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 The Emergency Management Team provision was withdrawn in the series of bills aimed at pension finances.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 So the provisions attempting to expand this were withdrawn.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.

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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!
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Look for issue 3 of Riverwise at area bookstores, grocers, cafes and community spaces today!
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(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

 

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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.


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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

WDWCTB-Cover-450x675

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.


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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.

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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.

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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

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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

.

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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amc


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

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

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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.

 

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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…

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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
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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.


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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

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 13th, 2017

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Water Stories of District 7
Monday, April @ 6pm

16400 Warren Ave W, Detroit, MI 48228-3705, United States

Come gather as we hear water stories of District 7. We need to stand together and get the Detroit City Council to pass and implement an income-based Water Affordability Plan Ordinance. Join us for a community meeting to discuss next steps on water affordability in Detroit!


Thinking for Ourselves
Fear to Hope
Shea Howell

Over 400 people gathered at the UAW-GM Center in Detroit to celebrate International Women’s Day. This was the 7th year of Women Creating Caring Communities, initiated by the UAW and Boggs Center. The theme was “The healing power of loving communities.” This was a gathering reflecting honesty, passion and resilience as we talked about our fears and hopes for this moment.

I was part of the opening conversation, emphasizing the question often asked by Grace Lee Boggs,  “What time is it on the clock of the world?’  I shared with the gathering my thinking about what Grace would most likely be saying to us, if she were there, as she had been for the first years of these sessions.

I think she would caution us to not become stuck on Trump. Rather she would be encouraging us to look to the forces behind him. The forces of violence and white supremacy have a long history in America. They are the forces that began the genocide against the indigenous peoples of this land at Plymouth Rock and they are the forces that are carrying it out today at Standing Rock.  They are the forces that stole people from their homes in Africa to enslave them and are now the forces stealing homes from African Americans through foreclosure, school closings, and water shut offs.

At the same time, I think she would insist that we make distinctions between those forces in the past and the dangers and opportunities of this moment. History echoes through the present, but does not repeat itself.

Over the last few years of her life, Grace often said that we were witnessing the growth of counter revolutionary forces and we were in a period of revolution and counter- revolution.  Whatever the United States will become over the next few years, we will not be going back to the way things were. Something new is emerging, and it will be up to us to determine whether that something new will be better, or worse, than the past.
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Grace also liked to remind us that while we do not choose the times into which we are born, we do choose how we respond to the times in which we live. Certainly it is important that we resist the efforts of those forces that are pulling us backwards, for the sake of our own humanity.  But resistance is never enough. In periods of such possibility, we have the responsibility of projecting the kind of futures we want. Visionary organizing, she said, was critical to creating programs and processes that would give us a glimpse of a better future.

Visions don’t come to us out of nowhere. They emerge as we engage with each other in probing conversations about how to solve the problems we face, imagining new possibilities.

Throughout the day, women and men talked together, acknowledging our vulnerabilities, gaining strength from sharing stories of our lives and hopes.  We talked of the importance of listening deeply to one another, opening our hearts as well as our heads.  As the day concluded with sounds of drums and dancing feet, most of us walked away with a new resolve, knowing that we have tremendous power to create communities where love and justice thrive.


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WHAT WE’RE READING

 

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On July 23rd, 1967, the eyes of the world fixed on Detroit, as thousands took to the streets to vent their frustrations with white racism, police brutality, and vanishing job prospects in the place that gave rise to the American Dream. For mainstream observers, the “riot” brought about the ruin of a once great city, and the municipal bankruptcy of 2013 served as a bailout paving the way for Detroit to be rebuilt. Challenging this prevailing view, Scott Kurashige portrays the past half-century as a long “rebellion” whose underlying tensions continue to haunt the city and the U.S. nation-state. Michigan’s scandal-ridden emergency management regime comprises the most concerted effort to put it down by disenfranchising the majority black citizenry and neutralizing the power of unions.

Are we succumbing to authoritarian plutocracy or can we create a new society rooted in social justice and participatory democracy? The corporate architects of Detroit’s restructuring have championed the creation of a “business-friendly” city where billionaire developers are subsidized to privatize and gentrify Downtown while working-class residents are squeezed out by rampant housing evictions, school closures, water shutoffs, toxic pollution, and militarized policing. From the grassroots, however, Detroit has emerged as an international model for survival, resistance, and solidarity through the creation of urban farms, freedom schools, and self-governing communities. This epoch struggle illuminates the possible futures for our increasingly unstable and polarized nation.

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!

 


HELP SAVE THE CASS COMMONS

An Appeal to the Social Justice Advocacy Community in Detroit

From the Eastern Michigan Environmental Action Council
In 2011, the Eastern Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) received as a gift the property of the First Unitarian-Universalist Church (First UU), located at the corner of Cass Avenue and Forest Street. This property consists of the august church building and sanctuary, as well as the adjoining elegant parish house, which has a spacious vestibule and parlor, a very large social hall, a kitchen, and several floors of multipurpose rooms. Constructed in 1916, the structure has been awarded an historic designation, and occupies a prime site in midtown Detroit, a central hub of corporate gentrification.
Protecting and Securing a Vital Base

Given this synergy of organizational activities over the years, the property has become a true “commons” for social justice advocacy and cultural development. However, the care and maintenance of an aging, 44,000 – square feet facility involves heavy financial responsibilities. Though EMEAC has succeeded in securing grants, a few major rental contracts, and intermittent income from rentals for events such as weddings, workshops and conferences, these strategies have not generated the volume and regular flow of funds required to cover operational costs.

 

An Immediate Goal of $60,000

As major corporations appropriate the heart of the City, dislocating and dispossessing working class neighborhoods, people of color and the poor, we social justice activists who are current EMEAC board members want to secure this valuable, strategically located community center. We are convinced that this base is indeed treasured by many community members. Therefore, we are inviting those organizations and individuals who have created projects and relationships here — relationships and mutual efforts which, in fact, constitute the commons, to join us in implementing a program that will secure this property while advancing our capacities to build movement unity.   Our immediate goal is to raise $60,000. Then we will work to generate an income of $10,000 each month.

DONATE TODAY

 

 


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
February 27th, 2017
final final 2017 wccc 2                    
Thinking for Ourselves
Community Wisdom
Shea Howellshea25Mayor Mike Duggan delivered his fourth State of the City address last week in an unusual venue. He chose Focus: Hope as the spot. It was a move designed to highlight his central message, time to focus on the neighborhoods. “We’ve improved the basic services but if we’re going to fulfill a vision of building a Detroit that includes everybody then we’ve got to do a whole lot more,” Duggan said.

Duggan then listed efforts he intends to take: job training with a clear “path to jobs” though Detroit at Work and a Skilled Trade Employment Program aimed at youth. He emphasized neighborhood investment by philanthropic organizations, promising a beginning $30 million to engage residents in Livernois/McNichols, West Village and Southwest Detroit to create walkable communities, and he promised street sweeping. He even pledged affordable housing and to back the City Council effort to guarantee 20 percent of new units will be set aside in any new project.

He said we can also expect more police officers, a new initiative around healthy pregnancies, and a Detroit Promise to insure that those babies, and current students, have a guaranteed college education when they graduate from Detroit Public Schools.

In spite of all of this, the Mayor’s speech seems more show than substance, more promise than reality.

The first reason for this is the overall framing of the neighborhoods. According to the Mayor, our neighborhoods are only places to be fixed. He does not see any of the creativity, energy or imagination that has been evolving at the neighborhood level for years. Home recipes turned into a thriving sweet potato pie shop, a neighborhood bakery reclaiming lives with returning citizens, bike shops and barber shops, 3-D printing, hand crafted furniture, and flower shops all are anchors in communities long neglected by development schemes. Rather than seeing these as sources of strength to be supported and expanded, the Mayor reduces neighborhood life to nothing more than a vast wasteland he will fix for us.

At the same time, he has refused to look honestly at the inequality his policies have created. Just days before the address, two local professors released a study concluding: “First, by a number of measures Detroit continues to decline, and even when positive change has occurred, growth has been much less robust than many narratives would suggest. Second, within the city recovery has been highly uneven, resulting in increasing inequality.”

The report went on, “Citywide data suggest Detroit is continuing to experience decline that makes it worse off than it was in 2000 or even 2010 in the depths of the national recession. Population, employment and incomes continue to decrease, while vacancies and poverty have increased.”

Perhaps the most important reality for the mayor is his failure to come through with his earlier promises to leverage jobs in the development of the core city. Detroiters are actually losing jobs at an alarming rate. The researchers noted,
“At each geographic level, the number of jobs held by residents has dropped over time, while employment of non-Detroiters has increased…Jobs for those living in the suburbs — who are mostly white — have gone up 16.6%. Meanwhile, jobs for city residents are down 35.5%.”

Had the Mayor heeded the wisdom of the community, we would have a Community Benefits Agreement in place that could already have mandated job training, job placement and increased the number of Detroit Enterprises benefiting from downtown investment.

Had the Mayor heeded the wisdom of the community he would have adopted a Water Affordability Plan to stop water shut-offs and support people staying in their homes.  Instead his blindness to this human rights abuse risks the wellbeing of everyone.

The Mayor is going to have to do a lot more than stand inside Focus: Hope and offer promises. He might start listening to what people want.


Scenes from the rollout of Riverwise, a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photojournalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries. Check us out online!

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A Letter from Detroit Youth Organizers
Paige Watkins, Julia Cuneo, Dakarai Carter, Kezia Curtis

When we were asked to plan the Youth Day of Vision on behalf of the James & Grace Lee Boggs Center, we knew that we wanted this event to youth-led and youth-centered. For us, that meant involving young(er) people in the planning process from the beginning and letting them control the direction of the event. Our Youth Planning Committee consisted of middle and high school students who are involved in the Detroit Independent Freedom School held at the Cass Corridor Commons.

We started with an introduction to what happened in 1967, inviting the Detroit Historical Society to a DIFS session to teach the students about the uprising and the Detroit 67 Project. This introduction was followed by brainstorming sessions, school visits, and planning meetings to determine what activities would work best for the day, recruit youth to attend, and set an agenda and facilitation schedule.

This may sound like an arduous process for just one event, but we believe that creating powerful, grassroots leadership in the future means giving them the reins today. We guided the young people through the organizing process, from conception to development to completion. This process provides them with the skills to create their own events, advocacy, and activism projects. The Youth Day of Vision was therefore not just about a vision of the future, but a vision of dynamic, transformative, present day youth leadership.

The day of the event, over 60 young people between the ages of 10 and 20 came to the Detroit Historical Museum for a day of investigating the past, understanding its relevance for our present, and envisioning our future. We explored the museum through an engaging scavenger hunt, teased out the differences between a riot versus a rebellion, and imagined ourselves in 1967 through a group role-play. It was exciting for us to see the young people’s visions of the future, which included cures for diseases, regional transportation systems, and diverse, interdependent communities.

At the request of the young people, we kept the space adult-free. The purpose of this careful curation was to allow young people to be themselves, open up, make mistakes, and take charge of their own spaces. We also integrated social media and many different types of hands-on engagement into the day’s activities. You can still find pictures on Instagram & Twitter by searching #DetroitUprising.

Because of this event, young Detroiters were able to more deeply understand the power of community organizing. Armed with this information, the young people heard from youth organizations about ways they could plug in immediately to work towards social justice in their communities.

We are incredibly proud of the young people who organized this event with such bold enthusiasm. We look forward to continuing to work with the social justice activists who attended and who will continue to transform this world for the next 50 years.


An Open Letter to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Their Report: “Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint”
Tom Stephens First, the Good News

There’s much to applaud in the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s recent report[i] (February 17, 2017) regarding the deep historical and social origins of the now-notorious Flint water poisoning catastrophe.

This includes:

1.    Exposing the historical story of implicit bias, structural and systemic racialization behind this atrocity adds official recognition to the critical dynamics, particularly the “cumulative and compounding effects” of all discrimination and environmental racism (P. 82), far beyond and much better than the simplistic and limiting notions of individuals’ intentional, subjective racial prejudice that undermine our civil rights laws.  This is a notable achievement for an official government body – especially if it’s followed by policy actions to prevent repetition of such abuses in the future.  I don’t want to be misinterpreted as dismissing this positive aspect of the commission’s work;

2.    Calls for specific reforms of the emergency manager statutes to avoid future cases of destruction of local democracy, accountability and the rule of law at the local level are welcome; and

3.    The Commission’s acknowledgement of its own failure to intervene on a timely basis for the benefit of the People of Flint, and their vow to do better in the future, displays sincere reflection and commitment.  It is appreciated.

I don’t want to minimize these good things in the report.  But as a lifelong Michigander who submitted written testimony to the commission that, altho uncited, is very much in line with their ultimate findings,[ii] I feel morally compelled to say that I am seriously dissatisfied with the report.

In brief, I believe it misapplies complex, historical analysis of flexible and only partially developed environmental justice concepts, and especially the distinction between implicit and intentional racism, to blatantly let top policy makers who are responsible for poisoning Flint off the hook for what they did and why.  Let me explain.

Racism without Racists, Poisoning without Culpability

The commission’s “implicit bias” narrative, based on the brilliant work of native-born Detroiter and leading critical race scholar john a. powell, reflects a sophisticated, contemporary and deeply insightful view of the way that racialization works to oppress People of color (and, as the commission notes, to injure Whites as well).  But that welcome perspective should never be employed as a shield for government officials whose implementation of state policies and actions causes harm.  The commission stumbles badly on this vital point of accountability.

The key flaw in the commission’s reasoning runs thru out the report.  It is perhaps most evident in the commission’s express adoption of the word “racism”, but avoidance of the term “racist” in their report, because of “a lack of consensus on the common definition of the [latter] term”. (P. 21)  Much later, near the end of its report, the Commission states that “Racial disparities are too often sustained by structures and systems that repeat patterns of exclusion.” (P. 127)  Unfortunately, the commission’s misapplication of implicit bias theory, and structural and strategic racialization, to excuse policy makers whose unconscious prejudices, ideological biases and plain incompetence and arrogance poisoned Flint, effectively sustains and repeats those very patterns of exclusion.  This is completely unacceptable.   

Excusing Official Misconduct

The commission’s “racism without racists” construct takes back with one hand whatever positive effect it achieved with the other, via their exhaustive discussion of implicit bias, structural and strategic racialization.  While these concepts offer much promise in understanding the attitudes, actions and conflicts experienced by People in our communities, applying them to the acts of policy makers responsible for poisoning Flint is a cop out. 

The Governor and his men claimed, in their campaigns for office and in their “emergency management” policies, policies they re-enacted even after being rejected by public referendum, that they knew what they were doing.  (As Michigan’s great public citizen and Governor Frank Murphy observed in the era of the great depression: “To sacrifice everything to balance the budget is fanaticism.”  That’s what they were doing.)  Implicit bias, structural and strategic racialization should never be allowed as a defense to such official misconduct.  The commission’s failure to recognize this fundamental distinction between ordinary People’s implicit personal social attitudes, and the awful consequences of official actions by policy makers, converts their report in substantial degree from a needed exposé into an unjust, structurally racist cover-up.  

The commission’s inability to place well-deserved blame where it lies with state government leaders is even further exemplified by their rather shocking statement: “We have neither seen nor heard anything that would lead us to believe that anyone in government permitted something they believed to be harmful to continue because of the racial makeup of Flint.” (P. 12)  One must ask in this context, what in the world would it take? 

Long before they admitted it, the top state government officials had significant information that would convince any reasonable person that 1) Polluted water is harmful; 2) Most People in Flint are of color and poor; and 3) They were being forced to use polluted water.  Avoiding the conclusion that “government permitted something they believed to be harmful to continue because of the racial makeup of Flint” under these circumstances is apologizing for decisions and actions that implemented structural and systemic racism, of which these top officials should have known and which it was their duty to avoid and later stop.  The commission’s failure to reach this inevitable, common sense conclusion is an extremely grave, unconscionable error.

Ignoring Critical Relevant Evidence

One of the ways the commission achieves this myopic result is by completely ignoring – in spite of their otherwise comprehensive historical overview – the damning official history of government attacks on environmental justice in the 1980s and 90s, centered around Flint and Genesee County.  As I stated in my written testimony (note 2, below):

“Some 20 years ago, the issues of environmental racism and environmental justice – the disproportionate adverse exposure of People of color communities and the poor to pollution and other environmental dangers – were addressed by environmental agencies and courts in two (2) major cases that arose in Flint: 1) The Genesee Power Station (GPS) case; and 2) The Select Steel case.

The GPS case involved a wood-burning incinerator sited near Flint’s impoverished north end, a community already swamped with other toxic, heavy industrial sources of pollution.  Negotiations with the incinerator resulted in an agreement to significantly reduce the amount of lead paint-contaminated construction and demolition wood the incinerator was allowed to burn. (They originally described their business to state environmental officials as “burning demolished Detroit crack houses”.)

After that partial settlement, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) under Gov. John Engler and Director Russell Harding insisted on a historic environmental justice trial of the allegation that they violated Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by permitting the GPS, the first such trial ever.  The Genesee County Circuit Court, Hon. Archie Hayman, entered an injunction against granting more air pollution permits in Genesee County after a 1997 trial that included lots of evidence of increased lead poisoning in Flint because of the GPS; the injunction was subsequently reversed on appeal for a procedural technicality.

The Plaintiffs in the GPS case had also filed the first administrative Title VI environmental racism claim with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992.  After initially losing the file, EPA later found it and opened an investigation, but they have never issued any decision.  Meanwhile, 3 of the 4 Plaintiffs died.

A second major environmental justice case arising in Flint was decided adversely after a bogus, pro forma investigation in 1998 by EPA: the infamous Select Steel decision.  In Select Steel, the same plaintiffs complained about a proposed (never built) steel recycling facility, that would further pollute their already overburdened community.  EPA came under heavy political pressure in both Michigan and Washington, DC, including explicit threats to zero out the budget of their Office of Civil Rights.   EPA rendered a decision against environmental justice that abandoned any meaningful attempts to remedy environmental racism, refusing to use their power to bring public health and environmental quality in Flint up to standards enjoyed in white suburban communities.

In significant part as a result of the Flint Select Steel precedent, environmental racism has found no legal remedy at EPA.

Why did these regulators ignore the pleas of Flint residents who were forced to drink smelly, foul and discolored water for a year and a half?  Because that was the policy of allowing substandard environmental and public health conditions in communities like Flint, conditions that would never be allowed in whiter, more affluent communities.  And that precedent was largely established in Flint in the 1990s.  The ongoing Flint River scandal was the result of emergency management and the Snyder administration’s depraved indifference to health of People in Flint, as well as longstanding, established de facto environmental policy to allow such pollution in these communities.

The Flint River’s lead poisoning is just an extreme case.”

Ironically, on January 19, 2017, EPA finally issued their administrative Title VI decision in the GPS case.  They found the state violated Title VI in their permit process. “… EPA finds that the preponderance of evidence supports a finding of discriminatory treatment of African Americans by MDEQ in the public participation process for the GPS permit considered and issued from 1992 to 1994.”  25 years later, it’s a textbook case of “justice delayed is justice denied.”  The commission should not have ignored this evidence.   

Leaving out Flint’s important role in the attack and rollback against environmental justice perpetuates the very exclusion the commission decries, and allows current state leadership off the hook for implementing racist abuses in Flint in 2014-15.  This seriously compounds the commission’s admitted failure to come to the aid of the People of Flint in their hour of need.  That is why I feel compelled to write this response.

Racist Restructuring is not only about Flint

In addition to erasing the significant history of anti-environmental justice state actions in and around Flint, the commission’s selective application of history leads to other major contradictions.  For example, Detroit’s decline and revitalization is a product of the same history of structural and systemic racism, suburbanization, housing and employment discrimination, capital flight and separate and unequal benefits of crucial infrastructure, all rooted in regional development shaped by implicit bias, that the commission details in Flint.  Indeed, the two cities’ histories of abuse by such structural, systemic forces are inextricably related. 

Detroit, like Flint, was subjected to Governor Snyder’s racist and undemocratic “emergency management” restructuring and asset-extraction policies; instead of contaminated water, Detroit’s structural adjustment involved mass denial of water via shut offs to tens of thousands of families comprising well over a hundred thousand individuals, an atrocity that was condemned by UN representatives as a human rights violation.  This dubious achievement has been widely celebrated in the corporate media as Detroit’s “resurrection”.[iii]  It is not critiqued by the commission, altho it represents another manifestation of the same deep history of implicit bias, structural and strategic racism that is their primary focus.

Ignoring Agency and Power

In political terms, emergency management deprived predominantly African American citizens in the managed communities of their agency in democracy.  Now the commission’s “racism without racists” reframing of the Flint River scandal lets the perpetrators off the hook for their abuses and crimes, by excusing their agency because it “merely” reflected implicit bias the commission believes they shouldn’t be called out on, because it supposedly did not rise to the level of intentional, willful prejudice embodied in state policy.  In addition to devastating democracy by ignoring the crucial role of agency, this is far too charitable to the structurally racist miscreants at the top of Michigan’s power systems.  For the record, neither Snyder nor any of his Republican enablers in the state legislature have lifted a finger to date to fix the deadly problems caused by Michigan’s unprecedented emergency management statute.  There’s nothing unconscious about their racist evil.

Coincidentally, the release of the commission’s report coincides with the release of the justly acclaimed James Baldwin documentary film, “I Am Not Your Negro”.  Baldwin’s simultaneously blunt and eloquent message to American White People perfectly captures the moral blame that should be cast for poisoning Flint, and should serve as a useful corrective to the commission’s tragic evasions of official culpability:

What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place. Because I’m not a nigger. I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. . . . If I’m not a nigger here and you invented him — you, the white people, invented him — then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”[iv]

It is long past the time to stop the “relentless poisonous action” of Snyder and his associates; the systemic, structural and implicit nature of the racist bias underlying their shocking, depraved actions should not be an excuse. 


[i] The Flint Water Crisis: Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint (link)

[ii] The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective (link)
I also drafted the original, much stronger version of the Michigan State Environmental Justice Policy that was disastrously watered down by DEQ bureaucrats in 2009-10, under pressure from corporate and white supremacist special interests.  That “Executive Directive” is discussed at length by the commission beginning on P. 100.  The commission’s analysis of this farcical process and the meaningless document it produced is pure tautology: If Michigan had an effective policy against environmental racism, then there would have been a policy against environmental racism that might have been effective.  True.  But that’s not the question.  The question is why the state government’s bad actors did what they did. 

Lansing’s systematic inattention to issues addressed in our communities’ original draft environmental justice executive order, like the  precautionary principle, cumulative impact of multiple pollution sources, communities’ rights to directly petition the state to investigate and remedy environmental injustice, and environmental racism (as well as feral, unregulated capitalism) itself, came after fighting tooth-and-nail against grassroots groups seeking such policies for 30 years.  This notice-and-refusal-to-correct-injustice evidence adds culpability – even willful depravity, in the unprecedented circumstances of Flint in 2014-15 – to the depths of unconscious, implicit bias that undoubtedly plague all levels of the Snyder administration.  This is precisely why I reject the commission’s reasoning and conclusion; they seem to be saying that, since structural and systemic bias are overwhelmingly implicit and unconscious (Nobody in state government endorses “I am a racist”), it would be unduly hurtful to attribute blame where blame would otherwise be due.  I respectfully dissent.

Flip the script: The policies and actions of high officials like Governor Rick Snyder, Transformation Manager Richard Baird, and Treasury Secretary Andy Dillon that exposed the People of Flint to contaminated water were racist.  Fundamentally, environmental racism is the state’s policy.  The Flint River crisis proves it beyond doubt.

[iii] This uncritical corporate and white supremacist backslapping has been debunked by scholarship.  Detroit’s Recovery; The Glass is Half Full at Most “…[B]y a number of measures Detroit continues to decline, and even when positive change has occurred, growth has been much less robust than many narratives would suggest. Second, within the city recovery has been highly uneven, resulting in increasing inequality. … Overall, citywide data suggest Detroit is continuing to experience decline that makes it worse off than it was in 2000 or even 2010 in the depths of the national recession. Population, employment and incomes continue to decrease, while vacancies and poverty have increased.” (emphasis added)

[iv] I Am Not Your Negro; James Baldwin’s Lesson for White America Still Hits Home 50 Years Later


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
February 20th, 2017
With the release of our first issue on February 7, 2017, RIVERWISE magazine is officially part of the local media landscape. Part of our stated mission is to be inclusive in ways not normally associated with print media.

We have begun accepting submissions for the Riverwise Spring issue. But we’re exploring other ways to engage and broaden the network of movement activity for the benefit of Detroit’s traditionally underserved population.

2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

In keeping with that spirit, we are starting a series of public dialogues.
Join us for our first official ‘community conversation’ February 25 at Source Booksellers at 5 pm and share stories of public displays of activism in your neighborhood.

Who is organizing who, to solve what prevailing issues? What existing community spaces serve as liberation zones or places to create and implement new visions? And how we can better cover these stories?


With our first issue as a backdrop, we’ll be talking about these issues and more throughout 2017 and beyond. 

 – The Riverwise Collective                              


Thinking for Ourselves
Following Orders
Shea Howell

shea25Across the country people are deciding it is more important to do the right thing than to follow a bad law. Days into the Trump administration the Attorney General refused to defend Trump’s executive order closing borders to people from predominately Muslim countries. Sally Yates made it clear, none of us can say “we are just following orders.”

Since that moment, thousands of others have confronted this choice. As TSA and Immigration officials followed Trumps orders, people staged nationwide protests, swarming airports and packing the streets. Now, after galvanizing the attention of the country through a day without immigrants, people are organizing resistance. Some of this resistance is providing workshops on understanding your rights, some is establishing networks for emotional and financial support, and some is preparing for direct actions to stop ICE from deporting people.

People of faith are asking how to remain truthful to higher laws while working to transform the unjust ones dictated by Trump. Declaring sanctuary churches is one response. Nationally, there are more than 800 congregations that have become sanctuaries since November 8.

Mayors are reaffirming their cities as Sanctuaries. These declarations of non-cooperation with federal officials shows widespread defiance to Trump’s effort to bully cities. New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco all publicly defied Trump. San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said, “I am here today to say we are still a sanctuary city. We stand by our sanctuary city because we want everybody to feel safe and utilize the services they deserve, including education and health care.”

Detroit’s Mayor Duggan has failed this moral test. Worse, his Chief of Police is telling us how much he loves Trump.  It took one little invitation up to the big White House, and Chief Craig has come back “emboldened.”

“Very positive, very supportive,” Craig said. In logic that was obviously twisted by Trump, Craig claimed he would not be “doing illegal immigration work for the president, but if a violent offender is caught and is not a citizen, the feds will be called.”

Such a distinction is likely to become increasingly blurry. During the recent round of arrests across the country, many were “collateral arrests” meaning those detained weren’t the original targets but people who got caught up in workplaces and homes.

The reality is that Trump is depending on local law enforcement to support mass deportation. That is why part of the meeting with Craig and other police officers was to highlight a little discussed executive order on immigration enforcement that included measures to ramp up a program known as 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement officers to double as federal immigration agents. In addition to establishing broad and vague authority for arrests, this order provides a framework for local governments and private prisons to benefit from establishing detention centers. Detaining immigrants is about to become an even bigger profit center.

Chief Craig would do well to rethink his thoughtless response. The Mayor and the City Council need to reaffirm Detroit as a Sanctuary City. They also need to reassert local control over local police.

Today, across the city, school principals and teachers are providing far more leadership on what it means to live in a city that cares for its people. In calling for Sanctuary Schools, they are making it clear that “following orders” will not lead to a just society.


6 Things to do to support immigrant neighbors
GLOBAL Detroit

1. Put up a sign stating that everyone is welcome (attached). Download and print the signs from this website : https://www.welcomeyourneigh bors.org/download-pdf

2. Join the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center newsletter. Stay up to date and be an ally when anti-immigrant legislation comes up: http://michiganimmigrant.o rg/about-us/subscribe-newslett er

3. Sign-up for a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training! – https://docs.google.com/form s/d/e/1FAIpQLScBR_o0LweYzITIFN Oirrh50g0Snoafsx1gzsT41NGjC7c0 qg/viewform?c=0&w=1   (More dates to follow!)
4. HOST a Know Your Rights (KYR) session at your school, church, or neighborhood and invite as many as you can!
5. Share these videos from MIRC:
Spanish and English video of our 5 minute community education videos. Some folks have been showing this video in small groups and then having discussion with copies of our guide. Here are the links to those videos:
MIRC made a 20 minute English “train the trainers” video as a companion to our popular “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” guide.  Here it is:
6. JOIN THE ACLU!! They need support and volunteers! https://action.acl u.org/secure/support-aclu-mich igan
(AHEM! 7. Others are wondering what they can do, so post what you are doing on FB and share this email every couple of weeks with others!)


Come see YES! magazine editor Sarah Van Gelder discuss her new book in Detroit

Source Booksellers
February 27th
6 pm
the-revolution-where-you-live (1)

What We’re Reading

Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
William Anderson
Praxis Center

There is a love that should be more prevalent. In our communities overrun with toxic masculinity, a deep, radical love for women and all gender non-conforming people is especially important right now. The horror of white malevolence has personified itself in the realization of a Trump presidency. This is intricately linked to dangerous definitions of manhood that will only make these times worse. It’s imperative that the men who create this constant disarray realize that they’re going to be making life that much harder during these difficult times ahead.

While many are contemplating what resistance will look like over the years ahead, there’s one major effort that shouldn’t be overlooked:  men need to stop beating, raping, and killing women. Any resistance to fascism will be undermined by the terror that men wreak against women in our respective communities. The overwhelming violence of toxic masculinity defines itself at the expense of women daily. It’s street harassment; it’s domestic violence; it’s everywhere. Though often overlooked, women have been the formative leaders of so much of the work that’s gotten our movements to where they are today. Without women, our movements are absolutely nothing, and we must travail to overcome the trite manhoods that destroy women. KEEP READING


solar 2


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
February 13th, 2017
Closings-Rally leafletPDF


Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!

2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.

We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.

We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.

We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.

LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more


Thinking for Ourselves
Protecting Waters
Shea Howell

In the midst of the anguish and chaos flowing from the Trump administration, new reports about water were issued with little attention. They raise serious questions about the quality of our drinking water and predict that clean, affordable water is rapidly disappearing.

In December, as we braced for Trumps inauguration, Reuters released an alarming report that concluded nearly 3000 localities in the United States currently have drinking water with levels of lead “at least double the rates found in Flint’s drinking water.”

This was followed a few weeks later by research from Michigan State University concluding that water rates are becoming increasingly unaffordable. “If water rates continue rising at projected amounts, the number of U.S. households unable to afford water could triple in five years, to nearly 36 percent.” This means, “As many as “13.8 million U.S. households (or 11.9 percent of all households) may find water bills unaffordable.”

Further, water rates have increased 41 percent since 2010, and if they continue at that pace over the next five years the number of households that cannot afford water and wastewater services could soar to an estimated 40.9 million, or 35.6 percent of all households.

The United Nations estimates that by the year 2025 as much as two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in conditions of serious water shortages and one-third will be living in conditions of absolute water scarcity.

Water scarcity will be accelerated by the Trump administration. Within the first week in office Trump moved forward on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), threatening the entire watershed flowing from the Missouri river.

In addition, he is commitment to privatizing public goods and turning the bounty of the earth into private profit centers. This kind of thinking proved deadly in Flint. A recent article by Tracey Chaplin published in Next City explains, “The flaw in the logic is simple, but devastating. An economic strategy will function in a different way if applied within a different sector, because there are two totally different bottom lines in operation. Efficiency and profit are the key motivators in the private sector. Conversely, creating the greatest public good for the greatest number of people is the bottom line in the public sector. But when private sector drive for efficiency at any cost is applied within the public sector, public good takes a back seat. Power is concentrated among a few individuals. The voice of the people is silenced. Safety and human rights are sacrificed. Lives are lost in the name of efficiency and economic solvency.”

Detroit has the opportunity to point another way forward to protect our waters and our people. For more than a decade community activists have been arguing for a water affordability plan based on income and designed to encourage conservation.

Mayor Duggan has steadfastly refused to adopt such a plan. He has shut off 50,000 homes from water since 2014. His assistance plans have been a disaster.

In the beginning of February the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department unveiled a system of block rates to encourage conservation and shift some of the burden from lower income people. While this is welcome first step, Duggan will have to do much more if he expects to truly address the crisis we are facing. As Roger Colton, a Massachusetts-based economist who sat on the panel, said the inclining rates are “a progressive step to address inability to pay.”

“Inclining block rates can be a good tool,” he said. “They are not adequate unto themselves, but they are a step ahead.”

Protecting our water and our people are fundamental to our future. While we resist Trump and his national assaults, we can make a tremendous difference here in our own city. It only requires imagination and will.


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Social Action of/in/through Yoga
Meghan McCullough

Saturday, January 21st, 2017 was shaped, for me, by this animating question: What is the relationship binding social action and yoga?

In the morning, B led us in an empowerment flow. On our mats, we moved and breathed to songs born of the anti-apartheid freedom struggle. Voiced from within the movement, these songs carried the struggle, hope, and soul of a people in pursuit of survival, justice, and liberation. They manifested active nonviolence in the heart of the most abusive of legal, social, economic, and political structures. From the birthplace of humanity, at the southernmost tip of the African continent, the cry of freedom echoed outward, calling the international community to a greater awareness and a deeper reckoning with its complicity in global systems of social and economic oppression. They said: “see and hear how our cities and our families have been torn apart by your ‘development.’” “Khawuleza, mama!” “Senzeni na?” What have we done to deserve such abuse? In this human family, we are all subject; these songs call us, however “us” was or is or will be understood, to account for our deeds and rise to nobler heights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqdcz0eYLSQ

Singing begins with breath. On my mat, I breathed. My heart sang with Miriam Makeba and I contemplated the dramatically different definitions of “power” manifesting themselves in the world around me, and within me. What is it about softening into a posture that strengthens?

Off the mat, I met and joined my colleagues who, on this day, were coming together for the first time to begin a journey into yoga teaching training. Together, our small group took the decision to join the Women’s March and embarked on our walk from the studio to the Lansing Capital building. As we walked, we worked to clarify our motives, our inspirations and our dreams. Never did we claim to be the same, yet the pursuit of a common question united us in dialogue. I imagined all of the human beings around the country and the world who also felt moved to join what became one of the largest days of protest in US history and globally. Women-led marches took place in over 600 locations, spread across the seven continents of the world. We were joining them, in their tremendous diversity of experience, expression, and intent. We joined them in the quest/ion of social action, in the struggle of “chaos or community?” that must be faced by a global people awakening to their shared humanity. I wonder who they’re talking to.

Outside the capital, I observed and heard and felt the differing motivations and concerns of my fellow marchers as they stood in the sun, walked through the mud, held and hugged and greeted one another. There is nothing more beautiful to me than people who care about people. Sometimes, their hopes were intoned with notes of despair. Sometimes, the cry “freedom,” was reduced to the protesting of one man’s inauguration and the “others” who let it happen. Advocacy efforts are too easily coopted by the falsities and loss structures of partisanship, of gender binaries and the naturalized violence of white supremacy in a sensationalized market culture. Therein lies the challenge and responsibility for those of us who believe in unity as an active principle, and not as a rhetorical tool to silence those voices and bodies who have been written in as “outsider.” “Showing up” is complex, and just as two people who look the same in a yoga posture will always feel it differently on the inside, it is easier to claim unity with our physical presence than it is to advance a unity of thought and action capable of aligning words with deeds and principles with practice. For some, “social action” is surviving and living in the bodies God gave them and the circumstances into which they and their parents and their ancestors were born.

Yoga as praxis is a process of unification; it means “union,” the communion of breath and movement, body and mind, the reconciliation of the fragmented, disparate parts of ourselves into a whole. If yoga doesn’t humanize, it is not yoga. And humanization is, for me, the sole objective of social action. The distance between the minds and hearts of these bodies, of my body, gathered together for a common-cause-in-the-making, is a source of motivation, a challenge and opportunity that lives in the vision of the beloved community.

What does it mean to have a world-embracing vision? How do we locate the voices of the vulnerable? What are the crying needs and unique opportunities of this Day? What is the source and meaning of our power? What substance and programs and policies will fill our slogans? These are movement times. As the world of humanity becomes increasingly able to envision itself as one body, united in spite of the myths of national borders and false hierarchies that have displaced and governed for centuries, how can our actions, individually and collectively, come to embody the principle of the oneness of humanity?

At other points in human history, the study and practice of the life system of “yoga,” its roots and branches, began by teaching its ethical principles: the yamas and niyamas. Long before the asana was introduced, the spiritual implications of movement were contextualized and clarified. In a time when the material advance of civilization has far surpassed the maturity of its thinking and the quality of its relationships, I urge myself and every concerned individual to place the question of spiritual development at the center of definitions of “progress,” and to commit, through dialogue, to clarify the meaning and practice of “development” wherever it is invoked.

Yoga requires of us the sacrifice of a material attachment to self, in the service of a higher purpose: an ongoing, moral becoming. It is “the true union of our will with the will of God.” Undertaken as both individual and collective practice, in the context of community, it is social action. Social action, when uncompromising in its belief that every soul was created equal and noble, when seeking to advance social, material, and spiritual conditions for all people, and especially the vulnerable, is yoga.

Khawuleza, mama
Amandla
Namaste


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What We’re Reading

the-revolution-where-you-live
Jump in Sarah van Gelder’s camper for an unforgettable journey. From remote North Dakota reservations to Chicago’s urban farms to the coal fields of Appalachia, YES! Magazine’s cofounder meets the quirky and the committed, the local heroes and the healers who are building a better world, one community at a time.
She’s coming to a town near you!


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
* Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!
* Rally Against School Closures
* Resisting Trump is WORKING!
Dilla Youth Day Detroit 
*Educating for Democracy
Shea Howell
* Emory *Douglas Feedom Freedom fundraiser 
*Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
*Detroit Youth Day  Detroit Historical Museum
Living for Change News
February 8, 2017
Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!

2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.

We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.

We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.

We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.

LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more


school

Resisting Trump is WORKING!

For everyone who believed in #resist, congrats on helping with the following successful efforts. – Betsy Taylor

Because of you:
1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Federal judge imposes temporary nationwide halt to Trump’s travel ban.
3. Green card holders can get back in country after massive airport protests and litigation efforts.  Iraq war vetswere part of those protests.
4. Uber CEO drops off presidential advisory council and pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter. 200,000 Uber users drop the app.   Lyft gives 1m to American Civil Liberties Union to fight immigration ban.
5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air with  help from private companies.
6. The ACLU raised 24M over one weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure.
8. 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/ethn ic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. White House contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has opposed almost all of Trump’s nominations and is getting support as a result.

11. Trump’s approval ratings are low by historical comparisons.
12. Governors are standing up against Trump – most notably in California.  They are joined by over 17 state attorney generals.
13. Big City mayors are defying Trump on immigration issues and more.
15. High profile athletic teams – and many others – are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels.

16. Theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just released and extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin.  This must see film is the latest in asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.
17. There will be a growing number of efforts to impeach Trump.
18. Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.
19. The White House has pulled back from reopening black site torture prisons due to public outrage and pressure from veterans.
21. Seattle climate activists successfully moved their city council towards divestment of 3 billion dollars from Wells Fargo due to its support for the Dakota Access pipeline project.
22. Most important perhaps, hundreds of thousands of new people are engaged.  Scores of new platforms for engagement have been launched including:

These are dark times and the threats are colossal.  While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins.
Stay vigilant, but also take self care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. Give thanks for all the others – known and unknown – who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight.
#resist


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Thinking for Ourselves
Eucating for Democracy
Shea Howell

The announcement by the state School Reform Office that it is considering closing 25 more schools in Detroit is being met with widespread outrage. Students, teachers, parents, and community members rallied quickly to denounce the proposed closures. Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent for Detroit Public School Community District vowed to fight the closures saying, “School closure is not an option.

Even Mayor Mike Duggan, who has absolutely no authority over schools, weighed in to say he would “fight the irrational closing” of schools. The Mayor, in announcing his bid for re-election, said he had called Governor Snyder to tell him the announced closures are “wrong” and that the school reform office efforts are “immoral, reckless … you have to step in.”

On Sunday February 5 the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative spearheaded a community town hall to develop strategic responses to this latest assault on our children and their futures. Over 300 people gathered to talk about how we can support our children and parents.

Russ Bellant, community advocate, began the informational panel opening the meeting saying, “The fundamental message I think everyone needs to understand is that the closing of the schools, not just this month but for the last 18 years, has been illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral.”  Mr. Bellant emphasized that the state Constitution says “no public money to private schools,” but 80% of the charters are for profit private corporations. Over half the children of Detroit attend charter schools.

Other panelists and audience members agreed, arguing that school closures are a form of genocide, targeting African American districts across the state, creating conditions where it is impossible for children to learn, to feel cared for, or be respected.  

The only groups in Michigan supporting additional closures are those supported by Betsy DeVos and her cronies. The Great Lakes Education Project called on the state to shut the “worst of the worst” schools. The organization said education officials have spent $7 billion on failed school-turnaround efforts. Most of that money has gone into the hands of private corporations and consultants.

In a system where private corporations have driven children into overcrowded classes, provided unqualified teachers, refused to provide needed materials or even basic facilities like functioning bathrooms, DeVos and her friends continue to claim they care about our children. Defying reality, they claim closing schools is good for families.

“The simple fact is these schools are failing our kids and their families deserve better,” said GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert in a statement. “If the SRO exercises the ‘unreasonable hardship’ exemption to avoid closing any of these schools, we expect them to implement dramatic restructuring to give these students a chance at a successful future.”

The battle for public education in Detroit is a prelude to what people around the country will face as Betsy DeVos brings her agenda to the national stage as the new Secretary of Education. Uniquely unqualified, dedicated to the destruction of public education, and architect of polices that are nothing short of child abuse, DeVos will be pushing privatization and schools of choice across the country.

Resisting her efforts requires deepening our understanding of the critical role public education should play in strengthening our democracy. The purpose of education is to enable people to become fully responsible, creative citizens, making decisions that critically reflect an understanding of ourselves, our relationships to one another, and our responsibilities to the earth that supports us.

We are facing critical times. We need the imagination and thinking of everyone, especially our children, to develop just and regenerative futures. The efforts of DeVos and company to reduce education to another profit center for corporate elites must be resisted. This resistance must be rooted in love for our children and in the celebration of their capabilities to participate in developing solutions to what democracy can really look like.

—-

Footage courtesy of Shane Bernardo from Emergency Meeting on the Education Crisis.

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Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

Over the past few months, the Boggs Center welcomed our first group of fellows. They are an intergenerational group of writers, social justice organizers, educators, union organizers and students who have been collectively studying, creating, organizing and writing. Below is their collective write-up in solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors.

In the face of corporate violence, environmental destruction, and the militarized stripping of physical and spiritual bodies, Indigenous women have played an integral role in leading a multi tribal nation stance of solidarity to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We have witnessed a peaceful transformative stance of truth from the Sioux and many Native Tribes. This stance though long voiced, has only recently been heard by souls around the world. After inconceivable injustices toward Indigenous communities that continue today, the sacredness of Indigenous peoples and principals are finally being honored by the masses. It is a step toward the light of humanity, but it is a far journey away from where we need to be as human beings.

“Settler colonialism is a structure, not an event,” writes Andrea Smith (http://www.showingupforracial justice.org/standing_rock_soli darity).

When the DAPL was rerouted from Bismarck to Standing Rock, elected officials and corporate entities denied this right to the native tribes in residence at Standing Rock, despite recognizing the risk to the residents of Bismarck. This was an intolerable act of injustice, and is rightly protested by members of the Standing Rock community and others across the country and the world.

When we urgently reflect, as individuals and in community, on the crying needs of a humanity tired of the violence of war, too often lived as normality, we must ask: how it is that the machinery of war has come to be seen as a tool for “security” and “development?” When development is centrally concerned with the death and exploitation of the sacred, we must ask: what are its ends? We watched as the cry to protect the very water that sustains our collective life on this planet, water through which the spirits of former and latter generations flow, was shot down with water canons fired in subfreezing temperature. We saw offerings of peace carrying hopes for a more sustainable future spat upon with tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades. And yet, our Indigenous brothers and sisters were armed with prayers, with love for the earth in all its sacredness, with generosity of spirit, and with hopes for generations to come. So we must also ask: what is the nature of the machinery those of us who are tired of war must develop? How will we, out of hope and out of need, reimagine and redefine what development looks, feels, smells, and tastes like on the local battlegrounds of a planetary struggle?

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at Standing Rock! We stand in support of their collective and resounding efforts to fight for their rights toward an equal and just water system. We lift up the stories, songs, and ongoing prayers of native families that will forever be connected to victorious counter-narratives. We are committed to not only being allies with our voices, but through our planning, organizing, and doing. We remain focused on creating and promoting culturally-based frameworks and understandings that affirm the lives of Indigenous communities struggling for their humanity.

We uphold the right to clean water as a basic right of all humanity. We affirm the statement that water is life, and that life cannot continue without access to water. Creating healthy and life-giving communities cannot happen without this basic need.

We celebrate the fortitude and strength of the Standing Rock Water Protectors, recognizing the Indigenous leaders who inspired the global community to take action against the illegal and immoral construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While we rejoiced in the recent victory at Standing Rock, we knew that the assaults would increase, and so must the global resistance. We knew that the responsibility to create healthy, sustainable energy and to support the autonomy of Native Peoples in this country would become more pressing and significant.

We acknowledge the work still to be done in the fight for equal access to clean water in Flint where residents continue to struggle against the contamination of their water supply, and in Detroit where thousands of residents are without water and continue to face water shut-offs each month. We take courage from the Standing Rock Water Protectors and will strengthen our efforts to stand alongside those who continue the fight for water in our own communities.

We learn from Standing Rock that open space is not empty space, that land is sacred and its resources precious, that communities should have a say in decisions that will impact their health and their relationship to the land. We stand firm against the violence, discrimination and disrespect that the Native Peoples of America continue to face from our government and corporate interests. We remember the long history of injustice that has been perpetrated against Native Peoples, and we are reminded that communities have power to stand against oppression and to make an impact for the better.

The energy galvanized by the Water Protectors — the thousands united to sustain the resistance against the violence, against being sprayed with freezing water in sub-zero temperatures, against militant threats of further displacement and arrest, against being bitten by K9 dogs — is a collective energy strong enough to stop the pipeline drilling.  We have witnessed Water Protectors protecting their sacred burial ground, their home and the bloodlines to their living ancestry. We have witnessed Water Protectors fighting to live.

May the Water Protectors be victorious. The soul of America, the soul of humanity is at stake.

Julia Cuneo,
Sarah Chelius
Eshe Sherley
Raven Jones Standbrough
Lisa Perhamus
Cass Charrette
Elbert Collier
Maggie Rohweder
Michelle Puckett
Lejla Bajgoric
Meghan McCullough

 


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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

Jimmy and Grace  
 
Living for Change News
January 31st – February 6
2017
correctedEmergency Ed
Thinking for Ourselves
The First Week
Shea HowellThe first week of the Trump administration has been met with resistance at every level.

People by the thousands gathered spontaneously at airports around the country to protest Trump’s ban on immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall” and “Let them in!” Mayors issued statements affirming their cities as welcoming places. Sheriffs announced they would not cooperate with immigration and border patrols. Governors stepped forward to stand with immigrants. Lawyers set up card tables to offer legal advice. Others filed lawsuits. University presidents and student leaders are issuing statements in support of immigrants. Congressional leaders have taken to the streets. International leaders and organizations condemned the ban. Reporters are chronicling the stories of lives interrupted, people and families put at risk. Business executives are setting up special funds to support resistance. Non profit organizations, churches, and people of faith are issuing declarations in opposition to the ban. Judges are ruling against it and the Acting Attorney General refused to defend it.

Meanwhile scientists are planning a march on Washington. Anonymous sources in the White House are leaking concerns for Trumps stability. And the wonderful park rangers are not only continuing to tweet, but their leadership has ridiculed the foolishness of Trump directives.

We are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country.  The speed with which Trump has moved to consolidate authority into the hands of a wealthy, ideologically driven group of white extremists has made clear his intentions to turn our country into a mean, crude, and cruel place.  

Over the next few months America will be reshaped. The actions we take matter in ways we cannot imagine or predict. As Dr. King said more than 50 years ago, “The future is neither automatic nor inevitable.”  He said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

We have seen such passionate concern across the country. And we have also seen those who are willing to collaborate with injustice. Some border patrol members and immigration officials zealously moved to enforce this ban. Others refused to provide any information to lawyers, family members and government offers. Some news sources have celebrated the get tough attitude of Trump, saying most Americans support it. Trump himself has said he is having a “good day” as outrage spreads.

We are learning that some people will risk everything for justice and some people will do anything to keep a job. We are facing a great divide. People are deciding where they stand, what they stand for, and what they are willing to do to not only to protect themselves, but for the values we cherish.

We are rapidly learning to think and act together in new ways. Turning to one another, defining the kind of future we want, requires levels of courage and creativity that are only beginning to emerge. But this first week gives us much to build upon. It holds the hope of our enormous capacities to create a new America for all.

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Visioning a world beyond struggle: What it means to be human
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

This past weekend, I joined thousands at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) for the protest against Trump’s most recent inhumane decision, his temporary Muslim ban. As usual, it felt exhilarating to be among so many people with similar views on humanity. And as usual, I felt the familiar sense of deflated adrenaline when our protest came to an end after 2 hours of pre-planned resistance. I must admit that some of it was also guilt, as I started to think about my comrades who were spending evenings resisting in other airports across the globe. Nonetheless, after being told by airport police that our “party is over,” a friend and I hailed an airport taxi and started to make our way home. I was reenergized for a bit after we were thanked by our taxi driver for our resistance, which followed with his waving of our fees. My conscience started to feel a little bit better, but I still felt incomplete.
Once home, after posting all my videos and photos on social media, I decided to visit a familiar voice for some inspiration. My late mentor, Grace Lee Boggs had issued a message to Occupy Wall Street in 2011. I also decided to watch her video around what it means to be human.

It’s typical for me to visit videos and writings from Grace when I am in deep political reflection. She was always asking, “What time is it on the clock of the world?” It’s a question that took me years to understand and internalize, but one that now motivates my writings and deeds.

After taking in Grace’s words, I decided to revisit an article I wrote after participating in one of Grace’s memorials last year in Oakland. I recalled that I had returned to Detroit with a great deal of clarity and wanted to revisit that moment for inspiration. I wrote in part:

“Grace pushed us to vision when the rest of the world appeared chaotic. She pushed us to study when many in the world would deem that passive. Grace pushed us to connect in love and struggle and to create our paths by walking them. She pushed us to turn to one another when the pain and trauma of the world was tearing us apart. If Grace were sitting here now, she would tell us that we are living in dangerous times, a time of both crises and opportunity.  She would tell us that these are the times to grow our souls and that it is not only a time to imagine what the Next American Revolution could be like, but that we should imagine what this country’s revolution could create for the rest of the world.”

Grace believed, like we believe, that Detroit could be the center for the world’s transformation and she pushed and guided us to take leadership in that regard and to nurture others to do the same.

The brief moment of jubilation one feels when they are protest organizing cannot be lingered upon. Although it is imperative that we celebrate the small victories in order to achieve moments of relief, we must challenge ourselves to move past the joyful moments and warm feelings that keep us celebrating for too long and into the moments that challenge us to ask ourselves “What’s next? What time is it on our individual clocks? What time is it on the clocks of our blocks? What time is it in on the clocks of our cities, on the clock of the world, on the clock of our humanity?”
What changes need to take place in each of us in order to challenge the status quo?
To challenge the notion that a city must be poisoned in order for us to fight for it’s poor to have clean and affordable water? To challenge the notion that a people who cannot pay their bills are disposable? To challenge the notion that those who are undocumented, or are immigrants to a city are unworthy of clean air and the protection of their language, culture and identity? To challenge the idea that the fratricide we see happening most prominently in Black and Brown communities is disconnected from racism and capitalism?

If Grace were sitting here, she would be telling us to listen to our young people and telling the young people to utilize the marbles of our elders. She would be asking us what we are going to do different, not tomorrow, but today in terms of what it means to be a human being?

So when asked what time it is on the clock of the world, on the clock of our souls and our humanity, let us keep in mind that we hold the hands that move the clock and we have a responsibility to “move the world.”

I share with you these videos of Grace and my personal reflections with the hopes that we will all struggle individually and together to become more human as human beings and to expand our ideas towards resistance to include vision. We must become neighbors to our Muslim sisters and brothers, above and beyond Trump’s executive orders. We must turn toward one another and away from the cultural biases and prejudices that have us sitting silently until media lets us know we should be outraged. We cannot afford to revisit these conditions another 50 years from now.
In the words of another one of my mentors, Barbara Ransby, “Who among us has the luxury not to resist?”


Black Bottom and Paradise Valley Exhibit

BOLL FAMILY YMCA, DETROIT
January 3 – February 28 2017
Opening February 1 * 2017 6-8pm* 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, was adopted by the 38th Congress. 

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\image 2Deconstructing White Supremacy - (8)

WCCC

AMC2017_Session_Flyer_Final

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

new_mo_cover

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

feedom-freedom-poster

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
After the March: January, 25, 2017
glb
Thinking for Ourselves
After We March
Shea Howellshea25People around the globe came together to affirm the possibility of a future based on justice, love, and peace last week. There is no question that this was much more than a protest. This was a march to call forth the best of what we can become. Organizers said the Women’s March was to “affirm our shared humanity and to pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” The organizers offered a “Guiding Vision and Statement of Principles that emphasized “Women’s Rights are Human Rights;” “Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice;” “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence;” and “accountability and justice for police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color.”The organizers drew on the legacy of revolutionary leadership naming 31 women who “paved the way” for us to march and who represent the global fight for freedom.
The also acknowledged inspiration from “the movements before us – the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more – by employing a decentralized, leader-full structure and focusing on an ambitious, fundamental and comprehensive agenda.”Whatever the contradictions, this was a moment to be celebrated. Marches that move us toward stretching our humanity are an essential part of creating a better world. But they are not sufficient. The real question is what do we do the next day, and the next, and the next?

Many people that I talked to were already working to answer this question. Many had been working for years on issues facing their communities, challenging injustices, and developing alternative visions. But many were also new to politics. About 65% of those responding to the March survey said they had never been to a demonstration. For thousands upon thousands of people this global outpouring was made up of small conversations, human moments of laughter, fear, and joy mixed together in a spirit of hope.

We were in Washington DC on Friday. We found ourselves joining a march. We were not sure where it was headed, but the giant elephant with the “racism” sign made it clear this was group to join. All along people were stepping into the streets. Within a few minutes we heard an explosion. It was a tear gas shot. The first of several. There had been no effort to ask people to clear the streets. We were marching with babies in strollers, elders with canes, and people peacefully raising their voices. The tear gas was followed with pepper spray. We saw small groups of young people franticly trying to wash it out of their eyes. We saw fully militarized police, tanks, and army troops arrayed against demonstrators.  

Power is not frightened by pink hats. It moves swiftly to crush those who challenge it. When it does, it is often the young, the bold, and communities of color that are most directly targeted.

Over the next few days we are going to have to do some very strategic thinking. As we deepen our work to develop alternative visions, we are also going to have to expand our capacities for direct action and civil disobedience. We cannot pretend that the forces that brought us this administration will go away.

On Saturday I got a glimpse of how we can think more about what we need to do. On the sidewalk were individual white men with electronic megaphones. They were saying hateful things. Each one was surrounded by a small group of women. The women held affirming signs. They offered loud chants and songs, so we had an alternative message to the hate being broadcast. And they had fun while they were doing it.  

This seems a message for action. Box them in so they can’t move. Have more of us than there are of them. Provide an alternative vision and have as much fun as we can while we do it. We should have no illusions. But we should also have faith in our own possibilities.

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America’s Truth: The Moment We Must Now Face
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

This movement moment is calling on those of us who believe in the vision of Dr. King to respond. This movement moment is calling on us resist. But, what does resistance look like?

In 2014, I published an article in the beloved, but now defunct, Michigan Citizen newspaper called, “A Time for Visionary Resistance”. In that article, I said in part:

We live in a time where those who have the illusion of power attempt to continue their authoritarian rule with increased militarism at home and abroad. We live in a time where those in government and corporate America continue to evade the global environmental crisis, while flip flopping sides on where they stand, leaving the American people to suffer as a result of their indifference.

It is no coincidence that we continue to experience this never-ending turmoil in America. America has not been honest with herself when it comes to her identity as a country, her coming into being, or the violence she inflicted and maintains at home and abroad in order to continue to exist in the way that she has since her inception. Many have been harmed and killed by the values carried forward by pursuit of the American Dream. In order for us to transform this country we have to start being honest about what we stand for.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “It is a question of whether we are making any real progress in the struggle to make racial justice a reality in the United States of America. And whenever I seek to answer that question, on the one hand I seek to avoid and undo pessimism, on the other hand I seek to avoid superficial optimism and I try to incorporate or develop what I consider a realistic position by admitting on the one hand, that we have made many significant strides over the last few years in the struggle for racial justice. But, by admitting that before the problem is solved we still have numerous things to do and many challenges to meet . . .We have come a long, long way, but we have a along long way to go before the problem is solved.”

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It is time that we had very frank conversations about the condition of this country. It is time that we had brave conversations about the fear that sparks racial divide. It is time that we had honest conversations about the individualism that feeds capitalism and its toxic relationship to racism. It is time that we had real conversations about the misinformation perpetuated in the mass media and regurgitated in our homes and our communities about various cultures and identities that incubates ignorance and encourages violence.

By 1968, Dr. King was calling on this country to have a radical revolution of values.
He was calling on us to do more than build non-profits, coalitions and allegiances. He was calling on us to do more than become allies and good samaritans. Dr. King was calling on us to look inside ourselves, to look at our own humanity and resist a society, a country that would allow so many people to gain wealth at the expense of other people. Of course now we know that it has been at the expense of all living beings. Our land has suffered. Our air has suffered. Our water has suffered. Our humanity has suffered.

Right now, we are witnessing within the White House an increased investment in the 1% by President Elect Trump. This is a repeat of what we have witnessed from the top time and time again. It begs the question, what are the rest of us willing to invest in?

On Leadership and Love
Rich Feldman

The Women’s March was about leadership and love, and was truly massive. I had the privilege to travel to DC from Detroit with my partner, Janice, and our friends who founded Matrix Theatre. We met our daughter Emma and her friends there.  I marched peacefully and in militant affinity groups in DC during 1969, 1970 and 1971, challenging US Imperialism and the Vietnam War as well as defending the Black Panther party and other political prisoners.  I have joined many other gatherings of labor, anti-war, nuclear disarmament, environmental demonstrations, free political prisoners in years since but this was different.  This was a call to life and love. It felt like an emerging declaration of commitment to resist the violence, policies and barbarism that awaits all of us and the entire planet.  We responded to the counter-revolution.  How we respond is now on our agenda.

This was not a lot of self-interest groups spouting their agenda or simply putting forth “Fix it” strategies but this was a comprehensive yearning and expression of voices that brought forth an energy that I have never seen in one place. While some expressed short term concern, most of the speakers and signs created a new unity of voices: From Black Lives Matter to the need to address the Planetary Crisis. From Gay, Lesbian, Transgender to Disability Justice. From signs reminding us of the spirit of Harriet Tubman to the courage of Shirley Chisholm. From people committing to defend and protect the earth to defend and protect immigrants and strongly proclaiming solidarity with Muslims and declaring that “we will all register as Muslims”.

This was a joyous gathering not based in naivety but with a feeling that when people come together we have the chance to make history.  A great majority of people were under 40 years old and most had never been to a demonstration before.  Folks who “sat out” the 60s and 70s broke their silence and participated for the first time.  As I marched and as I witnessed this humanizing moment, I was reminded that these marches across the world were a response to the rising counter-revolution and the fact that Trump made this so personal and so ugly.   Trump’s victory was in response to our emerging movements of the past decade.  From Arab Spring and Occupy, From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock and From rallies reaching 350,000 in NY to advance the struggle against climate change and commit ourselves to Mother Earth.

A new leadership is emerging in our country and it is was not the chant: “We need a leader, not a freaky twetter” but “We are the leaders we don’t need a creepy tweeter.”

The commitment to resistance, the commitment to go back and organize, the work to create vision and practice to change ourselves and establish liberated territories is now on our agenda. When Angela Davis addresses 1 million people in DC and when Grace Lee Boggs is an honored leader along with Judy Huemann (Disability Justice) this is not your usual march.  Let us learn all their names,  just as we will learn each other’s names and  passions. This is our time.

Let us claim no easy victory and let us never underestimate the barbarism of those in power and let us never underestimate our power as we engage for the long haul with a sense of deep urgency.  Let us “not panic” but organize.

From the Women’s Call to March:

We are empowered by the legions of revolutionary leaders who paved the way for us to march, and acknowledge those around the globe who fight for our freedoms. We honor these women and so many more. They are #WHYWEMARCH.    

Bella Abzug • Corazon Aquino • Ella Baker • Grace Lee Boggs Berta Cáceres • Rachel Carson • Shirley Chisholm • Angela Davis Miss Major Griffin Gracy • LaDonna Harris • Dorothy I. Height * bell hooks • Judith Heumann • Dolores Huerta • Marsha P. Johnson Barbara Jordan • Yuri Kochiyama • Winona LaDuke Audre Lorde • Wilma Mankiller • Diane Nash • Sylvia Rivera Barbara Smith • Gloria Steinem • Hannah G. Solomon Harriet Tubman • Edith Windsor • Malala Yousafzai



WHAT WE’RE READING

Why Need James and Grace Lee Boggs Now
Garrett Felber
Black Perspectives

In 2011, I sat in the living room of Grace Lee Boggs at 3061 Field Street, a space Bill Strickland affectionately described as “the Boggses’ University.” Grace was then a sharp 95 years old and began by asking each of the graduate students huddled on her floor where we came from. I told her that I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but was skeptical what this could tell her about me. I had given it little thought since I left for college a decade earlier. Fort Wayne was a place Grace knew intimately, whether she had been there or not. It mirrored her city, Detroit: a booming, blue-collar industrial city, home to massive plants that were depleted by a loss of over 30,000 jobs during the closures of the 1970s and 1980s. The cities even shared a basketball team (the original Zollner Pistons were moved from Fort Wayne to Detroit by auto magnate Fred Zollner in 1956).

Five years since sitting in that living room, as Donald Trump unfathomably became our 45th president, I kept returning to that conversation. A year since Grace’s transition at the age of 100, and two decades since her intellectual, political, and spiritual partner Jimmy passed away, the Boggses’ lessons about grassroots organizing, community activism, and dialectical thinking are needed now more than ever. As Grace once put it, “The answers are coming more from the bottom.”

KEEP READING

new_mo_cover

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!

Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street

Detroit, MI 48214

Boggs Center – Living for Change News – Martin Luther King jr Day

  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
MLK Day
Thinking for Ourselves
Breaking Silence
Shea Howell
shea25
This year there is a poignant urgency to the celebrations of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the country people are gathering to celebrate, honor, and remember the movement and vision that called our country to find its best traditions and just promise. Everyone is mindful that these gatherings are happening in the shadow of the inauguration of a man who is the antithesis of all Dr. King represented.King would be 88 years old now, an age where many are still offering wisdom and counsel. Yet because of the kind of wisdom and counsel he was compelled to give us, he was killed. That wisdom is best captured in his speech given at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, “A Time to Break the Silence.” That was 50 years ago. It was his most searing indictment of the war in Vietnam, his deepest call to creating beloved communities.

King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking about some sentimental and weak response…Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality…Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act for peace and justice…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

The “dark and shameful corridors” are pressing in on us. And so Dr. King’s call to action is fiercely urgent. He asked us to “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

It is this call that is animating renewed energy in our country. Thousands of people are gathering in Washington D.C. and communities across this land to publicly declare opposition to the policies and practices that threaten to poison our souls.

Dr. King said, “It is the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

In this spirit Movement for Black Lives has called for a Pledge of Resistance and a week of non violent, direct action stating, “The Movement for Black Lives continued in the tradition of civil disobedience and direct action to reclaim the narrative of the Civil Rights Movement from corporate America, Hollywood, and others bent on sanitizing Black history rooted in radical tradition. #ReclaimMLK is a call to connect our contemporary movements, and to eschew respectability in order to embrace the radical courage of our people in the present. Today, as many ask us to “wait and see” and “respect” politicians aimed at hurting us, that original call is even more urgent.”

The National Council of Elders is calling for people to move with this courage to organize public readings of “A Time to Break the Silence” and ask hard questions about what it means for us today.

In this last year of life, Dr. King was becoming increasingly aware of the need for revolution. He said, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Our country is at a turning point. Dr. King reminds us, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Now is the time to give new and renewed voice to determine our future together.


PTOflyer Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”

Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI 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 evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.


Detroit Visionary Resisters
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

As the country experiences the turmoil that is American politics, many people in Detroit are showing visionary resistance to the status quo.

Whether it’s Pastor Barry’s call to action, artist, educator Walter Bailey’s hope to transform nature through art, Complex Movements building better futures, or Halima Cassells, Jerry Hebron and others making a life without money, Detroiters are once again exhibiting brilliance and resiliency in the face of adversity.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.

Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.”

As we look around at the conditions that plague our communities some 53 years after Dr. King gave this speech, we now know that our dignity and our humanity lies within the hands of those willing to struggle towards Dr. King’s later call for a radical revolution of values.

We now know that we must create while we resist.

“I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but we might be able to imagine it if your imagination were rich enough.” – Grace Lee Boggs

Luckily, we know a lot of visionaries.

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Living for Change News
January 2nd – January 9th
PTOflyer

Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”
Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI 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 evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.

Thinking for Ourselves

Reshaping America
Shea Howell
As we approach the moment when Donald Trump will assume the powers of the presidency, conversations and articles abound about how to survive, resist, and organize our way through the next few years. These discussions are essential. We have never been here before.

Certainly there are many parallels with other moments in our history when racism, ignorance, and arrogance have combined to defend and advance white power and privilege.  But the irrationality of Trump, combined with enormous ego and unchecked power, challenge us in new ways.

Detroit and Michigan have a special contribution to make to these conversations. We have suffered from right wing extremists for the last several years. Our governor, state legislature, and Supreme Court are in the hands of right wing ideologues. They are supported by local and national think tanks and policy institutes that have outline a global neoliberal agenda. Their strategy is tinged with fundamentalist Christian views of the most corrosive kind. Their actions in Michigan point the direction that will mark the Trump administration.

First, Trump will make every effort to diminish democracy. Michigan has experienced unrelenting assaults on normal democratic practices. The right to petition, to assemble, to pass resolutions, and to peacefully, publicly oppose policies have been undermined and attacked. With the imposition of emergency managers, more the 50% of all African American in the state were denied the right to vote for local government. Rev. Pinkney of Benton Harbor is in prison on fake charges for his vocal opposition to emergency managers in Benton Harbor. Artists in Detroit faced felony charges for painting “Free the Water” on an old water tank.

Second, big business will prosper at the expense of people. Wall Street profits will overshadow the will of the people. For example, in the Detroit bankruptcy process, explicit state constitutional prohibitions against reducing pensions were “set aside.”  Pensioners bore more than 70% of the cost of the bankruptcy.

Third, basic essentials of life will be turned into profit. From education to water, businesses will be enabled to turn public responsibilities into private profit centers. Those who cannot pay will be shut off, locked out, or left to struggle with underfunded, neglected public programs.

Fourth, the capacity of children to be creative, critical, and imaginative will be attacked. The relentless testing, controlling of curriculum and dumbing down of ideas will accelerate. Turning students into consumers, not citizens, will drive education.

Fifth, what is real will be denied. Politicians will proclaim victories by distorting and defying the realities of most people’s lives. In Michigan, the Governor proclaims “relentless, positive action,” as the people of Flint still cannot drink their water.  Detroit’s comeback is limited to 7.2 square miles of a city that is 139 square miles. Most people have become poorer, not better off, since bankruptcy.

Each of these areas will be advanced by the coming administration. With initiatives large and small, Trump, Pence and company are dedicated to reshaping American life under an extreme, right wing ideology intended to promote business interests and personal wealth.

Just as we can look to Detroit and Michigan as signs of what to expect, we can also see the kinds of resistance that will be essential to challenging and changing our country. Here we see people carving out self-determining, caring communities, new forms of cooperative economics, collective efforts to save homes and defend against evictions, alternative media, and independent child centered educational efforts.

We should have no illusions. American is being reshaped. All that we hold sacred will be profaned. But this we know. The imagination, creativity, and collective actions of people who seek justice and joy matter now more than ever.
—-
A note from Rich

I want to share with LFC friends and supporters of the Boggs Center some exciting news about my son, Micah and the forthcoming film Intelligent Lives.

Micah is now 32 years old and has been a disability organizer, speaker and activist for many years. As parents and as activists, we have watched and nudged the political community to create an inclusive social movement for the Next American Revolution and always ask the question: Who is not at the table?

Micah has an intellectual disability and was alongside Detroit Summer and attended many meeting at the Boggs Center over the years. He’s currently a teaching assistant at Syracuse University School of Education, works as an outreach organizer for the Taishoff Center and has a strong circle of support that provides opportunity, love and and challengeds that help him live a full dignified life.

It is with great honor that I want to share that he will be speaking in LA and SF in late January where they will also share the trailer of the film intelligentlives.org. As my wife Janice and I often say quoting Dan Wilkins, “A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”

For more about Micah’s journey, check out Throughthesamedoor.com & Janice’s website, Dance of Partnership.

Please join the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education and Syracuse University Los Angeles for two exciting events this month!

Wage Love Lessons
Shane Bernardo

as we look upon the most recent cycles of seasons, moons and solstices for guidance, here are some lessons from my journey that i’d like to share with you and reflect upon.

as dear friend, comrade, speculative fiction writer and conspirator of radical love, Adrienne Marie Brown says, “things are not getting worse. they are simply being uncovered.”

in the same spirit, please also notice that the capacity to not only survive but also thrive is being uncovered. we are not mere beings defined by contemporary moments but rather timeless spirits being called upon to the purpose of serving the greatest good and stepping into our highest selves.

the presence of uncertainty, anxiety and trauma are indicators that we have the capacity to do this arduous and revolutionary work of healing ourselves, our ancestors, our families and communities “from the inside out and from the bottom up.” as spirit sister and ancestor, Charity Hicks would often say. these emotional and bodily indicators are a reflection of our innate human ability to care and to empathize. we can do no worse than to welcome and embrace them with open arms, mind and heart.

there is ancient wisdom in fear, sadness and loneliness. they are messages from deep within that are translated into tears, clenched fists and sore backs from carrying their weight. we embody ancestral intuition that has accumulated over countless generations. these gifts require deep reflection to honor their lessons. it takes a swell of gratitude and relaxed ego to crack them open.

Red Lake Ojibwe and wisdom keeper, Renee Gurneau says, “our triggers are where our power is.” and that “our innerverse is as expansive as the outerverse.” Renee calls us to remain ardently present and tender within life’s challenges and allow ourselves to be transformed by what brings us discomfort, pain and trauma…to not simply succumb or react to the harm they inflict upon us and instead allow these emerging signposts to illuminate the power that lies just past these triggers.

it’s important that we don’t allow the temptation of dejection and isolation to delve too deeply or long within our hearts. we must be able to access love in a way that transforms fear into purpose. it is here where life is fought for and won…within the palms of our inner most selves. as comrades, Movement Generation says, “what the hands do, the heart learns.” we can knead these inhibitions into submission and write ourselves as victors of our own stories.

stay vigilant. stay present and be very mindful of developing the muscle of intuition. recognize what is emerging. anticipate it.

notice our tongues unfurling. our sense of sight, hearing and smell becoming more acute. our touch more delicate and sensitive. our hearts feel more deeply and our collective imagination of what is possible is richer than ever.

stay in the womb of this heart center and ground y/our sense of what’s possible within the places where we are most strong. it is here where rich expansive possibilities are brought into the light and encourage our deep sense of love to lead the way. #WAGELOVE family. #WAGELOVE!

*this piece is dedicated to chosen fam that literally and collectively saved my life this past year; Natasha Tamate Weiss, ILL Weaver, Joya D’Cruz, Adrienne Maree Brown, Kezia Curtis, Mahima Mahadevan, Michelle Martinez, Lola Gibson-Berg, Louxoi Stoakley, Erin Martinez, Monté, Sterling Tolles, Sage Crump, Hong Gwi-seok, and Julie Weatherhead.

**inspiration for this piece came from the abundance of the collective wisdom of Adrienne Marie Brown, Charity Hicks, Renee Gurneau, Movement Generation, the Wildseeds Collective and ancestral femme spirits within my lineage that speak thru me. some of which can be found at the following links:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/233820532/Emergent-Strategy-Handbook

http://movementgeneration.org/

https://nolawildseeds.org/

otherwise, i can be contacted at Shanebernardo@gmail.com.

Disillusionment & the Need for Community In the Imminent Era of Trump
Naim Edwards

Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and the Republican Party controls the House and the Senate. The election has revealed a sobering truth: the “United” States are far from united, and significantly more Americans turned out to vote for the Donald than we thought. Moreover, it is clear that within states across the country, we are more divided than ever. Our separation is both ideological and geographic, ethnic and economic, intellectual and religious.
Mainstream media and most of the circles I hang around slated Hillary as a shoo-in. The news and political commentary professed and joked that an inexperienced, racist leaning, hot headed, misogynist could not possibly win the election. NEWS FLASH!!!! He won, and based on the electoral vote, Hillary had no chance. The American people, although not the majority, voted adamantly against the establishment and arguably for the greater of two evils. Trump voters were presumably neglected in the polls, and they exist outside the media narratives. Or then again, it could just be the Russians.

Trump’s win indicates the people’s frustration and inability to achieve the “American Dream”. Donald Trump is not the problem, but rather the product of our government’s failure to serve its people and enforce the values communicated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Despite all of the ways we are divided (and connected), we – the electorate – have been funneled for centuries into a two party system that for all intents and purposes has failed to bring forth justice for all. However, anyone familiar with history may recognize that “justice for all” was never really the goal though. Democrats and Republicans alike as a whole have spent the last few decades catering to Wall Street and multinational corporations at the expense of America’s social and economic fabric. Parties have focused primarily on winning elections, while deprioritizing their commitment to serving their base.

Furthermore, government officials have increasingly been shepherded by corporate execs into the fields of neoliberalism to graze on interference and exploitation of foreign countries. At the same time, elected leaders were coaxed into undermining their own constituents’ rights as our educational system, local economies, and access to public resources were handed over to private interests. There was minimal commitment if any to addressing and healing centuries of oppression based on race, class, and gender – although I must acknowledge that the government has never expressed or concerned itself in a concerted effort to genuinely confront injustice. Fortunately, the founding fathers ratified the constitution in a language that has allowed the oppressed to leverage it against the system itself. All the while, the U.S. has maintained and broadcasted a message of “equal rights for all”, “land of the free”, etc.

Thankfully, many of us continue to be jolted awake from the American Dream, as our fellow American’s demonstrated with the ballot that they want America to be great again. Of course, those who voted for Trump and agree with what he has said suffer from their own illusions. Now however, we must all prepare for what the next four years may bring; “greatness” will surely lead to continued if not increased suffering. We all must rise from the complacent slumber and simply dreaming and challenge every facet of our lives that has lead to this political juncture and our state of separation. Our dreams can either be visions that guide our being and actions, or they can be illusions that pacify, blind us, and distort reality.

It is not my intention to place full blame or responsibility on us as individuals, but rather recognize that we all play a role in the separation that has lead to Trump’s ascent. In order to prepare for and resist the worst of what is yet to come, we must shift our behavior and orient ourselves towards strengthening our communities. I am glad to point out that in Detroit and neighborhoods across the nation, millions of people have been organizing and doing just that for decades already, but we may need to do it better and differently. We must operate in ways that weaken the system and strengthen our bonds. This political- economic system is weakened when we intentionally participate in interdependence i.e. community and depend less on everything that is sold to us for the almighty dollar.

We must slow down and consume less: less television, less driving, less shopping, and less working (less tweeting and facebook too!). We can gradually or as quickly as possibly transition to lifestyles where we share our gifts with one another more. Instead of the grocery store or supermarket, try a local food producer or Community Supported Agriculture. Enjoy slowing down and balancing work with other life giving activities, or figure out how to intertwine work and joy in creative ways. Discern how your consumption patterns and daily behaviors perpetuate and reinforce our oppression and separation; then seek community-building substitutions. Let’s connect, struggle, and create together. With trust and love we can persevere and overcome our brokenness, and dare I say “Make America Great for real!”

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

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
January 2nd – January 9th
Thinking for Ourselves
Faithful Days
Shea Howell

shea25This year the first day of 2017 was also the last day of Kwanzaa, Imani, the affirmation of faith. Over 200 people gathered at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to share in celebration of the day. Young people with the Detroit Independent Freedom School Movement joined with parents, teachers, friends, artists, and activists to emphasize our faith in one another and our capacity to create a better city and a better world.

It was a good way to begin this new year. The Al Nur Drum and Dance Company set the energy for the event as people gathered to light the Kwanzaa candles. Each candle calls forth a value that will be important for us to remember as we face the choices of the coming days. Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith are critical guideposts to judge our actions.

People were reminded of the powerful history of the Freedom Schools that emerged in the 1960’s. These schools were about more than classrooms. As Jon Hale wrote in the Atlantic, freedom schools were part of a larger movement for Black Liberation and were designed to teach “the art of resistance and the strategies of protest.” In the process they raised questions about the very nature of our democracy.

The forces of white supremacy did not welcome this questioning. In fact, the Freedom Schools and the Freedom Fighters in Mississippi who were part of them were subjected to a “level of terrorism that had not been seen in the South since Reconstruction. From June to August 1964 alone, police arrested more than 1,000 protesters and local segregationists murdered three freedom workers, assaulted over 80 activists, opened fire on demonstrators over 35 times, and set fire to 35 churches.”

In response to this violence, “Activists remained undeterred. During the course of the summer they successfully pressured Congress to end a seven-week filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Freedom Fighters also forced Southern states to admit a handful of black students to all-white desegregated its schools in 1964, becoming the last state in the country to do so.”

These victories only lead to more questions for the Freedom School Movement. Bob Moses who would later founded the Algebra Project asked in the fall of 1964, “Why can’t we set up our own schools? What students really need to learn is how to be organized to work on the society to change it.”

For the Freedom School Movement “a quality education did not mean seating a black student next to a white student. It meant making sure every school adopted a rigorous curriculum, hired excellent teachers, and provided an opportunity for economic mobility.”

This is an important history for all of us to remember as we decide how to resist the growing greed, dehumanization, and destruction of the coming federal administration.

Congressman John Lewis, who was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), wrote that the objective of Freedom Summer was to “force a showdown between the local and federal government.”

As we move into 2017, we face another “showdown.” None of us should have any illusions about the level of violence that so quickly surfaces against those who move us toward a more just future. Nor should we lose faith in our capacity to resist, to find ways to work together, to celebrate our creativity, and to forge a place for our children.

daplconcert
I Too, Sing America
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

I am true believer in the power of poetry. After all, I have considered myself a poet since I was 7 years old. I can still recall the butterflies I felt in my stomach when my elementary school teacher had me read, and later perform Langston Hughes’s I Too, Sing America. It was a life changing experience.
I grew up with a grandfather as a pastor. When I was a very young child he would have me memorize scripture and recite it at the head of the church. I was proud to learn the lines and all the books of the Bible. There was something fulfilling about it. I can’t recall how solid my interpretation was of what I was memorizing at that age, but I do recall that there was something about my reciting those lines that made the congregation feel good, that made me feel good. There was something that shifted in the atmosphere for them and for me when I would recite to the audience.
But, it was experience with getting to know Langston Hughes’s poetry that took my life to another level. I found a spiritual connectedness I had never felt before. The words drew me in, made me think and emote. I knew then that I wanted to be a poet.
Poems helped me escape everything around me. I could write a poem that took my sorrows and placed them into testimony. My grandpa started to let me read poems in front of church, instead of scripture. He understood that poems were my scripture.
I suffered many things as a child and I often think back about the times I’ve endured the most trauma in my life and the poems that came to rescue me. They have been a beautiful refuge from a sometimes ugly world.
As an adult I have struggled with how to keep poetry as a significant part of my life. Art, and especially poetry is often treated as an afterthought of struggle and resistance. The deeper I got into ideological study and thinking, the deeper the questions about my art became. How can I be political, yet visionary as an artist? How can I use poetry as an organizing tool of resistance? How can I bring my seemingly contradictory worlds together?
After deep meditation, I created a workshop called Poetry as Visionary Resistance. The workshop helps me to apply political ideology and organizing to my love of poetry. It’s the way I discovered how to merge my worlds. It’s an adaptation I’ve become quite proud of.
I was recently forwarded a write-up by Wayne State University student, Julia Grace Hill about one of my workshops and it brought me to tears. The write-up did not focus on the “success” of the workshop, it focused on the author’s love and renewed appreciation for the power of poetry. It was more than I could hope for. Reading Julia’s reflections took me back to the butterflies that inspired me to live my life through poetry. The renewed my desire to continue to create for something larger than myself.
This past Sunday I was invited to share poetry as visionary resistance through sermon on New Years Day at the First UU Church of Detroit. After meditation, I went into the sermon asking myself three questions:
What does it mean to resist?
What role should vision play in our resistance?
What becomes of a visionary, stuck in a deficit mindset?
When I started to speak with tears streaming down my face, the sermon took on a life of its own. It can be found here.
May we all discover a lifelong love for poetry. May our visionary resistance live on.
What becomes of a visionary
trapped in a deficit mind?
What becomes of their art?
What becomes of their shine?
If they are buried in gloom,
when their art resonates,
will they set off a bomb
will they detonate hate?
Will they torture their souls,
taking others along?
Will they chip at our spirits,
til we just frame and bone?
What becomes of a visionary,
with no hope to spare?
Do they leave with the wind,
or dissolve in the air?
Do they drown in the waves,
or get lost in the fray?
Or will they come out
pen swinging,
til they vision a way?
My Ancestors had vision,
freedom on the inside.
Visualized their liberation,
before the freedom rides,
before the marches on Washington,
before melanin in the oval,
before elections determined,
whether our lives would be over.
They visioned freedom from whips,
while they lived inside chains,
saw freedom in their mind,
while their bodies were enslaved.
Visionaries make evolution,
lead us to co-liberation,
create the world we all need,
Love waging, imagination.

10 Things to Think About this Year
Rich Feldman

rickAs I look back at 2016 and enter 2017, I am reminded that we will commemorate many anniversaries this year. The world will commemorate the 100 anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the 80th anniversary of the Flint Sit-Down Strikes of the UAW, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion and the 50th anniversary of the MLK speech: Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence.

I am reminded of historical turning points and moments of choice when ideas and actions matter. We live in such a moment. A Moment when there is no separation between the Urgency of NOW and the long haul, where our choice is Community or Chaos.

2016 was a very personally significant year because it was the first year in more than 40 that my political work in Detroit did not include a living relationship with either James or Grace Lee Boggs.  James died in 1993 and Grace transitioned in 2015. The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership continues the intellectual and on the ground work in Detroit and across our country and globe. I am very fortunate to be part of this legacy and ongoing work.

In 2016, My wife, Janice, published a new book, What Matters! Reflections on Disability, Community and Love which chronicles the journey of our son, Micah, who has an intellectual disability.  For the first time in our lives we have no living parents sharing their memories or stories with us at the holidays. My dad, Myron, died in 1970, my mom, Pearl in 2013, and Janice’s mom, Delores passed in 2014 and her dad, Albert in 2015.  Both Emma and Micah continue to live in Boston & Syracuse respectively where they are both teachers with a strong commitment to “making the world” a little better.

History, time and ideas remind me that Donald Trump and all his attempts to save the dying order of capitalism/racism is not permanent. Trump also supports a continued materialist collision course with nature (planetary suicide or natural genocide). Out of the pain and the whip of the counter-revolution will emerge a new historical period, for better or worse.  

We are in a battle to create the future. Yes, it will be dangerous, filled with fear, pain and hate and also awaken more people to resist and to look deeply at the need for new solutions and new thinking.  Some will look to old solutions and old thinking and others will ask deeper questions, become more radical and look at ourselves and our comfort zones.

Hope is about taking the next step. We live in 21-century movement times. From Arab Spring to Occupy to Black Lives Matter and from defining ourselves as protectors and stewards of the earth to the leadership of our ancestors and the historic role of women at Standing Rock. As we enter into new territory taking new steps, create new practices, reflecting on theory and practice, we set free our imaginations.

Here are 10 things to reflect on or act upon in 2017

  1. Create resistance and sanctuary neighborhoods, cities, counties, schools, union halls, faith based centers, and workplaces.
  2. Create sustaining circles of support and commit to creating the Beloved Community. These are the times to grow our souls! Our human spirit is searching.
  3. Host community readings of the MLK speech:  Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence calling for a radical revolution in Values.
  4. Listen to Krista Tippett interview with Vincent Harding and Rube Sales.
  5. Check out emerging Fab City Movement (From Barcelona to Detroit). The JOB economy is over.  It’s our time to re-imagine work.      
  6. Create and support local sustainable community production and self-governing democracy zones where we live. Begin to write local constitutions based upon new values and principles to build a new nation from the ground up.
  7. Create discussions, listen and engage with folks in the suburbs who too often have ignored or minimized the truth of our nation’s history and thus, quietly or actively, supported the exclusion of those who never gained from the American Dream.  
  8. Create Brave Spaces. There cannot be reconciliation or a coming together of our nation until there is truth telling.  Creating brave conversations about racism, misogyny, xenophobia and ableism are essential for personal and collective transformation.
  9. Read Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation, Grace Boggs’ the Next American Revolution and Immanuel Wallerstein, so we can really deepen our understanding of today by understanding this historic-epoch transition moment in which we live.
  10. Publically express what you believe.

When our children and grandchildren look back in 50 years or 100 years, what will they see? What can 2067 or 2117 look like? Our choices, our actions, our ideas do matter.  Will they matter enough?  Our future is up to us!  Imagination and no regrets in 2017!


15,000 Lights
Rabbi Alana Alpert
Detroit Jews for Justice

I write to you just a few hours after our second annual Festival of Rights. Jews and our allies came together to celebrate our hard work, assert our shared vision, and affirm our commitment to realizing that vision. A few brief highlights:

alpert

GUIDING LIGHTS

Some of our most trusted partners lit the menorah. What an incredible privilege to offer the honor to friends whose leadership we have been blessed to follow this year. We were joined by friends from The Motor City Freedom Riders, The Ecology Center, and the People’s Water Board.

REDEDICATION

Hanukkah means “dedication” – it gives us an opportunity each year to rededicate ourselves to struggles for justice. Tonight, new and old leaders committed ourselves to stretching ourselves in the coming year — to showing up for learning, for action, for play, and for the nitty-gritty.

Watching a slideshow of our short history I felt amazed by how much we have been able to accomplish so far. The plans our leaders are developing for this coming year are ambitious. We ask for your voices, hearts, hands, and feet — your money and your time. It is only with all of those things can Jews in Metro Detroit join the fight for racial and economic justice.

As we sang together:

Kol echad who or katan, v’kulanu or eitan — Each of us is a small light, all of us are a great light.

new_mo_cover
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


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
December 26th – January 2nd
The Boggs Center would like to thank Vassar College for the opportunity to share the stories and work of Detroiters who are visionaries, solutionaries and place-based educators during a recent learning journey in Detroit.

The following videos published by Vassar College share stories from Freedom Freedom Growers, Church of the Messiah and the Boggs Center.

To read the magazine in it’s entirety, click here.

Thinking for Ourselves

Beyond Balance Sheets
Shea Howell

shea25The people of Michigan can take some comfort in the recent criminal charges brought against two emergency managers responsible for the disaster in Flint. This is the first formal acknowledgement that the poisoning of Flint is directly tied to the lack of democratic control. Former Emergency Managers Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley were charged with criminal conspiracy. These charges affirm what most people in Michigan know. Emergency Managers are a means of sacrificing public safety and health in order to save money. In the course of these savings, some well-connected businesses make money.Even Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has vigorously defended emergency management laws, was forced to admit that the irrational drive to make public decisions based on balance sheets is at the core of this disaster. During the press conference announcing the filing of criminal charges Schuette said, “There was a fixation on finances and balance sheets. This fixation has cost lives. This fixation came at the cost of protecting health and safety. Numbers over people, money over health.”

This fixation did not happen by accident. It is imbedded in the philosophy of the right wing republican legislature that dominates our state. It is the core belief of the Governor who champions private businesses as inherently better than public services. It is also the notion embraced by president-elect Trump. He clearly intends to bring business, profit seeking, and private wealth to the plundering of the country. As Flint so clearly demonstrates, these ideas are disastrous for people and for the natural world on which we depend.

Two things are clear in these criminal charges. First, Emergency Managers were concerned about something more than “saving money.” They are also beholden to the forces that appoint them and support their use over publicly elected officials. Both Ambrose and Earley used their positions to commit the financially troubled city of Flint to long-term loans that would benefit Wall Street and the Karegnondi Water Authority.  Something more than saving money was involved. Both are charged with using false pretenses to put Flint in the position of leaving the Detroit Water System and committing it to the use of the Flint River.

As the Attorney General’s special prosecutor indicated, “Without the funds from Flint the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) Pipeline would have to be mothballed. However, as a bankrupt city, Flint needed the Michigan Department of Treasury’s approval to get loans.” Todd Flood, special Flint water crisis prosecutor described their actions as a “classic bait-and-switch.”

Second, the emergency management legislation is the direct result of the efforts of Governor Snyder. As citizens voted against the legislation that allowed governors to appointment unaccountable individuals to control city resources, Snyder told his business buddies not to worry. He pushed through PA 436 in a lame duck legislature, against the clear will of the majority of people. This is Snyder’s law, Snyder’s idea, and Snyder’s responsibility.

But Snyder is not alone in this. The idea that the best way to think about public responsibilities is by looking at balance sheets is shared by many others. Mayor Duggan in Detroit upholds this notion. It is behind his irrational commitment to water shut offs. In the face of ongoing concerns of human rights abuses, the inability of people to keep up with payment plans, escalating water bills and concerns for public health, Duggan continues to shut off people from life giving water. His efforts to assist people in paying bills have failed miserably. Now he has authorized over 12 million dollars to a private corporation to continue to shut people off.

Whatever comes of these indictments, the idea that saving money is the only responsibility of government is a disaster for people and the planet. The idea that good decisions are made by unaccountable officials is a lie. The real questions before us cannot be answered with balance sheets. They require us to think with our hearts.

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The Oppurtunity in our Crisis
Tawana Honeycomb PettyTawanaPettyLast week we shared with Living for Change readers that the Boggs Center was watching “Barry” and had read the review of the film about President Barack Obama in Vanity Fair.

We found it curious that James “Jimmy” and Grace were referenced in the short film about the college life of the future president, but recognized the opportunity it presented to further the discussion with a generation that might have had their first introduction to Jimmy and Grace through the film.
In the age of technology many people are introduced to revolutionaries and social justice activists through online methods and social media sound bites. Although not an ideal method for a thorough political analysis and discussion, it is an open door to introduce deeper conversations and thinking.
With the release of Stephen Ward’s new book In Love and Struggle, we are hopeful that a new generation of visionaries, revolutionaries, educators, solutionaries, artists, activists, students and everyday people will get an inside look into the legacy of revolutionaries who challenged the status quo, redefined evolution, helped define place-based education and challenged the notion of Detroit as a dying city dependent on solutions from a top down approach.
Jimmy and Grace nurtured political thought, grassroots leadership and the humanity of human beings who sought and are still seeking to reimagine what America can become.
The country is at a crossroads right now, but we should be as clear as the Boggs’s that with crisis comes opportunity.

At this “time on the clock of the world,” it is critically important that we vision together The Next American Revolution. It is critically important that the children of Martin and Malcolm and Jimmy and Grace, “shake the world with a new dream,” a dream that begs the world to question, what it means to be a more human, human being at a moment that at times is challenging us to channel our ugliest selves?

Let us together prove for once and for all that our “imaginations are rich enough.”


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

President Obama: use clemency to free a wrongfully convicted Native American
The Guardian

Approaching the Standing Rock Reservation to stand with the Water Protectors, you couldn’t miss the dramatic display of tribal flags flying high along the dirt driveway and surrounding the perimeter of the large campgrounds. Scattered between hundreds of flags are banners bearing messages such as: Mni Wiconi, “water is life” in the Lakota language.

Also scattered among the flags were banners calling for the release of Leonard Peltier, a Native American who has been in jail for more than 41 years, unjustly convicted of the 1975 murders of FBI special agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Barack Obama justpardoned or commuted the sentence of 231 individuals on Monday, and Peltier was not among them.

We represent Leonard Peltier in his 2016 clemency petition, which asks Obama to allow him to live his final years at home on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Mr Peltier is old, ill and a threat to no one. The petition seeks his release in the interests of justice and reconciliation and is supported by Nobel Peace Prize laureates, humanitarians and scholars. Rights groups have embraced his cause, including more than 100,000 people who have signed an Amnesty International petition calling for his release. KEEP READING


Winter Soup
Myrtle Thompson Curtis

The Feedom Freedom Growers held its monthly community-building gathering, Winter Soup and Warm Sweaters. This activity was inspired by the work we do day in and day out of self-determination that keeps us tightly knit and visionary as we press on toward our mission of “growing gardens and growing community”.

The following phrase is one of many that we find inspiring and spot on. It is from Martin Luther King. “In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because International standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

This statement also reminds me of words from the late Detroit activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs. She said, “growing our souls” is to reach inside ourselves and to be a part of the solution. In the first chapter of the book The Next American Revolution, Grace speaks of these trying times and what each of us needs to do, like working collectively and individually to assume responsibility for creating the world anew.  She said, “Each of us needs to awaken to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our hearts, minds, and bodies; between our physical and psychical wellbeing and between ourselves and all the other selves in our country and in the world.”

This was read aloud before the program ended. It was a mindful and reflective way of closing out our day together and brought us a step closer to healing what is broken in our communities.

The program on the afternoon of December 17, 2016 was one of many critical steps in the community building of the Jefferson-Chalmers area. The neighbors, friends, and family of FFG came out despite falling snow and cold temperatures. We appreciated the many that did show up in spite of harsh, snowy weather. One visitor from France found us via facebook and enjoyed the meal that was served. He said his town of Marseilles does not have the sense of community that Detroit has and he wondered aloud what changes are needed to create such a sense of loving unity.

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The families that attended helped in providing an atmosphere that emphasized doing our part with each person to build community. Many have attended FFG programming before but there were new friends and their beautiful children all enjoyed a meal of homemade vegetarian chili, old fashioned homemade Chicken & Dumplings, a salad of dark greens, and cornbread.   

A representative of Detroit Zero Waste was present to make sure that families that cannot afford to pay for a blue recycle bin get one for their waste. This is a necessary step toward reduction of recyclable waste going into the incinerator and helps households become responsible to the environment. We put out a call for warm clothing, new and gently used.  We are able to assist those that may be in dire need this winter, especially families from our neighborhood and youth at a local housing shelter.  A table of hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, and coats piled up rather quickly.  

Moms, Dads and children created artistic designs on t-shirts. Artist and Mentor Wayne Curtis tutored youth in creating original designs to be screen printed at a later date. The team of OneCustom City Screen T-Shirt printing let the youngsters color and press the designs to get a feel for what they had created.  

Feedom Freedon Growers meets once a month in a local venue to cook, converse and create, grow our souls and grow our community into critical, caring thinkers and doers. You can like visit us on fb and stay tuned for January programming as we reflect again on the powerful words and actions of the Detroit activist’s community.

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The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


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
December 19th – December 26th
daplconcert

Thinking for Ourselves

Light and Water
Shea Howell

shea25Mayor Duggan has launched an aggressive initiative to improve life in Detroit’s neighborhoods. This past week he has touted new initiatives on employing Detroiters. He announced efforts to strengthen executive authority requiring some businesses to hire at least 51% Detroit residents for their workforce. Those who don’t meet this goal will be fined, the money used to fund training programs. He has ordered a tightening of controls on landlords who are not paying heating bills. Currently, some people have gone more than a year without heat in their apartments. These efforts are all part of Duggan’s “20 Minute Neighborhood” vision where any person should be able to walk or bike to almost everything they need within 20 minutes.Duggan advocated this vision last spring at the Mackinac Policy Conference. Talking to the business and political leaders gathered there, Duggan posed the question, “What do want this city to be?” He then talked about neighborhood life and finding solutions that were “inclusive,” “unique,” and “authentic” to Detroit.

Much of this effort was captured at the ceremony last week to flip the switch and illuminate every Detroit neighborhood. “For the first time in a generation, Detroiters can step outside at night anywhere in their city and have an expectation of a street lit to the national standard,” Mayor Duggan said.

This is a major accomplishment. Under the rule of Emergency Management, nearly half the lights in the city did not function and no one was allowed to replace them. Duggan wisely decided to begin his efforts in the darkest of neighborhoods and has now completed installing 65,000 new LED lights at a cost of $185 million.

Yet it is this very accomplishment that makes me doubt his vision.

I have lived in a west side neighborhood since the 1970s. Until last year I never had a streetlight, so I was delighted to see the small sticks in the ground marking the spot for a new light right at the end of my driveway. Most neighbors joked that it was unlikely a real light would follow. But cynicism gave way when trucks and heavy equipment started working their way down the block.

I was home the day our light was put it. It was a little odd to see six white men in the neighborhood putting in city lights. I asked them where they were from. Toledo it turned out. Then they put up a wooden pole and attached the arcing LED light. By just about any standard, these new lights, made of wood to deter metal theft, are ugly.  And now, depending on individual wiring systems to avoid circuit failure, high winds cause a constant flickering. And as many people have experienced, the LED light does not illuminate the dark as much as the old ones. It seems to concentrate a pool of light on a small section of the street, leaving the rest still in darkness.

When this problem was raised with the Mayor, he said. “No. 1, what we are doing is lighting the streets. That’s what streetlights do is to let you see traffic, bikes, oncoming traffic. It is not to light your property. That’s the reason for your property lights.” His department head suggested turning on porch lights, as though people had not been lighting the city that way for years.

This attitude in response to citizen concerns is exactly the reason why people distrust Duggan’s vision. It is clouded by a fundamental disrespect for the wisdom and experience of people in the community.

Over the last two years, the single most critical issue facing our city is water shut offs. Nearly half the homes in Detroit have experienced lack of water due to the inability to afford escalating water bills.

People in the community have an answer to the question of what we want the city to be. Fundamentally we want it to be a city that cares for its people. If the Mayor truly wanted to improve the quality of life for all he would put a moratorium on water shut offs. He would adopt a real water affordability plan. Duggan’s technological projects do not solve problems of our hearts. 


#DetroitCultureCreators

TAKE THA HOUSE BACK – WILL SEE

(official music video)


Trump: The Unfinished Business of Goldwater and Rockefeller
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
EclectablogLike Barry Goldwater’s campaign to “Save America” in 1964, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign unearthed a marginally suppressed anger rooted in white supremacist racism, fear, and capitalism.

Goldwater’s opposition to big government and civil rights had come at a time when the country was wounded and struggling to move forward. It came at a time after a presidential assassination, after race riots and uprisings injuring thousands and killing dozens. It came at a time when civil disobedience in response to unfair laws and governmental practices had become an anticipated and daily occurrence.

Trump’s opposition to Black Lives Matter (made clearer through his nomination of Jeff Sessons) stands squarely with Goldwater’s then opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. Trump’s position against government models Goldwater’s pursuit of a shrinking government. The difference is that the electorate wasn’t willing to follow Goldwater’s lead.

In response to pushback against his extremism, Goldwater espoused, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” This and other divisive rhetoric ultimately helped sink Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. Ironically, this same sort of rhetoric under similar political conditions would help sail Trump into victory over 50 years later.

Two Steps Forward, Ten Steps Backward

America was reluctantly struggling to become great, a goal I would argue it had evaded until the country seemingly unified during the 2008 election of its first Black President. On the surface, America had taken more steps closer to greatness than it had ever taken before; not because America had resolved its ugly past and present global contradictions, but because for once, a black man could stand before America and say in good conscience that he believed the United States Constitution also applied to him. It was a short-lived window of progress.

Although the 2008 election of President Obama brought together progressives from around the world, it also unified racist hatred inspiring hundreds of incidents of anti-Obama violence. Nooses were hung from trees, Obama signs and crosses were burned on lawns, and people were assaulted. The country became polarized.

At my own job at the time, the office split down the middle. Blacks and whites that had once considered each other friends, shared joint lunches and chatted on a regular basis became reticent towards one another. One person even reported an Obama t-shirt to human resources.

The Awakening

In the days since Obama’s first 2008 victory, the US has moved backward and forward contemporaneously. With oppressive policies and discrimination came mobilization and civil disobedience in ways reminiscent of the 1960s. The Occupy Movement was mobilized against capitalism in 2011. Black Lives Matter began as a hashtag in 2013 following the murder of Trayvon Martin and galvanized the country in 2014 following the police murder of Mike Brown and the uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities across the United States. The People’s Climate March mobilized nearly 400,000 people in NYC to stand against global warming and fight for environmental justice in 2014, the world responded to the government sanctioned poisoning of 100,000 people in Flint, Michigan and the massive water shutoffs in Detroit, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe mobilized the country to join their resistance against the pipeline in North Dakota. Americans were no longer accepting things as they were. Unfortunately, not all who resist are on the right side of history.

Trump’s Rhetoric

There are two major differences between the 1964 hostile campaign rhetoric and the 2016 hostile campaign rhetoric. First, fear and anxiety towards a Trump administration among Blacks was no longer sure-fire support for the Democratic Party in 2016. Second, Trump’s rhetoric was timely and desired by a populace exhausted with movements for social justice, declining economic mobility, and so-called “political correctness” that had been on the rise since the 1960s.
As much as the (mostly white) Republican Party had grown tired of the middle of the road Republicans they felt had not had their backs, many black Democrats had grown wary of a middle of the road Democratic Party they realized could not represent the full scope of their humanity. Their attraction to Bernie Sanders and the failure to elect Hillary Clinton showed proof of that. Blacks’ exhaustion towards a racist society fueled their support of Sanders as much as racism itself fueled support for Trump. When Bernie Sanders’ campaign was yanked from underneaththem, it pissed a lot of people off.

What Now?

More than anything, I believe it is Trump’s lifelong pursuit of a Rockefeller-like legacy that drives him. Trump has managed to channel both Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller (seemingly archenemies) into one mighty titan rolled into one. Even more ironic is his relationship with Mitt Romney, eerily similar to the political antagonism between Goldwater and Romney’s father in the 60s.

The President-elect has been trying to make Trump a household name like Rockefeller once was since he was a young man; a pursuit of fame and notoriety similar to that of his own grandfather’s attempts to shadow the wealth of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

It’s no coincidence that the President elect has nominated Rex W. Tillerson – Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation and a decedent of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company to the office of Secretary of State. What better way to secure a global oil fortune?

As I watched Trump circle back on his “Thank You Tour” trying to squash some of the hate filled rhetoric and lies that got him elected, his motives for world dominance became clearer to me. He doesn’t want to be known for draining the swamp, he’s too busy digging for oil beneath it.

Trump is a capitalist and American capitalism is intertwined with racism. We’ve seen the hand that Trump is dealing. We had better start paying attention to Pence’s.


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

“Netflix’s Barry Imagines Obama Before He Found His Way”
KEEP READING
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A message from our friends at Tewa Women United

After 25 years of serving the Pueblos/Tribal nations and diverse rural and underserved communities of northern New Mexico, Tewa Women United is in the process of buying our own building on a quiet, tree-lined street in Española, New Mexico. Having our own home makes it possible to offer our programs and do our work in a much more sustainable way.
Work is needed to make this new home a comfortable place for our community. New Mexico winters take us below freezing, and summers send temperatures soaring into the 90s. Will you consider making a donation to help us install central air and heat in our building?
All donations up to $500 will be matched through a donation from First Nations Development Institute’s NativeGiving.org Our goal is to raise $12,500-half of the amount needed to install the heating and air. Donations beyond $500 and up to the goal of $12,500 will qualify us for $3,000 in additional giving incentives.
Give to Tewa Women United today to double your impact!
By helping us create a welcoming home for our community, you are making a financial investment in our organization’s future. We see this building as an extension of ourselves and want it to be a nourishing first environment for all who enter. The people who walk through our doors span the entire life cycle, from not-yet-born babies to grandmothers and elders. Our programs range from the Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project, to the A’Gin Healthy Sexuality and Body Sovereignty project, to the Circle of Grandmothers (and much more).
It’s very important to us to provide a space in which all who come to the Tewa Women United building can feel truly nourished.  Your gift will help us do that through the installation of central heat and air in our building.
All gifts made to Tewa Women United through NativeGiving.org betwe en now and January 31, 2017 will be matched and qualify the organization for giving incentives. Be sure to designate your gift to Tewa Women United! All gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
By giving today, you are helping us to continue to provide a safe haven and valuable resource for women in the Tewa-speaking Pueblos and Española area. Thank you for your support!
With gratitude,
Corrine Sanchez and the staff of Tewa Women United
new_mo_cover
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


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
December 12th – December 19th
 
Dear Friends and Comrades of the Boggs Center, 

 

We are deeply grateful for all of the support you have given to us over the years.

 

As we face a tremendous moment of both crisis and opportunity, we feel an enormous responsibility to continue the commitment to revolutionary and visionary work and resistance that was at the heart of the lives and works of Grace and Jimmy.

 

We also believe that at this “time on the clock of the world,” their vision of possibilities for a new America are not only relevant, but urgent.

 

As 2016 comes to an end, we are asking for your support. 

 

Please visit our website to make a donation or send checks to 

 

Boggs Center

3061 Field St
Detroit, MI
48214
Thinking for Ourselves

Our Reality
Shea Howell

 

One of the clear casualties of this political moment is any semblance of a shared reality based in fact. Last week the Wall Street Journal offered a headline that demonstrated how out of touch they are with the truth of people’s lives. The headline of an opinion column penned by Detroit News editor Ingrid Jacques read, “How Trump’s Schools Chief Helped Turn Around Detroit.” The sub heading, which for most people in the city is an explanation for why public education is in trouble, read “There’s still work to do, but thanks to Besty DeVos more than half the city’s students attend charters.”

The text of the article begins with the real reason why the right wing loves Betsy Devos. Her education reform is primarily an attack on unions, and has nothing to do with education. The opening sentence defining the “turn around” is “To the dismay of teachers unions nationwide, President elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos” as the next education secretary. The thrust of the article then chronicles DeVos’s long history in promoting schools of choice “free from union constraints, “ and notes these schools “have flourished—especially in Detroit, where more than half of students attend charters.” Jacques then defends the virtues of charter schools with the lame claim, “charters are doing better.”

Better than what is unclear. By any reasonable standard the DeVos initiatives have been a failure. In the spring of this year, before the distortions of reality became so widely endorsed, the New York Times published a page one story with the headline, “Heralded Choice Fails to Fix Detroit Schools.” The online version states “A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.”

The Times article opens with the a summation of the move to charter schools saying Detroit “got competition, and chaos” and the DeVos backed initiatives have “produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.” The Times reports “half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit’s traditional public schools.”

For profit charters now operate 80 percent of the charters in Michigan thanks to the efforts of DeVos’s Great Lakes Education Project. Today, after nearly two decades of State control over Detroit schools they are “found to be the lowest performing urban school district on national tests.” The Times concluded, Detroit was “awash in choice but not quality.” It notes that efforts backed by DeVos to lift caps on the number of charters resulted in  “twenty four charter schools have opened the since the cap was lifted in 2011. Eighteen charters whose existing schools were at or below the districts dismal performance expanded or opened new schools.” These included schools operated by the Leona Group, an Arizona based for profit company identified by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes as producing schools where students “grew less academically than students in the neighboring traditional public schools.”

The failure to protect our children or to think seriously about what it means to develop young people to make critical decisions in a democracy has forced many of us in Detroit to ask basic questions about education.  What is the purpose of education today? What role do schools play in educating our children? What responsibility does the community have to offer education? How do we organize ourselves to engage young people in solving the problems we all face?

Rethinking how to raise our children as caring, socially responsible people will not come from the DeVos’s of the world. Their reality sees our children as sources of profit and our educated adults as threats. We in Detroit, and now the rest of the country, have to create a different reality, holding tightly to our children to protect them from this onslaught. This means finding ways to keep the reality of our lives and hopes central to all we do.

**Please call your state representative and ask them to oppose SB 1162-63.**

 

Call Your State Representative: AK Steel Company Requests a Tax Break Without Environmental Accountability
Senate Bills 1162 and 1163 would extend tax credits to AK Steel for its Dearborn plant — credits that were previously provided to the factory’s former owner, Severstal Steel. Both bills were passed out of the Senate today, 31-6.

 

Based on information provided by the Department of Treasury and MEDC, the bills would permit an estimated $50 to $60 million of existing certificated credits to be claimed over roughly the next 20 years. AK Steel, located in Dearborn’s south end, near the notorious 48217 ZIP code, is arguably one of the state’s biggest polluters.

 

The air pollution in Southeast Michigan continues to jeopardize public health of our most vulnerable residents. Asthma hospitalization rates in Detroit are three times higher than that of the state as a whole.* 275 deaths per year take place because of the air pollution in Michigan.**

 

AK Steel violated their 2006 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)-issued air permit, releasing pollutants at levels up to 725 times higher than the permit initially allowed. Since July 23, 2010, there have been 117 citizen complaints alleging fallout and smokestack violations from varying processes at the plant; and more than 20 violation notices sent to the company.
Despite new ownership, the plant has continued to receive violation notices from the MDEQ, as recently as October 14, 2016, less than two months ago, for failing to obtain a permit and for not monitoring particulate matter.

 

Please call your State Representative (http://www.house.mi.gov) and Speaker Kevin Cotter (517-373-1789 /kevincotter@house.mi.gov), urging them to oppose Senate Bills 1162 and 1163, unless the environmental accountability amendment is adopted. The amendment would ensure that a company doesn’t get the tax break unless they have zero environmental violations that tax year and work with the community on air monitoring and pollution control equipment upgrades.

 

*Wasilevich EA, Lyon-Callo S, Rafferty A, Dombkowski K. “Detroit – The Epicenter of Asthma Burden.” Epidemiology of Asthma in Michigan. Bureau of Epidemiology, MI Department of Community Health, 2008.
**http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/air_pollution_causes_275_death.html

 
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
In an op-ed for Mic, Opal Tometi, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, shares her thoughts on what to do in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. WATCH IT HERE

 

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
Grace Lee Boggs 6-27-1915 – 10-5-2015
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
October 2nd, 2017

3

Thinking for Ourselves

Democracy and States?
Shea HowellThis week, as much of the nation’s attention has been riveted to the devastation of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the Michigan Legislature is quietly continuing its efforts to destroy local democracy.  This time the Republican controlled house passed two new gun bills, aimed not at guns, but local city councils. The first bill shifted the legislation around carrying concealed pistols. Instead of classifying carrying a gun after a permit has expired a felony, the bill makes the action a civil offense, subject to a fine. It seems republicans want to “make sure a normally law-abiding citizen doesn’t lose their right to carry a concealed firearm because of an expired permit.”  This action raises interesting questions about other felonies that we should consider reclassifying and for whose benefit.

But it is the second piece of legislation that is most troubling. It is intended to stop local governments from enacting any ordinances to control the use of guns. Representative Gary Howell’s proposed legislation would impose a $500 to $2,500 fine on any local government official who knowingly adopts “a gun ordinance out of line with state gun laws and does not repeal the ordinance within 90 days after a formal complaint is brought against the official over the matter.” One way to think about this effort is right wing republicans want to prosecute local officials for attempting to protect children from guns while protecting state officials or emergency managers from law suits for poisoning cities and destroying schools.

This effort is referred to as a “super pre-emption.”

What is pre-empted of course is the ability of local councils to respond to local constituents and local needs. The effort to destroy local decision making is part of a broader effort by right wing republicans to reduce the capacity of people in cities and towns to control our own lives.

Earlier this summer, a similar effort was launched against sanctuary cities to prohibit local communities from limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Local officials, including law enforcement officials testified against such bills. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said that the bill would discourage immigrants from cooperating with police when they investigate crime.

“Most of the police service leaders recognize that fighting crime occurs with strong and trusting relationships with community members, who work as witnesses and help develop solutions to neighborhood problems,” he said. “The trust and strong relationships that I speak of is often a very fragile thing.”

These latest efforts are part of a broad pattern of actions by right wing state legislatures to undermine democracy at the local level. From gun control to protections of basic human rights, and emergency managers, state level legislators are pre-empting or overturning the judgments of local cities about the values and policies we want to define our shared lives.

These efforts diminish all of us. They are raising fundamental questions about whether or not representative level state government is compatible with developing a vibrant democracy. Each time the state legislature moves to restrict, control or overturn local decision making it attacks the basic capacities that enables us to define our civic life. Creating sovereign cities and towns is an essential part of developing a human future. State level legislation is increasingly at odds with what we need to develop our region and our people.


AMC

What We’re Reading

Visionary organizing, not protest, brings change
Fran Salone-Pelletier

Grace Lee Boggs, a life-long activist who died in 2015 at the age of 100, believed and lived as a visionary woman. As stated in an article from The Daily Good, “She lived and breathed her truth and believed that tending gardens, caring for the self, and caring for others were ways to nourish activism. In a sometimes harsh world, these simple acts of kindness end up restoring the energy needed to carry on the hard work of social change.”

Those were, and are, life-saving actions for me to contemplate. My computer is inundated with emails requesting support for innumerable issues. Daily, I receive multiple surveys to complete and return — with personal comments, if possible. I’m asked my opinion, whether or not I am knowledgeable about the stated concerns. Obediently and loyally, as a person dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, and peace, I have complied. I am now depleted, drained by the effort to protest what I believe to be lacking in authenticity and discouraged with the apparent failure to be effective.

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october 14


 

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2How does the State take over our schools


 

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

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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