comes from Whitakers, North Carolina and the annual gathering of the Southern Movement Assemblies — a living experiment in popular democracy and local self governance. Plantation politics, monopoly capitalism, incarceration instead of peace: a lot of the worst of the American experience has it roots in the US South, but so does much of the best, from slave revolts, to abolition, to organized labor and civil rights. If the country goes as the South goes, what grassroots progressives do here matters. For this special episode we partnered with Project South, an anchor organization of the Southern Movement Assemblies, and Laura was joined by co-host LaDie Mansfield.Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

SPECIAL REPORT: Self Governance

 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

Living for Change News

December 4th, 2017


Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell

First They Came for Detroit

The Michigan State Legislature is no friend to democracy. Nor is it a friend to cities. Dominated by right wing ideologues, the State Republican majority is once again mounting an assault on all those who believe in local democratic control.

Last week a series of bills were introduced aimed at taking control of local decisions about health care and pensions funded by local communities. These bills, in both the House and the Senate and are backed by Governor Snyder. They are being pushed by Republicans as a way to help municipalities meet pension and health care obligations. The 16 bill package gives sweeping powers to new emergency managers, takes aim at pensions and collective bargaining, and is clearly intended to provide a new mechanism to take over local governments, sell off assets to private interests, and destroy unions.

Under the guise of concern for underfunded retirement plans, the new Local Government Retirement Stability Board (LGRSB), consisting of 3 people appointed by the governor, would require all communities to submit to a five stage process beginning with the assessment of the viability of current pension funding. If funding is deemed inadequate, the community would be required to develop a plan of “corrective action.” If the LGRSB and the local government could not agree, the State Treasurer would declare a financial emergency and appoint a three pension team with powers similar to current Emergency Managers, including setting aside local elected officials, taking control of the budgets, selling public assets and renegotiating contracts.

Of all of the destructive actions taken by Governor Snyder and his right wing supporters, Emergency Management and the removal of local democratic control is the most horrific. It has been directly responsible for the poisoning of Flint, the killing of people, the destruction of public schools, unimaginable suffering through water shut offs, and the whole sale loss of municipal wealth as public assets slip into private hands.

This new wave of legislation, however, is not aimed primarily at large cities with significant numbers of African American citizens. Rather, the first two phases of the proposed legislation would affect more than 900 cities, townships, villages, counties, libraries and park authorities requiring them to turn over financial information to the State.  Senate Majority Leader Arian Meekhof, a republican from West Olive, said that about 85% of Michigan communities are at or nearly fully funded and would not require “corrective action.” About 30 communities across the state are now considered vulnerable, including Detroit, Lansing, Pontiac and Warren.

Aside from the flawed logic of requiring all municipalities to engage in a costly and cumbersome process that only affects 15% of them, the reality is that municipal financial distress has been directly caused by the actions and inactions of the State Republican Legislature. First they withhold funds, then they blame municipalities for not having enough money to balance budgets, then they declare a financial emergency and come in and raid the municipality, privatizing services and selling public assets.

Consider that these bills go far beyond the recommendations of the Governor’s own task force empowered to review pension plans in the state. A majority of Task Force members were opposed to the establishment of requirements for all local governments to submit to an emergency process, believing that the local unit, through the collective bargaining process, should have the flexibility to agree upon what works best within their communities.
Right wing Republicans do not believe in local control. They have argued that there is no “constitutional right to local self government” and view it as a threat. Since 2002, Michigan has cut state support for cities more than any other state in the country, reducing funding by 57%.

First, Emergency Managers came for Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Highland Park. Now they are coming for the rest of Michigan. It is clear we who believe in local democracy as both our right and responsibility have much work to do together.


Anti-Racism Organizing has Stalled
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

During this period in my life, I have found myself committed to participating in anti-racism organizing efforts that move beyond black people and other people of color trying to convince white people that they have privilege and white people admitting to that privilege.

Those of us committed to anti-racism organizing need an entirely new conversation, one that has white people digging deeper into the impact racism has had on their own humanity. Drug abuse, domestic violence, suicide, mass murders, etc., are results of the same system that causes intraracial violence within black and brown communities.

I recognize that it is difficult for many to accept that the conditions faced by whites are tied to racism. Racism is a painful existence for blacks and other people of color, and anti-black racism is a deeper level of racism that blacks face, even within “allied” relationships.

As a black woman born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, a city that has suffered under a half-century of propaganda assault because of its predominately black racial demographic, I cannot ignore the impacts of anti-black racism. Anti-black racism has had a direct psychological impact on me and I have witnessed the impact it has had on my city, my entire life.

However, as I have begun to envision and work towards trying to realize the type of world I wish to live in, I have taken note of the impact that participating in such a dehumanizing system has had on well-meaning whites.

Although too many deny it, it has also become easy to take stock of the visible correlation between racism and capitalism.
When whites go into banks and other institutions that have built their wealth on the selling of black bodies through slavery, and are afforded loans and other resources that are quite often denied to the descendants of slaves, that is an obvious connection between racism and capitalism.

When black and brown residents are uprooted from their neighborhoods and their homes replaced with stadiums and upscale hotels or businesses that cater mostly to a white population, those are obvious connections between racism and capitalism.

But, what is less obvious is the psychological impact participating in this capitalistic racism has had on whites. The imaginary bubble that one must create around themselves in order to falsify a peaceful (often suburban) existence from the undesirable (black and brown) population, lends to a level of dehumanization in white people that many don’t speak about.

Instead of confronting these realities in a systemic way, blacks, other people of color, and whites have allowed themselves to participate in a seesaw that reinforces a false hierarchical narrative. Black people and other people of color are on one side of the seesaw and whites are on the other side. This false dichotomy is the privileged and underprivileged seesaw.

This type of rhetoric cannot exist within anti-racism organizing. It will not create the world many of us wish to live in someday. It is the dominant narrative, not the counter-narrative. We need to be committed to the counter-narrative.

If white people don’t begin to look at the impact the system of white supremacy has had on white people, those who have committed themselves to anti-racist organizing will continue to pursue undoing racism as a pet project they can pick up and put down. Undoing racism has to become a lifelong commitment white people make in order to humanize themselves. It cannot be something they do in the black community. Racism is not a black and brown community problem. Racism is something that is inflicted upon the black and brown community.

It is true that unarmed white people are not being gunned down by racist police the way that black people and other people of color are being gunned down. It is true that white people are not being redlined in order to allow for blacks to move into their neighborhoods. It is true that white school districts are not suffering massive school closings and disinvestment at a level that you see happening in black and brown neighborhoods. The system of white supremacy and the policies that are enacted in order to continue that system are vicious and unyielding, and we must do everything in our power to struggle against those policies and supporting forces. In order to do that, we need everyone in the struggle for racial justice to be doing so. This is why forcing well-meaning white people to shrink under white guilt and the false notion of privilege serves the movement for racial justice no real purpose.

Participating with the system of white supremacy is far from a privileged existence. It is a dehumanizing existence. The further connected one is to a system that forces you to look through people based on their racial identity in order to survive or thrive, the farther away from your humanity you have to be.

Climbing the perpetual ladder to the American Dream requires a level of disconnect from what it means to be human that can only be nurtured with larger metal gates, deeper car garages, smaller front porches, and minimal contact with people all around you — even people who look like you.

Is it truly a privilege to be connected to a legacy of lynching, displacement, redlining, etc.? We need new language. We need to pull away from the cycle of ally-ship and begin struggling towards co-liberation. We need whites to firmly believe that their liberation, their humanity is also dependent upon the destruction of racism and the dismantling of white supremacy.

This framing is new and challenging for our movement, but it is one that must be considered if we are truly to avoid revisiting the dynamics we are currently facing in this country another fifty years from now.

On November 29, 2017, I had an opportunity to participate on a panel titled, “Let’s Talk About Race: Standing Together to End Racism” at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, MI.  I joined the panel with Professor Peter Hammer of Wayne State University Law School and the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. He presented on the history of racial inequity in Detroit and SE, Michigan. I presented on much of what I referenced above. We will continue these conversations.

It’s time we recognize that true anti-racism organizing means that we must help each other down from the seesaw.


riverwiseMag_Summer2017_web_1_lwe (1)

 

 Riverwise Magazine is a collective effort to highlight and strengthen grassroots movement activity throughout the city of Detroit. Former staff members of the Michigan Citizen Newspaper alongside active members of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for Nurturing Community Leadership launched the magazine in 2017 with an eye towards reporting on emerging movements, especially among communities of color.

Riverwise documents the people and places building a more equitable and just city. While government agencies lay down the red carpet for billionaire venture capitalists and corporate ‘tech’ headquarters, Detroit’s ‘underserved’ are projecting visions of a sustainable future.

With a distribution of 10,000 copies a quarter, we are encouraging new ways of thinking about our city in coffeehouses, barbershops, community centers and bookstores.  Our work has been supported by a generous grant from the New Visions Foundation and individual donations. We anticipate being able to maintain the current level of funding for basic production for the coming year but we have depended on the volunteer work of authors and artists.

  We are now calling on you, our growing readership, to help us support local writers and artists working with us to tell these remarkable stories. Their unique insights and abilities are essential to projecting new ideas and propelling us towards a more humane world.

Our commitment to expand the traditional role of a community publication is paramount to the mission of Riverwise magazine. We provide an independent, visionary voice about the challenges facing our city and our country. This campaign is one step towards aligning our funding structure with the communities we seek to engage.

GIVE TODAY


What We’re Reading
shrine

What We’re Watching 
Vincent Harding, chair of the Veterans of Hope Project and author of Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero, draws a word-picture of the future all advocates are fighting for at the CDF’s 2012 National Conference. Watch, learn, and organize – the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

Boggs Center – News November 28th, 2017

Living for Change News
Jimmy and Grace
James and Grace Lee Boggs, “Uprooting Racism and Racists in the United States” 1970

Less obvious but increasingly dangerous has been the human price paid by the entire country for advancing capitalism by all means necessary. In the course of making a unique land of opportunity in which whites climb up the social ladder on the backs of blacks, the American people have become the most materialistic, the most opportunistic, the most individualistic—in sum, the most politically and socially irresponsible people in the world. Step by step, choice by choice, year after year, decade after decade, they have become the political victim of the system they themselves created, unable to make political decisions on the basis of principle no matter how crucial the issue is.


November 28th, 2017


 

attachment 1

Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell
Asking QuestionsI recently received three emails that raised concerns about what is happening in our city. The first was about a young student at Wayne State. She is living in temporary housing, working full time, and going to school. She is looking for a place to live close enough to campus so she can either walk or take public transportation. The second email was about a family looking for a house because they are renting from an absentee landlord who is refusing to provide even minimal upkeep on the home, making it unsafe for a mother and her children. The third was from a grandmother who has recently taken custody of her grandchildren and now faces eviction from her building as children are not welcome there.

Each of these stories seems small in relation to the challenges we face as a city. But in more than 4 decades, I can count on one hand the number of people who have requested help in finding a home. Now I find three families in one week.

That was the same week as the City Council approved giving Dan Gilbert $250 million for the development of 4 new projects including a new skyscraper on the site of the former Hudson’s department store, a mixed use project on the Monroe Block, the renovation of Book Tower, and expansion of One Campus Martius. These four are considered one project in order to qualify for the special billion dollar pot of taxpayer money created at the state level though a package often called “Gilbert Bills,” because of his intense lobbying to establish the brownfields fund. Over a series of resident objections, the Council voted in favor of the project, accepting Gilbert’s argument that this will result in 24,000 jobs.

Only Councilperson, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, had the courage to object. She used the opportunity to raise the question of tying the use of public funds to a real community benefits ordinance.

Such an ordinance and rethinking about development is urgent. Since the housing crisis of 2008 Detroit has shifted from a city of homeowners to one of predominantly renters. In the course of this shift there has been little thought to the implications of this or to the policy questions it raises. There has been little effort to tie development to affordable housing or to protect renters.

Even though many homes in Detroit are relatively inexpensive, the reality is that it is almost impossible to get a mortgage. If you do not have access to a lump sum of capital, home ownership is almost out of reach. Last year financial giants Bank of America made 18 mortgages and JP Morgan made 6. Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans made the most of anyone, coming in at 90.

As John Gallagher recently pointed out, the two most critical areas affecting home ownership are property taxes and water shutoffs. Both policies are driving people out of neighborhoods, creating downward spirals. And both policies could be reversed in ways that support people staying in their homes. Both Philadelphia and now Chicago have adopted water affordability plans that tie water rates to income, not usage. Such a plan has been long advocated in Detroit, but the Mayor stubbornly refuses to move toward this effort.

Others are raising the question of eliminating property taxes for homeowners all together. Currently they bring in less than 15% of our city’s revenue, yet do incalculable harm.

Over the next few weeks, Mayor Duggan is obligated to hold a number of public meetings.  Asking what he doing to protect renters, make housing affordable, support a real community benefits policy, stop water shutoffs and keep people in their homes are critical for all of us.


 

riverwiseMag_Summer2017_web_1_lwe (1)

 

 Riverwise Magazine is a collective effort to highlight and strengthen grassroots movement activity throughout the city of Detroit. Former staff members of the Michigan Citizen Newspaper alongside active members of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for Nurturing Community Leadership launched the magazine in 2017 with an eye towards reporting on emerging movements, especially among communities of color.

Riverwise documents the people and places building a more equitable and just city. While government agencies lay down the red carpet for billionaire venture capitalists and corporate ‘tech’ headquarters, Detroit’s ‘underserved’ are projecting visions of a sustainable future.

With a distribution of 10,000 copies a quarter, we are encouraging new ways of thinking about our city in coffeehouses, barbershops, community centers and bookstores.  Our work has been supported by a generous grant from the New Visions Foundation and individual donations. We anticipate being able to maintain the current level of funding for basic production for the coming year but we have depended on the volunteer work of authors and artists.

  We are now calling on you, our growing readership, to help us support local writers and artists working with us to tell these remarkable stories. Their unique insights and abilities are essential to projecting new ideas and propelling us towards a more humane world.

Our commitment to expand the traditional role of a community publication is paramount to the mission of Riverwise magazine. We provide an independent, visionary voice about the challenges facing our city and our country. This campaign is one step towards aligning our funding structure with the communities we seek to engage.

GIVE TODAY


 pr
The mainstream news media has all but neglected the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Data from Media Cloud, a database that collects news published on the Internet every day, shows that the devastation in Puerto Rico is getting relatively little attention from digital and cable news outlets compared to coverage of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.At the same time, relief for Puerto Ricans has been slow and insufficient. U.S. president Donald Trump dedicated a golf trophy to hurricane victims, and on his October 3rd visit to the island he suggested that hurricane Maria was not a “real catastrophe,” proceeding to throw toilet paper to a crowd of Puerto Ricans.

WATCH #PRonthemap



Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

Jimmy and Grace  

Grace Lee Boggs, Living for Change, 1998

Attacking right wing groups for their politics will only increase their defenders and supporters. As we wrote back in the early 1970s, ‘we must not allow our thought to be paralyzed by fear of repression and fascism. One must always think realistically about the dangers, but in thinking about the counter-revolution a revolutionist must be convinced that it is a paper tiger.’ What we need to do instead is encourage groups of all kinds and ages to participate in creating a vision of the future that will enlarge the humanity of us and then, in devising concrete programs on which they can work together, if only in a small way, to move toward their vision. In this unique interim time between historical epochs, this is how we how we can elicit the hope that is essential to the building of a movement and unleash the energies that in the absence of hope are turned against other people or even against oneself.

 

 

Living for Change News
October th, 2017

Thinking for Ourselves
Heart Fierceness

Shea Howell

This week Detroit hosted two major conferences, the 13th Annual Great Lakes Bioneers and the 1st National Women’s Convention. I shuttled between the two, getting a sense of the new energy emerging in our country.

womens con

The Bioneers are dedicated to creating resilient, sustainable communities. Conference planners invited everyone to embrace the theme We the People Love this Place, saying, “When people come together as a learning community to discover new ways of being and when they share transformative ideas for the sake of the Commons everyone benefits. When students and teachers attending the conference bring back what they learn to their schools, education can flourish. When everyone is welcomed and affirmed we move toward wholeness.”

Friday was dedicated to young people. Naelyn Pike, a 17 year-old Apache change maker from Arizona, challenged people to find their own voices and stand for protecting the earth and one another. She was followed by a several city tours exploring the water crisis, new approaches to housing, work, art, agriculture, and sustainable communities. Young people asked critical questions about what kind of future we want and how we organize in new ways to secure it.

Saturday morning began with powerful poetry offered by Dr. Gloria House to open our hearts and minds to think creatively about our city.  The opening session brought together 4 women who experienced the 1967 uprising and are now offering leadership to critical struggles. Erma Leaphart and Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club are immersed in issues of environmental justice. Gloria Lowe of We Want Green 2 is working on rebuilding community while restoring veterans to a sense of wholeness and purpose. Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights spoke passionately about the impact of nearly 60,000 water shut offs in our city and the importance of creating new narratives about our lives based on an understanding the forces attempting to profit from the sufferings of people.

Panelist talked not only about the fear and confusion created by tanks and curfews, but about the joy in seeing people stand up for each other and say “enough is enough.” They shared memories of neighbors organizing to go grocery shopping and protect children in the face of gunfire and tear gas. All the speakers emphasized finding ways to take action now. Gloria Lowe said, “There is a lot of work to be done as we understand what it takes to become more human human beings.”

Downtown nearly 5000 women and some men gathered to extend the energies unleashed in January 2017 in the historic Women’s March calling for resistance to the Trump agenda.

While the gathering emphasized strategies for midterm elections in hopes of countering the policies and direction of Donald Trump, there was a deeper tone. In large meetings and smaller workshops women affirmed the belief that change is coming. It is being born by the power of women exploring new forms of resistance, working toward a larger vision of liberation for all people. Maxine Waters captured the feeling in a fiery speech echoing the words spoken earlier that morning. “Enough is enough,” she shouted, challenging us to take responsibilities for our futures.

Sister Gloria Riveria captured the mood of both gatherings when she spoke to the young bioneers at the opening session. She talked about finding a politics from our heart and having the courage for fierce action. Heart. Fierceness. These will carry us to a better future.


Do Labels Define a Person’s Worth?
An Evening with Author Janice Fialka
Thursday, November 2, 7 pm
Crazy Wisdom Book Store
Ann Arbor, MI
whatmatters

Her book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love, is the powerful story of Micah Fialka-Feldman, who has an intellectual disability, his community, and the ground breaking journey of full inclusion in K-12 schools, college work and life.  Learn what it takes to ensure that labels such as “low IQ” do not define one’s ability to contribute to the world and live a meaningful life.  Discover why Krista Tippet of On Being praises the book as “mind-opening, life-altering, soul stretching.” A book of practical guidance, wisdom, and humor for all, because we all need to be included. Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized speaker, author, award-winning social worker and advocate on issues related to disability, inclusion and family-professional partnerships.  She is also a compelling storyteller.

The mother of Micah and Emma, Janice brings grace and grit to her conversations. Hosted by Bill Zirinsky, owner of Crazy Wisdom.

For more information:  Contact Janice Fialka at http://www.danceofpartnership.com or ruaw@aol.com


Taking a (Michi)Gander Down a Path of Possibility
Sydney Fine

Dark soil caked underneath my fingernails and seedling in my hand, rays of sunshine beating down from the sky, the smell of fresh produce in the air, and laughter roaring from all directions, I looked up to see a row of houses that had been abandoned and boarded up to be demolished. The juxtaposition between the life I was holding in my hands, in the form of small sprouts that would soon become brightly colored vegetables, and the devastation 50 feet away from me was uncanny. This observation hit me several times over the course of my three-day service trip in Detroit.

I had the privilege of co-leading a service trip to Detroit over Fall Break with Kate Longo. Seven intelligent and observant students and Alex Serna-Wallender, our fantastic chaplain, joined Kate and me on the alternative break trip with the intention of making an impact outside of the Wooster community. We partnered with an organization called Repair the World (RTW). With locations in several major cities in the United States, RTW is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring about community-wide change, focusing on food and education injustices in these cities. The organization gets its name from the Jewish value of Tikun Olam, which translates to “repair the world.”

On our trip, we spent the majority of our time working in urban gardens. We gained new perspectives about the importance of urban gardens that supply fresh produce in the middle of communities where public transportation is incredibly sparse. While we were planting garlic or building a green house, we had the opportunity to talk to the founders of the urban gardens and members of the community who lived by the gardens who had come to join us in the work. We heard incredible stories of entrepreneurs starting with a plot of overgrown grass and turning the land into spots where neighbors come together to harvest vegetables, tend to animals, and share each others company. One man, Magnetic Sun, explained to us that everything that he has learned about agriculture, he taught himself from reading every book he could get his hands on and connecting with other urban gardeners.

Thoughts about how ubiquitous poverty and food scarcity is in the United States are often overwhelming. They often inhibit me from determining what clear-cut things I can do to make a small impact on those problems. However, there are things I am doing to begin to repair the world, and, if I can do it, you can do it. Wooster is anomaly in that we get a full week off for Fall Break and two weeks off for Spring Break. Participating in a service trip over one of these two breaks is a great start. I have been on three alternative break trips, and every time I return from the trip feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated. If participating in a service trip is not your cup-of-(volun)tea(ring), look for opportunities to volunteer in your local community. I find that residents residing in struggling communities have fascinating stories to share. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to listen to and learn from these experts. It is important to recognize that the people who know what any community needs most are the members of that community, not volunteers or local political leaders. Step outside of your comfort zone, talk to members of your surrounding community, and take a (Michi)gander down a path of possibility.


The North Pole_Flyer 3


NOVEMBER 11 flyer

 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace

Thus the United States became the only nation in history whose best and brightest minds first led a revolution from colonialism in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all men, and then built a contradiction into their society by explicitly denying human dignity to a quarter of the population they aspired to govern. The Constitutional Convention had exposed and polarized real contradictions in the country. But in the interests of unity, the Founding Fathers covered up the contradictions. They evaded their political responsibility to carry out ideological struggle and create a principled political leadership for the country. They thereby laid the groundwork for the Civil War.

 

James and Grace Lee Boggs, ‘Rediscovering the American Past,” Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, 1974

Living for Change News
October 24th, 2017
REVIEW: The Fifty-Year Rebellion
Chris Juergens
International Examiner

“Detroit has been the in the forefront of the deindustrialization of the urban cores and the institution of neoliberal policies in U.S. cities that primarily hurt communities of color,” argued Scott Kurashige in a recent interview with the International Examiner.

Kurashige, a Japanese-American whose mother’s family is native to Seattle, is a University of Washington, Bothell, history professor and writer of the recent book, The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in DetroitThe election of President Donald Trump and the strong move toward pro-corporate environmental and labor policies, in addition to the support for aggressive police tactics that disproportionately hurt communities of color nationwide, is not surprising to Kurashige. Detroit has already seen these policies and in full force and so it comes as no surprise to Kurashige, a former Detroit resident, that they are being exported across the United States.

50year
Kurashige and his publisher, the University of California Press, released the book to coincide with the 1967 rebellion of African-Americans in Detroit against police brutality, sub-standard and segregated housing, and discrimination in the workplace. Kurashige’s first chapter addresses the causes of this rebellion while emphasizing that to many whites and those in government it was a “riot.” Kurashige quotes Chinese-American activist Grace Lee Boggs as saying, “We in Detroit called it the rebellion [because] there was a righteousness about the young people rising up.” This is juxtaposed with a white Detroit police officer quoted by Kurashige who described the rebellion as “more than a riot […] this is war.” Kurashige quotes a member of the Michigan National Guard, called to Detroit by Governor George Romney, as saying “I’m going to shoot anything that moves and is black.”

This first chapter sets the tone for Kurashige’s 143-page, quick moving and easy to read book that portrays Detroit’s demise and conflict in non-ambiguous racial terms. Kurashige states both in his book and interview with the Examiner that Detroit was ravaged by white flight that severely hurt Detroit’s public services and left the Detroit area segregated into a decaying, black urban core and an economically prosperous suburban area.

This decay of Detroit’s African-American, urban core was furthered by predatory lending practices that disproportionately hurt African-American communities. Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy was the culmination in a process of marginalization of Detroit’s black community at the hands of a neo-liberal, white elite and a number of willing black collaborators. Kurashige details the emergency management of bankrupt Detroit by Kevyn Orr, a black corporate lawyer doing the bidding of Wall Street at the expense of Detroit’s struggling yet still existing black-majority communities.

Kurashige does an excellent job of finding smoking guns that vividly demonstrate the racism inherent in prominent individuals and policies aimed at dispossessing black Detroiters of power and dignity. Kurashige leaves no room for plausible deniability regarding the roots and motivations for the hollowing out of Detroit. For instance, at the beginning of his fourth chapter that details the racist neoliberal management of Detroit by Orr, Kurashige quotes Detroit’s chief financial officer under Orr, a 60-year-old white man named Jim Bonsall, as asking “Can I shoot anyone in a hoody?” as a way to belittle Trayvon Martin. The comment was made in front of many black co-workers as part of a discussion on how to prevent arson during Halloween.

Kurashige also points out the hypocrisy inherent in the bailouts of Wall Street from 2008-2009 but the unwillingness to bailout a bankrupt Detroit in debt to many of those same Wall Street banks.

When the Examiner asked Kurashige to make a comparison between the historical experience of Detroit’s communities of color and those of Seattle, Kurashige said the major difference is that Seattle did not experience anywhere near the level of white flight that Detroit did. Seattle always maintained a majority white population and as such its downtown never suffered the same neglect as that of Detroit.

Detroit, on the other hand, was and still is a majority black city that fully suffered the withdrawal of white capital.

This withdrawal of white capital, while one of the causes of Detroit’s economic decay and ultimate bankruptcy, is actually seen by Kurashige as presenting a chance for positive and creative change. In Seattle, the local economy is strong and even those who work in lower-end jobs are invested in working within the existing economic and political system because they too can gain to a certain extent by a strong economy. In our interview with Kurashige, he cited the successful campaign for a 15-dollar minimum wage and the general acceptance—however reluctant—of the business community as an example of how those on the low-end of the socio-economic scale are working within the mainstream economic and political system in Seattle.

In Detroit, however, the mainstream economic and political systems have failed so horribly that people have no choice but to look for alternative beyond the system. Kurashige’s book ends with a chapter dedicated discussing alternative local business models, ways in which Detroiters have combated aggressive, inhuman police techniques, and alternative types of schools that have been developed by and for the Detroit community. In a neoliberal economic and political system that is often imposed in a top-down manner by corporate boards and lawyers like in the case of Detroit’s bankruptcy, Detroit’s citizens are providing an alternative model to the existing system. Kurashige told us in our interview that this is crucial because “protesting and pointing out problems is not enough. An alternative social, economic, and political vision is necessary” to enact real change to an increasingly radical and inhuman neoliberal system.

Unfortunately, as Kurashige himself laments, his chapter on Detroit’s alternative communities is far too short and limited. When asked about other resources to further explore these communities, he points to the book he co-wrote with Grace Lee Boggs titled, The Next American Revolution, and the documentaries, Urban Roots, Grown in Detroit, and The American Revolutionary as good starting points. He also recommended attending the Detroit Allied Media Conference in June as a way to see up close the alternative communities and visions in Detroit.


Do Labels Define a Person’s Worth?
An Evening with Author Janice Fialka
Thursday, November 2, 7 pm
Crazy Wisdom Book Store
Ann Arbor, MI

whatmatters

Her book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love, is the powerful story of Micah Fialka-Feldman, who has an intellectual disability, his community, and the ground breaking journey of full inclusion in K-12 schools, college work and life.  Learn what it takes to ensure that labels such as “low IQ” do not define one’s ability to contribute to the world and live a meaningful life.  Discover why Krista Tippet of On Being praises the book as “mind-opening, life-altering, soul stretching.” A book of practical guidance, wisdom, and humor for all, because we all need to be included. Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized speaker, author, award-winning social worker and advocate on issues related to disability, inclusion and family-professional partnerships.  She is also a compelling storyteller.

The mother of Micah and Emma, Janice brings grace and grit to her conversations. Hosted by Bill Zirinsky, owner of Crazy Wisdom.

For more information:  Contact Janice Fialka at http://www.danceofpartnership.com or ruaw@aol.com


The North Pole_Flyer 3


Automation and the End of Wage Labor: Job’s News or Boggs’s News?
Richard Bachman

In June, a group of junior researchers from the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Free University Berlin invited me to chair a session of their discussion group on “The Future of Work”.

Just like in the US there is a lot of talk in Germany about this topic these days, particularly about the possible effects of automation on the labor market and society in general. The tone of this conversation is often alarmist. And how could it be any different? In a society which rests on the premise of wage labor, in which the individual is defined and cherished as a wage laborer first and as a human being second, a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers which predicts automation to have terminated up to 35% of all current jobs in Germany by the early 2030s (in the US, even 38%) can only be perceived as Job’s news.

This development would gravely increase the number of those at risk of securing the basic means of subsistence in a wage economy. Without a wage one has no sufficient access to food, clothes and shelter. But this is not what politicians and commentators seem to be concerned about. Rather, they are spooked by the damage mass idleness supposedly does to the character of those who are no longer needed. Many see the social peace, the prerequisite for our economy to continue working undisturbed, at risk. An opaque fear is taking hold in Germany and beyond. Looming on the horizon is a growing jobless surplus population which can no longer be controlled by the disciplinary corset of wage labor.

To provide a different perspective on this scenario, I decided to have the group discuss excerpts from James Boggs’s The American Revolution. In this pamphlet Boggs makes the bold statement that “automation is the greatest revolution that has taken place in human society since men stopped hunting and fishing and started to grow their own food”. How can he say that, though? Through supplanting humans with robots, automation pushes more and more people out of their jobs, and thus plunges them into existential danger and misery.

This seems to be anything but revolutionary if one understands revolution to be the process of continuous evolution towards social and personal emancipation. Here, Boggs simply asks us to alter our perception; to see automation not as a job-destroying threat, but rather as a possible means to liberate us from the burden of wage labor and the social system it rests upon. Undermining the wage relation, automation and the transformations it brings about, urge us to rethink the very foundations of our economy and society, to “find a new concept of how to live and let live” in Boggs’s words.

One researcher in the group connected this idea to recent discussions in Europe and the US about the implementation of an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI). The UBI would secure people access to their basic means of subsistence while freeing them from the necessity of engaging in wage labor. As a result, they would be free to use their capacities to care more for each other and the environment, to engage in politics and social action, to be creative or contemplative, or simply to rest.

Doing away with the necessity to engage in wage labor also calls on us to rethink our definition of who has the right to live in our society, Boggs points out. In a wage economy only those able to engage in wage labor have the unquestionable right to live. Those who cannot work or are no longer needed are pushed into precarious conditions which threatens their very survival. Unable to produce, their right to continue living in our midst is also questioned. They become subjects to be controlled, policed and incarcerated—deviants, outcasts, prisoners.

Thus, defining human beings only according to their ability to engage in wage labor, ultimately deprives them of their humanity. Automation, Boggs highlights, finally presents us with the means to transcend this inhumane way of thinking, to help us become “more human human beings”.

Inspired to have these kinds of conversations based on what we had read, the participants of the discussion group were shocked to find out that Boggs had published The American Revolution already in 1963. His ideas seem so timely; perfectly fit to provide a fresh perspective on our current moment. This shows us that those voices from the past we have not been aware of—partially because we simply did not know they existed or have deliberately been taught to not know them—can help us make sense of our present predicament. It is the task of the historian to help those voices find listeners today. Because they can help make the difference.

 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

Jimmy and Grace  

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970

The first question that has to be answered, therefore, is whether there is any arena in which the United States urgently needs revolutionary—that is to say, rapid and fundamental—development and reorganization. The answer is unequivocally yes. But, unlike the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the arena in which this country needs revolutionary change is not in the economic but in the political, not the material but the social. The essential, the key, contradiction in the United States that must be resolved if this country is to survive is the contradiction between economic overdevelopment and political underdevelopment.

 

 

Living for Change News
October 16th, 2017

(A message from our friends at  Mujer Montuna, a Social-Agricultural-Healing Justice project)

After Hurricane María, in Mujer Montuna we are trying really hard not to “lose it” in these hard times and to be more than patient until we get more news and reports back from our families and neighbors, as well as the loss and major needs in our rural communities, in Sector Lorenzo del Valle, Cerro Gordo and Quebrada Arenas, both in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.

Our agricultural communities in the mountains have been hardly impacted by the center of the hurricane and communication these days has been hard. These communities are also very well known for their community/neighbors solidarity and hard work on a daily basis, and we have no doubt that they are making an excellent work caring for each other (you could see its beauty in some of our pictures and at our page).

In the meantime, while we are still working on the logistics of a possible construction brigade, a fundraiser and a collection of other major items, we decided to start collecting seeds to send to our communities back home to support restore our agricultural system which is so important.

Our communities in the mountains still rely a lot in the agricultural system, more in these hard times where rural communities are historically mostly the last ones to be served with post hurricane help and resources.

Help us sending seeds that can make justice for our people and help us rise. Write us for more info and address. We appreciate your solidarity! #FoodJusticeIsSocialJustice

NOTE: No GMO vegetable, fruits and flowers (for bees) zone 8,9 and 10 (tropical) seeds.

Mujer Montuna is Social-Agricultural-Healing Justice project from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico and will distribute the seeds around community members in these two communities and will report back with pictures of the process in our page

UPDATE!

We are also slowly collecting info from our communities, little by little, and new items are highly needed like:

  1. Water filters (not for sink water but for water that is collected) and water quality testers
  2. Solar power operated chargers or lights
  3. Solar or manual energy operated radios
Donations can be send in two ways:
-Either straight to San Lorenzo leaders as soon as Post Office opens up. You can track  Post Office service to these areas here.
Send to:
Manuel Cruz/ Jellyka Cruz (Centro Comunitario Lorenzo del Valle) HC 20 Box 26431 San Lorenzo PR 00754
(My family are community organizers and will distribute seeds and donations to the community center that has been organizing community meals, brigades and collections)

-To us in Chicago to collect and resend:
Jacoba/ Mujer Montuna 1025 W Sunnyside Ave Suite 201 Chicago IL 60640
Don’t hesitate to ask/ call. Please! I will update on fundraisers, some building brigades I have been organizing, collections and more to come

In Eternal Appreciation and Love,
Mujer Montuna.

“The first question that has to be answered, therefore, is whether there is any arena in which the United States urgently needs revolutionary—that is to say, rapid and fundamental—development and reorganization. The answer is unequivocally yes. But, unlike the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the arena in which this country needs revolutionary change is not in the economic but in the political, not the material but the social. The essential, the key, contradiction in the United States that must be resolved if this country is to survive is the contradiction between economic overdevelopment and political underdevelopment.”

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970

Thinking for Ourselves

Expanding the Circle
Shea Howell

Charity Hicks has been on my mind this week. She was killed in the early summer of 2014 while waiting for a bus in New York City. She was on her way to the Left Forum to make a presentation about the water crisis in Detroit. Charity left us many gifts as she worked to create deep local resilience and global connections. She moved easily between landless activists in Brazil and emerging youth leadership in Detroit, inspiring us all to see connections and expand our consciousness. In her last speech to us that sparked the UN investigation of human rights abuses in Detroit, she challenged us to “Wage Love.” It is that challenge that has been echoing with me this week.

Everywhere we look, people are suffering the most unimaginable pain. Drought and flood. Earthquakes and firestorms. Wind and water. Fragile human constructions are toppling in the face of the power of Nature. Life as we once knew it is coming to an end.

And everywhere we look, people are turning to one another to survive and to protect life. Men and women risk their own lives to go into piles of rubble in search of children. People in one city give water to their neighbors who have less. People share what they have so everyone can get through another day. Others are finding ways to offer aid and support. Prayers and pallets of water and food are sent, often by private efforts as government proves incapable or unwilling to help.

Love after all is not an abstract emotion. It manifests in our actions. It seems obvious, that if we are to make it to the next century, humans will have to change. Our cultures built on extracting life from the earth and each other can no longer survive. They are dying from their own excess. Not easily. Not willingly. Not without a lot of pain and protest. But it is clear the earth can no longer bear the abuses we have caused in the pursuit of personal wealth and power.

As Grace Lee Boggs and Immanuel Wallerstein reminded us, the current world system is collapsing. Something new is being born. The only question is, “Will it be better or worse than the one we have now?

If it is to be a better world, it is emerging in the places where people are facing basic questions of how to create ways of living that value each other and protect the earth that sustains us. Charity’s call to Wage Love is more than a slogan. It begins with our capacity to remain open hearted in the face of such continued pain, to find our way to embrace the moments that make life meaningful.

In just a few short weeks many people are drifting away from acknowledging the catastrophes our way of life is creating. Houston is a memory, rarely mentioned as other disasters catch our attention. Puerto Rico is in danger of being completely abandoned by those responsible for providing the most basic emergency support, reduced to a political tweet in an effort to bolster the worst in us.

In such moments our task it to find our way toward “expanding the circle of human concerns.” As John Powell has often reminded us, this responsibility, to develop ways of being that embrace all life, is the challenge of the 21st Century. It is the only way we will make it to the next one.

What We’re Reading

 

In her new essay for TheNextSystem.org, Laura Flanders, creator and host of the Laura Flanders Show, explores how new media models grounded in cooperation, community, and robust public support are needed to fight back against the corporate concentration that is strangling the public sphere. As she writes:

“To shift the culture and impact policy in a systematic way, however, this next system media needs a new system of media ownership. A people-owned, public media system is possible. Other countries have one. You can see glimpses of it in the US in the media cooperatives and municipally-owned internet systems that are popping up across the country, and in the reporting collaborations that emerge whenever critical stories break that the corporate media ignore, like the uprising at Standing Rock, the movement for Black Lives, and before that, Occupy Wall Street.”

KEEP READING


Detroiters Speak flyer


Our Communities are up to us
Rich Feldman

On Saturday, 60-70 folks gathering in Ferndale, Michigan, outside Detroit, for a discussion based upon the theme: Our Communities and Our Humanity are up to US, New Thinking on Race: What it is? Where it came from and What we Can do About it.

William Copeland, Detroit artist, thinker and activist shared the important work of “Breathe Free Detroit” and challenged the gathering of suburban folks to engage in the emerging campaign to stop dumping garbage in Detroit. He did not mean illegal dumping. He made it very clear that more than 60% of the garbage burned in Detroit’s polluting incinerator comes from Oakland County. This poisoning of our air and our children in Detroit is a major health crisis and a clear example of white supremacy, racism and silence by those in the suburbs.

Detroit water activist, Monica Lewis Patrick and Will Copeland were clear, that no-one is waiting for the politicians or the corporations to end these policies. Policies which keep the polluting incinerator operating and policies that shut-off people’s water.  Mayor Duggan, Dan Gilbert, Mike Illich and Governor Snyder have declared war on the majority of long term residents of Detroit. Monica and Will shared ways for folks to get involved NOW.

After a few moments of small group conversation, Frank Joyce, lifelong Detroiter, contributor to Riverwise magazine and co-editor of the book: The People Make the Peace- Lessons from Vietnam Anti-war Movement took the audience on a long historical journey of “white thinking”.   Frank clearly demonstrated that we live in a moment of great change with tremendous opportunities to change 500 years of thinking and actions we have created.  He reminded us that race-capitalism (the historical emergence of racism and capitalism together 500 years ago) is not inevitable because just as people created it, people can change and tear it down, resist it and change into something that is more human and respects all life.  Frank brought to the conversation the courage of the Abolitionists from the 19th century, the courage of people to challenge science or myth like Copernicus and Galileo (15-16 Century).  Eugenics created in the US was established by scientists and now we have science totally challenging the barbarism of Eugenics as well as scientists across the globe informing us of global climate crises and the need to end the world of resource extraction.  DNA testing and ancestry.com have made a national and global conversation to destroy biological thinking & white supremacy identity thinking as the basis political, economic, social policies and norms. The values and outlooks and thinking of “white supremacy” are in chaos and collapsing and this is a moment of great transition. The future is up to us.

One of our goals is to create Democracy Circles across the suburbs of Wayne, Macomb and Wayne Counties to Break our Silence and to create the Beloved Community. The hosting church, The First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, announced that they will create on-going discussions and a Democracy Circle and the Mayor of Ferndale announced that they will investigate the destination of their suburban garbage. Many individuals sign up and a few plan to create discussions in their neighborhood, church or union hall.


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

At almost 100 years old.

By Grace Lee Boggs  –  June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

August 2014

At almost 100 years old, I experience falls, new levels of pain, and difficulties moving. I also feel the need to record the most important influences in my life over the years. When I started college I had no idea what I was going to study. Japan had just invaded Manchuria so I thought international relations and political science should be my field of study. But in the middle of my sophomore year, the great depression started and I dropped all of my classes and decided to take philosophy even though, at the time, I could not tell you what it meant to study philosophy. Somehow, in my late teens, I was beginning to ask what life was all about, and that has been the question that has shaped the more than 80 years that have transpired since then. That’s where philosophy begins.

What is life about? How do we know reality?

Philosophy begins with conversation. We ask ourselves what it means to be human, how do we know reality.   What a wonderful gift to be able to talk with one another.

Conversation is a wonderful gift and not to be replaced with speakerphones or emails that are so unilateral and not mutual.

Socrates believed in dialogue and he was afraid that the new technology of writing would replace dialogue, where human beings actually interact with one another and through this they discover what they truly think.

In my living room I have a hundred books that I have selected from the thousands of books in my library. I am going to record why each of these books is important to me. They are about education, they are about philosophy, they are about this city.

On the first shelf are the books of philosophy. There are books from Socrates, who created the topic of philosophy, all the way to Lenin and Mao and Hegel. And then on the second shelf are books on the history of cities, including the history of Detroit. These are the books that I share with the people who visit.

As I think about my nearly 100 years and these 100 hundred books, I want my life to challenge people to think philosophically. I want people to ask themselves and each other what time it is on the clock of the world.

Naming the Enemy

By Grace Lee Boggs

 A spectre is haunting the American people– the spectre of destruction by capitalism. In its limitless quest for profits capitalism has defiled our human relationships by turning them into money relationships. It has transformed Work from a precious human activity into Jobs which are done only for a paycheck and which have become increasingly meaningless and increasingly scarce as the profits from our labor are invested in increasingly complex machines. It has undermined the Family ties by which human beings down through the ages have absorbed naturally and normally the elementary standards of conduct and the sense of continuity with the human race which make us human. By encouraging us to value material things more than social ties, it has turned us into a society of selfish individualists and materialists, seeking to compensate for the spiritual emptiness of our lives by the endless pursuit of distractions.It has despoiled the Land, Waters and Air on which our lives depend.

Up to now, most Americans have been able to evade facing this destructiveness because it was primarily other peoples, other races, other cultures which were being destroyed. For the sake of westward expansion the Native Americans were massacred and their survivors driven into the world’s first concentration camps. To clear the land and build the agricultural infrastructure necessary for industrial development, millions of Africans were enslaved and the ideology of racism created. Convinced that it was our destiny to rule the entire continent, Americans seized the Southwest from Mexico. When we came to the end of the American frontier, we reached out to Latin America and the Pacific. When capitalist expansion and centralization created the Great Depression, we got our economy moving again by producing for World War II. After the war we used our economic power and monopoly of nuclear weapons to protect capitalism in Europe from socialist revolution and to crush revolutionary struggles in the Third World by supporting and installing military dictatorships.

Ever since World War II it has been able to keep going only by producing weapons of destruction and by turning us into mindless consumers, unable to distinguish between our Needs and our Want, utilizing the mass media with the same cunning with which Hitler turned the German people into collaborators in their own destruction. New shiny cars and appliances have been pushed as sure ways to win love for ourselves. Women (and men) have been turned into sex objects. Credit cards have been promoted as badges of status.

As this brainwashing process has gained momentum over the last few decades, the moral and social fabric of our society has been steadily undermined. Our small towns and communities, in which neighborliness and character were more important than money, have been replaced by suburbs. Our judgment has been so distorted that we now consider “square” those who still value self-reliance and hard work, while we admire the “big spender.” Banks and loan sharks, whom we once viewed with suspicion, we now consider our friends, while more and more we fear those closest to us, our families, co-workers, and neighbors. Crime, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, teen-age pregnancy and venereal disease have reached near epidemic proportions because, instead of depending upon each other for company and comfort (as human beings have done down through the ages), we look to more colorful goods and new, more exciting experiences to make us feel good.

Pursuing private happiness in the form of material goods, we did not care that we were passing on these materialistic and individualistic values to our children. Instead of recognizing that we were breeding criminals by the supreme value we had put on material things, we tried to project the blame for crime onto others. We ignored the growing threat to our health from the Love Canals that were being created by the dumping of industrial waste in our waters and our earth. We closed our eyes to the degrading lives being lived by the millions whom capitalism had already cast onto the Welfare rolls, little dreaming that the same fate was being prepared for us

But now the chickens have come home to roost. While we were collaborating with capitalism by accepting its dehumanizing values, capitalism itself was moving to a new stage, the stage of multinational capitalism. Big capitalists have been swallowing up smaller ones, creating giant corporations who buy and sell other giant corporations all over the world. A few hundred multi-national corporations now move capital and goods everywhere and anywhere, according to where they can make the most profit.

These multinational corporations have no loyalty to the United States or to any American community. They have no commitment to the reforms that Americans have won through hard struggle. Instead of giving more each year, they demand that we accept less or else.

If American workers do not accept wages and benefits competitive with those of Japanese or Mexican or Filipino workers, they do not hesitate to shut down a plant that has been the heart of the economic life of a city or region.. City workers and school teachers find that they are no longer needed; small businesses go bankrupt. So millions of workers, skilled and unskilled, blue collar and white collar, have already been laid off . Whole cities have been turned into wastelands by corporate takeovers and by runaway corporations. Yet our city and state officials, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, white or black, continue to compete with one another to offer tax breaks and reduced worker benefits to these corporations, knowing full well they will pick up and leave when they can make more profit elsewhere.

Meanwhile, because American capitalism no longer dominates the world market, our government can no longer afford the reforms with which all administrations since the Great Depression have tried to make capitalism more palatable. So social and Welfare programs are being ruthlessly dismantled; unions are being busted or immobilized; the moral, environmental and civilized restraints on capitalist expansion which have been won only after decades of struggle are being abandoned.

That is why we must now make a second American revolution to rid ourselves of the capitalist values and institutions which have brought us to this state of powerlessness or suffer the same mutilation, the same destruction of our families and our communities, the same loss of national independence as over the years we have visited upon other peoples and other nations.

  

America Love It Enough to Change it.

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Living for Change News
September 25th, 2017
october 14


Thinking for Ourselves

Choosing a Better Future
Shea Howell

This weekend, the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools joined 25 communities around the country in a national conversation about the crisis in public education. The national effort was organized as part of the #WeChoose Campaign of #Journey4Justice. The conversation was designed as an opportunity to focus resistance to privatization and an opportunity to talk about transforming education so that all our children can learn in “loving educational experiences” that “cultivate community strength, self-determination, and build movement-based futures.”

Much of the conversation focused on the bond between public education and democracy. As we have learned in Michigan, the attack on public education is essential to the destruction of democratic citizens and the erosion of democracy is essential to the destruction of public education. Across our state and nation, public education is being reduced to little more than holding cells for children whose critical and creative imaginations are being stunted through relentless testing, mindless repetition, and increasingly isolated and controlled instruction methods.

Local control of schools hasbeen seized by state appointed managers who have systematically dismantled public education. Timothy Williams, the Mayor Pro-Temp of Inkster attested to the complete destruction of his city’s school system. He explained that under Emergency Management all school buildings have been closed and most knocked down. Highland Park is in a similar situation and the City of Detroit has lost over half its schools and seen standards drop over the two decades of State control.

State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood talked about the role of the State legislature in defunding education explaining, “Every year Lansing diverts about $500 million away from schools.” He emphasized that especially in Detroit, the State bears responsibility for “two huge failures, the EAA (Educational Achievement Authority) and Emergency Management.” He also said that because of these failures and the return of control to local boards “there is an opportunity for the community to provide real guidance and leadership” on the kind of education we want for our children.

The Reverend Dr. JoAnn Watson gave a clear statement of the kind of education we need. She said she welcomed this critical conversation “because it requires critical thinking and this is what we and our children need” so that “we can assume our rightful role in governance.” Emphasizing that we have the power and the responsibility to educate our children she said, “We do not have to wait for everybody, we do not need everybody.” “We are the leaders we have been waiting for. Our Ancestors are giving us a push from behind” as we move forward with urgency for the future.
People shared the importance of a long-term vision for our schools and providing political education for our children. Rev. Dr. Watson reminded us that the “same people who poisoned Flint have poisoned academics” but, “We are not victims and we are not powerless.” Strategies from boycotts to state wide organizing were shared. The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools invited people to get involved in curriculum, tutoring and organizing by coming to Monday evening meetings at the Cass Commons or Saturday sessions at the Charles H. Wright.

Everyone agreed that the efforts of Betsy Devos and the corporate interests she represents have given us a new level of urgency to stand up, speak out and organize. We choose to create a better future.


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Peace Respected Organizer Comrades, 
Peace Family, as you know I’m very honored to be one of the Detroit Organizers for #HipHop4ThePeople : National Hurricane Relief for people impacted by these hurricanes.

S/O to our National Media Sponsor Allhiphop.com Today we had our National conference call and here is what we learned:

A Representative in the United States from the National Red Cross Mission said they are only there to collect blood and that takes priority over saving Black Lives. We must be our own mission hub from now on. We must lead & help organize for the people & educate ourselves about Climate Change and Environmental Racism.

We also received an update from one of the Organizers on the ground in the Caribbean:

They are begging us to help them and asking those of us living in the United States to Please remember they have Black Lives there.
The media is ignoring them.

It’s their 2nd category 5 hurricane in less than 2 weeks. Never before has she experienced this in her lifetime nor has her father in her father’s lifetime.

So many people lost so much & even their lives. They are in the rebuild stage & still in caution stage because it’s the peek of hurricane season so the only thing they can do is wait.

They are under 24 hour curfew because they are under a military take over: no water • no lights • no food • no communication, that’s why it took so long to get back in touch with our group. After doing their clean up now they are back at square one where they were in after hurricane Irma hit because of hurricane Maria.

They have no operating schools. People were evacuated to Puerto Rico & St Croix which are what she described as “the New York” or larger islands that feed them and where they get resources from.

She said the people who got relocated to Puerto Rico had to be evacuated because of hurricane Maria.

She also said children are not in school. Schools are currently being used to house their homeless. Their homeless population has quadrupaled over night. They’ve also lost everything including their post offices and so many islands have suffered catastrophic damage & are under water. Lots of Black Lives have been lost due to these hurricanes.

PS: Some people are selling ice at $12 per bag, it jumped from $1.50 per bag.

Facebook event link:
https://www.facebook.com/event s/357351911362488??ti=ia

What Is #HipHop4ThePeople?
Join us September 30, 2017 for #HipHop4ThePeople – A national day of unity and hurricane relief for Houston, Florida and the Caribbean.

Contact Us to Get Involved!
We need people to help us Set Up, Clean Up, Volunteer, & Donate.

Signed on Cities
• Miami
• New York
• Phoenix
• Atlanta
• Newark
• Blanding, Utah
• Baltimore, MD
• Los Angeles
• Detroit

The strength that hip hop encompasses will bring together the community like no other, because hip hop is UNIVERSAL!

Facebook event link:
https://www.facebook.com/event s/357351911362488

Email: HipHop4ThePeopleDet@gmail.com
Facebook: HipHop4ThePeopleDet
YouTube: HipHop4ThePeopleDet
Instagram: HipHop4ThePeopleDet
Twitter: HipHop4Det
Snapchat: HipHop4Det
Hashtag: #HipHop4ThePeopleDet

If you can donate now to Houston our donations are going to
Houston Harvey Relief Fund National Black United Front (NBUF) Houston Chapter. Here’s their Amazon link:
https://www.razoo.com/story/Ii l38f?embed=widget

Know that no matter how small the contribution, even if all you have to give is the gesture of sending us Positive Energy, together we are making a huge impact. People complain that Detroiters don’t work together, that we back stab one another, and only look out for ourselves.

Let us use this energy to continue building up one another.

We are all geniuses and Amazing people with projects that need support. We do an ok job of lifting one another up. This is another opportunity to connect with one another and those outside of our “circles”. WE ARE THE CHANGE. We ARE working together. Let’s KEEP IT GOING. May we All be Blessed and Bless those we are Serving.

Thank You,

Piper Carter


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

In this episode of Detroit Performs: Poet Tawana Petty pours her soul into her performance. MEND Jewelry helps women survivors of abuse on their journeys of recovery. And Detention Nation’s lens on the immigration system.

—–

Adam Savage stops by Incite Focus, a socially focused production and training lab, where he lends a hand building an open-source, net-zero-energy micro-cabin that could revolutionize housing.


What We’re Reading

Housing Trust Fund established, Housing Ordinance passed with amendments
Detroit People’s Platform

DSC_0333

Detroit – Tuesday September 19, 2017 –  Today, Detroit City Council unanimously passed Council Member Sheffield’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance with amendments. We are pleased the ordinance will establish a Housing Trust Fund, but are disappointed to share that council voted to include amendments from the administration.

The amendments that passed give developers the chance to more or less continue doing business as usual, including getting discounted public land without any requirement to build truly affordable housing.

Though the ordinance vote was unanimous, Council Members Sheffield, Ayers and Benson voted “No” while Spivey, Tate, Castañeda-López and Cushingberry Jr. voted in support of the amendments. Council President Jones left the chamber before the vote was called.

The establishment and funding of a housing trust fund is a significant victory. We are very happy for and proud of all of the Housing Trust Fund Coalition members, Detroit People’s Platform Staff and supporters, and community members who helped make this a reality.

It is NOT the end of this issue—we must continue to press, as it is clear that the interests of for-profit developers continue to be given greater weight than the needs of Detroiters today.
 


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
September 18th, 2017
Radical Hope Is Our Best Weapon

“From the bottom will the genius come that makes our ability to live with each other possible. I believe that with all my heart.” These are the words of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz. His hope is fiercely reality-based, a product of centuries lodged in his body of African-Caribbean suffering, survival, and genius.
LISTEN to Junot Díaz on On Being


Thinking for Ourselves

Duggan’s Denials
Shea Howell

Denying scientific data. Attacking the press. Claiming stories questioning you are a hoax. Exaggerating election results. Denying a history of racism. Embracing business interests against all else. These appear to be the hallmarks of those in political authority today. And these are not limited to Donald Trump, corporations, or right wing conspiracy nuts. Consider Democratic Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. He is more of a denier and defender of corporate power every day.

Consider the latest flap over Kid Rock. Duggan, straight from a primary election win, stepped into the controversy over the high profile venue given to Kid Rock as part of the opening festivities of the publicly funded Little Caesars Arena. Kid Rock has made a point of displaying the confederate flag, defending it as “heritage not hate.” Lately he has taken to attacking Colin Kaepernick and his effort to call attention to police brutality and the slaughter of African Americans.

Duggan’s response to community activists challenging the high profile given to Kid Rock in a city that is more than 80% African American and who put down the largest share of the dollars to fund the stadium was illuminating. Duggan said to Kimberly Craig from WXYZ, “He’s an entertainer.” He went on, “My feeling is, if you don’t like Kid Rock’s politics or music -– don’t go to the concert.”

The thinking behind this kind of comment is no different than the thinking behind a statement equating Nazis and White Supremists with those who oppose them. It is not only a refusal to look at history and our responsibilities for determining what is appropriate in public spaces, but a lack of moral vision.

Duggan also has taken aim at what he considers a media hoax, the idea that our city is now “Two Detroits,” one whiter and wealthier, the other poorer and darker. Calling this description a “fiction” Duggan said “Just come down here Saturday at 3 p.m. and take a picture of a random place, and I think you’ll see we have an area that is welcoming to everybody.”  He charged the notion of two Detroits is “a fiction coming from you. It really is.”

Realizing that such a comment would not fit with the reality of most people in the city, even those who just stroll through on a Saturday afternoon, Duggan’s spokesperson Alexis Wiley tried to restate the lie. She offered an explanation saying, “The Mayor was responding to what he understood was the reporter’s suggestion that the City of Detroit was divided politically. The Mayor is the first to say that while the city has made progress, there are far too many Detroiters who struggle with poverty and joblessness.

Yet this Mayor has done little to acknowledge the real life conditions of most of those who live in the city and are struggling. More than 40% of us live in poverty.

Our daily experience says that under Duggan water shut offs continue in defiance of sense and international condemnation. Foreclosures and tax sales of homes continue unabated. Assistance programs are woefully inadequate. Health data warning of a public crisis due to lack of basic sanitation is ignored. People feel the political process is rigged.  

Duggan’s great victory in the primary was nearly 70% of the primary votes cast. But less than 14% of the people eligible bothered to vote. The “undeniable results” mean about 10% of voters bothered to endorse Duggan and his direction.

Most people are realizing that the electoral arena has drifted far from the practice of democracy. While we need to press for what are sometimes called “non reformist reforms” of programs and policies coming for downtown administration, it is obvious that creating communities of care and productivity is the only way to create a city that embraces all of us.

Detroitperforms_FB 2

BookRaiserunnamed 2
What We’re Reading

Myth-busting the Detroit tax foreclosure crisis:Detroit is not for sale
Michele Oberholtzer
Metro Times

At the time of this writing, Detroit is in the midst of yet another round of the staged cage-fight that is the tax foreclosure auction. In many ways this feels like an individual fight — one home at a time fighting to mitigate the harshest consequences such as eviction, homelessness, and permanent property damage. Yet this issue affects the city as a whole, and it’s important that we do not become desensitized to the routine social violence that it represents. The truth is that Detroit is for sale by our own local government, and it is time to challenge the convenient notions that help us fall asleep at night.

12039486_1697948547106981_8340843698291198508_n_1_(photo by Garret MacLean)

KEEP READING

 


 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by Timothy Alexander, a young man from Brightmoor

 

Am I strange or insane because I want a systematic change?

I don’t want to give in to the system that want to wash our brains

It’s bad enough they took our culture and locked us in chains but we still sit here like there is nothing wrong so who’s really to blame?

For me creating change is a must

Most of us go through the same struggle so why not trust

We’re continuously doubted but in my eyes that’s a plus

If we stand side by side and fight for what’s ours the system can be crushed!!!!

 


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Look for issue 3 of Riverwise at area bookstores, grocers, cafes and community spaces today!
easter8-top1a.jpg
Look for issue 3 of Riverwise at area bookstores, grocers, cafes and community spaces today!
easter8-top2a.jpg
riverwiseMag_Summer2017_R8_lwe (1) 2
——————————–

(A bonus column from Riverwise editorial member, Shea Howell)

Changing Schools

Shea Howell

Labor Day has passed, and people are returning to schools systems in crisis. Nationally, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has vowed to destroy public schools.  Her commitment is to private, religiously based schools. Recently, Julian Schmoke, Jr. joined her as the Director of the Student Aid Enforcement.  He comes to us from DeVry University which was just forced to pay a massive $100 million to settle a lawsuit for lying to students. Michigan, home state of Betsy DeVos, and long suffering from her meddling, ranks at the bottom on national tests. State spending for education at all levels is among the lowest in the country and has dropped 14% since 2007-2008 for colleges and universities. Detroit with a new Superintendent and some measure of local control for the first time in two decades faces teacher shortages, turmoil and lack of basic supplies. The annual ritual of beginning school is fraught with anxiety, uncertainty and lack of care for the emotional and intellectual well being of far too many of our young people.

When a system is facing this much dysfunction, it is time for us to ask deeper questions. Certainly DeVos and her cronies, emergency managers, state interference and irresponsible legislatures have their share of the blame in creating this chaos. But this crisis comes from a more fundamental problem.  Our system of education no longer has a clear vision or purpose.

School years begin after Labor Day as a reflection of our agricultural heritage. Hands were needed to harvest and preserve foods. Schooling happened after the work was done. As industry replaced agriculture, schooling became necessary to do the work of an expanding economy. Schooling happened so people could do jobs.

Tying schools and education to the demands of work has always had its critics, spurring some of the most progressive and thoughtful efforts to enable young people to develop as full, responsible, creative human beings.  More than 100 years ago, John Dewey published Democracy and Education. In the shadow of WWI and facing a rapidly changing society, Dewey offered ways to think about education as a creative process to help people develop themselves and their society humanly in the face of ongoing change. But these efforts have never been at the core of US schools. For most people, schooling has been about jobs, skills and survival.

Today, it is obvious to everyone most schools are little more than containment camps for children. Daily practices are tied to mastering information for meaningless tests designed to advance a few at the expense of the many. Clearly we need to shift to a new paradigm for education.

In arguing for this paradigm shift in our thinking, Grace Lee Boggs, a student of Dewey’s and educational philosopher, wrote in The Next American Revolution, “Our schools must be transformed to provide children with ongoing opportunities to exercise their resourcefulness to solve the real problems of their communities. With younger children emulating older ones and older children teaching younger ones, they can learn to work together rather than competitively and experience the intrinsic consequences of their own actions. Children will be motivated to learn because their hearts, hands, and heads are engaged in improving their daily lives.”

Across the country, people are evolving ways to educate one another to transform schools and communities. They understand that young people are not problems to be contained, but have the energy, imagination and desire to create communities that reflect the best in us. All of us concerned about the future need to find ways to support and enhance these efforts.

for a copy send name address and $5.00 to Riverwise 3061 field st Detroit, Mi  48214

 

easter8-bottom2.jpg

 

  

We Have the Power to Make the World Anew. Grace Lee Boggs

America Love It Enough to Change it.

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
August 28th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Beyond Trump
Shea HowellDonald Trump will not last. In two, four or eight years, he will be gone. In the meantime he will destroy people and places we hold dear. He has already done so. But his extraordinary vileness can trap us into thinking he is the problem. Rather, he is a crude, visible expression of ways of thinking and being that are normal in the United States. Yes, he is a racist, self-aggrandizing, arrogant man willing to do anything to advance his own self-interest. But so is the system that produced him.

Consider for example the recent peer review study offered by the New York Times on Exxon Mobil. After a careful review of 40 years of climate change communications, scholars found, “Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.”

Researchers found evidence that Exxon knew very well it was lying. They document that, “Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use.”

In spite of this clear understanding of the dangers of climate change and the role of the fossil fuel industry in accelerating global warming, Exxon engaged in a public relations campaign to create doubt. In advertorials, “They overwhelmingly emphasized scientific uncertainties about climate change and promoted a narrative that was largely inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists, including Exxon Mobil’s own.”

The study concludes, “While we can debate the details, the overall picture is clear: Even while Exxon Mobil scientists were contributing to climate science and writing reports that explained it to their bosses, the company was paying for advertisements that told a very different tale.”

Lying, denial, violence and force are all part of doing normal business. The actions of Exxon are no different than those of any corporation pursuing profits over people, money over values.

Embedded in this logic is the fabric of racism and white supremacy. Writing in 1970 in Uprooting Racism and Racists, James Boggs explained what he called the “organic link between capitalism and racism. “Racism,” he wrote, “served the functions of primitive accumulation” and “provided both the individual capital and the labor force freed from the means of production” that allowed for the rapid accumulation of capital. He concluded, “The results of capitalist accumulation are all around us. Constant revolutionizing of production, ceaselessly advancing technology, mammoth factories and, controlling this gigantic accumulation of industrial plants and fluid (finance) capital, an ever diminishing number of interlocking corporations and individuals.”

Racism enables capital to negate contradictions “only by using the colonized people in Latin America, Africa, Asia and inside the United States Itself.”

Donald Trump is not some aberration. He is the logical product of a system that depends on dehumanization, violence, and destruction.

We must say No to Trump at every turn. No is essential to affirm our own humanity, but it is not enough. The task for us is to find the imagination and courage to create different ways of living that sustain and restores our communities as racial capitalism becomes increasingly unsustainable.

Ridding ourselves of Donald Trump will not end white supremacy nor will it end the violent destruction of people and places. This requires a much deeper transformation of who we are and how we live. But it is the belief that we can create communities of love, joy and sustainable, regenerative ways of living that should shape our resistance as we create the world anew.

Idlewild_PettyPropolis


Orange is the new Black
Russ Bellant

(originally published fall of 2016)

Fred Trump Sr. was arrested in 1927 in a fight between 100 New York City police officers and 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members during a Memorial Day parade (New York Times June 1, 1927, p. 16). It was an era of Klan growth when they fought to keep Irish, Poles, Italians, Slavs and Catholics from immigrating to the U.S. As was a common practice years ago, the newspaper published his home address as 175-24 Devonshire, Jamaica, Queens, New York City. Fred Trump had built that two story home there two years earlier and ran his real estate business from there. He married in 1936 and began a family.

In 1946 Fred’s 4th child, Donald, was born in Jamaica, Queens. He was raised in Queens in his father’s real estate/landlord business. Their practice was to rent to whites only. So determined were the Trump’s in upholding their racist practices that one of their tenants, folksinger Woodie Guthrie, wrote a poem in 1950 with lines denouncing “Old Man Trump”  and the “racial hate that he stirred up.”

A former Trump property manager told a 1963 story years after the fact of an ideal tenant applicant who was Black being refused a residence by the Trumps while the elder Trump used vulgar racist language in the discussion. Donald did not react in any way because that was the way he was raised. Years later Donald would talk about his “superior” genes, a notion handed down to him by his father. “I’m proud to have that German blood. No doubt about it. Great stuff.” His first ex-wife, Ivana, told Vanity Fair in 1990 that Donald kept a book of Hitler’s speeches at his bedside. The book was called by Hitler his second Mein Kampf.

In the same interview Ivana said that when one of Donald’s cousins would enter a room to visit Donald, he would click his heels and say “heil Hitler.” The writer wondered in print whether Ivana was trying to hint  that Donald was a “crypto-Nazi.”

Years later Donald would duck questions about support from the Klan and neo-Nazis, claiming that he did not know who they were and therefore couldn’t comment. Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence also used that ‘problem-doesn’t-exist’ approach in his recent debate. But the Klan rallies and websites are too out in the open to not know. Every Klan and neo Nazi leader interviewed across the U.S. has said that their groups are energetically supporting Trump.

Another important but unreported circle of extremist power that undergirds Trump’s campaign is the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP). Their meetings and membership lists are kept secret and members are pledged to keep it that way.

It was set up in 1981 by leaders of the John Birch Society (JBS), itself a secretive, fascistic organization, and extreme hard-line members of the Reagan Administration. It was to be an underground network of the leaders and funders of the New Right, intent on building their movement and institutionalizing its power in a major realignment of national power across the United States.  It is not a conservative voice. It seeks to end or marginalize major social institutions that support democratic society (such as public education) or that fight for and serve the underserved. It wants to create a new elite. Some of the 400 members over the years included Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Oliver North, Clark Durant (JBS family) and an assortment of Dominionist theocrats, racists and allies of the old apartheid regime. The members that were funders included the Coors brewery family, as well as the DeVos and Van Andel (Amway twins) families.  

From the current CNP roster are the top three leaders of the Trump campaign:

— Kellyanne Conway, an executive committee member of the CNP, is also the campaign                                                                                                                      
   manager for Donald Trump.

— David Bossie, president of Citizens United, is the deputy campaign manager.

–Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart News, is the campaign CEO.

Other CNP members serve as campaign advisers, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and US Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Sessions once said that he thought there was nothing wrong with the Klan until he found out they were “smoking pot.”

Bossie’s Citizen United was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court decision that helped finish off restraints on campaign finance reform. For more on him see the Bossie attachment on this email.

Campaign CEO Steve Bannon is the guy that excites the nazis like David Duke. When Bannon became CEO, Duke proclaimed with overstatement that “we have taken over the Republican Party.”

According to a former staffer at Breitbart News, when Bannon took over after the passing of Andrew Breitbart, the news organization began “pushing white ethno-nationalism.” They promote so-called “alt-right” voices of racialist writers such as Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow. Taylor for several years headed the Council of Conservative Citizens, which sought to reintroduce segregation in the South and uphold the old Confederacy and later Jim Crow policies. Taylor serves as a unifier of white supremacy in the South.

Bringing money into the mix is Kellyanne Conway, whose ties to Wall Street financier Robert Mercer gives her standing. Mercer also funds Bannon’s Breitbart News and the Donald Trump campaign.

Any analysis of the consequences of the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency would not only look at the policies and personalities of his eight year incumbency. It’s long term significance was the network of power built up through overt action and covert networks. The enduring power of the extreme evangelical rightwing aided by covert dollars mattered. So did the covert funding of racialist organizations (see my book, Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party, that I emailed to all last year).

If Trump is elected, his politics will overtly build up the hate movement region by region. But his election would also lay foundations for building up the groups that support him, so that they endure and exercise more power. The CNP knows how to do it.

In addition to the above critique, Trump’s deeply flawed character, imbecilic statements, and very flawed vice presidential running mate are compelling reasons to not vote for Trump, and to persuade others to not vote for the “Orange is the new Black” candidate.


IMG_0418Hello all. I am pleased to share some justice narrative work that I am currently doing around police brutality, the school to prison pipeline, and justice system accountability with a new organization that is under the leadership of Alia Harvey-Quinn.

FORCE is dedicated to connecting impacted people to opportunities to create justice oriented policies and solutions.
So…friend FORCE Detroit on Face Book, follow @ForceDetroit on Twitter and Force_Detroit on Instagram too!

Peace,
Lottie

sweet
With the last month of summer upon us, the Perry Ave Community Farm is flourishing and the Commons is bustling with visitors. This summer, we have welcomed nearly 1,000 visitors from down the block, across the city and around the world. Our dedicated staff and interns have worked tirelessly to continue transforming the Commons and the fruits of their labor include new built projectsa revamped website, and a more bountiful harvest than ever before. Check out more news from our friends at Sweet Water.
grace lee boggs PAYS 1
What We’re Reading

How About Erecting Monuments to the Heroes of Reconstruction?Richard Valelly

Given the sheer number of Confederate memorials, there is bound to be another shocking flashpoint of the kind that rocked Charlottesville and the nation. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee have vanished from Baltimore and New Orleans. Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the truly infamous part of the Dred Scott decision, is gone from Annapolis. So many have come down—or are up for possible removal—that The New York Times posted an interactive map to chart them all.

first_colored_senator_and_representatives

But there is an alternative politics of memory that Americans can also practice, and it might help to keep fascists out of public squares and do something concrete, literally at the same time: honor Reconstruction. Remembering Reconstruction ought not to shunt aside the politics of Confederate memorials. Yet remembering this pivotal era certainly deserves to be built into the new national politics of memory.

KEEP READING


Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
August 23rd, 2017
20690093_1452532254814922_5802810215017451539_o

Thinking for Ourselves

Greensboro Lessons
Shea HowellWhile outrage, anger, and the acknowledgement of the moral vacuum of the White House dominated the media this week, another story of Nazis, the Klan and killing emerged in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, after nearly 40 years, the Greensboro City Council voted to apologize for the murder of 5 people gathered to peacefully protest the Klan and Nazi in 1979. Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community Center who has worked for truth and reconciliation over these long years said, “In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and after years of organizing by survivors and supporters, the Greensboro City Council finally voted to issue an apology for the November 3, 1979 Greensboro Massacre. Council members also agreed to study the full Final Report of the Greensboro TRC.”

She said, “I’m shedding tears of joy tonight for this small victory, even as we strengthen our resolve to continue our quest for truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing in Greensboro and throughout our country. Let’s turn these tragedies into triumphs!”  

There are many lessons from Greensboro. On November 3 of 1979 labor and community activists and members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) organized a Death to the Klan march, set to begin in the Morningside Homes community. This was in response to increased Klan activity in Greensboro as activists sought to unionize mill workers. As marchers gathered in the early morning, police withdrew. Shortly, a caravan of Klan and Nazi members pulled up and calmly took rifles out of their trunks. They shot into the crowd, killing five of the organizers and wounding 10 others. The shootings were captured on a reporter’s video tape.

In the state and federal criminal trials that followed,  all-white juries found the KKK and Nazis not guilty. In 1985 a civil jury found two police officers and six Klansmen and Nazis liable for the wrongful death of one of those killed and for the assault and battery of two survivors.

For nearly 4 decades the Reverend Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson have organized through the Beloved Community Center to help Greensboro and the country face the violence that holds white supremacy in place.  They have organized marches, vigils, meetings, protests, sit ins, occupations, public art, speak outs, conversations, and confrontations.

Inspired by the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, they initiated a two year process in Greensboro, establishing a public Truth and Reconciliation Commission to study what happened, why it happened, and what should be done.  The report was released in 2006. It made clear the Klan and Nazi parties were responsible for the shootings. It also acknowledged the role of the local police in promoting violence and the fact that the Greensboro Police Department, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had information from informants about the Klan and neo-Nazi plan to attack the demonstration, they followed and photographed the caravan of armed attackers, and took no action until after the shootings.

The report also acknowledged that the CWP had some responsibility in intensifying the atmosphere through their rhetoric.  However, the report was clear, this was a “lesser” responsibility.

Since the conclusion of the Commission, the Beloved Community Center has struggled to make its findings meaningful to the community. In 2009 the City Council voted to issue a statement of regret for the shootings, but stopped short of an apology.

In 2015 the Beloved Community Center initiated placing an historical marker, backed by the state historical commission, to commemorate the “Greensboro Massacre.” Some civic leaders objected, wanting the term “shooting” or shoot out, rather than massacre. But after public testimony and discussion, the City Council voted 7-2 approving massacre.

Last week, with the echoes of Charlottesville reawakening the Greensboro Massacre, the City Council took one more step toward reconciliation with its painful past. They issued a public apology and took responsibility for the city’s role in these preventable, needless deaths.

Greensboro reminds us that there are no quick fixes or easy ways to move beyond the hatred of the KKK and the American Nazi Party, or any of the multitude of white supremacist, fanatical Christian sects whose hatred is woven into the fabric of our country. But they also remind us that through constant effort, to confront, to talk, to resist and persist, it is possible to fashion loving communities out of hateful moments.
Idlewild_PettyPropolis

Our Movement Moment
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
The year 2017 has proven to be a year of movement nostalgia. From the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Time to Break Silence speech, to the commemorations around the long hot summer of 1967 where rebellions sprung up all across the globe (most prominently in Detroit); to the ramping up of white counter-revolutionary forces and the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign.
I spent the last few years trying to convince myself that this country isn’t moving rapidly backwards, yet the strategies of the revolution and counter-revolution appear eerily familiar.
I find myself revisiting writings and speeches as far back as 1970 by James “Jimmy” and Grace Boggs, such as The Awesome Responsibilities of Revolutionary Leadership.
In this speech Jimmy and Grace proclaimed partly:

“Meanwhile, in fact, overall conditions in the black community have been deteriorating, while at the same time the spontaneous activities of the black street masses and the much publicized but futile reform efforts of the white power structure have aroused the “white backlash,” which is only another name for the fascist counter-revolution.

There is little point in complaining about the skillful use of the Almighty American Dollar to co-opt Black Power or the rise of the fascist counter-revolution. In confusing, undermining, and mobilizing to repress the black movement, white power is only doing what its self-interest dictates. If the fault lies anywhere, it is with the black movement for failing to arm the black community theoretically and politically against the predictable strategy and tactics of the enemy and to make clear that fascism cannot be stopped short of a total revolution dedicated to ending man’s domination of man and his fear of those whom he dominates.
To do this, the black movement must recognize and keep pointing out the limits of what can be achieved by the black masses, for the same reason that Lenin insisted on the limits of what could be achieved by the spontaneous eruptions of Russian workers. The spontaneity of the workers does not take them beyond the level of the immediate, palpable, concrete interests of the everyday economic struggle, as Lenin kept pointing out. In a similar vein, black revolutionists must realize that the spontaneous eruptions of the black masses do not take them beyond the demand that white power alleviate their accumulated grievances, no matter how angry or explosive the masses are or how much Black Power talk and symbolism accompany their actions. Reliance upon spontaneity is, therefore, a form of liberalism because, in effect, it increases the illusion that the issues and grievances of the masses can be resolved without taking power away from those in power.”
I find myself questioning how much we have really learned from the past. I have always been taught that if you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it. I question that sentiment, because a lot of us now know our history, but it seems we are still on a trajectory to repeat it. The question for me now becomes, what then should be pulled from our history and what should be left behind?

As the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign ramps up, I grow more concerned about this movement moment. I worry about the counter-revolution utilizing the energy of our elder and yelder (young elder) revolutionaries to whip on the momentum of our young revolutionaries. I worry about the narrative of the acceptable negro vs. the rabble rousers. A narrative that has often been used to compare Dr. King to the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). A narrative that has been flung around as punishment for youthful radicalism with a Dr. King and Stokley-esq tension that has been revived and nurtured consistently over the past several years. “What would Dr. King do?” has been leveraged as a weapon against millennial activism.

We live in a moment that allows for Black Lives Matter activists to be deemed “terrorists” and “purveyors of hate” by members of the United States Government, and right-wing racists over the internet – with little uproar from the left. A moment that has placed, and continues to place youthful activists at extreme risk of being assassinated, permanently incarcerated and disappeared like many of their predecessors from the Black Panther Party. Yet, with all that these young activists and organizers have sacrificed, I rarely hear of any of them being deemed by the movement as political prisoners or revolutionaries.

Many young activists (particularly since Ferguson) who have sided with BLM have obtained felonies through their activism. Many have been harassed and threatened with violence, or worse, some have mysteriously been killed with little to no recourse for their assassinations.

I am grateful to see the fervor of activists and organizers of all generations moving in pursuit of their passions. In the words of Grace, “It’s a great time to be alive,” however, it is my hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. That the struggle for liberation is multifaceted, and there has been no strategy to date that has liberated us all from the grasp of this violent system of white supremacy, nurtured by ruthless capitalism and militarism.

I am also hopeful that white allies in the struggle against white supremacy will start to move from actors on behalf of black people and people of color, toward co-liberators who recognize that their own humanity is wrapped up into the very same system that is seeking to destroy us.

I recognize, and have been taught that “all contradictions are not antagonistic,” but I also know that they can be, if left unaddressed.

All Power to Us All!


part0 2

grace lee boggs PAYS 1

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
August 7th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
What We Owe
Shea Howell

Mayor Duggan is acting like a mini-Donald Trump. This week he went after scientists. Duggan simply refuses to accept the fact that his policy on water shutoffs is a failure. He is risking the health and safety of the city by refusing to declare a moratorium on shutoffs. He ignores the advice of economic experts that shutoffs make no economic sense. He denies clear evidence that his assistance programs are not adequate to protect people. This week he demonstrated a new level of bullying and paranoia, spying on activists and confusing a meeting of health professionals with potentially violent protests.

Community groups have been trying for months to get the Mayor to recognize that the scale of water shutoffs is not only a violation of human rights, but it posses basic health hazards to all of us.  Realizing that common sense would not sway the Mayor, local activist groups partnered with Henry Ford’s Global Health Initiative to look at emergency room data that might be related to water shut offs.

The study used block level data and analyzed 37,441 cases of waterborne illnesses to see if there was any connection between incidents of the illnesses and shutoffs between January 2015 and February 2016.  They found two statistically significant correlations:

  • Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff.
  • Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness.

This information was released in a press conference in April. It received little attention. Moreover the researchers at Henry Ford began to back away from any public use of the information. They talked about this being an “extremely limited study” and are concerned about the “political purposes” for which the study is being used.

The Mayor and his GLWA cronies have chosen to focus on what they consider the “politics” of the study, ignoring the science. Even while distancing themselves from the study, Henry Ford officials were forced to acknowledge that it is at the least the findings call for further study. Brenda Craig, of the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative said, “Additional studies with multiple factors and controls would be necessary. At this point, we remain open to talking with city and other officials about appropriate next steps.”

Unlike the Mayor, activists are concerned that the possibility of serious health issues become part of the public discussion around water shutoffs. Thus they invited standard health scientists from around the country to review the study and offer suggestions for what we should do to protect our people.

The panel of experts who gathered at Wayne State University this week concluded the city should declare a public health emergency and stop water shutoffs. One of the panelists, Dr. Wendy Johnson, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington said that Detroit water shutoffs are a public health crisis. “Water-related diseases are now occurring in Detroit as the result of water shutoffs,” Johnson said. “Access to clean and safe water is a basic human right that is essential from a public health standpoint to prevent infectious diseases. We have run out of time and solutions must be immediate.”

Johnson said the connection between a lack of water and illness is not rocket science: People without access to water are not washing their hands as often and are at higher risk of contagious diseases and waterborne illness, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The actions the Mayor should take are obvious. He can walk into any Coney Island in the city and be reminded that he should wash his hands after leaving the bathroom. Yet he persists in policies that deny this basic gesture to thousands of people every day. He is endangering everyone by his refusal to acknowledge science and by his efforts to silence those who care only to protect everyone in the city.


WHAT WE’RE READING
Detroit is Not a Movie

Frank Joyce
alternet

Are you thinking of seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s movie Detroit? Don’t.
Read John Hersey’s book The Algiers Motel Incident instead. It is one of the most remarkable books about race ever written by a white man. And it’s as accurate an account of the massacre at the Algiers Motel as currently exists.

Oh, never mind. By all means, see the movie if the marketing campaign has persuaded you it’s the kind of entertainment you like. But please don’t think you are going to gain any deep insight into what happened in Detroit in 1967. Or what’s happening now. Or most importantly what you could do to reduce the destructive grip of white power on our society going forward.


Live and work as a community
grassroots activist in Detroit, Michigan

Open Call August 1st thru September 29th, 2017

Do you need a place to begin living the life of activism in service to the community of humanity? We have the opportunity of a life time for strengthening your current work, for discovering your new work and a place where you may, in a positive and affirming environment,  discover and or define your Purpose. You will have an opportunity to work with us, to walk with us and we offer two residential opportunities that will allow you to discover and re-discover your passion. Ours is a place of compassionate refuge where we employ and deploy the lessons of our ancestors in growing communities that nurture humanity in each other.
  • Are you ready to be the change you are seeking?
  • Are you ready to change your life and become part of community where you matter?
  • Do you need a place where you may continue an “established “activism of service, to learn and grow?
  • Do you need a place to live and a place to network, in a community that needs work?
  • Do you desire to uplift humanity while learning, growing and sharing together to build compassionate community?
  • Are you ready to make the commitment to learn by doing, about leadership and advocacy, literally building compassionate communities from the ground up from a truly grass-roots methodology?
If your answer is “yes” then you are who we are looking for. We want to invest in those who are ready, hungry, for a society of intentional compassionate community building in a unique and highly inter-relational local –global organization.

We are The Hush House Collective and we are presently comprised of five fingers to our  Collective Arm initiated through our museum’s purpose and service: 1)The Hush House Black History Community Museum, 1986; 2) The HH International Leadership and Training Institute For Human Rights, 2007; 3)The Simmons Center for Peace, Justice, Education and Environmental Studies, 2014; 4) The McIntosh Residential Leadership House, 2014;  5) HYMM: Hush Your Mouth Multi-Media,2008; 6)TruDSoul Bed and Breakfast, 2015.

We believe that this is the time for those who “see”: and need a place to take root and build.  We of The Hush House purpose to make available the following in our Leadership/ Intern House:

  1. 2 flats of nearly the same dimensions: 2 bedrooms, living and dining room and kitchen: the space can be used for multiple functions, including residence for Interns and Fellows to serve as their home base in the community. The live in Residence is situated in (Midtown), which also includes The Hush House main campus (also in Midtown).
  2. Lower level of the house includes a basement that has its own entrance and will be developed by Interns/Fellows as office and meeting and teaching space(s); and a recording studio.
The Residents are encouraged to agree on some places in their work to evolve a Compassionate means to encourage humanity through their individual and their corded visions that take on “flesh.”
  1. Utilities will be paid as a collective: water, gas, electricity (our desire is to be off the grid, so if we are able to accomplish those goals of “going off the grid”: solar/wind energy/water collection/storage/toilets/ref use collections and disposals.
  2. There is an open, multi- use space to run the programs inside the community and with the benefit of emergent and ever evolving support and infrastructure of the New Work of The Hush House Collective.
Through our Collective, we have an opportunity for four to six persons as HH Resident Leadership Fellows and Resident Intern opportunities through our International Leadership and Training Institute for Human Rights and The Hush House Black Community Museum as Leadership Fellows and Interns. We encourage applicants who are currently in school to apply. Send inquiries, & applications to our email: thehushhouse@gmal.com

INTERNSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIPS: Internships 12 to 15 months/ Fellowships 15 month commitments.

Each Intern selected will be awarded a deeply discounted living space and a work/ meeting space to develop and implement their programs that supplement and support Hush House programs: each person selected is expected to use their skill set that they have now and those that will evolve through our leadership training programs to maintain and establish replicable and sustainable community-grass roots based- solutions that strengthen our communities.  Each intern is also expected to share in the tasks of maintaining the infrastructure, public and private spaces of the community. All spaces are shared and the collective is responsible for utilities: water, electricity, gas and water/sewage.  Interns are obligated to contribute 20 scheduled hours work per week, minimum.

Leadership Fellows are vetted based on recommendations and of the quality of their proven work in community engagement. Fellows, receive a stipend of free rent and must only pay an equally shared portion of utilities (lights/gas/water). Fellows are expected to incorporate their interests with those of our collective, and to take responsibility as mentors, administrators, fundraisers and rising leaders in the local to global community.  Fellows are obligated to contribute 25-30 scheduled hours of work per week.

*Programming may require weekends and travel (overnight/weekend and Belize -worked out in advance)

SUBMISSIONSWe are accepting letters of interest and applications August 1, 2017-September 29, 2017. If selected, Residency begins officially October-November, 2017. ThehushhouseSubmissions@gmail. com

Please submit a letter of interest that includes a “community resume” that expresses the work you have been involved in and the type of commitment that you can make. You must also provide verifiable references, be willing to have a background check, Veterans, Families, Young Adults (25 up), Active Elders (any age), and persons who have been incarcerated (with some limitations): If you don’t know your purpose but you have the passion to serve and want to learn and you are not afraid of divers work, then send us your letter too!

We also offer non-residential fellowships and internships; please call or email us for more information at our office: 313 896.2521 or email us: thehushhouse@gmail.com

*Our plan to caravan to Belize is based on our successful funding of this project.

5050


police
For Immediate Release:

Resolution condemning President Trump’s call for mistreatment of suspects in police custody

Whereas,  the President of the United States of America takes office by swearing to uphold the U.S. Constitution and all the nation’s laws for the benefit of all its peoples and the advancement of a more perfect Democracy, and

Whereas, the U.S. Justice Department in modern history has been an instrument for the country to ensure that local communities adhere to practices that are Constitutional and result in a more level playing field in education, housing, employment, criminal justice and other arenas. This is especially true of police forces in towns, counties and cities where the Justice Department has ensured protections of all those accused of crime until they are proven guilty in a court of law, and has helped eliminate improper and systemic police practices through consent decrees and other measures, and

Whereas, the current President, Donald Trump, continues to voice beliefs and take action through polices that undermine the very tenets of our Constitution and that dishonor our highest elected office. On Friday, July 28, 2017, President Trump spoke before an audience of New York law enforcement and urged them to “rough” handle suspects in custody. His remarks, taken along with his actions through the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continue to rollback police practices to a rudimentary era of physical abuse, unlawful confinement, and wholesale discrimination that endangers all of our human rights, and

Whereas, President Trump used an ethnic slur in his speech, a stark reminder of how ingrained discrimination has been in law enforcement and how some officials have used police powers systemically to intimidate people based on their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or heritage, as Irish immigrants once experienced. It was especially disturbing that President Trump’s audience included Suffolk County police officers, whose former chief right now faces prison for beating a man and whose Police Department remains under federal oversight for years of abusive police practices that violated the Constitution and discriminated against Latinos and immigrants; and

Whereas, our Board and other oversight bodies have worked diligently to modernize law enforcement policies and procedures for greater effectiveness in identifying, arresting and securing the conviction of criminals.  We cannot let one person, even the President of the United States, undo the progress stemming from the work and often sacrifice of countless police officers, community leaders, activists, and others who together ensure the profession of law enforcement is elevated to the highest excellence; therefore

Be It Resolved that the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners strongly condemns President Trump’s support of unlawful and abusive police tactics, and his ongoing efforts through the Justice Department and other parts of his Administration to dismantle modern professional police standards and proven criminal justice advancements. His approach to policing is antiquated and embodies a mindset that has no place among officers sworn to uphold the law, or frankly among any civilized society in the 21st Century. Our Board wants President Trump to know that he will not deter our mission to work with stakeholders at all levels towards the proven best practices that ensure safe neighborhoods and a thriving city.


Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  

We may Be Able to Change the World if our Imagination is rich enough.

Grace Lee Boggs

Living for Change News
July 31st, 2017
 Riverwise   special edition 67 Rebellion  riverwisedetroit.org
2017-1196 Riverwise Rebellion w-notes

Thinking for Ourselves

Science and the Mayor
Shea HowellMayor Duggan is acting like a mini-Donald Trump. This week he went after scientists. Duggan simply refuses to accept the fact that his policy on water shutoffs is a failure. He is risking the health and safety of the city by refusing to declare a moratorium on shutoffs. He ignores the advice of economic experts that shutoffs make no economic sense. He denies clear evidence that his assistance programs are not adequate to protect people. This week he demonstrated a new level of bullying and paranoia, spying on activists and confusing a meeting of health professionals with potentially violent protests.

Community groups have been trying for months to get the Mayor to recognize that the scale of water shutoffs is not only a violation of human rights, but it posses basic health hazards to all of us.  Realizing that common sense would not sway the Mayor, local activist groups partnered with Henry Ford’s Global Health Initiative to look at emergency room data that might be related to water shut offs.

The study used block level data and analyzed 37,441 cases of waterborne illnesses to see if there was any connection between incidents of the illnesses and shutoffs between January 2015 and February 2016.  They found two statistically significant correlations:

  • Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff.
  • Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness.

This information was released in a press conference in April. It received little attention. Moreover the researchers at Henry Ford began to back away from any public use of the information. They talked about this being an “extremely limited study” and are concerned about the “political purposes” for which the study is being used.

The Mayor and his GLWA cronies have chosen to focus on what they consider the “politics” of the study, ignoring the science. Even while distancing themselves from the study, Henry Ford officials were forced to acknowledge that it is at the least the findings call for further study. Brenda Craig, of the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative said, “Additional studies with multiple factors and controls would be necessary. At this point, we remain open to talking with city and other officials about appropriate next steps.”

Unlike the Mayor, activists are concerned that the possibility of serious health issues become part of the public discussion around water shutoffs. Thus they invited standard health scientists from around the country to review the study and offer suggestions for what we should do to protect our people.

The panel of experts who gathered at Wayne State University this week concluded the city should declare a public health emergency and stop water shutoffs. One of the panelists, Dr. Wendy Johnson, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington said that Detroit water shutoffs are a public health crisis. “Water-related diseases are now occurring in Detroit as the result of water shutoffs,” Johnson said. “Access to clean and safe water is a basic human right that is essential from a public health standpoint to prevent infectious diseases. We have run out of time and solutions must be immediate.”

Johnson said the connection between a lack of water and illness is not rocket science: People without access to water are not washing their hands as often and are at higher risk of contagious diseases and waterborne illness, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The actions the Mayor should take are obvious. He can walk into any Coney Island in the city and be reminded that he should wash his hands after leaving the bathroom. Yet he persists in policies that deny this basic gesture to thousands of people every day. He is endangering everyone by his refusal to acknowledge science and by his efforts to silence those who care only to protect everyone in the city.


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

WDET

1967 Was Decades Before They Were Born

Find out what some young Detroit students think of the uproar that happened in their city 50 years ago.

LISTEN

AND

Democracy Now!

Fifty years ago this month, rebellions broke out in the cities of Newark and Detroit. It all began in Newark on July 12, 1967, when two white police officers detained and beat an African-American cabdriver. Shortly after, on July 23, police officers raided an after-hours club in an African-American neighborhood of Detroit, sparking another mass rebellion. Forty-three people died in Detroit, and 26 were killed in Newark, while 7,000 people were arrested. The rebellions reshaped both Newark and Detroit and marked the beginning of an era of African-American political empowerment.

Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, and Scott Kurashige, author of the new book, “The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit.”

LISTEN

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace 

 

 

We are the Children of Martin and Malcolm…

We are the children of Martin and Malcolm,        Black, brown, red and white, Our birthright is to be creators of history, Our Right, Our Duty   

To shake the world with           A new dream!

 

July 25th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
From Contempt to Love
Shea Howell

Throughout the city people are talking about the Detroit Rebellion, now 50 years in the past. The debate between riot and rebellion still surges, igniting energy and argument. The meaning of it all is still analyzed, the images still inspiring. In all of these conversations, fear lingers. Will it happen again?

Many people comfort themselves by narrowing the cause of the 1967 rebellion to police brutality.  The story goes something like this. Detroit was becoming a majority black city, but the police department was 95% white. Many white officers had been recruited from the south, specifically because they were good at intimidating African Americans. It was excessive force and harassment, used against people celebrating the return of two Viet Nam veterans in an after hours joint that sparked what was then the bloodiest urban uprising in US history. Now, after Coleman Young and his efforts to integrate the police department, we no longer face the problems of police hostility.  All may not be perfect, but it is much better.

Others acknowledge the complexity of racism, white supremacy, deindustrialization, and a host of local, regional and national policies that combined to oppress and dehumanize people of color. Many recognize that these forces are still distorting and destroying the lives of people throughout our city. School closing, pension seizures, unemployment, shut offs of heat and water, foreclosures and police harassment are part of daily life.

What rarely gets openly discussed, however, is the underlying logic driving much of the corporate elite and the choices they are making in the name of developing our city. That logic is the same as it was fifty years ago. It rests on a profound contempt for the lives of poor people, especially African Americans and other people of color. Their very presence has to be controlled. Their lives made invisible, their hopes and dreams diminished.

Public officials today reflect this same contempt. It is the foundation to all of their responses to the problems we face. For example, in a recent article in the New York Times discussing the blatant disregard for the law in the foreclosure crisis, Mayor Mike Duggan is quoted as saying he would not consider reimbursements to people who lost their home because of unconstitutional city actions. Duggan’s position is people had a chance to appeal their tax assessments. If people didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, it is just too bad for them. It is their own fault that they lost their homes, not the illegal actions of the city.

This contempt for people around the foreclosure crisis is the same attitude Duggan takes on water shut offs. He said people should just pay their bills. His attitude was echoed by the former radical, former city council person Sheila Cockrel. She was more direct, telling people who wanted “free water” to grab a bucket and head for the river. Comments from suburban leaders are no different. Most famously this contempt was expressed by L. Brook Patterson in Oakland County, suggesting putting a fence around Detroit and throwing in “blankets and corn.”

Contempt is essential to the protection of privilege. It justifies the inhuman and destructive practices necessary to maintain relationships based on injustice.

In sharp contrast to these corporate elites, people throughout the city are fostering relationships based on love and respect. They are growing food together, caring for children, creating new forms of education and developing local means of production for local needs. They are telling new stories of our past and opening new possibilities for our future. Whatever fires come next time, our best hope is in these community connections forged in love.


facebook_1500552758669


Eyewitness to History: July 23rd, 1967
Carl R. Edwards (founding member of the Boggs Center and People’s lawyer).

Violence is the voice of the unheard.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, July 23, 1967, I had just turned 20 years old.  I was born on Bastille Day, July 14, 1947, the date in 1789 that the French people rebelled and overthrew their economic and political rulers, the King and Queen of France and the French monarchy.  I had spent the day with my girlfriend at her parent’s home across the street from the old Olympia Stadium, home of Detroit’s professional hockey team, the Red Wings and its professional basketball team, the Detroit Pistons.

In the early afternoon, there was breaking news as we watched television: a disturbance had broken out in a lower west side neighborhood when the Detroit Police conducted a raid on an “after hours joint”.  As time passed there were additional television news flashes: violence and looting of stores and business spontaneously erupted all over the City of Detroit.  When I got ready to leave to return home, my girlfriend’s parents told me it was not safe to venture out and suggested that I spend the night and wait until the morning to return home.

I demurred.  I thanked them for their kindness and set off for home, a mere 2-3 miles north on Grand River Avenue.

However, nothing in my 20- year-old young life prepared me for what I was destined to encounter.  I was a witness to the apocalypse; a people’s primal scream for crimes committed by the white American and European race against African and African American humanity that shook the very foundations of the City of Detroit and the surrounding region, state and the nation.

It was both a riot and a rebellion. At that time, like so many other main streets in Detroit, Grand River was a beautiful avenue of retail stores, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, automobile sales lots, and all manner of large and small businesses.  I witnessed scores of African Americans, young and old, breaking windows and stealing the store contents: groceries and meat, furniture, refrigerators, washers and dryers, irons and ironing boards, mops brooms and buckets, clothing, and every imaginable consumer good, vividly comes to my mind. 

Although it was nearly midnight and the summer sun had gone to bed hours earlier, I recall the sky being “lit up” as if it were night and day at the same time. Bright red, yellow, orange, purple and black it was. Eerie. Flames danced up and up, higher and higher, to the heavens it seemed blotting out the dark night. To my young barely outside of mental adolescent mind, I said to myself: “This is what hell must look like”.

Why were people breaking into the stores and businesses stealing, and looting, I thought out loud. What my young, evolving mind could not yet piece together was the days and years of mistreatment, daily humiliations and myriad insults and degradations, heaped upon us all because of the color of our skin. I recall my father telling me that his stepfather was a dental school graduate but he could not practice in the dental profession because of the color of his skin.   He found work instead at the United States Post Office where he worked until retirement. These and other narratives that were worse occupied the daily lives of African American Detroiters. More, the white Detroit police force was tasked with the responsibility of instilling fear and control, especially for those African Americans who dared challenge the normal operation of the way “things just were”. On that fateful Sunday, a typical day of rest, quiet and peace, “All HELL BROKE OUT” and African American Detroiters, as had African Americans in other American cities, exploded, releasing pent up energy, for a trillion grievances, outrages and despairs.

Police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances sped up and down Grand River Avenue.
For the hour or so that I walked up Grand River, I saw absolutely not a scintilla of activity that could be described as resistance to the suffocating reality of virulent white racism, white skin privilege, white supremacy and white control over every fiber of my existence as a young African American Detroiter born and raised locally, not yet legally an adult.  And it was white racism that caused this contagion.  The report of president Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (The Kerner Commission) was unequivocal when it concluded, I am paraphrasing, that white racism caused the “Uprisings” in America’s cities, including Detroit.  The Kerner Commission further stated unless drastic actions were undertaken immediately America was moving toward two societies, one black and one white, separate and unequal.

Yes, there was spontaneous unorganized resistance to the white police department when a largely white, Detroit Police Department attempted to quell the uprising by African American Detroiters against the symbols of white privilege and control in our largely racially segregated communities in Detroit.  But the uprising also spread to Downtown Detroit’s political and economic power center and headquarters to most corporate businesses.  It was only years later that I discovered there was also organized resistance by politically developed activist and revolutionaries in a few sectors of the uprising. However, and let me be absolutely clear on this point, there was no large-scale involvement of the masses of Detroiters with the goal or objective of organizing to seize control of private corporate property or power or state (governmental) property or power nor any aspect of same and negotiate with the moneyed or economic and political class for relief from the structures of white racist political and economic power in this city and region.

This statement should not be read, however, to support in any manner those apologist for the status quo as it existed for my entire young 20-year-old life in 1967. There has been a wealth of research, studies and books written on the history of race and racism as well as segregation and economic class domination in the City of Detroit. It is often loss to history that there was also a terrible racial uprising in 1943 that has been aptly documented by the national NAACP. Moreover, professor Thomas Segrue has documented this history of racial segregation and Jim Crow in the City of Detroit with his masterfully researched and written: “The Origin of the Urban Crisis”.  Additionally, “Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, A Study in Urban Revolution” by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surken, is also a riveting account of the organized resistance and struggle against “Apartheid Detroit”, post-July 23, 1967.

In July 1967, a trillion pent up grievances, outrages and despairs exploded into spontaneous violence on a massive scale.  Businesses and property, private and public, were targets for the most part.  This is the definition of a riot.  Indeed, $40-45 million dollars was the estimated cost in 1967 dollars ($325 million in 2013 dollars).  This was the most destructive uprising and insurrection in United States history until the 1992 uprising following the not guilty verdict of the white Los Angeles police officers after their savage beating of Rodney King.

However, this eruption in mass violence by African American Detroiters was at the same time a rebellion, because although there was mass anger and revolt, the white owned businesses and property were the symbols of everything that was regarded as normal: the Detroit Public School system was racially segregated, with certain schools closed to African Americans; certain Detroit neighborhoods and homes were closed to African American Detroiters; the colleges and universities were also largely closed to African Americans, including those located in the City of Detroit and throughout the State of Michigan.

Jobs and employment, especially the skilled trades and white collar, salary, supervision and management, and all professional categories, also found it normal to exclude persons of color from their ranks.  Banking, home ownership, business ownership, the legal and political process and even the downtown Detroit restaurants were off limits to African American Detroiters.  In a word, whites reserved the “good stuff” and the “good life” to and for themselves.

African American Detroiters revolted and rebelled against this normal relationship of whites over blacks.  From July 23-28, 1967 “…the world was turned upside down”.

Tragically, the decisions of the economic and political dominant class and their handpicked African American Detroit junior partners and comprador leaders created the storm that has created the legitimate grievances of African American Detroiters.

All too often these African American Detroit economic and political educated leaders and junior partners to white economic and political power elite served their individual interest first and the interest of their family members, friends and peers, rather than the interest of ordinary African American Detroiters, the people.

In a similar context in Africa, the iconic Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has referred to these individuals as “neocolonialist”: Africans whom serve the interest of white European and American economic rulers in power and not the interest of ordinary Africans.  See “Kwame Nkrumah, The Conakry Years”, his life in exile in Guinea, Africa, after he was removed from office as President, Ghana, Africa, by his then Ghana Africa educated and military elite in collaboration with the United States and European powers; see also “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” by Ayi Kweiarmah, for a description of the lives of ordinary Ghanians under the rule of black Ghana, Africa, Junior partners to the United States and England economic powers, after independence when Britain was thrown out of Ghana.  The replacement Ghana Junior partners treated ordinary Africans no better than their white former colonial masters, the English; and the values of these black African Ghanians remained fundamentally as they had been under British rule: worshipping at the altar of extreme materialism.

Martial law was declared in Detroit. The Constitutional protections and the Bill of Rights were locked away and placed in cold storage and the counter-revolution was unleashed with full fury and effect on African American Detroiters, men women, teenagers and, yes, even children. 

In 1967, I was working as a janitor at Fred Sanders Bakery in the City of Highland Park, just outside Detroit on the afternoon shift. I was a sophomore at Michigan Lutheran College in Detroit attending day classes. I recall having to walk miles in order to make it home after my work shift ended at 10:00pm. An 8:00 pm curfew was in effect so we asked our supervisor if we could leave work in time to avoid being in violation of the curfew. We were told by our boss that as long as we possessed a permission slip from our job we could be out after the curfew went into effect. I decided to move back into my parents’ home located near Livernois and Warren Avenues because there was less public and private property destruction than there was in the Grand River Avenue area where my apartment was located. On day one after martial law was declared a coworker dropped me off on Livernois. As I walked passed the Detroit Police Department 10th precinct at Elmhurst and Livernois I saw a stunning spectacle that literally rattled me from my head to my soul. Scores of public buses were parked stuffed with African American Detroiters. No restroom there to relieve one’s self. No privacy whatsoever. No food, water, ability to buy a bag of potato chips or a soda pop. And this was the circumstance all over the City of Detroit. Every Detroit Police Department precinct mirrored what I witnessed at the 10th precinct. More, Detroit Public Schools football and baseball fields were converted into “ slave holding pens” and “concentration camps”. Later when the 82nd and 101st Airborne United States Army divisions and tanks moved into Detroit some of these playgrounds were also converted into military commands and stations. Even Detroit’s beautiful Belle Isle Park, at the time called the 8th wonder of the world, had its historic Bath House commandeered and converted into a modern day “slave holding pen”. 

Army tanks randomly machine-gunned apartment buildings all over the city including in the areas where the uprising occurred. The “Dogs of War” were unleashed on a largely compliant African American Detroit citizenry. Legal murder and death were savagely committed against African American Detroit citizens by the United States military and local Detroit Police Department. Both were populated by white Americans raised on the toxic brew that we were their “inferiors”. Like their ancestors before them society gave these white citizens the privilege and powers and the right to control their darker brethren in any manner that they chose, including murder and death, including my death.   A bestselling book was written by noted author, John Hersey, entitled: “The Algiers Motel Incident”, concerning the savage, cold-blooded death of three African American teenagers at the hands of white Detroit police officers.  It was an open secret that Detroit’s economic and political power brokers went to the southern states and recruited white males to become police officers.  So too, the United States military has been historically disproportionately comprised of white males from the south.  These “good old boys” were born and raised with the powerful ideas that their darker citizens were “inferior” and it was their solemn, sacred duty “…to put and keep the “niggras” in their place”.  Unlike their white northern brethren who dressed up, disguised and prettified this same system and personal white supremacy feeling and mental thinking, including the northern educated “liberal racist” socioeconomic class.  For many years I have wondered why the towering Frederick Douglas sought personal independence from the white northern liberal abolitionist of his day, including establishing his own anti-slavery newspaper, “The North Star”.

For two nights, I trekked along Livernois Avenue the several miles to my destination, my parents’ home. During those harrowing nights, each step I made and each breath I took was anxiety filled as countless police cruisers and military vehicles sped by me. I carried the obligatory pass in my right pants pocket. But the fear of the “slave catchers” occupied my every young, innocent thoughts. 

On night three my luck ran out. A police cruiser occupied by four Detroit Police Department officers, (nicknamed “The Big 4”), pulled alongside me as I walked home.  I was ordered to stop. I froze in fear for what seemed like eternity. The first officer to exit his vehicle was particularly aggressive: “Nigger what are you doing out here. There is a curfew? Niggers are not to be on the streets”. In a nanosecond before I could provide an answer I see his right-hand move and he pulled out what appeared to my unschooled mind in weapons the biggest hand gun I had ever seen. Before I could say a word the barrel of this big, black pistol was pressed hard to my temple. I told the white officers I was heading home from work and I had a pass from my employer to be outside after the curfew. I reflectively went to reach into my right side of my pants pocket to show the white police officer my pass. I took a quick look out of the side of my eyes and saw and heard him pull the hammer back and hold it to the side of my head. My mind thought also reflexively this is my last seconds on this earth. I felt my heart racing, I was sweating profusely, a cold sweat on an extraordinary hot, Detroit, July summer day.

The white police officer holding the gun to my head grabbed my right hand and removed my paper pass from my pocket. He read it out loud and said words, I am now paraphrasing because of time and distance: “Nigger, this is just a piece of paper.  It don’t mean shit. If we catch your black ass out again after the curfew we will kill you”. I watched as the crumpled paper pass was picked up by the wind and blown a half block distance.  My hand still shakes as I recount this unspeakable experience 50 years later.  I still suffer from the “guilt of the survivor” syndrome.

I was one of the fortunate young black men that July day and of that time. Many African American young men faced the wrath of the modern-day police state and it cost them permanently, with their life or their freedom, as it had cost millions of our ancestors. Our creator had her arms wrapped around me. She had a different purpose for my earthly life. I am certain that the seeds of what I was later to become were clearly planted with that harrowing life and death encounter with the modern day “slave catchers”: A trial lawyer, activist, humanitarian and freedom fighter.

July 23, 1967 was both a riot and a rebellion. Tens of thousands of young men and women of my generation heard and headed Malcolm’s call and challenge, a challenge that is just as urgent today:

“Wake up, from your oppressed status at the bottom of the economic, social pyramid; Clean up, mentally, spiritually and physically from your woeful miseducation concerning your history;  you are not an inferior person or people; we are all exceedingly flawed and imperfect human beings but we have this incredible power that lies within, the power of choice and redemption; to choose to become a responsible citizen and purpose driven human being; and Standup; be a ‘man’ not a permanent ‘boy’, a woman, not an adult girl and stop being complacent to injustice in the face of what seems like an impossible challenge and odds.”

July 23-28, 1967 also confirms the enduring principle of the towering titan Frederick Douglass when he intoned: “Power concedes nothing without a demand; and that demand will be by words or sometimes by blows or both; the limits of tyrants are governed by the degree endurance tolerated by the person or persons they oppress and deprive of basic natural rights”. 

July 23-28, 1967 was an insurrection. African American Detroit and African Americans in other sister cities both rioted and rebelled against the status quo and system of African American and black inferiority in every aspect of American and European life, imposed by white supremacy, white skin privilege and white control, circumstances which were considered normal by white Detroiters, white Americans and indeed white Europeans.  Sadly, this normalcy fundamentally still persists today, 50 years later.

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to the violence that was occurring all over America in her cities shortly before Detroit exploded July 23, 1967.  In a riveting passionate speech against the Vietnam War, delivered at Riverside Church in New York, Dr. King reminded America that violence is the language of the unheard and the poor.  More, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated America urgently needed a revolution in values.  He challenged America to shift from a “thing” oriented society to a “person” oriented society.  Dr. King stated that “machines and profits cannot be more important than the people”.  He warned America that it was headed for spiritual death unless it reversed course from worshiping at the altar of “…racism, extreme materialism and militarism”.

Finally, James and Grace Lee Boggs followed the words and example of Dr. King.  They repeatedly called on us to struggle and fight to save the soul of America, not because we hate America, but because we love her so.


WHAT WE’RE READING

No water for poor people:
the nine Americans who risked jail to seek justice

Drew Phillip

4500 2

(Marian Kramer and Rev Bill Wylie-Kellermann stand beneath Transcending, the monument built to honor Detroit’s Labor Movement. Photograph: Garrett MacLean for the Guardian)

KEEP READING

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

Jimmy and Grace
  

“…essence of dialectical thinking is the ability to be self-critical. Being able to see that an idea you had or an activity you had engaged in which was correct at one stage can turn into its opposite at another stage; that whenever a person or an organization or a country is in crisis, it is necessary that to look at your own concepts and be critical of them because they may have turned into traps.”   Grace Lee Boggs

Living for Change News
July 11th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Court Limits
Shea HowellThere are no easy answers or quick fixes now. Each passing day it is clear that the institutions and shared practices that many of us called upon to make our world a little better are no longer capable of providing solutions. Instead they are supporting the brutality required to protect the property and privilege of the few.

Consider the courts. Over the last few weeks we have seen police officers set free in spite of clear evidence they shot people to death without cause. It took uprisings, organizing, and courageous prosecutors to even bring police officers to trial for killing African Americans in plain sight. In every case there was overwhelming visual evidence that these individuals posed no threat or made any aggressive actions. Yet juries decided cops were justified in shooting people to death out of fear for their own lives.

We are also witnessing the transformation of the Supreme Court. Already dominated by right wing, conservative views, we now have a court backing power and corporate privilege. Its recent decision to uphold the President’s executive order restricting immigration was all the administration needed to move forward with discriminatory, senseless and brutal restrictions, targeting Muslims.

Courts have always been unreliable avenues for justice. The Supreme Court does not recognize the sanctity of human life.  Historically it has placed property over people. In the Dred Scott case it defended slavery by defining human beings as property. Within a few short years it began defining corporations as people.

Over the last decade the Court has extended this doctrine of corporate personhood. While individual protests are limited, corporations are granted free speech to spend unlimited money in support of federal, state or local candidates. While Muslims are targeted, corporations are granted freedom of religion and the right to refuse to comply with federal mandates.

In the early years of the republic, the only right given corporations was the right to have their contracts respected by government. But the Civil War changed all that. As industry advanced and railroads spread, corporations needed ways to raise money and protect themselves from liabilities. As Columbia University professor Eben Moglen explains, the adoption of the 14th Amendment was a corporate boon.

“From the moment the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, lawyers for corporations — particularly railroad companies — wanted to use that 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection to make sure that the states didn’t unequally treat corporations.”

This provided the basis for the expansion of the idea that came to fruition in Citizen’s United where a divided Court decided 5-4 in 2010 to extend full First Amendment rights to corporations. For the first time corporations are able to spend as much money as they wish on candidates for public office.

During the height of the bankruptcy trials in Detroit we learned that courts are no friends of justice. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said he had no power to protect people from irreparable harm from massive water shut-offs in spite of agreeing that many people would suffer. He said financial interests have to be protected. There was no law guaranteeing a right to water.

There was a law guaranteeing the right to a pension. In fact pensions were explicitly protected in the Constitution of the State of Michigan. The judge, however, said that law didn’t matter. Thus 80% of the Detroit Bankruptcy cost was borne by pensioners.

Further we learned that Free speech did not include imaginative public art and courageous acts of civil disobedience. These would be punished as harshly as possible, threatening people with prison and twisting laws to avoid even the possibility of basic justice.

We need to insist on basic human rights in the court system, but we should have no illusions about the real work ahead of us in creating new systems of just relationships that protect people and respect the earth.


Concert of Colors Highlight…

Spoken Word

Aurora Harris is a dynamic Michigan poet, educator and water-rights activist. She is co-founder of We The People and the host for The Broadside Lotus Press Poets Theater.

COC_Aurora-Harris

9 p.m. Friday, July 14, 2017
John R Stage
(On the sidewalk at the entrance to the Science Center on John R.
Rain venue: Detroit Film Theater DIA.)


WHAT WE’RE READING

Who Do We Choose to Be?: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity

Margaret J Wheatley

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This book is born of my desire to summon us to be leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humaneness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil.

I know it is possible for leaders to use their power and influence, their insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who we are as human beings, to create the conditions for our basic human qualities of generosity, contribution, community and love to be evoked no matter what. I know it is possible to experience grace and joy in the midst of tragedy and loss. I know it is possible to create islands of sanity in the midst of wildly disruptive seas. I know it is possible because I have worked with leaders over many years in places that knew chaos and breakdown long before this moment. And I have studied enough history to know that such leaders always arise when they are most needed. Now it’s our turn.

KEEP READING


The Detroiters, a short film will premier at the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre on July 22nd at 6pm

Check out the trailer!

Captura-de-pantalla-2017-03-17-a-las-22.34.35_800

In 2016, Caldodecultivo, a Colombian artist collective, after being invited to Detroit by Ideas City and participating in a residency at Popps Packing, was moved to discover the true narrative of Detroit by documenting the work of spoken-word artists based in the city.

Following the screening, Caldodecultivo and the artists that appear in The Detroiters will discuss their work with the audience.

DETROITERS:
Detroit Poetry Society (Sheezy Bo Beezy, Domino LA3, Rocket(!!!)Man, Intellect, Gabrielle Knox), Deonte Osayande, Halima Cassells, Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty, Bryce Detroit, Sol’le, Billy Mark, Underground Resistance (John Woodward, Cornelius Harris, Mark Flash, BlakTony Horton, De’Sean Jones), Marsha Battle Philpot, MavOne

DIRECTED BY: CALDODECULTIVO
UNAI REGLERO, GABRIELA CÓRDOBA VIVAS y GUILLERMO CAMACHO.

MUSIC: UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE

The Detroiters will also screen at the 5th Annual Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts in August.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

LIVING FOR CHANGE
Independence Day,  2008
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, July 13-19, 2008

“There is nothing like the threat of execution to focus the human
mind.” (G.K. Chesterton, author of the Father Brown mysteries).

In 2008,  our “threat of execution” is taking the form of high gas
prices, floods in Iowa, wildfires in California, the cyclone in Burma
(Myanamur) and earthquake in southwest China, melting icecaps, rising
seas and a sinking economy.

That is why, decades from now, if the human race survives,  this
year’s Fourth of July may be remembered as the one when holiday
celebrations went beyond beer and barbecuing to include stories of the
steps that we and others are taking and can take to change the way we
are living to stop global warming.

This year we realized that we are the masters of our fate and the
captains of our souls.  Instead of viewing ourselves as subjects who
can’t stop driving SUVs, we began viewing ourselves as citizens with
the right and responsibility to care for our planet and our posterity.

Decades from now, as our grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather
in backyards with friends, families and neighbors to celebrate their
Independence Day, I can imagine them toasting each other as Sons and
Daughters of the Second American Revolution. Once upon a time, they’ll
be toasting and boasting, it was our grandparents and
great-grandparents who began biking or taking the bus to work. It was
our grandparents and great-grandparents who urged others to do the same
instead of just griping. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents
who brought  about a historic decline in the number of  floods,
hurricanes, droughts and wildfires by changing their own gas-guzzling
way of life. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents who
organized the  demonstrations which persuaded city governments to
create one or two carfree days every month and provide completely free
public transportation to discourage people from driving cars.

I have little patience with the prophets of Doom and Gloom.  I know as
well as they do that our whole climate is changing, that water
shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather
events, etc. threaten a breakdown in infrastructures and democratic
processes.

But doomsayers breed and deepen despair. They apparently believe that
the only way to avoid total collapse is by changing the whole system
with one stroke –  as if human beings were like a school of fish who
all change direction at the same time or as if changing the whole
system was as simple as rubbing out some misspelled words on a
blackboard.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who, alarmed by rising food
costs, last year’s spinach and this year’s tomato crisis,  are taking
small steps that can become big ones.  They are choosing of their own
free will to eat locally, to become locavores. This year there has been

a giant leap in the number of grow-it-yourselfers. These days  the
urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the
United States.

The huge changes now necessary to avert a planetary catastrophe will
probably come about from an accumulation or culmination of such small
changes,  through a combination of Necessity (being kicked from behind)

)  and Freedom (choosing to do the right thing).

It was not because of abstract idealism that Detroit’s “Gardening
Angels”  sparked the  urban agricultural movement that is pointing a
direction for 21st century cities.  The sight of all these vacant lots
(in the wake of de-industrialization) inspired these elders who had
been raised in the south to plant community gardens.  These gardens,
they thought, would not only grow food.  They would give young people
raised in the city a sense of process.

As columnist Ellen Goodman put it in a recent article, gardening
“doesn’t have the marching sound of John Philip Sousa. It doesn’t have
the patriotic salience of a flag. But in dicey times, the idea of
growing just a bit of your own food carries the real flavor of July
Fourth. It smacks a lot of independence.”

Jimmy and Grace
We are the Children of Martin and Malcolm…

We are the children of Martin and Malcolm,           Black, brown, red and white, Our birthright is to be creators of history, Our Right, Our Duty           To shake the world with           A new dream!

Living for Change News
July 3rd, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Commonplace Cruelty
Shea HowellMuch of the media coverage this week focused on Donald Trump’s feud with journalists. In what can only be characterized as a scathing editorial, the New York Times described Trumps behavior as coarse, vengeful, embarrassing, nasty, creepy, denigrating, awkward, vulgar and repugnant.

These same descriptions apply to his attacks on immigrants. The recent Supreme Court decision to uphold part of the executive travel ban has allowed the administration to aggressively target people for exclusion. Freed from judicial oversight, the White House renewed senseless travel restrictions and its attacks on Muslims and people from Arabic countries.

While the Supreme Court will review the case in the fall, it restored much of the original executive intent to limit immigration. The administration moving quickly with renewed aggressiveness.

“It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, adding that the government’s new ban on entry “does not comport with the Supreme Court’s order, is arbitrary and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose.”

The punitive, vengeful and nasty nature of this effort by the administration was underscored by other actions taken by House Republicans at Trump’s urging. In the midst of the crisis on health care and tweets about journalists, GOP forces found time to crack down on undocumented people and those who support them.

The House introduced two separate bills that, while certain to meet resistance in the Senate and across the country, demonstrate the level of cruelty now commonplace in the GOP. The first bill is an effort to increase prison sentences for people who re-enter the country without proper documentation. The second renews attacks on sanctuary cities and promises to cut federal funds. The Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, made a rare appearance at the Capitol to make a special assault on cities that declare concern for all the people who call them home. In an effort to obscure reality, Kelly said these new anti-sanctuary laws would prevent local officials from prioritizing “criminals over public and law enforcement officer safety.”

Named “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” the bill expands the amount of money a city could lose if it does not cooperate with federal immigration officials and it would also prevent people from filing lawsuits against federal authorities who detain immigrants. Even without these laws, the administration has been targeting people for deportation.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 people in metro-Detroit were rounded up and processed for deportation. Most were Chaldean. Most have lived peacefully and lawfully here for many years, building full lives after escaping persecution in Iraq. As Christians they have long been a targeted minority there. Almost all of them had committed minor violations of the law, and paid for them. Now grandparents, brothers, sons and husbands are being characterized as hardened criminals and given what could well amount to death sentences if they are sent to Iraq.

Immigration officials invaded homes and workplaces arresting people without notice or any sense of due process. People were transported out of state, leaving families with little understanding of what is happening to them.

This ugliness is just beginning. Our mayor needs to do much more to support all of the people in our city. Our faith communities, schools, universities and civic organizations have a responsibility to extend sanctuary to all who seek it.

At a moment when those in authority are clearly coarse, vengeful, embarrassing, nasty, creepy, denigrating, awkward, vulgar and repugnant, we the people have to develop ways to protect, support and care for one another. It was never more obvious that what is legal is not the same thing as what is right.


Bill Wyle-Kellerman’s last sermon

Death Has No Dominion

WATCH IT HERE


writing a poem for kellermann again again: 
you would think we were married

Jim Perkinson 
(written upon Rev. Kellerman’s retirement from St. Peters Church)

there is a man
who is really a tree
sitting at a table
which is really a city
looking into a rectangular-shaped
crystal ball called
william stringfellow
(this is a postmodern legend;
things get weird names
and strange shapes)
the man grins, searches through
the tipped over stack of books
on his floor which is really the
entrance ramp to the belle isle bridge
follows the words from book to book
straight across the strait until he
get interdicted by the last book
which is actually not a book at all, but the
case file folder of his homrich 9 trial
puts his hearing aid in so he can hear
the voices floating up off the pages better
which are really not voices but red admiral
butterflies that seek to perch in the mustache
hairs over his lip which are really tree leaves
dangling over the flowing river (except he
doesn’t know it—he thinks he’s really
a human). the butterflies land and the water
suddenly roils with sturgeon coming to the surface
to check out the red and black kaleidoscope
flickering above the ceiling of their world
which, if you asked the man, he would assure you
is just the reflection of the dark dirt under his nails
from weeding his backyard garden mirrored in the side of his glass of cabernet sauvignon as he tips the
trader joe’s elixir into the little knot-hole that appears under the leaves of one of the branches to water the stiff old roots gnarling their way into the summer-hardened soil which he thinks is a basketball court he will one day once again float over like a quicksilver otter finding openings between the rocks of legs of what he imagines are prosecutors trying to keep him from scoring points with the box of jurors presiding at the half-court line.he is confused.

thinking he has just won a minor skirmish in a global war about faucet flows in poor houses but actually he is a willow tree on an island seducing the river to climb his veins and come out his bark
as shoots to feed the deer and give the cicadas something to keen about and they do, in sharp trilling cadences all over socially mediated screens of lightning flashes that he thinks are just i-phone and android pulses rather than songs to the moon about the prognosis of the sun’s growing fever, and little cricket cheers that at least the possums under the porch and blossoms on the iris don’t yet have to abandon this world of rising floods of education vouchers and shutoff notices and lead leeches and incinerator belches that he, like some don quixote in front of a decrepit windmill, lumps together in a single perception as a foul wind-machine monster called an emergency manager (or otherwise named
“mayor” or “governor”).   

anyway, this strange crystal ball vision of a fellow-ship of stringy possibilities that is really the rest of us causes him to sit back and muse not realizing he is actually slumped forward and snoring into his own bared belly button (it is hot out so he has his t-shirt pulled up) which receives his breath as if it were the brief flight of a swallow seeking shelter in a nest hidden in slender grasses waving on a hill of well-fed dreams and he dreams, drooling a little bit onto his own knees (you ask how i know this
—probably i am projecting)

but he dreams with his naked toes curled around the pages of all of his past writings gathered at his feet

under the table like the growing horde of grandkids who also love to go on treasure hunts there, and the words climb his legs like tendrils of vine circling the trunk he really is, finding purchase for their little bright fruits in all the crevices of the bark which do
not lessen as they ascend and then at a certain altitude those words suddenly conceive themselves birds of multiple kinds, flying off in maelstroms of delight in liberation, careening in virtuoso
inebriation of insight, finches of laughter flitting like snorts from the limb of his nose, prayer cardinals of ritual regally clutching the top edge of his ear, bluejays screeching when an orange-headed
dust-storm of toxins suddenly threatens the national horizon, woodpeckers of conviction trying to wake the head, a tiny hummingbird of harry potter inspiration riding the rhythm of sonority coming from the flap of the mouth, topped off by crows of augury vigiling for apocalypse in the spreading savannah on the crown . . .

—a man, as a tree, dozing
in the sun, bearing fruit, giving truth wings,
and hosting waters of repose for the desperate, rooted at the strait, bending the gale, enduring the leaf-blight and the ice fall and the locust swarm of gentrifying, bleach-featured “saviors,” and
marathon truck grit and quicken loan buzz saws and marauding snipes from the towers of finance
(not to mention jail cells)

—a tree, who thinks he is a man, giving life, like mustard become cedar, to every manner of little one
and creature needing shelter.

may he blaze with color in this new autumnal season as it rises with kisses and augury in its touch.


WHAT WE’RE READING

Ruminations on Rust

Adrienne Marie Brown

art21

IMG_2287
(By Ash Arder)

I am, and have long been, an anticapitalist: for me, the built structures being swallowed up by nature and rust were beautiful promises, indicative that this moment of bottomless consumption was not eternal, that everything humans make, even oppressive structures that deny nature, is temporary.— when I moved to Detroit, I was enthralled by its ruins, even though I now point and laugh at White urban explorers drawn here for the same reasons. I think the finding of a spiritual home by Black folks is different from the privileged spelunking by White folks, and that’s what my first impressions of Detroit held solid beautiful Blackness; obvious survival. I thought, “I can grow here; my Blackness will be held here.”

— I preferred Detroit’s train station, with all the windows blown out, to any other building I’d seen in this country, dressed as it was in the graffiti of brave artists, proof that someone had transgressed the fences and risked the darkness and stood there unseen, leaving traces of themselves in the surface of the city.

KEEP READING

The Worst is Yet To Come

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

July15 2017 flyer

IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE!

An open invite to friends & neighbors of Macomb County

WHAT KIND OF WORLD AND COMMUNITY CAN WE ENVISION TOGETHER?

JULY 15 from 2 – 4PM at Grace Episcopal Church (115 S. Main Street, Mt. Clemens 48043)

~ Sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership ~

“We have a great

opportunity to

create beloved,

caring

communities…But

first, we must break

our silence and

have safe, serious

conversations

about our history

and how we got to

this point.”

CONTACT US AT:

vickymazzola@gmail.com

(586) 531-7576

 

Jimmy and Grace 

Grace Lee Boggs 102th Birthday. Grace our comrade, mentor and friend past away October 5, 2015.  Grace and Jimmys legacy continues.  

“People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.”

Living for Change News
June 26th, 2017
The Revolution Starts With Us

Scott Kurashige’s presentation to the Allied Media Conference Opening Ceremony (Detroit: June 16, 2017)

BILL MOYERS: Let me take you back to that terrible summer of 1967, when Detroit erupted into that awful riot out there.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I ask you to think about your calling it a riot. We in Detroit called it the rebellion because we understood that there was a righteousness about the young people rising up against both the police, which they considered an occupation army, and against what they sensed had become their expendability because of high-tech. That what black people had been valued for, for hundreds of years, only for their labor, was now being taken away from them.

And what we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it’s the protest by a people against injustice, because of unrighteous situation, but it’s not enough. You have to go beyond rebellion. And it was amazing, a turning point in my life, because until that time, I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution. And it forced us to begin thinking, what does a revolution mean? How does it relate to evolution?  

(Edited transcript from Bill Moyers Journal: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06152007/watch3.html)

It is truly a wonderful honor to be with you. I know that half of you are Warriors fans. Having lived in the Midwest for 14 years, I have to admit that I’m part of the other half that’s just happy to see Dan Gilbert lose.

I want us to reflect on why have we all come together, right here in this historic theater, on Woodward Avenue, just steps away from the QLine, the sparkling new electric railway that can whoosh by at up to 35 percent the speed of a municipal bus.

Why are we here today in this city, where the 1 percent class has developed a new formula called “emergency management” to combine political disenfranchisement with racism and economic dispossession?

Here, in this country, where we are sinking deeper into a constitutional crisis with each and every tweet?

And here at this moment in time—50 years after the urban rebellions against rampant police brutality, persistent racial discrimination, entrenched segregation, and structural poverty in Detroit and dozens of other cities; and 50 years after the global rebellions against white supremacist colonialism? That rupture a half-century ago marked the beginning of the end of the capitalist system.

We are here because we have been awakened to the truth about the city, the nation, the world, and the times we live in.  

The truth is that we have a short window of opportunity to respond to mounting catastrophes on an epic scale.

The truth is that there is no such thing as equality under capitalism.

The truth is that this system is not salvageable because it was not built on sustainable principles. It was never intended to integrate all of us who comprise the wretched of the earth—that was the underlying truth of the rebellions.

At first the rebellions raised expectations. In 1973, Detroit elected Coleman A. Young, the city’s first black mayor. His triumph was a symbol of pride, promise and, what’s that word I’m looking for… HOPE. In response, he was called “divisive,” “racist,” and “socialist.” White Democrats flocked to the suburbs and became Republicans. Any of this sound familiar?

2016 proved, once again, the ultimate validity of the great American melting pot theory: those on the bottom get burned and the scum rises to the top.

And so our generations now grasp the crucial political lesson our elders learned. Every revolution must overcome the counter-revolution. There are reactionaries in this country who want to tear down mainstream politics, economics, science, media, and environmentalism. Their ultimate goal is to create a new system worse than capitalism.

So we must vote, but that’s just a start.

We must resist—from Stonewall to Standing Rock, from Ferguson to Flint, from Palestine and Puerto Rico. Everywhere oppression rears its ugly head, we must resist, but we can’t stop there..

The revolution starts with us. Our revolution is a two-sided transformation of our selves and our structures because there’s a direct connection between consumerism and militarism, domestic violence and police brutality, ableism and homelessness, transphobia and access to health care, individualism and opportunism.

We can witness the revolution starting right here because the collapse of the industrial economy and end of liberal reform has challenged Detroiters to build the foundations of a whole new culture and a radically new social order, one exemplified by:

  • Freedom Schools that empower youth (in partnership with their teachers and elders) to think critically, solve problems collectively, and build community.
  • Urban farms that promote food sovereignty, valuing land and harvests as social goods rather than commodities.
  • A model of community safety that works to end police brutality, but recognizes, as Grace taught us, that the only way to survive is by taking care of one another.
  • A new model of work, moving beyond the demand for jobs that serve corporate overlords to creating cooperative forms of ownership and production for self-reliance and ecological sustainability.

And in the D, the crisis of representative democracy is a challenge to build participatory democracy: we the people must understand and reshape the laws, the budgets, the social policies and institutions that will define our destiny. That is our mission. And that’s why I’m so excited to be right here with you—the beloved community of the AMC.


farmers


Thinking for Ourselves

Puerto Rico and Detroit
Shea Howell

This year the Allied Media Conference offered a space for gatherings prior to the opening session. I participated in the Puerto Rico/Detroit Solidarity exchange.  The purpose of the gathering was to give people an opportunity to learn together about our mutual experiences as targets of financial attacks under the guise of bankruptcies. We hoped that by talking together we would be able to “imagine new pathways toward the liberation of our communities and build relationships that we will need to continue working together.”

Peter Hammer of the Damon Keith Center for Social Justice opened the conversation by raising the questions of how to change the narratives about the bankruptcy process and the development of our communities. He asked, “How do we challenge the belief systems underlying the entire conversation?” He especially identified the morality play embedded in concepts of debt. Debtors, he explained, are “cast as blameworthy and somehow deserving of punishment.”  Thus the creation of debt is a mechanism of social control.

Whether in Detroit or Puerto Rico, the debt intentionally created by refusals of elites to invest in social goods forces governments to borrow to meet basic responsibilities. This created debt burden justifies the demands to cut services, privatize public assets, limit democratic decisions, and attack pensions. Historic structures of racism and decisions to shrink governments, lower taxes and protect power for a wealthy few form a logic of fiscal austerity that has been evolving since the 1980’s under leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  Built over decades, Hammer said, “There is no easy way out,” but,  “We must think in the long term and talk about public good, public action and radical transformation.” We are not alone in this effort, as globally people have been developing forms of resistance and push back. In the discussion of this presentation people identified solutions beyond colonialism and capitalism.

Activists from Puerto Rico and their diaspora shared efforts at resistance that are rarely reported. Yasim Hernandez invoked images of water, migration, and connectivity. She explained that as an island nation the people of Puerto Rico have an understanding of themselves as a migrant/divided people “embodying fluidity and culture as resistance and a survival weapon.”  She shared the work of “decolonial love” that begins with “self-work first” so that “we will become ungovernable, like water.”

Tara Rodriguez Besosa shared her experiences in the food sovereignty and agricultural movement explaining that decentralizing agriculture and emphasizing local food production are “at the root of a political reframing” and new social reconfiguration of the island. Resisting efforts by the Department of Agriculture and seed producers like Monsanto to centralize and control food production; agricultural activists are making land for food and natural diversity priorities.

Melanie Perez shared the role of students and professors at the university who were engaging in public demonstrations and strikes to resist cuts to education. She talked about the increased efforts by authorities to crackdown on dissent and the bravery of students to stand up against this.

As people shared these experiences it was clear to all of us that we have much to learn as we create new stories of liberation. Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People summed up the Detroit experience saying, “They created the bankruptcy to give a death blow to organized labor and then to take control of the largest water system in the whole world. It is a psychological warfare.” She concluded, “This transformational moment is yours. Every generation has to confront the tyranny of their day. This is yours.”  

It is a moment for all of us who care about justice. If we put our faith in one another, in our capacities to care and create, we can create a better future.


PATHOLOGY OF DISPLACEMENT: THE INTERSECTION OF FOOD JUSTICE AND CULTURE

Shane Bernardo

In new Food Justice Voices issue Pathology of Displacement: The Intersection of Food Justice and Culture, storyteller, healing practitioner and food justice organizer Shane Bernardo tells his story about how displacement has affected his ancestors and family within the Philippine diaspora, and how he is working to reclaim ancestral subsistence practices that connect him to land, food and his roots. In this piece Shane breaks down what was lost due to colonialism and how we can fight to get it back to truly achieve a real “food justice” movement.


pedal


WHAT WE’RE READING

Wage Love to End Debt’s Stranglehood

Sarah Van Gelder

YES! 

Debt is an age-old means of shaming and controlling poor people. The practice is so commonplace, we hardly notice it.

For many, going into debt is the only way to get an education, buy a home, or survive a medical emergency. Shaking off that debt can be impossible for those living on low-wage and insecure jobs, and those targeted by predatory lending. Still, many accept the story that debt is their fault.

image_14At this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan, residents of the city and those of Puerto Rico gathered to compare notes on how debt and default have affected their regions. (Photo: Ara Howrani via Allied Media Projects / Flickr)
Citizens of cities and even countries are shamed for their debt, and blame is used by those instituting emergency management to justify loss of self-rule, privatization of public services, and extraction of community wealth.At this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan, residents of the city and those of Puerto Rico gathered to compare notes on how debt and default have affected their regions. Both have experienced economic hardship, both are predominantly made up of people of color, and both are seeing debt used as an excuse for the selling off their common assets and to undermine their rights to self-governance.In Detroit, the loss of industrial jobs to low-wage regions, coupled with federally subsidized white flight has left the city with the costs of operating urban services that benefit the entire region without the tax base needed to pay for them.The 2008 financial crisis hit the city—and its African American families in particular—especially hard. Residents had been targeted for subprime mortgages, which accounted for 68 percent of all the city’s mortgages in 2005, compared to 24 percent nationwide, reported the the Detroit News. Today, more than three quarters of foreclosed homes financed through subprime lenders are in poor condition or tax foreclosed.

KEEP READING

FREEDOM SCHOOL 3

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
June 19th, 2017
Victory for Homrich 9 Spurs Group to Continue Fight Against Water Shutoffs
Nearly three years of legal chaos results in dismissal of all charges

DETROIT- After almost three years of chaotic, rambling and ultimately failed prosecutorial legal proceedings, all charges against the Homrich 9 have been dismissed by the court because of the government’s dismal failure to comply with the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial. Members of the Homrich 9 and their counsel will declare victory at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Who:
Members of Homrich 9, Supporters and Legal Team
Marian Kramer
Bill Wylie-Kellermann
Julie Hurwitz, attorney

What: Press Conference – Victory Water Warriors, Fight for Affordable Water Continues
When: Tuesday June 20, 3:00 p.m.
Where: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1950 Trumbull, corner of Michigan, Detroit

It was July of 2014 that the group blocked trucks of the Homrich Corporation for several hours, preventing the private company hired by the City of Detroit from depriving Detroit families of water during that time. After being charged with disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor, members of the Homrich 9 declared in court that their act of civil disobedience was not a crime, that they did not commit disorderly conduct and that they stopped a greater harm which was people being denied access to clean and affordable water.

Despite the defendants’ persistent efforts to be heard by a jury and/or a trial judge, their cases languished for months at a time while the City of Detroit Law Department appealed every ruling, repeatedly sought stays of proceedings and met privately with the appellate judge; all while the appellate court sat on the appeals for nearly a year before issuing its decisions (all in favor of the City). On June 14, 2017 — three judges, two court venues and one interrupted jury trial later — 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles dismissed all charges, finding that the defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial were violated by the “…numerous unexplained and unjustified delays.”

Victory for the water warriors in this case is an inspiration to continue to seek victory for the tens of thousands of Detroiters who continue to struggle without water and who desperately need a viable Water Affordability Plan. Economists have shown such a plan would bring in far more revenue especially compared to the $6 million the city has spent contracting with Homrich to cut off Detroiters’ water access.


Thinking for Ourselves

Collective Ferocity
Shea Howell

Shortly after the national elections, the organizers of the Allied Media Conference
(AMC) in Detroit issued a statement “Get Ready Stay Ready.”  They said, “We offer the AMC as a space for our movements to converge and explore how we can use media-based organizing to dig up the roots of systemic hatred and violence. We offer the AMC as a space to create art that detoxifies the soil of this culture, so we can grow without its centuries of poison.” After nearly two decades of patient building, the organizers recognized that they had created a unique and important space to help all of us think together about how we can most intentionally respond to this political crisis.

In the Welcome to the AMC the organizers said, “We are gathering with an urgency to share the skills and strategies of visionary resistance.” Acknowledging the uncertainty of this moment, they went on to say, “We do know that an incredibly powerful community will be assembled in Detroit…We know that in the space of four days at the AMC we will share the energy, the love, and the vision we need to b ready for whatever is happening and whatever comes next.”

Sprawling across the campus of Wayne State University north to the Jam Handy and New Center Park down to the MOCAD, thousands of media activists came together last weekend to forge a new future. For those of us at the AMC, we could see the future emerging around us in workshops, plenary sessions, hands on activities and the joyful, intentionally caring ways people moved and worked with one another. Community dinners, raucous parties, quiet reflections and provocative plenaries pushed all of us to think in new ways about the possibilities of birthing a world based on justice and love.

One of the early plenary sessions was about the relationship between stories and movement making called “Stories Become Movements, Become Stories.” In many ways this session went to the heart of much of what motivated the conference this year. Stories shape and change our world. Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice reminded us that “disorganized truth can be overcome by an organized lie.” We need to organize our truths with the understanding that stories have the power to “move people past fear to action” as people strive for “meaning.”

Panelists explored the question of what stories do we need now?  Paige Watkins co-founder of the Black Bottom Archives and the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project 100 talked about the power of community driven, collaborative story telling and highlighted Riverwise as an example of the kind of storytelling that gives us a vision of the possibilities of local actions that enable us to not only survive, but thrive.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder of the media training organization Third World Majority, reminded us that stories are the way we are able to imagine a future for all of us us, saying that “darkness can be a tomb, or a womb” and that this moment requires a “collective ferocity” grounded in the belief that we as a species have the capacity to create an interdependent, liberated future. The first step, speakers said, was to listen to one another with our hearts.


The Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Institute for Human Rights
invites you to its 2nd Annual Black Family Festival happening in Detroit on July 15-16th, 2017!


This and every year, we are celebrating black family life and vision because we love our children, period! The Hush House chooses to continue our mission of inspiring leaders from the “roots” up. We love our collective black family, as tore down to the floor down as we may be, but we are all we have.  And now it’s time to find ways to save ourselves, and our children.  We want you to know that we understand that it is the community of black experience, all of us, who have the vision and the answers to help inspire our youth, our brothers, and our sisters. No matter how we make up our “tore up” family structures, we love our children and no matter what our lively hoods, no matter how we put food on the table, or how we dress, or how we walk, or talk or how much or how little education we have: we love our children, period. Still, we have hope, even these, especially these, can and will lead us.

The 2nd Annual Black Family Festival will center on celebrating US and our youth. We will have family centered arts and crafts, fun games and dancing, open mic, tours of our community museum, black films and real talk discussions on community affairs. We hope you can join us!

We are asking for your assistance as we bring this much needed celebration to our community. We are searching for black business vendors to sell their unique products as well as to teach and show their entrepreneurship capabilities to the community. We are also in need of volunteers; a dedicated staff of leader-servants who are willing to help make this celebration a success! Please see the attached forms for both vendors and volunteers. Feel free to pass along to those who will be interested!

As always, we want to thank our neighbors, our family, for your enduring support and we want to honor your loyalty to us and to our community. We are grateful for all of the support the community has provided us throughout our years. Without you, our programs and community efforts would not be possible!
We are excited to see you in July!

Please contact Lea, our Hush House Leadership Fellow, with any additional questions: Lea.HushHouse@gmail.com

The Hush House Museum & Leadership Institute
(313) 896-2521
TheHushHouseDetroit.org
TheHushHouse@gmail.com

 

United-States-of-Detroit-photo01-786x521

THE UNITED STATES OF DETROIT PREMIERE

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017

Doors @ 5:30pm
Screening @ 6:00pm

Panel Discussion moderated by Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien 7:30pm


FREEDOM SCHOOL 3

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
June 12th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Dream Questions
Shea Howell

 
I saw my first young person in the neighborhood walking with her graduation cap on the way to church this week. It is a common sight in Detroit at this time of year. All over the city young people mark their graduation from high school or college by wearing caps and gowns as they go to community gatherings or just walking down the street with friends.

I don’t know if this happens in other cities, but here, graduation is a public affair, celebrated on street corners. As in other places there are family parties and balloons, church acknowledgments and lawn signs, but here graduations are about more than individual achievement. Although often they signify remarkable accomplishments by our young people in a city where nearly half of them have dropped out and many never complete what is needed to get a diploma. Still, there is a sense that wearing caps and gowns as you go about normal life is a way of acknowledging the long, hard struggle for education by people who risked their lives to learn to read. It is a tribute to ancestors and a hope toward the future.

This image of my neighbor proudly wearing her cap was very much on my mind as I gathered with a small group of students in a nearby high school. All of the students were one or two years away from the possibility of having a cap. We had come together to talk about what they thought about their school. It was a dismal picture. Students shared concerns for the physical space and talked about mice, falling tiles from the ceiling and lack of heat in winter. Of the eight students we talked to, only one said she had learned anything in the past year. She had only one teacher who cared about her and really taught the class. She had come to love literature. All students said math and science were never taught. Instead, day after day worksheets were handed out, many never returned. They didn’t feel safe in the building, and the security guards were as much of a problem as the other students.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing was the young woman who had learned something over the year. She clearly loved the thrill of new ideas and insights and felt she had grown and developed in her understanding of the world. Yet she had also decided that she had to give up her dream to be an engineer. Given the poor instruction in math and science, she had concluded that she would now be too far behind to really learn what she needed. She had yet to come up with a new dream for herself.

There is something terribly wrong when children’s dreams are smashed. The message that many of our schools send them is quite simply, “you don’t matter.” In thousands of ways large and small our institutions tell young people they are incapable, useless, and not worth caring about. Our children get the message “you are disposable.”

As we left the school and walked out into the warm street, Langston Hughes would not leave me. He was with us, offering his questions:

What happens to a dream deferred?


      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?


Photo 2 by Ara Howrani

19th Annual Allied Media Conference Convenes Media Makers and Activists in Detroit June 15-18

DETROIT, June 8 2017 – The 19th annual Allied Media Conference will take place June 15-18 in Detroit at Wayne State University. As the conference approaches its third decade, the AMC has become the most important national convening for exploring how grassroots communities can harness the power of media and communications to affect change.

AMC2017 offers over 250 sessions including hands-on workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, performances, tours and more. New for 2017, the conference will convene participants for a series of daily plenaries on topics including storytelling, digital security, pop culture, and the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s 1967 Rebellion. The conference’s Opening Ceremony event will feature a keynote presentation from Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.

The theme for this year’s conference is Get Ready Stay Ready, a call to to develop and innovate strategies of preparation, sustainability, and survival within the current political climate.

“This year we are gathering with an urgency to share the skills and strategies of visionary resistance,” says Morgan Willis, director of the AMC. “Get Ready Stay Ready is inspired by a Detroit-based disaster preparedness workshop. Through this theme we embrace our community’s skills, resources, ideas, platforms, and visions of media-based organizing.”

The full schedule of 250+ sessions is now available online at amc2017.sched.com and covers an incredibly diverse range of topics such as:

  • Reimagining food & media
  • Healing through Black radical jazz
  • “Emergent strategy” & movement-building
  • Designing community-based exhibitions
  • Building technology to hold police accountable
  • Starting an artist-run publishing press
  • Fact checking fake vs. real news

AMC programming goes beyond daytime workshops and presentations with “AMC @ Night,” a four day music showcase featuring performing artists working at the intersection of art and social change. Events include live music performances, karaoke and bowling, dance parties, a kids party, and more. Featured performers include Tunde Olaniran, Mic Write, Danni Cassette, DJ Rimarkable, and more.

Registration for the conference is offered on a sliding scale rate, from $75 – $500. Individuals can register in advance online: http://bit.ly/2j1urqY

The Allied Media Conference is a project of Allied Media Projects, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. Allied Media Projects’ mission is to cultivate media strategies for a more just, creative, and collaborative world.

Photo by Ara Howrani

Notes from Freedom School
Here is a sample of what is happening at Detroit Independent Freedom Schools. Piper Carter offered this summary of the discussion there last week.

• What is Justice?
• What is Freedom?
• What is a Safe Space?
• What is Freedom School?
• What is our Purpose for meeting?
• What do we need for this to be a valuable experience?
• What are some attainable Goals we would like to achieve as a group?

We learned that everyone in the group identifies as an Artist and that making Art should be a part of how we Organize.

Some ideas they came up with:

1. Transportation is PARAMOUNT to participation, especially high school age and younger.

2. Food is necessary at every gathering.

We’ve identified they want to:

Do things in community 
• Create our businesses 
• Support Black owned businesses 
• Make Our own garden 
• Do things for the environment 
• Make people more aware of environment 
• Take care of our planet 
• Make Justice Music videos 
• Make a Justice Mixtape
• Record in a studio
• Learn Photography 
• Go on trips
• Build Leadership skills 
• Gain Knowledge of issues (Food Justice, Water Struggle, Education Struggle, Restorative Justice Practices, Gender Justice, Identity Training)
• Practice Meditation 
• Do some Fitness 
• Learn about Wholistic herbs and eating as medicine
• College Prep
• Songwriting
• Connect with other youth groups 

Regarding what a Safe Space looks like and what they identify as necessary to have a Safe Space and a Valuable Experience:

•Trust
•Respect
•Value
•Understanding
•More Girls
•Food
•Consistency
•Activities especially trips
•Excitement 
•Culture 
•Relevance 
•Attack the idea not the person
• Continue Building a safe space (Physically and Emotionally)
• As different come and go from the group establish a Safe Space at the get go
•Be responsible for the energy that you bring
•Leave negativity at the door
• Be comfortable with everyone being leaders
• Be open to helping each one become the greater version of themselves
•Bring resources together 
•How do we adjust one another 
uphold our own values
•Make the space comfortable enough for people to let someone know that their boundaries have been crossed 
•Respect boundaries 

We ended the meeting with them starting to create a song they’ve come up with temporarily titled Where is the Freedom?”

It’s a work in progress that they were inspired to create. We gathered around the piano while Kingg (from Southeastern High School) played various pop tunes they recognized until they all felt comfortable enough to freestyle rap & sing. So far there’s a possible chorus but mostly they just had fun playing around for about 20 minutes after the meeting. They decided that needs to be how we end every meeting.


United-States-of-Detroit-photo01-786x521

THE UNITED STATES OF DETROIT PREMIERE

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017

Doors @ 5:30pm
Screening @ 6:00pm

Panel Discussion moderated by Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien 7:30pm


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

The Reverend William Barber Talks to David Remnick About Morality and Politics

LISTEN


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Ron Scott and Sandra Hines recounting the summer of 1967. 

WATCH


FREEDOM SCHOOL 3

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
June 5th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Questions in Education
Shea Howell

 

As the Michigan Elite gathering on Mackinac Island for their annual celebration of one another came to a close, another gathering took shape in Detroit. Actors, musicians, writers, poets, and cultural workers of all kinds gathered in the heart of the Cass Corridor for the 22nd annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference (PTO). Its theme was “Breaking the Silence.” Sessions explored storytelling and transformation, inclusion and collaboration. Conversations on language, power, choreography, and laugher flowed through the gathering.

The Saturday morning session focused on “The struggle for education in Detroit.”Simona Simkins and Rebecca Struch, of the conference leadership team were joined by Nate Mullen, Kim Sherobbi, Tawana Petty and me for a conversation about what people are learning in Detroit about the kind of education we need to shape a more human future. We were joined by two Detroit Independent Freedom School students who had participated in an earlier workshop and had much to offer the larger gathering. Chevon read her poem WHY (see below) and pressed us to think about the relationships between teachers and students. T. Jones, talked about young people becoming change makers.

I began the conversation with an overview of the role of the state in privatizing education and undercutting democratic decision-making. Since 1999 a combination of greed and hubris have taken a solid school system and twisted it beyond recognition into a form of child abuse that lines the pockets of folks like Betsy Devos and her friends. Kim Sherobbi emphasized the difference between education and schooling, and invited us to think about the many places we have for learning and growing in all aspects of our lives.

image1

She also asked us to think more deeply about the question of what is education for? What is the purpose of education? Nate talked about the unique clarity we get in Detroit, where contradictions are so stark. Detroit makes it is clear that the old way of approaching schooling is dying. As a result, we have the opportunity to reimagine what we mean by education, by school, and by the development of children. Seeing children as capable of creating solutions to our common problems, rather than as empty beings that need to be controlled, he said, takes us in very different directions as we think about schools. Tawana Petty stressed that we need a new paradigm for education. We are not talking about personal problems or individual failings, but a system that is in collapse.

The dialogue with the audience began with a request by Rebecca for us to prioritize the voices of young people and Detroiters. The first person to come to the mic was a young woman from Detroit who recently graduated from the University of Michigan. She began by saying she wanted to acknowledge that this was the first time in her life that her status as a Detroiter and as a young person were honored.

In the course of the conversation people shared imaginative and creative possibilities for how we can learn and grow together.

The PTO supports “a world based on radical love and social justice instead of oppression and violence.” Inspired by the theories and practices of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, the gathering fosters “collaborative connections to share, develop, promote, and document liberatory theatre, popular education and other revolutionary actions.”

In his provocative essay on education and liberation, Friere offers us a perspective that is important for us to consider. He observes,“The power which creates an educational system in its image will never allow education to be used against it and therefore a radical transformation of the education system can never take place unless society itself is transformed.

And he challenges us to love the questions we face in this transformation, saying: Our hope lies in questions, whether in the school system or outside it. What must we do to promote liberation? How? When? With whom? For What? Against what? And in whose favor?

——————————————————

WHY?
By Shavon Hopkins

WHY are the schools closing?
WHY are they taking away our learning?
WHY aren’t our educations valued like others?
WHY do we have to be managed?
WHY can’t we all be our own bosses?
WHY can’t we be welcomed instead of wanted?
WHY can’t we be trusted?
WHY can’t we have our phones?
WHY can’t we have freedom in the right way?
WHY can’t we make our decisions instead of the school board?
WHY can’t we get a say in our education?
WHY didn’t Hillary Clinton win?
WHY are teacher’s checks decreased?
WHY aren’t our teachers appreciated for their knowledge?
WHY do teachers say they know kids learn differently, but they still teach us the same way?
WHY do they let kids fail?
WHY don’t teachers think the failures might be theirs?
WHY do teachers make kids take tests that aren’t right for them?
WHY do teachers settle for mediocrity and structure?
WHY don’t teachers teach with their hearts instead of their fears?
WHY do you have to have a teacher’s certificate in order for us to learn from you?
WHY do we have to pay to be educated?
WHY does intelligence have to have a number assigned to it?
WHY can’t our youth step up and take a stand?
WHY can’t we all come together and defeat these situations?
WHY so many unanswered questions?
WHY OH WHY

Boggs Center at AMC_Facebook


Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL)

INFO DEMOCRACY TRAINING 2: PUBLIC RECORDS

TUESDAY, JUNE 6 FROM 6:00 PMTO 9:15 PM
Wayne State Law School (Keith Center for Civil Rights)RSVP


WHAT WE’RE READINGTurning Capital against Capitalism
Experiments in funding an equitable economy.In These Times

KEEP READING


 

From ‘Turtle Island to Palestine’: Black4Palestine Congratulates Palestinian Prisoners on Win

Telesurtv

Shortly after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails ended their hunger strike with nearly 80 percent of their demands agreed to by the apartheid state, organizers from the U.S.-based solidarity group, Black4Palestine, sent a message of congratulations.

KEEP READING


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Baba Don’t Take No Mess


FREEDOM SCHOOL 3

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
 
.
Living for Change News
May 30th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Budget Values
Shea Howell

No one thinks the budget proposed by the White House will get much support. The details will change. Various interests will do their best to protect vital programs and services.But there is an element of casual cruelty behind these projections that we need to address. Our elders, our children, and the people who care for them are especially targeted as excess expenditures. These projections are a clear articulation of values and polices from an administration that delights in chaos, manipulation, and lies.

Called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the budget would completely eliminate 66 federal programs, with the biggest cuts aimed at Health and Human Services. Over the next decade the budget projects cuts of more than $3.6 trillion, mostly from Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security Disability and insurance for children. Military spending of all sorts escalates.

No where is the relationship between budgets, priorities and values clearer than in the projections for education. Betsy Devos proposed $10.6 billion in cuts to educational programs. She wants to cut funding for Special Olympics, parent support programs, teacher training, and academic and psychological support for students. While cutting public education, Devos proposes increasing funding for charter schools by 50% and she intends to encourage corporate incentives to support her “school choice” schemes.

These schemes are not some effort to “transform education.” They are a deliberate effort to shift public money to private, primarily religious schools. In the process, they would further enrich the Devos family and friends. As Michael Sainato wrote recently,  “Devos’ approach to the United States Education System is to benefit the private corporations that have leeched off it for personal profit at the expense of the public. From the student debt collecting agency she was personally invested in, to the for-profit schools that benefit from tax credits, vouchers, and other financial incentives, Devos is further increasing the polarizing class divide in the education system to benefit those already wealthy and powerful.”

Nor are these schemes motivated by religion. Rather, they cynically use religion to protect and promote white supremacy. The drive to private, Christian Academies supported by Devos has its roots in the backlash against desegregation of public schools. Between 1964 and 1972 hundreds of white Christian academies were set up, “in response to anticipated or actual desegregation orders.”

In an editorial opposing the Devos appointment, Felicia Wong of the Roosevelt Institute, said:

“An estimated half-million white students left public schools between 1964 and 1975 to enroll in schools that were known as ‘segregation academies.’ This move to private schools was part of a larger ‘white flight’ movement.  White flight was one of the greatest demographic shifts in American history. Millions of whites nationwide moved out of cities and into racially isolated suburbs. Scholar Kevin Kruse has called white flight ‘the most successful segregationist response to the moral demands of the civil rights movement and the legal authority of the courts.’ The character and quality of most American schools today, like the neighborhoods in which they are found and which they shape, have a racial past.”

Across the country people are organizing to resist this assault on our children. The #WeChoose campaign is now in 35 cities. #WeChoose demands:

“A robust, rigorous and relevant curriculum, support for high quality teaching (smaller classes, teacher aides, effective professional development), wrap-around supports for every child (nurses, counselors, clubs, after-school programs), a student-centered school climate, transformative parent and community engagement and inclusive school leadership. The result: sustainable, community schools.”

The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools (DIFS) are part of this effort. Join us as we begin a summer of growing and learning together.

PTOConferenceFlyer


A quick note from El Kilombo
the EZ communiques announcing “the Candidate” or, that is, the announcement of a proposed indigenous governing council for Mexico with an indigenous woman as its spokesperson.

WHAT WE’RE READING

 es-cvr_0 


Dudley Street is Re-imagining its future
Rich FeldmanAfter returning from North Carolina where I had the privilege to spend time with comrades and friends like El Kilombo and Nelson and Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community of Greensboro, I was lucky to visit my daughter, Emma, where she is a second grade teacher at Dudley Elementary-Community School. This school is located in a neighborhood where folks have been “putting the neighbor back in the hood.”

My wife Janice and I spent two days with the class as they engaged in writing, math, recess and shared stories on the carpet. The patience, love and challenges I saw were truly a learning experience.  As I read the letters that each parent wrote to his/her child about their hopes, dreams and high expectations, I was again reminded me how deep our responsibility is to keep those dreams & expectations alive.

During the short visit, we had a chance to see the Dudley Community Center and visit the area urban gardens and mural, that demonstrated both history and a daily commitment to turn vacant lots into community safe spaces. Some of the current organizers from the Dudley Street Community Initiative were raised in the neighborhood, as are some of the students from the school.

I learned more about the Community Land Trust initiative, which has proved to be an antidote to  the foreclosures which have been rampant across the city for the past decade. Dudley hasn’t been as hard hit because of a commitment of interdependence that states, “The community cares about each other and protects each other.” Almost all the stores in the neighborhood had written signs stating, “No One is Illegal.”  These signs were from the children who marched last week in a demonstration welcoming all immigrants and opposing Trump’s Bans and Walls.

As I walked with the second graders in the rain around the Dudley area, it reminded me of Detroit and the community gardens, urban farms, murals, and placed-based schools. It reminded me of the Boggs tour:  From Growing Our Economy to Growing Our Souls.

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s vision was crystallized in a “Declaration of Community Rights.” The declaration, produced by the Human Development Committee, highlights fundamental DSNI objectives in all areas of community development.”

We – the youth, adults, seniors of African, Latin American, Caribbean, Native American, Asian and European ancestry – are the Dudley community. Nine years ago (1993), we were Boston’s dumping ground and forgotten neighborhood. Today, we are on the rise! We are reclaiming our dignity, rebuilding housing and reknitting the fabric of our communities. Tomorrow, we realize our vision of a vibrant, culturally diverse neighborhood, where everyone is valued for their talents and contribution to the larger community. We, the residents of the Dudley area, dedicate and declare ourselves to the following:

We have the right to shape the development of all plans, programs and policies likely to affect the quality of our lives as neighborhood residents.

We have the right to quality, affordable health care that is both accessible to all neighborhood residents and culturally sensitive.

We have the right to control the development of neighborhood land in ways which insure adequate open space for parks, gardens, tot lots and a range of recreational uses.

We have the right to live in a hazard-free environment that promotes the health and safety of our families.

We have the right to celebrate the vibrant cultural diversity of the neighborhood through all artistic forms of expression.

We have the right to education and training that will encourage our children, youth, adults and elders to meet their maximum potentials.

We have the right to share in the jobs and prosperity created by economic development initiatives in metro-Boston generally, and in the neighborhood specifically.

We have the right to quality and affordable housing in the neighborhood as both tenants and homeowners.

We have the right to quality and affordable child care responsive to the distinct needs of the child and family as well as available in a home or center-based setting.

We have the right to safe and accessible public transportation serving the neighborhood.

We have the right to enjoy quality goods and services, made available through an active, neighborhood-based commercial district.

We have the right to enjoy full spiritual and religious life in appropriate places of worship.

We have the right to safety and security in our homes and in our neighborhoods.


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross— The Spiritual Work of Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter co-founder and artist Patrisse Cullors presents a luminous vision of the spiritual core of Black Lives Matter and a resilient world in the making. She joins Dr. Robert Ross, a physician and philanthropist on the cutting edge of learning how trauma can be healed in bodies and communities. A cross-generational reflection on evolving social change.

LISTEN HERE


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FREEDOM SCHOOL 3


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace
  

Revolution and Evolution

by James and Grace lee Boggs

“Technological man/woman developed because human beings had to discover how to keep warm, how to make fire, how to grow food, how to build dams, how to dig wells. Therefore human beings were compelled to manifest their humanity in their technological capacity, to discover the power within them to invent tools and techniques which would extend their material powers. We have concentrated our powers on making things to the point that we have intensified our greed for more things, and lost the understanding of why this productivity was originally pursued. The result is that the mind of man/woman is now totally out of balance, totally out of proportion.  That is what production for the sake of production has done to modern man/woman. That is the basic contradiction confronting everyone who has lived and developed inside the United States. That is the contradiction which neither the U.S. government nor any social force in the United States up to now has been willing to face, because the underlying philosophy of this country, from top to bottom, remains the philosophy that economic development can and will resolve all political and social problems.”

Living for Change News
May 22nd, 2017
Last month, The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights honored Dr. Gloria “Aneb” House with a lifetime achievement award in recognition of her contributions to justice. She offered this poem in response.
for you this circle

Thinking for Ourselves
Poor People’s Campaign
Shea Howell

A few days after the national reflections on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to break the silence and engage in a radical revolution of values against racism, materialism and militarism, Rev. Dr. William Barber II announced a renewed Poor People’s Campaign.

I was part of the first campaign. Announced by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in December of 1967, Dr. King had called for a nationwide march on Washington on April 22, 1968. Massive civil disobedience was envisioned, combined with a Resurrection City, a permanent encampment on the Mall until demands for full employment, better housing, health care and educational opportunities were met.  

The Campaign was thrown into chaos with the murder of Dr. King. What began as a plan to reinvigorate direct action and non-violent confrontation to humanize the country ended in despair and confusion. The broad coalition of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and whites never materialized. After a few weeks of mud, conflict and lack of leadership, the murder of Robert Kennedy on June 5th removed the last vestiges of hope.

I welcome this renewed effort. Almost everyone knows the conditions that propelled this movement a half century ago are with us today. A study by Pew Research concluded: “The economic gulf between blacks and whites that was present half a century ago largely remains. When it comes to household income and household wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On measures such as high school completion and life expectancy, they have narrowed. On other measures, including poverty and homeownership rates, the gaps are roughly the same as they were 40 years ago.”

The study also found, “Black men were more than six times as likely as white men in 2010 to be incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and local jails, the last year complete data are available. That is an increase from 1960, when black men were five times as likely as whites to be incarcerated.”

This new campaign has the potential to help us confront our past and to ask what kind of future we want to create together. What values should define our relationships to one another, to other peoples and to the planet?

Reverend Barber talked about his spiritual calling saying, “The future of our democracy depends on us completing the work of a Third Reconstruction today.”

He continued, “Americans across the country are crying out in defiance?—?and for change. Bringing this cry into the public square, a Resistance has emerged: The Fight for $15, the Movement for Black Lives, Moral Mondays, the Women’s March, The People’s Climate March and No Ban/No Wall protesters have taken to the streets.”

He said, “At such a time as this, we need a new Poor People’s Campaign for Moral Revival to help us become the nation we’ve not yet been.”

Barber’s faith in our future comes from an understanding of our past. He explained, “Throughout America’s history?—?from abolition, to women’s suffrage, to labor and civil rights?—?real social change has come when impacted people have joined hands with allies of good will to stand together against injustice. These movements did not simply stand against partisan foes. They stood for the deep moral center of our Constitutional and faith traditions. Those deep wells sustained poor and impacted people who knew in their bones both that power concedes nothing without a fight and that, in the end, love is the greatest power to sustain a fight for what is right.”

“This moment requires us to push into the national consciousness a deep moral analysis that is rooted in an agenda to combat systemic poverty and racism, war mongering, economic injustice, voter suppression, and other attacks on the most vulnerable.”

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WHAT WE’RE READING

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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  
 
Living for Change News
May 16th, 2017

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Thinking for Ourselves
Real People, Real Questions
Shea Howell

I have always loved streetcars. As a child, my bedroom window overlooked the last stop of the line that brought miners and mill workers to the top of the hill every morning. I was fascinated by the turn around of the car, achieved by men and muscle in those days. I imaged growing up to be a streetcar driver. So I wish I could find more joy in the new M-1 rail line that opened last Friday to incredible fanfare. Even the automobiles on the tracks, broken signals, delays and malfunctions of the first day could not diminish the enthusiasm of its backers.

Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, who sank money and energy into the project and bought the naming rights, dubbing it the Q Line, said to the Detroit News, “QLine has already spurred billions of dollars of investment with billions more to come. “It is more than a transportation machine, it is a jobs-creating machine.”

Columnist Daniel Howes surpassed Gilbert’s enthusiasm, calling the line a “symbol of Detroit’s reinvention.” Howes argues that the 3.3 mile track reflects the “long game” of “powerful business and philanthropic interests” dedicated to the “revitalization of a downtown that a lot of Detroiters—in the city and in the suburbs—long ago gave up for dead.”

It is precisely this kind of enthusiasm that makes it difficult to celebrate the new streetcar. Howes, Gilbert, Penske, Rapson, Duggan, and Snyder cannot put their actions in perspective. Instead they use every opportunity to repeat the worn out narrative that some new downtown project will benefit the majority of the people of the city. They do this despite the fact that the majority of the people of the city know full well we are increasingly unwanted in their whiter, wealthier downtown serviced by these new cars.

The constant casting of criticism as “righteous cynicism” by people like Howes is especially reflective of the lack of vision of the power elites in their drive for self congratulations. Howes says of those who raise concerns, “How ’bout giving the venture a chance, and letting the real people living and working along downtown’s central spine have their say. It’s them, not the voices lobbing cheap shots from the comfort of their keyboards, who will decide whether the big bet will pay off.”

Real people, beyond Gilbert and his cronies, know this tiny line does nothing to touch the real challenges facing our city. Mason Herson-Hord, who was on hand at the opening festivities with the Motor City Freedom Riders to call attention to the limits of the Q as a transportation vehicle pointed out, “Most employed Detroiters have a job north of 8 Mile and for the thousands of Detroiters who need to use the bus system to get to work, that can be a pretty serious hardship because there aren’t many consistent lines that are moving across 8 Mile.”

The need for a real regional transport system is obvious. Q backers claim it is the first step. But this rings hollow as they were missing in action last fall when yet another ballot initiative to achieve this failed. One commentator argued, “The failure to wage an overwhelming campaign in support of the ballot proposal should be regarded as one of the biggest political misfires in Detroit history.” Much of the defeat rested with those who welcome Howes’s racist narratives and who will do anything to keep Detroiters from moving freely around suburban areas.

The QLine does symbolize the “long game” of the corporate elite. That “game” is nothing less than the remaking of the city as a playground for the white and wealthy. It is another effort to substitute public relations for serious debate. It evades the real questions of how to create a just city reflecting our best future.

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WHAT WE’RE READING
Immanuel Wallerstein

Global Left vs. Global Right: From 1945 to Today

The period 1945 to the 1970s was one both of extremely high capital accumulation worldwide and the geopolitical hegemony of the United States. The geoculture was one in which centrist liberalism was at its acme as the governing ideology. Never did capitalism seem to be functioning as well. This was not to last.

The high level of capital accumulation, which particularly favored the institutions and people of the United States, reached the limits of its ability to guarantee the necessary quasi-monopoly of productive enterprises. The absence of a quasi-monopoly meant that capital accumulation everywhere began to stagnate and capitalists had to seek alternative modes of sustaining their income. The principal modes were to relocate productive enterprises to lower-cost zones and to engage in speculative transfer of existing capital, which we call financialization.

KEEP READING


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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace
Living for Change News      May 2nd, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Development Possibilities
Shea Howell

Big developers across Michigan are celebrating. The State legislature is on a fast track to approve tax incentives to provide a collective $1 billion windfall to folks like Dan Gilbert and shift the cost of future private developments onto citizens. The plan would let developers withhold tax money from new revenue raised by projects on “blighted or long vacant land.” Governor Snyder is sure to sign the final version of the plan.

This is an astonishing abuse of legislative power. Even some Republicans have found this set of bills disturbing. Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy, said this is “nothing more than a transfer of wealth” from the working class to “selected special interests” and is an example of “crony capitalism.

Michigan has not seen such a blatant abuse of legislative authority in support of private gain since the Quick Take law enacted to allow General Motors to flatten Poletown for a Cadillac plant. In 1981 the Michigan Supreme Court approved the power of the State to seize private property for a “public purpose.” They justified the forced relocation of 3,500 people and the destruction of 1500 homes, 144 businesses, 16 churches, a school and hospital. In 2004 that same Court decided they had made a mistake and overturned their earlier decision.

In the case of Poletown, there was at least a robust public debate over the appropriate role of government in fostering economic development.  The current plan is supported as little more than a moneymaking scheme for big developers. Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes asked simply, “Why not?”

Howes spends most of his column accurately outlining that most people object to this scheme because it is all about using public money to support private wealth. He then says there is nothing wrong with that. “Rich developers whose overriding purpose is to generate meaningful returns on their investment” cannot ignore what he calls “market realities created by a half-century of urban decline.”

Howes exclaims, “I got news for the skeptics: You can’t build your way out of 50 years of urban disinvestment on the cheap.” This declaration is apparently supposed to make “skeptics” and “recriminators” back off.

However, the same people and thinking that brought us the last 50 years of disinvestment are the ones backing this new scheme.

Every credible academic and economic study of the last 50 years demonstrates the failure of this kind of thinking. The Upjohn Institute senior economist Timothy Bartik said, “Incentives do not have a large correlation with a state’s current or past unemployment or income levels, or with future economic growth.”

Currently Michigan’s array of tax breaks and business incentives are well above average in the country. In a recent article offering a different view of development by the Brookings Institution, scholars argue for “holistic approaches to revitalizing legacy cities.”  They argue for “policies to increase human capital throughout the city, including improving public education and expanding employment and entrepreneur training.”

“The most important short-term strategy,” they say, “ is increasing employment levels among Detroit neighborhood residents.”

If we develop a “ healthy, sustainable local economy” they explain, “ increasing the number  of jobs by 100,000,  we would add more than $2 billion annually to the local economy, even if those jobs paid $10 an hour.”

Just, sustainable development is possible.  It requires the will to make it a reality and the willingness to refuse to fall for the schemes by those who claim a concern for the public interest while lining their own pockets.

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22nd Annual PTO Conferance Comes to Detroit
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
Eclectablog
The 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed Conference (PTO) will be held in Detroit, Michigan from June 1st – 4th and Detroiters can attend the entire conference for just $30!

The PTO conference will be in Detroit commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.

This is a conference for students, educators, scholars, artists, activists, organizers, neighbors and people of all ages, places, identities, and experiences. If you want to create dialogue and come together to envision a more just society, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are needed.
In July of 1967, responding to racist employment discrimination, segregated and substandard housing and public schools, lack of opportunity and police brutality, Black neighborhoods in Detroit exploded in what has been characterized as the most deadly urban rebellion in the United States to date.

Nearly 50 years later in Detroit and elsewhere, people are thinking about the meaning of rebellion and the role of radical love in transformation. Rebellions are often expressions of justifiable anger and pain, but are not typically thought of as acts of love. What is the relationship between these strategies? What’s love got to do with either of them? As a city and as a world, what are our critical, visionary responses to a system that constantly challenges our humanity?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (PO) was born out of the needs of Brazilian peasants in a particular time and place, but Paolo Freire’s theory of liberatory education remains for all of us to use his own words from Pedagogy of Hope, “an adventure in unveiling…an experiment in bringing out the truth.” Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), born out of similar needs, was ironically triggered by what Augusto Boal himself noted was an error in judgement, when his theatre company presented a play that called for “shedding our blood to free our lands” without being willing to take up arms itself. Practitioners of PO and TO continue to support, challenge, and serve communities by developing techniques that promote transformative action and amplify the voices of oppressed people speaking their own truths.
Together we will learn learn, share and connect through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and others who have struggled against, or are struggling against oppression in order to create justice.

Now more than ever we must come together to share strategies to combat the many oppressions that continue to rob us of our humanity. PTO invites you to be part of its conference, commemorating a moment of rebellion in the past, but also engaging in a powerful effort to reimagine current and future struggles as acts of waging love.

Read more about Freire and Boal and their work, and register for the PTO conference at ptoweb.org.

The time has come to grow our souls. – Grace Lee Boggs
Rich Feldman
Emergent Savannah Heads North

     14 folks drove 16 hours to Detroit and immersed themselves in conversations, tours and food asking, what does Detroit mean to their work in Savannah? Some of our Savannah friends were artists, ministers, disability justice inclusion activists, social work students and professors, and traveled under the banner “Emergent Savannah.” They stayed at the Hush House and were nourished by the wise and healthy food preparers, Rozia and Myrtle Thompson Curtis and the Healing Support Network.

They arrived late on Saturday and we spent Sunday together on the Boggs Center east side tour:  From Growing our Economy to Growing Souls. From the Elmwood cemetary where we can feel and experience the water flowing from Bloody Run Creek to the Packard Plant where we discussed the birth of the American Dream and its death as well as the spirited discussion about an emerging new epoch in human history.

From there to the Poletown Plant introducing the Georgians to the last 50 years of Detroit History from the Rebellion through automation, deindustrialization, the crack destruction, the rise of global automotive competition the end of the J-O-B.  We then visited Feedom Freedom Growers, Heidelberg, drove by the James and Grace Lee Boggs School and ended at Can Arts and the windmills, where we see the end of the Bloody Run Creek.  We were reminded of the resilience of the land and the resistance of Chief Pontiac and the Anishinaabe people which includes the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Mississaugas, and Algonquin peoples and their resistance to the Western Europeans in 1760s.

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We ended day one with a hunger to unleash our commitment to the importance of history, time and imagination and the commitment by James and Grace to assume responsibility for our cities and country.

Matt Birkhold a comrade and friend from New York and founder of the Visionary Organizing Lab facilitated a workshop on understanding systems and the relationship between systems and our power to become voices, actors and visionaries as we initiate our local work and moving beyond protest to resistance and alternatives. From Matt’s work with Immanuel Wallerstein to his forthcoming book on Detroit (1963 to 1975) he created a space for us to see the interconnectedness and emergence of the systems of wage labor, the enclosure acts, the emergence of cities, the destruction of the land (earth moving from source to resource), scientific thinking, the changing role of the the military, capitalist patriarchy, Protestantism, the destruction of Women’s ways of knowing and the loss of control over reproduction to the burning of women as witches and women used to as creators of black labor for slavery. All of this came from the question, What was necessary to create the Slave Trade and bring people in chains to the western world in 1619?  He ended with the questions:
How do we connect with values and initiatives that stop segmenting our thinking into silos and recognize that our crisis is a systemic crisis? What does it mean to be human? How do we engage in the journey to become creative, compassionate, caring human beings as we commit ourselves to walking the journey to the Next American Revolution?
By this time, all our minds and hearts were spinning. Folks then traveled to the west side and saw the African Bead Museum and then settled in for a discussion at the Birwood House with Kim Sherobbi, Michael Doan (Detroit Independent Freedom Schools), Janice Fialka (author of What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love) and we explored the question:  What is the difference between schooling and education?  We ended the day back at the Boggs Center where Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty (poet and activist) and Wayne Curtis (Emory Douglas Art Project and Feedom Freedom Growers) discussed art as resistance and art and revolution.

Our final day began at Earthworks with Shane Bernardo and Myrtle Thompson Curtis sharing their personal stories from their early days, raised on Detroit’s east side to their work in the food security and urban farming movement.  The theme, learning from the land and from our ancestors was joined together with the need and commitment to create liberated territories, and feeding ourselves so we can free ourselves.

A wonderful lunch at Avalon on Bellevue and then back to the Boggs Center for a discussion with Baxter Jones (Homrich 9 water activist), Lisa Franklin (Warrior on Wheels) and Yusef Shakur (Putting the neighbor Back In the Hood and author of Window to My Soul).  We discussed the importance of values, relationship building and the fundamental commitment that we need to heal ourselves to sustain ourselves through commitment to transformation and love. Each shared stories of their ability to move from pain to vision and evolve as leaders in their work.

(When you visit Detroit, there is also a west side tour: From Rebellion to Creating Caring Communities. To learn more about Matt Birkhold’s workshop: matt@visionaryorganizinglab.org)

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Truthdig columnist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges addresses fascism and the rise of the Trump war machine in the keynote speech at the “After Trump and Pussy Hats” event in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 3, 2017.
WATCH IT HERE

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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
May 2nd, 2017

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Greetings Family,
Incite Focus is excited to announce the return of Community Hours! We’ve missed you!
Beginning the week of April 24, 2017, Community Hours will be held from 1pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the fab lab at 5555 Conner.
Have an idea for a project that you’d like to make? Have something that you’d like to fix?Want to practice using digital fabrication and be inspired by other community members and help on their projects? Then please visit us during community hours for hands-on guidance and shared learning.
We will also be hosting tours and community conversations coming soon, stay tuned.
And on Saturday May 20th Incite Focus will have a station at the Open Data Discotech. Its a community science fair that is free and open to the public. Please see attached flier for more information.
We look forward to connecting with you soon!
P+L
Halima

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Thinking for Ourselves
#WECHOOSE Freedom Schools
Shea HowellStudents, parents, teachers and supporters gathered to celebrate the end of the second full semester of the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative (DIFS). Students took center stage at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to talk about what they had learned, what mattered most to them about their education, and their aspirations for the future. There was music, laughter and playfulness in presentations, especially the songs and raps created by youth as a way to share their experiences with the audience.

There was also talk of freedom, freedom to learn, to grow, to know where we come from and where we are going, and freedom to determine our own futures. Inspired by liberation struggles of the 1960’s and tempered by the flourishing African centered educational efforts that evolved in Detroit over the last three decades, freedom and struggle were woven throughout the celebration. Freedom schools are about more than reading, writing and arithmetic. They “cultivate community strength, self determination, and build movement-based futures.”

This semester of Freedom Schools began in January “Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It provided sessions engaging students with ideas of self- sufficiency, art, technology and manufacturing, culture and history. Students learned about healthy eating and spoken word poetry. They learned about life in the water and in the soil needed to grow food.

The celebration came the day after DIFS held a youth Roll Call where young people from across the city gathered to talk about what is going on in their schools and to strategize about ways to stop school closings in Detroit.  This youth forum was generated by people who attended a community speak out against school closings earlier in the year.

DIFS is part of a larger movement sweeping across the country as parents, teachers, students and their supporters are organizing to reclaim education as a community priority.

In February Journey for Justice Alliance announced a #WECHOOSE Campaign emphasizing education equity.  Given new urgency with an accelerated attack on public education in the federal administration, #WECHOOSE is organizing to resist privatization, school closures, and the senseless, relentless testing of our children.

Core goals of the #WECHOOSE campaign include a moratorium on privatization of public schools, the end of zero tolerance policies and the end of efforts to seize control of local education by Mayors, Emergency Managers and unelected boards. Nationally they are supporting the end of standardized testing as a pretext to close schools and an honest assessment of school functioning, especially in terms of racial and economic justice. #WECHOOSE also aims to create 10,000 community schools. They say, “We want strong neighborhood schools with a curriculum that is engaging, relevant and rigorous; supports for high-quality teaching and not high stakes testing; wraparound supports for every child; student-centered school climates; and the end to zero tolerance policies in schools and transformative parent and community engagement.”

The city- wide resistance to school closings is already having an effect. Last week, in an effort to avoid widespread resistance, the State and the Detroit Public Schools Community District announced a new “partnership” designed to prevent another round of school closures. Labeling it a “journey to excellence” the agreement will enable the schools to remain open for a minimum three-year period.  The agreement “aims to increase performance through partnerships with local universities, unions, businesses and community leaders.”

Over the course of the next year, school and state officials will be conducting “ a deep review and discussion that will include staff, students and families to determine the causes of low student performance and how to improve.”

Adopting the #WECHOOSE platform would be a good beginning.

 

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WHAT WE’RE READING

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“Community Food Security can be defined as the condition which exists when all of the members of a community have access, in close proximity, to adequate amounts of nutritious, culturally appropriate food at all times, from sources that are environmentally sound and just. This policy also affirms the City of Detroit’s commitment to supporting sustainable food systems that provide people with high quality food, productive employment, and contribute to the long-term well-being of the environment.”


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

An open invite to friends & family of Macomb County:
WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY AND WORLD CAN WE ENVISION TOGETHER?

“We have a great opportunity to create beloved, caring communities… But
first, we must break our silence and have safe, serious conversations

about our history and how we reached this point.”

APRIL 22 from 2-4PM at GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH (115 S. Main Street, Mt. Clemens) ~ Sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership ~ CONTACT US AT: Lejla@umich.edu // (586) 596-5059

Sent from my phone.

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Break Silence Ferndale April 29, 2017

  
 
Living for Change News
April 17th, 2017

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Thinking for Ourselves
Educating Values
Shea Howell

Teacher and alums from the Bank Street School in New York visited Detroit this week on a learning journey. Since 1916, Bank Street has been a force for progressive education.  Bank Street is both a school for children and a Graduate College dedicated to teaching and learning. It emphasizes experience based and collaborative learning.  It has been a strong advocate for educating the whole child—heart, head and hand. In conversations at the Boggs Center the educators talked about how much they had learned from our city, how moved they were by its imagination and resilience.

They were a reminder that educating children in today’s world requires a lot more than what happens in many schools. Much of the thinking about education is dominated by two outmoded ideas: the factory model of mass schooling and the Enlightenment idea that children are empty minds, waiting to be filled up. In urban areas these ideas find their way into increasing efforts to control our children, to make them sit down, sit still, take tests, not talk, and respond to commands. This control is enforced by a military presence with methods of physical control, surveillance and psychological intimidation.

At a time when curiosity, creativity and imaginative solutions are needed for our very survival, our young people are denied the opportunity to develop and explore these qualities in much of their official schooling. Instead they are told if they are quiet, study hard, graduate and go to college, they can find a job and move out of their community. Most young people learn quickly that this story isn’t for them. It is no wonder that nearly half our children stop participating in a system whose rewards are to leave all that has nurtured them.

Recently, the assault on public education has taken a particularly insidious turn with the emphasis of STEM, pushing science, technology, engineering and math. These are all good things to explore, but the notion that they are the only things is destructive and dangerous. In thinking about this question it is helpful to read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1954 Dr. King delivered a guest sermon at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit on the theme of Rediscovering Lost Values. He said:

“The trouble isn’t so much that our scientific genius lags behind, but our moral genius lags behind. The great problem facing modern man is that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.”

Dr. King went on to say that, “if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind.” Among those values is the principle that “all reality hinges on moral foundations.”

King explains, “It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.”

It is learning these values of our shared humanity that make democracy possible.

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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

The Prision Factory
Al Jazeera

The US state of Alabama has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the world. Its prison system has become so dangerously overcrowded that in 2016, for the first time, the US Justice Department launched a federal civil rights investigation into the entire state’s prison conditions.

WATCH HERE

The future of race in America
Michelle Alexander

TEDxColumbus

WATCH HERE


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
April 11th, 2017
Michelle Alexander and Ruby Sales 
in conversation about Beyond Vietnam
a Sermon
by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.WATCH IT HERE

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DEQ Public Information and Hearing
Nestlé Permit for Increase Water Taking
Wednesday, April 12th

Public Information: 4-6 PM
Public Hearing: 7-9 PM
Location: University Center at Ferris State University
More info: hildeheron@aol.com

TRANSPORT TO  THE HEARING:​ A FREE bus will meet riders at noon at Central Methodist on the corner of Adams and Woodard and return there after the hearing, which ends at 9:00 PM. It’s a long day, but MCWC is providing food at Ferris State for bus riders upon arrival. To reserve a spot on the bus, email Peggy Case at michiganCwaterC@gmail.com


Thinking for Ourselves
Resisting Closures
Shea Howell

We are rapidly approaching the moment of decision on Detroit public school closings. The announcement in January by the State School Reform Office that another 24 schools would be closed in Detroit has been met with angry, vocal resistance. Parents, students, teachers and community activists are holding meetings. They have stages rallies, protests and speak-outs. Everyone agrees that more school closings will harm our children and our communities. The Mayor is on record as opposing closings and the newly elected school board has found the courage to file a lawsuit, claiming the closures violate state law.

In response, Governor Snyder commanded State Superintendent Brian Whiston to develop agreements that he hopes will defuse resistance. These agreements are a shameless scam. They will subject schools to stringent requirements and provide a pretext for continued state intervention, including the possibility of more closures and district takeovers. Unable to make the distinction between coercion and a partnership, the spokesman for the state education department, William Disessa said that if the schools “don’t develop a partnership agreement with the Michigan Department of Education by April 30, then they will be subject to the next level of accountability.”

These forced partnerships are not in the interest of our children or our communities. They are another pretext for relentless privatizing actions. The same forces that have been destroying our schools for nearly two decades designed these “agreements.”

Meanwhile the search for a superintendent has sparked additional controversy, especially given the State imposed restrictions on the process, including a short time line and unrealistic requirements for the job. Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press wrote last week that the selection process was “ill advised,” and now “we have a bit of a mess on our hands.”

In this atmosphere parents are organizing to take a stand against the testing used to justify closing schools. These test scores have become a potent weapon in the drive to privatization. They reflect the effects of chaos created by State imposed instability and economic disparity, not the development of our children or the full context of the school. Some parents are refusing to participate. About 450 parents have already turned in letters opting their children out of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Performance. This effort is likely to accelerate as we move through a testing period that lasts to the end of May.

Parents, students, teachers and community activists are coming together to challenge what is happening to our children and to our communities. Schools are essential to the life of our neighborhoods and the development of our children. We are not only demanding that all schools remain open, but that education be provided in ways that reflect the deepest needs and aspirations of our children to become socially responsible, creative and fully engaged adults.

In the course of struggling to keep these schools open and to ensure critical, creative education, young people are learning how to become active citizens. They are learning that justice requires collective, organized actions to become real. The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools Initiative is part of this effort. They are hosting a youth forum at Bob’s Classic Kicks on Friday evening, April 29 at 6 pm.  Join us to hear what our young people are saying about the kind of education we need.

 

What_Matters_email_graphic3.28.17


Reflection on Love and Struggle
Robin D.G. Kelley in conversation with Fred Moten
Transcription and commentary by Mike Doan

How do we build a new future? How central to this work are love and power?

“Love is the answer.” “All you need is love.” “Love trumps hate.” Hopelessly naïve?

Love (noun): A sentimental feeling. An intimate, personal, private state of mind. The dullest of the weapons of the weak.

Or, can love become “a material force for change,” as Jimmy used to say?

“Power is the enemy.” “Change the world without taking power.” “Power corrupts, absolutely.” Hopelessly naïve?

Power (noun): A repressive, abusive force. The essence of domination and oppression. What they’ve got over us, or we’ve got over them—and we’d rather do without.

Or, is there also power with, the power we build and share together, as Grace used to say?

What, after all, is power? And what’s love got to do with it?

**
Transcribed below is part of a conversation featuring Robin D.G. Kelley and Fred Moten. The discussion took place in Toronto on April 3rd, 2017—one day before the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” delivered at New York’s Riverside Church in 1967; also a day before the 49th anniversary of King’s assassination.

Earlier that week, Kelley joined Stephen Ward in Detroit to reflect on the lives and activism of James and Grace Lee Boggs, and on the complicated legacies of Martin and Malcolm. The discussion excerpted below, from April 3rd, takes up many of the same themes and questions…

***
Robin D.G. Kelley (1:31:07-1:35:44): “To live together, and renewing the habits of assembly, are really critical…. We assume that somehow mass movements are sources of power, and I think we misunderstand power. And I was trying to talk about this Saturday night, you know, and there was a quote from Dr. King that I was paraphrasing but that I wanted to pull up here, that I think is really important, where he talks about why we shouldn’t be afraid of power.

And he says, you know: ‘You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power; and power, with a denial of love…. Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive; and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. (Yes.) Power at its best, power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.’

Right? So, think about the importance of love as a center for renewing our habits of assembly…. And recognizing that taking power, building power, is not something that we should resist, but we should claim.

We often are on the other side of power: we see power as something we resist, rather than something we take. And I wanna say that because, the other person who is, sort of, a huge influence on many of us is Grace Lee Boggs. And one of the things that she and Jimmy Boggs were working on, was they argued that dialectical materialism, as we knew it, was an epoch that was over. And to replace dialectical materialism they argued for dialectical humanism: that the fundamental struggle is not the class struggle between proletariat and capitalist—especially in an age when automation and other forms were, sort of, transforming the proletariat—but rather, our struggle to become more human, whatever that—and you know, we could debate about that—but the struggle to become more human.

And to become more human, is to basically recognize, you know, what it means, to live with… to live for, about, with… love. To build community, where there’s no outside.

You know, what does that mean? What does that require of us?

And you cannot build, or embrace, a new humanity for the future without actually acknowledging what Fred [Moten] began with, and that is: our planet is in peril, you know?

That to love the planet, and to love each other, and to love life, is not a sentimental love, but agape—that is, love where there is no outside, where you are constantly building community. And it’s filled with tension to do that, it’s a struggle to do that.

But that, to me, is the only way we could build the kind of futurity that you’re talking about. We can’t have a future that’s based on a false utopia—that is, you know, a land of milk and honey. That our future is actually here. We’re already in the future.

The question is, how do we hold on to that vision, that through power and love we could produce a world in which we’re not shaming each other, we’re not beating each other down, we’re not afraid of each other; where we’re not invested in economies that are based on both scale and profit; where we’re not trying to make, sort of, new entrepreneurs as the future, you know, as the only future available—that we’re not reduced to human capital, but human beings, whatever that means?

And that, to me, is really the essence of how to build a new future.”


WHAT WE’RE READING

10 Rousing Struggles for Public Water

Transnational Institute


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
April 3rd, 2017

DEQ Public Information and Hearing
Nestlé Permit for Increase Water Taking
Wednesday, April 12st

Public Information4-6 PM
Public Hearing: 7-9 PM
Location: University Center at Ferris State University
More info: hildeheron@aol.com

 

TRANSPORT TO  THE HEARING:​ A FREE bus will meet riders at noon at Central Methodist on the corner of Adams and Woodard and return there after the hearing, which ends at 9:00 PM. It’s a long day, but MCWC is providing food at Ferris State for bus riders upon arrival. To reserve a spot on the bus, email Peggy Case at michiganCwaterC@gmail.com

Thinking for Ourselves
Silence is Not an Option
Shea Howell

The Reverend Dr. William Barber II marked the beginning of activities reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s call for a radical revolution in values in “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” On Sunday morning, April 2, Dr. Barber spoke at Riverside Church in New York City from the same pulpit where Dr. King stood to speak to Clergy and Laity Concerned.

Dr. Barber is no stranger to struggle. Pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina he has become a leading voice in the Forward Together Moral Movement that carried out weekly protests against the repressive in actions of the North Carolina Assembly. Just last month he was in Flint helping to bring attention to the lack of progress by state officials in addressing the water crisis there.

Drawing on Dr. King’s theme that there comes a time when silence is a betrayal to all we value and love, Dr. Barber pressed that today “Silence is no longer an option.” “We must challenge what is going on now,” he said, with the understanding that while the situation is “dire,” it is “not new.” Rather, “Trumpism is as America as apple pie,” and “every stride toward freedom is met with the same backlash.” This is the “call and response of American history” where every “season of racial progress” has been met with a “response of the progress of racism.” If we understand this history we should know that “we cannot afford the luxury of pretending Trump is an historical aberration.” He is “merely a symptom.”

Barber explained that we are entering a Third Reconstruction, marked by growing inequality, intentional voter suppression, apartheid redistricting, lying and suppression of humanity.  We have a war machine “out of control” in vain efforts to make us safe, while our “moral priorities are wrong.”

We are facing a great division where there are “those who see America as a community and those who want to keep everything for themselves.” This is a “moral deficit” that is supported by “early signs of fascism” including lying, cult worship, devaluing the press, increased nationalism, demands for unquestionable loyalty and growing nationalism.

So now people must speak. We must speak of love, of justice, and of mercy. We must again face the question, “Is America possible?”

Dr. Barber said he would, “Stick with love, strong, demanding love” that emerges as people come together in hope as “we dare to speak with our marching, our protest, our court cases, going to jail and a new non-violent army.”

Later that day more than 400 people gathered in Detroit at Central United Methodist Church to read the words of Dr. King. Responding to the Call from the National Council of Elders, people affirmed it is now “Our time to Break Silence.”

Throughout the week, across the city and across the country, similar gatherings will be held to reflect on our responsibilities at this most urgent moment.

The words of Dr. King inspire all of us to step forward, speak out, and turn to one another, “awakening a new spirit.” Our only hope today,” King said, “lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism.”Detroit No More Heroes Event

A message from from Food Field

I’m writing to let you know that we’ve launched a new focus area at Food First, Cultivating Gender Justice. Women are key to the transformation of our food, agriculture, and political/economic systems; this series explores how and why women are working to dismantle our exploitative food & economic system for a better future.

We just launched our first publication in the series – take a look here: http://bit.ly/genderagjustice
Excerpt pasted below, or click here to view in full.

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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

In Love and Struggle

a conversation between Dr. Stephen Ward and Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley

check it out!


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
March 20th, 2017
1967 Shock Waves Flyer 5

Thinking for Ourselves
Beyond Toxic Talk
Shea HowellHow we talk is intimately connected to how we think. Words define our world and give meaning to our lives. Thus, one of the many dangers of this moment is the deterioration of our capacities for political thought. When public values are reduced to single words, blasted in all capital letters on Twitter, we are all diminished. BAD, SAD, FAKE, LIES are judgments devoid of substance, but they infiltrate our consciousness and erode our conversations.In sharp contrast to this dismal use of language, people around the country are consciously moving to deepen our capacity for reflection, conversation, strategic thinking, and powerful action. There is a growing recognition that actions must be enriched by reflection, that the path to a better future requires collective efforts to create a new vision.

For example,

Movement for Black Lives provides a thoughtful agenda about the kind of future we can create.  They invite everyone to join in the conversation and study of their platform saying, “We have created this platform to articulate and support the ambitions and work of Black people. We also seek to intervene in the current political climate and assert a clear vision, particularly for those who claim to be our allies, of the world we want them to help us create. We reject false solutions and believe we can achieve a complete transformation of the current systems, which place profit over people and make it impossible for many of us to breathe.” They invite us to study, think, argue and act in relation to these broad, visionary projections.Recently,

Movement Generation offered a new Just Transition Zine in both English and Spanish. The Zine “offers a framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable and just for all its members.”They explain, “A Just Transition requires us to build a visionary economy for life in a way that is very different than the economy we are in now. Constructing this visionary economy calls for strategies that democratize, decentralize and diversify economic activity while we damper down consumption, and (re)distribute resources and power.  This zine is our offering towards that end – it is a humble point of departure for folks interested in building collective vision and action towards Ecological Justice that does not separate humans from nature, or social equity from ecological integrity.”

This week the Women’s March named its 5th action of the first 100 days

Reflect and Resist. Organizers say the action, “is designed to educate some, and refresh others, through study, reflection, and courageous conversations, so that we can all be empowered by, and learn from, the work of activists who came before us while being mindful not to perpetuate the mistakes of the past. Community is key to activism, so bring your huddles, neighbors, and your march partners back together, collectively choose a book or article to read, or film to watch. Take time to reflect and, together, discuss the topics that they highlight and the issues that women experiencing multiple forms of oppression have faced and continue to face”.The

National Council of Elders is asking us to organize public readings of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Breaking the Silence speech, to reinvigorate his call for a radical revolution of values against racism, materialism and militarism. They ask us to hold conversations following the reading about what his ideas mean for us today.These are just a few of the efforts emerging around our country. They are essential to counter the toxic talk flowing from those in authority. They are acts of resistance and of vision.  All of us need to join in creating these spaces for collective reflection. They are the sources of our best hopes.


IMG_20170319_150232

Detroit No More Heroes Event

What We’re Reading

Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
Frank Joyce
Alternet

Fifty years ago the times were tumultuous, as they are now. Activists were fragmented by gender, race, tactics and issue silos then too. The machinery of surveillance and repression by local, state and federal government was intense and about to become more so.

Despite knowing the risk of speaking out, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King stepped forward to offer clarity and direction. His speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence [3] was delivered on April 4, 1967, to an overflow crowd at Riverside Church in New York City.

Now the speech is receiving new attention, not for reasons of wistful nostalgia but as a vision even more relevant to our times than it was then. To learn more about events already organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “A Time to Break Silence” speech or how to help initiate one yourself, go here [4].

In his speech, Dr. King identified the triplets of racism, militarism and materialism as the legacy we must overcome. Why triplets? Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a peace movement veteran, explains [5]: “Why did Dr. King use the word ‘triplets’ when ‘three’ or ‘triad’ would have been enough? Perhaps because biological triplets share a great deal of their DNA. What DNA do these triplets share? The DNA of subjugation, of top-down power.”

To be clear, Dr. King’s remarks did not incorporate the possibility of ecocatastrophe or the structures of patriarchy and sexism into his analysis and call. Can there be any doubt that today he would?

KEEP READING

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riverwisedetroit.org

contact or summit material info@riverwisedetroit.org



The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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