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

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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
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
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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


dilla-youth-2017-flyer


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

.

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
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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.

daplconcert
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.

FFG-102

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.

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 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
00-holding-barry1


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  
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 5th – December 12th
It's time to (2)


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

December Connections
Shea Howell

On December 4, 2017 the Obama administration announced the department of the Army will not approve the Dakota Access pipeline easement to cross Lake Oahe. They will seek another route.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe “wholeheartedly support the decision.” Dave Archambault II, the Sioux Tribal Chairman said, “Throughout this effort I have stressed the importance of acting at all times in a peaceful and prayerful manner – and that is how we will respond to this decision. With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom have sacrificed as well. We look forward to celebrating in wopila, in thanks, in the coming days.”

On December 4, 1969 Fred Hampton was shot to death in his bed by Chicago Police. He was the Chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party (BPP).  He was 21 years old. Fellow leader, Mark Clark was also killed and four other people were shot. Deborah Johnson, who was eight-and-a half-months pregnant had tried to cover Fred with her own body. She was pulled off by police who the shot Hampton in the head, twice.

The brutal attacks on the Black Panthers by local police and the FBI are now well documented as part of an orchestrated government policy to destroy the Party.

These two events, share more than the accident of a date.

Fred Hampton and the Water Protectors at Standing Rock were both labeled “violent” in order to justify the use of state violence against them.

The Cook County State Attorney, Edward Hanrahan, claimed the raid on Hampton’s apartment was necessary because of the “extreme viciousness of the Black Panther Party.” He claimed “The immediate, violent, criminal reaction of the occupants in shooting at announced police officers” and “ their refusal to cease firing at the police officers when urged to do so” justified their killings.

This lie was supported by the media, but exposed by the efforts of people to put forward truth. I was part of a group that conducted tours of the apartment so people could see with their own eyes the bullet holes and blood soaked bed where Hampton died.

The eviction notice to Standing Rock, delivered the day after Thanksgiving, made a similar claim. It said the “violence of protestors” required forced removal.
“This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”

It is now well documented that the violence at Standing Rock came from the police and security forces backing the Pipeline. “Officers from Morton County have subjected the Indigenous activists to extreme uses of force in recent days—including water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, mace, rubber bullets, and allegedly concussion grenades.”

Both the BPP and Water Protectors were struggling for resilient, responsible, self-determining communities. Fred Hampton was not killed because he carried a gun. He was killed because he carried books to ensure education, food to children who were hungry, and a message of peace to gang leaders and community members.

As we think of this victory at Standing Rock and the challenges ahead of us, Fred Hampton still offers us guidance. He said:

“We don’t think you fight fire with fire; we think you fight fire with water. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism…We’re going to have to struggle relentlessly to bring about some peace, because the people that we’re asking for peace, they are a bunch of megalomaniac warmongers, and they don’t even understand what peace means. And we’ve got to fight them. We’ve got to struggle with them to make them understand what peace means.”


Cuba and Detroit: Kindred evolutionary Sprits
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
ecletablog

For 9 days I sat in living rooms, walked streets and rode in taxis made in 1951. I climbed hills and reveled over the brilliance of organic farms. I learned about AfroCuban religion and culture, trekked through the Zapata Swamp, waded and meditated in the waters of the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs), spoke with Cuban economists, nurses, doctors, students, farmers, revolutionaries, taxi drivers, permaculturalists, and agriculturalists. I visited a worker/owner cooperative restaurant, cooperative organizations, and an artist collective. I soaked up the sites of Old Havana and Havana, Varadero, Alamar, and other brilliantly fascinating parts of Cuba. I was mesmerized by brilliant young Cuban dancers, musicians, and Cuban jazz artists who sang a mixture of cover songs and original works. Visiting Cuba was a dream come true.

Halfway through my trip, I went to bed on November 25th feeling full emotionally and overwhelmed with the love and spirit I was receiving from the Cuban people. For me, just having the opportunity to travel to Cuba was historic. Plus, I was staying at the Martin Luther King Memorial Center in Havana, which meant a great deal.

MLK-Center

I could have never imagined that I would wake on the morning of November 26th to learn that Fidel Castro had passed the evening before. What a historic time to be in Cuba! I witnessed elder men and women crying in the streets. I listened to younger Cubans speak about their conflicting emotions wrapped up in love, respect, and, at times, resentment. I gathered in the streets and broke bread with my newly gained Cuban family as they mourned and weighed in on their tremendous and historic loss. Many I spoke with had no idea how big a deal Castro’s passing would be in the US. I told them that I was almost certain that the story was flooding the airways in America with almost as much frequency as it was in Cuba. However, that with the exception of revolutionaries or social justice activists, the narrative and responses around Castro in the US were likely far different. I came home to find I was right.

There was no shortage of discussion around the most recent US presidential election and the future of US/Cuba relations. Most people I spoke with expressed concerns about Trump’s potential reversal of President Obama’s attempt to normalize Cuban relations. I shared similar concerns.

I spoke with economist Gladys Hernández who talked a lot about the big questions that faced Cuba at the end of the Soviet Union. “Was Cuba supposed to remain a socialist country? What do you do when the markets are changing?” and the big question that she feels Cuba is facing now: “How can Cuba develop infrastructure and increase efficiency in productivity?” She revealed that Cuba now has over 300 hotels, up from under 90 and growing.

I expressed my appreciation for the current Cuban culture, their preservation of history, and the “make a way out of no way” spirit that was reminiscent of my hometown Detroit. I talked about the kindred spirit I felt with the Cuban people who had figured out how to exist and maintain their dignity while struggling through resource extraction and marginalization. I referenced my anxiety around the US “coming back” for Cuba in ways eerily similar to the “comeback story” in Detroit that leaves out the people who have loved on and taken care of their hometown when the rest of the world abandoned her.

I talked about my fear around the young people in Cuba turning away from agricultural work in order to work in tourism. It made me think a lot about growing up with gardens on my street, only to witness a lack of food in those same neighborhoods within a decade.

I shared my concerns around the emphasis on development and infrastructure, which tends to mow over edible plants and trees for paved streets, buildings and commodities. I couldn’t help but mention my caution around the global corporate investors who would likely come to Cuba for cheap labor and trade rooted in capitalistic exploitation.

Gladys didn’t seem to be as worried as me. She referenced Cuba’s relationship with China. She said that China does not have a ton of products in Cuba and they have not exploited the Cuban labor force because they consider the Cuban labor force “hostile.” Cubans have an educated workforce and will negotiate their salaries. Cuba has also been trading with Venezuela, Canada, China, and others for many years and have managed to hold their own. Her assessment gave me some measure of comfort.

As I visited many parts of Cuba I was grateful to not feel pressured to eat at a fast-food restaurant, shop at a corporate giant, or be bombarded by corporate advertisers. It was fascinating to walk past billboards and businesses and not see much promotion about some new and upcoming item available for purchase. It was refreshing to be disconnected from corporate media and have time to reflect and appreciate the nature around me.

I miss Cuba already. It felt so much like home. It was warm. It was welcoming. It was love. I miss the smiles, the buenos dias and hola sounds I heard frequently throughout the day. Folks were greeting me just because I was there. That was also reminiscent of the Detroit I grew up in. The Detroit I love.

Before I left, I shared Peace Zones for Life signs with the Martin Luther King Memorial Center in honor of Ancestor Ron Scott, on the anniversary of his passing. I gifted Gladys and my Cuban guides at the Center a copy of In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs, the films American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs and We Are Not Ghosts, a Spanish translated version of a discussion between Grace Boggs and Immanuel Wallerstein, a couple of evolution t-shirts (signature t-shirts of the Boggs Center), and my own book Coming Out My Box.

I wanted to leave Cuba with at least a fraction of what Cuba had given to me and I wanted to be sure that organizers at the MLK Memorial Center could feel connected to the organizing and evolutionary spirit in Detroit long after I left.

I definitely felt a kindred spirit with the Cuban people. It is my hope that they are able to preserve the warmth, culture, history, personal stories, and agriculture that is particular to Cuba, despite what promises to be a rapidly changing moment in history.

I know that I have made some lifelong friends there and I hope to go back someday.

12.09.16 Water as a Human Right   Flyer

Boggs School Dispatch
Julia Putnam

“If there’s a future you want to see…create it.” — Kim Sherobbi
The above quote was made at the Place Based Education conversation at the Boggs Center recently.  A group of at least 30 people joined Greg Smith as he spoke briefly about how PBE supports inclusion efforts around the country, how of the 10 Bill Gates funded projects last year, 8 of them were place-based schools, and also how the time has come to look to our young people for the creative solutions to the current issues we face, including climate change–not to put the heaviness on them, but to expose them to the things that they can do in their classrooms, schools, and neighborhoods that allow them to practice the leadership and problem-solving skills that will be necessary in the coming decades.
The discussion was multi-faceted, expressing concern over how we as adults teach ourselves to learn from children; how we think of place as more global as digital natives have figured out how to have meaningful connections with folks all over the world using social media (and the contradictions of not allowing children in schools to use these mediums);  the importance of our kids learning to be trustworthy by allowing them to practice being trusted; how we must distinguish schooling and education since education can happen anywhere and is accessible to all; the fear and pain we are all feeling (including children) and how important it is for kids to see us working through that pain so that they can learn to work through their own; the role that fear plays in loss of imagination in a time in which imagination is what we most desperately need; and the fact that, 15 years ago, in that same room, conversations were had about where to go with education and how now, 15 years later, institutions and programs were created that allow us to have practices and models to point to and learn from as we figure out next steps.
The conversation left me feeling more determined to heal and break out of my sense of doom and realize that some of the work that is required at this time on the clock of the world is being done by all of us at the Boggs School. We are not fixing all that is wrong and that is frustrating and painful.  But our work is a light that shines in the dark and others will come along and use that illumination to lead them–and us–even further along. To that end, please keep up the good work and know that your efforts are contributing to the evolution of education and of our country.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Finding a Way Forward with Grace
Jia Lok Pratt
Huffington Post

Things are heating up, literally and figuratively. This year will soon become Earth’s hottest year on record and the third consecutive year for which the record has been broken. Cultural, political, and economic tensions within and across borders are escalating worldwide. The election of Donald Trump as president has ripped apart the delicate patchwork of our nation. Somehow, amidst the uncertainty and dangers we face, I feel a peculiar and newfound sense of hope.

Just weeks ago, I felt as if we were more disconnected and divided than ever before despite our very survival depending on our ability to take collective action. Absent a common vision or sense of community, we seemed paralyzed. On Election Day, that all changed. The disruptive nature of the election has set the stage for radical social change. Never before, in my 40 years, has the sense of urgency been so heightened and the call for unity so pervasive and clear. Trump’s rise has erased the boundaries of disparate movements, thrusting us together to protect ourselves and prepare for the unknown dangers of the regime-elect.

We are at a pivotal point. How we choose to react in the coming days, months, and years will shape the future of our nation, our world, and, most importantly, the future of generations to come. In times such as these, I look to the Oracles, in search of wisdom and perspective that grounds me.

I can think of no better Oracle to call upon than the venerable revolutionary, Grace Lee Boggs, whose book, The Next American Revolution, should guide our response in the days ahead. Grace gave us the wisdom to understand the difference between rebellion and revolution, teaching us that while rebellion “is righteous, because it’s the protest by a people against injustice, … it’s not enough.” She cautioned us to understand that “organizing or joining massive protests and demanding new policies [will] fail to sufficiently address the crisis we face. They… are not transformative enough. They do not change the cultural images or the symbols that play such a pivotal role in molding us into who we are.” KEEP READING


“We beg for your forgiveness…”
Charlie May
Slate

Wes Clark Jr., the son of retired U.S. Army general and former supreme commander at NATO Wesley Clark Sr., was part of a group of veterans at Standing Rock one day after the Army Corps announcement. The veterans joined Native American tribal elders in a ceremony celebrating the Dakota Access Pipeline easement denial.

Lakota spiritual leader and medicine man Chief Leonard Crow Dog and Standing Rock Sioux spokeswoman Phyllis Young were among several Native elders who spoke, thanking the veterans for standing in solidarity during the protests.

Clark got into formation by rank, with his veterans, and knelt before the elders asking for their forgiveness for the long brutal history between the United States and Native Americans:

“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faced of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.” 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, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
bc_logo-2016
Living for Change News
November 28th – December 5th
We Have Much To Learn From Cuba
Grace Lee Boggs – 1996This was my first visit to Cuba and it was only for a week. My sense was that the Cuban people, by recommitting themselves to the struggle for socialism, are beginning to recover from the crisis caused by the loss of Soviet aid. In the process they seemed to be creating an alternative vision for Third World countries and perhaps even for deindustrialized cities like Detroit which must now rebuild, redefine, and respirit themselves from the ground up. The highlight of the visit was attending the 17th Cuban Trade Congress, the theme of which was Se Puede Multos Juntos- Together We Can.

The Congress gave me a sense of how real and how spiritual the struggle for socialism is in Cuba, how it is energized not only by necessities of physical survival but by love and the profound conviction that by working together we can resolve our contradictions, create a better and more just world for ourselves and our children, and advance the evolution of the human race….

The Congress ended with a two and a half hour speech by Fidel. I felt enormously privileged to be watching the 70-year old bearded revolutionary, the only one of the great 20th century leaders who is still with us, still developing his ideas before our very eyes….

“We must apply and expand our positive experiences, do with what we have, make better use of what we have, treasure the knowledge of our people, continue to live by the values we have developed during the revolution. We must improve a lot, gain greater knowledge, day by day, progress. We need more initiative, more creativity; we need to combine moral with material incentives. Our enemy hated us just because we have done what we consider to be more just and noble, because we want the very best not only for our people but for all the people in the world. That is why we are so proud and happy to call ourselves internationalists, socialists, communists.”

The vision of self-reliance projected by Fidel is clearly an idea whose time has come for people all over the Third World, a combination of decentralization and centralization which offers an alternative to the capitalist road of economic development imposed by the IMF and the multinationals, which is causing such impoverishment and immiseration in Africa and Latin America.

In Detroit and other de-industrialized cities of North America, we increasingly face the choice between two roads of economic development. Is our only option developer-driven casino gambling, new sports stadiums, suburban-like subdivisions inside the city built for the middle class-all of which reinforce capitalist values and consumerism, thus breeding more crime and violence? Or can we struggle together to build cities that are more self-reliant, growing our own food and producing our own clothing and shelter in environmentally-friendly worker-owned and cooperative enterprises, thus internalizing the concepts of efficiency and self-sufficiency, accounting and control, and setting an example of productive work for our young people?

One night we went to a block party, and as the community activist in the delegation, I made a brief presentation. I said that I had to come to Cuba to learn how to make the revolution in the United States which would liberate people all over the world. I described the devastation in Detroit following our abandonment by multinational corporations and the struggles we are now engaged in to rebuild our communities and our cities. I said I wished that I could bottle the spirit of love of people, love of community, love of country that I found in Cuba and take it back with me. The United States is not a developing Third World country, but we have much to learn from Cuba.

Excerpt from Grace Lee Boggs, “Cuba: Love and Self-Reliance,” Monthly Review (December 1996).


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

Educational Oppurtunities
Shea Howell

With Donald Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos to head the US Department of Education, the country is in store for a direct assault on public education. This is not hyperbole. Betsy DeVos has been the main architect of the systematic destruction of Detroit Public Schools and all those schools in Michigan serving poor, urban, black and brown children.

Devos is widely acknowledged as the “main driver of the entire state’s school overhaul.” In Detroit this “overhaul” has been a disaster. For most of her adult life Betsy DeVos has pushed an extremist, right wing corporate agenda to privatize schools, attack unions and promote conservative values.

As educational leader Diane Ravitch noted, DeVos “does not hide her contempt for the public schools.” National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students.”

Destroying local democratic control has been a key strategy in her efforts to privatize public education. After a failed effort in 2000 to get vouchers into the Michigan Constitution, DeVos launched a national organization to encourage pro voucher candidates and conservative values. Today they claim a 121-60 win-loss record. She heads the American Federation for Children that dumped millions into efforts to promote schools of choice.

DeVos has millions to dump. Her husband Dick DeVos is heir to the Amway fortune and her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious private security firm Blackwater. Blackwater reinvented itself since being exposed for murders in Iraq and is tied to the security forces at Standing Rock.

In 2014 Mother Jones documented the investment of the DeVos and Prince families in ideologically extreme causes. They reported:

THE DEVOSES sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding families of the modern conservative movement. Since 1970, DeVos family members have invested at least $200 million in a host of right-wing causes—think tanks, media outlets, political committees, evangelical outfits, and a string of advocacy groups. They have helped fund nearly every prominent Republican running for national office and underwritten a laundry list of conservative campaigns on issues ranging from charter schools and vouchers to anti-gay-marriage and anti-tax ballot measures.”

The failure of her schemes to improve education in Detroit is well documented. Detroit has the second largest share of students in charter schools, 44 percent, coming behind New Orleans. Every year nearly $1 billion of taxpayer money goes to charter schools, most of them for profit enterprises and most doing a miserable job. In addition they are defunding public schools, forcing students to endure deplorable conditions and impossible learning environments. The failure of the DeVos initiated programs have lead to a recent federal lawsuit claiming the state has utterly failed in its obligation to provide basic literacy for children.

Just as Detroit shows where DeVos will try and take the country, we also have some solutions. We have a long history of independent, culturally strong schools that have supported and loved our children.  Networks of teachers, parents and students are coming together to develop new forms of education that engage students as “solutionaries,” using their imagination and creativity to solve community problems.

Recently the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools emerged as an alternative to the destruction of public education. Inspired by the freedom schools of the African American liberation movements its mission is to create “free, African-centered, loving educational experiences for Detroit children and families, to mobilize community volunteers and resources, cultivate community strength and self-determination, and build movement-based futures.”

Information about the schools can be found at the Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management and through the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history that hosts one of the five active sites on Saturday mornings.

The election of Donald Trump brings a vast, right wing force together to turn every public activity into a private profit center. It will attack basic notions of democracy, decency, and public trust. But in many places people have been resisting these very forces for a long time. We need to draw on the lessons we are learning to protect our children and secure our futures.


comm_tech_handbook (1)

The Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) is excited to present the “Teaching Community Technology Handbook”. This 100+ page handbook will take you through the history of popular education while offering a step-by-step guide to developing community rooted technology workshops and curricula. The handbook introduces Community Technology as a series of educational practices, combining theories and methods by Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Grace Lee Boggs, Bernice McCarthy, Susan Morris, Grant P Wiggins, and Jay McTighe.

LEARN MORE HERE!


Thoughts on Learning
Piper Martine Carter

This morning I woke up early around 3am to spend a few hours reading from & about James Baldwin & Richard Wright. Why? I have no clue, Spirit just moved me to do so. As a child I was introduced to them around 3rd grade attending Nataki Talibah School House of Detroit.

At Nataki We learned about Africa as the Mother of Civilization & its People the Originators of Math, Sciences, Writing, & Everything. We were introduced to so many Black figures through our other subjects because it was a part of our overall curriculum. African History or Black History was not labeled as such, it was labeled as History. Neither was African American Literature, it was simply Literature.

We learned about every Civilization, Kingdom, Dynasty, Tribe, from around The Continent. We learned Geography and about The Diaspora from an African Centered perspective. We learned the truth about the Slaughter of Native Americans & the fake history that was created to glorify & reframe the atrocity that took place. We learned about all of the atrocities & triumphs.

Arts & Culture was just as Important as our Academic Subjects, so much so, that it was infused into all our other subjects. We were taught sciences along with arts and historical figures, the same in math & each subject.

I Loved the cool, authentic, animated poetry of Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni (who visited our 3rd grade classroom & I got to talk to her & read her my haikus). I also Loved reading the many AutoBiographies & Biographies of colorful figures such as Malcolm X, Billie Holiday, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Countee Cullen & so many, many, many, many more.

My Mom has always been an avid reader and at home we had designated reading & study time. She gave me homework outside of my school work. She also introduced me to Plays & Detroit Writers. I’d have to do book reports & summaries just for her. And she’d actually read them & correct them & make me do rewrites.

I struggled through reading fiction, I found it uninteresting & preferred Real Life stories. I actually am still that way today, I cannot pull myself to read fiction, it feels like torture. I Prefer Non-Fiction, except for Octavia Butler. I’ve read All of her books & Love them.

When I moved back to NYC to live with my Dad in Middle School I attended a mixed school and was in Honors classes. We read “The Diary of Anne Frank”, lots of Edgar Allen Poe & Shakespeare, & a bunch of other stuff on your typical 7th grade reading list.

When I asked my 7th grade teacher who happened to be Caucasian if we were going to read any Black Authors, I was met with “we have to accomplish our required reading list. why don’t you do that on your own?”

Needless to say, I suffered from culture shock. Not only because I was physically & socially separated from other Black & Brown students through being in Honors classes, but because our stories weren’t valued as a necessary part of our Education.

This is how I ended up spending so much time at the library. I followed my Teacher’s advice and fortunately, the Librarian was a Black Woman, who I had gone to for refuge. She would smile so big when she saw me & hand me at least 3 or 4 books everyday. “I can’t read all this”. “Yes you can, I’m just putting these aside for you, you’ll have til the end of the month”.

It was mostly fiction. Because of her, I read the actual works of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, & so many others whose Biographies I had read in elementary school at Nataki. If she hadn’t pushed me I wouldn’t have read any of those books on my own. She helped me get outside my comfort zone and learn about literature and writing. She would also discuss the books with me as if I were an adult helping me understand the nuances in language and descriptions that seemed foreign to me at the time. She was Awesome.

When I got to Public high school in Detroit, we had lots of writing assignments but very limited reading assignments. We only had reading assignments from our text books. And those only contained short stories. I was in honors classes my entire high school career.

I don’t remember much of anything we read back then. But I do remember that I Loved my Teachers, well the ones that were toughest on me. I remember Mrs. Tinsley & Mrs. Ellis, my 12th & 11th grade English Teachers. They gave us such a hard time. Our school work was so easy. I would go to them after class & they’d give me extra assignments & suggest books to read. I’d go to the Teachers lounge during lunch & discuss the books with them. Sometimes they’d kick me out. They’d give me extra writing assignments. And they wrote me recommendation letters to get scholarships & to get into Howard University.

When I got to Howard University, we had to test into our levels. Despite being in National Honor Society & graduating with All A’s, I tested into the remedial levels. This devastated me. I had received 6 different National Academic Scholarships (only one person in the country wins based on a written essay). I had been in Honors forever. How could this happen?

Well, they have different standards. I had to take the remedial classes that garnered zero credits in order to take my required classes. I attended summer school and also took extra credit classes and got all A’s in order to catch up. Thank goodness I did.
And Thank goodness that In Basic History at Howard our required “text books” were reading from Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, & we learned how to read more critically W.E.B. Dubois & Carter G. Woodson & others.

Anyhoo, I think about what kind of world we would be living in if everyone everywhere learned about the origin of African history as basic world history, if any of these Black Authors, Historians, & figures were introduced from a young age throughout everyone’s educational careers, if everyone learned about the contributions of African People throughout the Diaspora over the course of time.
I also think about the removal of Education, including the removal of History, Arts & Culture, and the building of prisons. And the History being made right now.

And then I think about the work I’m involved in with Detroit Independent Freedom Schoolsl and how I’m learning from Dr. Mama Aneb House of the historic S.N.C.C (Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee) that emerged from Ella Baker and was led by Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Toure & all the work they did.

And I think about our Legacy, and about the Young People we’re impacting & who are impacting us right now.


On Cuba
Rachel Harding

One of these days I’m going to write a long piece about my trips to Cuba in 1976, 1981, 1992 and 2001. I’m going to write about how when I first got off the plane in Havana as a Black teenager from Atlanta, Georgia (recently transplanted to Philly) I was enthralled to see all those beautiful Black people who looked like my family and spoke Spanish.

I’m going to write about the handsome, sweet Cuban boys who flirted with me and about how I went to a socialist children’s camp in Varadero Beach and spent a summer with kids from all over the non-capitalist world.

I’m going to write about returning home and feeling absolutely BOMBARDED with advertising because billboards and commercials are everywhere in the US and few and far between in Cuba. I’m going to write about how my lifelong love affair with the orishas and ñañigos started in Cuba and finally settled me in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil at the Terreiro do Cobre.

I’m going to write about how Cuban babalawos have repeatedly given me erudite, lifesaving advice and affirmation that I carry with me to this day, how I felt safer walking down the streets in Havana at night than I have ever felt in any US city.

I’m going to write about visiting in the “special period” and having my heart rended by the suffering of the Cuban people who did not have rich relatives and friends in the US to send money for them to buy food on the blackmarket. How it felt like the whole country was a quilombo, a fugitive slave community with people making ways out of no ways, in the dark.

I’m going to write about how Cuba gave me a diasporic Black identity.

I’m going to write about the negro viejo in Santiago who knew the details of my mother’s miseries without me ever saying a word. I’m going to write about going with my brother-poet Vincent Woodard to a consultation with Ifa in 2001 and returning home days before the US turned into a fortress. And there is a picture somewhere of me on a hill two people away from Fidel and how all my life he stood for the insistence of Third World People, Oppressed People, People of Color, Black People — to be Free. To be self-determining. To live literate, healthy, productive, culturally-rich lives of solidarity out from under the fetid thumbs of the oligarchs of the USA. Fidel, more than anybody living into the 21st century, represented that EFFORT. And when I got the news he died, I felt like I’d lost another father.


WHAT WE’RE READING

Identity Politics and Left Activism
Immanual Wallerstein
Monthly Review

The biggest internal debate absorbing the world left for at least the last seventy-five years has been whether identity is a left concept and therefore a left concern. In 1950, most activists on the left would have said no. Today a majority would say yes, indeed. But the debate remains fierce. KEEP READING

The Power of the Movements Facing Trump
Michael Hardt & Sandro Mazzadra
ROAR Magazine

It is much too early to say to what extent President Trump will enact his campaign promises as government policy and, indeed, how much he will actually be able to do in office. But every day since his election demonstrations have sprung up throughout the United States to express outrage, apprehension and dismay.

Moreover, there is no doubt that once in office Trump and his administration will continually do and say things that will inspire protest. For at least the next four years people in the US will rally and march against his government, regularly and in large numbers. Protesting against threats to the environment will undoubtedly be urgent, as will be the generalized atmosphere of violence against people of color, women, LGBTQ populations, migrants, Muslims, workers of various sorts, the poor — and the list goes on. 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, 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
November 14th – November 21st
We Have Just Begun To Fight
Grace Lee Boggs, August 18, 2013
(written after Detroit was taken over by an emergency manager and plunged into a corporate-styled bankruptcy.)grace 5I‘ve been a Detroiter for 60 years and this is the first time in my experience that so many different organizations with different ideologies and personalities have recognized that the time has come when we must join together to resist and defeat the growing counter-revolution.

This counter-revolution is very unprincipled, very dangerous and taking many forms, Therefore its defeat will take a lot of cooperation, courage, and principled struggle.
Rooted in race, and the search for the American Dream, it began at the end of World War II when white people moved to the suburbs to escape blacks in cities like Detroit where whites were becoming the minority. Taking with them their schools, their businesses and their taxes, they impoverished the cities and attracted the attention and money of extreme right-wingers like the Koch brothers.As a result, over the years the suburbs have become increasingly reactionary. They have elected governors like Scott Walker and Rick Snyder. They have passed anti-union right to work, anti-women, and anti-black “Stand your ground” laws, which have given men like George Zimmerman permission to kill teens like Trayvon Martin as if they were roaches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have just begun to fight….


Thinking for Ourselves

Election Reflection
Shea Howell

shea25The victory of Donald Trump has sent chills through many of us. Shock, grief, and fear, are giving way to a deepening resolve to resist the onslaught of violence that is sure to come.

What America will become in the next 50 years depends on what we do now, individually and collectively. There are no simple answers, no quick solutions, and no going home again. We have to find new ways forward. This will require deeper thinking and more thoughtful actions than ever before. The stark choice between revolution and counter-revolution is here.

This choice has been evolving for a long time. In 1955 the Montgomery bus boycott broke the right-wing grip on America that controlled the life of most people. Following the Civil War, after a brief flowering of African American freedom, the forces of counter-revolution reasserted themselves. In the South, white supremacists used a combination of violence and legislation to restore their power.

In the rest of the country, whites did the same thing, often rioting and attacking vulnerable communities. From Maine to Oklahoma mobs drove African Americans out of their homes, creating thousands of “sundown towns” for Whites Only. Immigration was tightly controlled, queers were killed for sport, people with disabilities were hidden in institutions, indigenous rights were violated, sexual exploitation was commonplace, and working conditions for most were often deadly. As we endured the World Wars, intellectual life was degraded by a virulent anti-communism, given voice by Joseph McCarthy whose campaign destroyed art, culture, and compassion. As Martin Luther King observed, America was “the greatest purveyor of violence,” and much of that violence was directed at one another.

All of that was shattered by the power of the liberation movements launched by ordinary people in Montgomery.  Over the next two decades, America became a more human place. We became more aware of one another and our responsibilities for the sustainability of life on our fragile earth.

But the forces of white supremacy did not go away. They continued to organize, to evolve, and to challenge every hard fought gain of the last 50 years. There is a long line from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump.  And Regan and Trump embody the sensibilities of those who came before like Bull Conner, David Duke, George Lincoln Rockwell, Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, George Wallace, Huey Long, Father Coughlin, Orville Hubbard, Robert Welch, Lester “Ax Handle” Maddox, Coors and Koch, Andrew Jackson, and Nathan Forrest. Trump is no foreign fascist. He is part of a shameful American history of violence in support of power. It is a history we can no longer evade if we are to create a more human future.

The majority of us rejected Trump. But we must now face the forces he has unleashed. We know that they will try to take our homes, seize land, shut off water, pollute our air, close schools, lock up our children, defile our sacred places, bomb our homes, terrorize us in bedrooms and jail cells, ridicule our beliefs, risk our futures, incite riots, infiltrate our organizations, round us up, limit democracy, beat us, and kill us. We know this because this is what they have done. This is what they are doing. This is what they will do with renewed force.

Already the KKK is marching. Young men are shouting obscenities, high school students have erected walls against immigrant children, and countless acts of aggression are recorded daily.

After more than 50 years of political struggle for better lives, one thing should be clear. Only love can overcome this violence. As Dr. King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking of 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 individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act of 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…Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

We need to take the time to grieve together, for it is this grief that grounds us in our best hopes for the future. And then we must turn to one another to ask what now affirms life, what moves us toward ways of living that expand compassion and creativity? We are not alone in facing these questions. We have a collective memory of those who came before, struggling against racism, materialism, and militarism and for a vision of loving communities to enrich our thinking. Together we will find ways to open our hearts and imaginations.

Today, we welcome the resistance to this violence. But much more is required. We must draw upon our deepest spirits of love, honesty, courage, and hope if we are to create a world worth preserving.


After the Blame
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
eclectablog

TawanaPettyThe past several days have been a bit of a blur for me. I sat down to write out my feelings several times immediately following the election to no avail. So, I finally decided to sit with my thoughts for a few days and listen to what others had to say.

During my moment of reticence, I heard numerous explanations regarding why the next President of the United States is going to be Donald Trump.

As a lifelong Detroiter, I expected and heard the narrative that Black Detroiters cost Hillary Clinton the election. Then I heard the story of how the arrogance of the Democratic Party cost Hillary the election. Then it was that white men who weren’t being heard by President Obama or Hillary Clinton voted for Donald Trump and that their wives simply voted with their husbands. I also heard that many Trump supporters’ feelings were hurt because Hillary called them “a basket of deplorables,” so that solidified their votes for Trump. I have listened to folks say that all Trump supporters are rape apologists, racists, misogynists, women haters, self-hating women, self-hating Latinos, and self-hating Blacks. I have witnessed Trump supporters say that supporters of Hillary are stupid. I have listened to 3rd Party supporters say that both sides are stupid for voting for Trump or Hillary and I have heard non-voters call all three stupid for buying into a system that has failed to represent them.

My point is that there is enough blame to go around and according to everybody, somebody else is to blame for this recent election and our current conditions in America.

On April 4, 1967, one year before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered what was in my opinion, one of his bravest and most profound speeches, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

In that speech, Dr. King said in part:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Dr. King knew that, not only did Americans need to make a radical shift in their thinking and ways of being, but that they needed to be challenged to challenge a system that would create beggars in the first place.

This, I believe, is where most of us have failed. It is not about who can get more of the pie, or a piece of the pie, at all. It’s about the illusion that the pursuit of the pie holds the key to our liberty and justice. It’s about the fact that conditions of oppression and struggle have been fostered in far too many communities through oppressive policies, so that we have folks scrambling all over the globe to find sanity at the expense of other human beings. It is about our internalization of materialism in such a way that even poor folks seek to oppress other poor folks. It’s about our internalization of the sort of individualism that would allow us to go on about our days while tens of thousands go without food, clean water, or a roof over their heads. It’s about our blatant disregard for the earth for our personal benefit.

I am a proponent of Black Lives Matter and, yes, I do believe that the dangerous terrorism narrative that has been allowed to permeate the media and households across the globe has put far too many activists in danger. Yes, I do believe that the hatred that has been perpetuated during this election cycle towards Muslims, Black people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQIA community, Mexicans, and women has sparked a nasty violence reminiscent of a society that I have to believe most of us do not want to revisit. I also believe that fear, just as much, if not more than hatred is responsible for most of the violence we have witnessed the past several years and I believe that the constant bombardment of ratings-inspired sensationalism in the media has fostered this fear which is emblematic of a lack of imagination and a resolute opposition to human beings coming together for the good of all humanity.

It’s time we checked ourselves, Democrats, Republicans, Third Parties, non-voters … all of us, because we have yet to actually witness a true democracy and a vision for this country that represents us all.

This failure is all of ours to share as a burden. We have not undergone the radical revolution of values Dr. King called for. We have not begun the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. We have failed to put people before profit and, for that, we have struggled at every turn to humanize our society and make conditions more livable for everyone and the earth.
Just days before Dr. King was assassinated, he had this to say:

I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply. We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know we will win.  But I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house.  I’m afraid that America has lost the moral vision she may have had. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears the soul of this nation. I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.

Dr. King was right about the struggle ahead for Black people in America. But, as another Ancestor James Boggs argued: “I love this country not only because my ancestors’ blood is in the soil, but for the potential of what it can become.”

We who believe in freedom” cannot think about this country as a corporation or as an organization we reluctantly belong to. We have to shed the culture of violence that this country was founded on. We have to shed the character of a country that would make invisible the Indigenous population even as they struggle for their lives at Standing Rock. We have to start thinking as the 99% while rejecting the values of the 1%. We have to become a country that makes it moot for Black people to have to affirm their lives. It’s time we started thinking about this country as a place filled with people trying their damnedest to figure out what it means to be human.

The giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism must consistently be struggled against and it is going to take all of us tackling the parts of these systems that each of us has internalized.

This election cycle has indeed been brutal, but not nearly as brutal as we have become towards one another. It’s time we all did better.


It’s Our Time or Their Time…
Rich Feldman

rickAs we feel, reflect and share our thinking, I hope we do not panic, become demoralized, nor label, nor simply react, nor look for 20th century answers.

This can be our time to learn from each other, our history and our work to create caring communities.

We too often use words of system change/structural change, but now we can develop practice that moves from our movement of rebellion and uprisings to revolution and truly create engagement with ALL of America giving meaning and form to MLK’s 1967 call to challenge the evil triplets of racism, materialism, militarism with a radical revolution in values. Or as a friend recently said when she called, ;As James Boggs often said, “Love American Enough to Change IT” and “Change Ourselves to Change the World”.

Let us think dialectically, and historcially seeing hope and vision in our day to day work, engagements and imaginations. The political revolution or the counter-revolution is not electoral politics, it is the emergence of our new identity as a human race.

The purpose of revolution is the evolution of human kind. Trump’s victory challenges us to truly move beyond protest to vision and resistance.


Freedom School: America Elects a New President 2016
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Detroit, Michigan USA

Fifteen Detroit Middle School children, with four mothers adding powerful intergenerational substance to our discussion, evaluated the recent presidential election.  There were no right or wrong answers or bad questions.  Someone asked “Where and how do we find our power?”  An answer: “Step 1:  Learning to accept and love yourself.”

Power to do what we need to do; power over us and others.  

“Stop mass incarceration and police brutality.  It’s a big deal.”  

The ways we use language; we know better, and when you know better, you have to do better

What is “gerrymandering”?  What is the electoral college?

Presidential Platforms:

Amaniyea: Nobody will get hurt, no violence, no terrorism.

Colin: Everybody gets the same amount of food, nobody gets left behind

OTHER PLATFORM PLANKS:

Help people: money, water, food, clothing
Schools with good electronics
Clean, kept up houses
Take care of homeless/get them a job and a house
“Of course we can fix it”

INDIVIDUAL WORK SHEETS/QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you think the election leads to a procedure for the peaceful transfer of power from one group to another?

Yes: 3    No: 5    Sometimes: 1

  1. Why do you say that?

[yes] I don’t OK nothing, I just circled it
[sometimes] It Depends on the Group of people
[no] Because D.T. won
[no] I say that because he’s going to cause world war 4
[yes] Because our President will help us.
[no] Because when we vote for the different person the different person wins the votes (the electoral college?)
[no] he’s a racist

  1. If I could do one thing to change our government, I would:

Give people a second chance
Vote.
I would make him understand how it feels to be in my shoes for days.
Give homeless people homes, cars, clothes, and jobs because some people have kids and they can be sick and die of cold weather.
I will stop him.
I would supply schools with good electronics, clean up run down houses and I would let everybody get bridge cards

Thanks to Doc Richey for the two social studies sessions with several of these children before the election, Piper Carter for such sensitive and brilliant assistance, and Mama Aneb for lesson plan development assistance.


In Love and Struggle Book Release!

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(PHOTO BY: Leona McElevene. Stephen Ward reading from his new book, In Love and Struggle)

Video from the event, by Leona McElevene, can be seen here.


I-Voted-CBA 2

Nearly 100,000 voters stepped up to support communuty benefits

The grassroots community coalition Rise Together Detroit, managed to get almost 100,000 Detroiters to defend their right to negotiate community benefits when billionaires get massive public subsidies.

KEEP READING


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

(From the Veterans of Hope Project)

Dear friends,

After the recent election results, the person many people wanted to hear from was Dr. Vincent Harding. According to our friends at On Being, his voice and wisdom are necessary right now and give us hope.

On Being is re-broadcasting a conversation that Dr. Harding had with host, Krista Tippett, a few years ago. It will be airing on NPR stations throughout the weekend and is now on their podcast and website: http://www.onbeing.or g/program/vincent-harding-is- america-possible/79.

Enjoy!

The Veterans of Hope Project


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Repair The World: DetroitThe Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, and Voices For Earth Justice are partnering to host a screening of the documentary “The Amor of Light” at the Repair the World Workspace on 2701 Bagley Ave this Friday, November 18th at 6:15 pm.Please come out for a great film on the intersections between faith, religion, gun control, gun violence, and politics. There will be light refreshments and snacks, and small group discussion after. The film is a little less than 1.5 hours.

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
November 7th – November 14th
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In Love and Struggle book cover

Please join us for the launch of the new book:
In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs
Wednesday, November 9, 6:00pm
Source Booksellers bookstore
4240 Cass Ave.

Thinking for Ourselves

Water Protectors
Shea Howell

shea25The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was swamped this week with objections to its decision to allow Nestle Waters North America to increase its pumping of water from an underground aquifer. Nestle wants to more than double its current rate from 150 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. This would amount to 210,240,000 gallons of water a year being sucked out and transported by truck to their Iron Mountain bottling plant. This bottled water is shipped throughout the midwest in little plastic bottles and sold for enormous profit.

In an article about Nestle’s unprecedented effort to get control of water supplies in Maine, Nathan Wellman concluded, “Nestlé is infamous for taking water from US communities for billions of dollars in profit and then dumping the environmental costs onto the rest of society. Environmental scientist Vandana Shiva has called its practices ‘the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth.’”

Nestle already taps into 50 spring water sources and aquifers across the United States. This is a tremendously profitable business, as in most cases, corporations simply purchase cheap rural lands and pump away.
According to the International Bottled Water Association in 2013, Americans drank over
10 billion gallons of bottled water, generating $12.3 billion in revenue for beverage companies. This was more than double the revenue recorded in 2000. Americans spent $18.82 billion in 2014 purchasing what comes, basically free, out of the tap.

As people become more aware of water as a public trust, to be protected for our common future, private-for profit water companies are facing resistance.

Certainly, we in Michigan have seen the complete lack of public accountability from the Mayor’s office in Detroit to the Governor’s office in Lansing. No one should think that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality can be trusted to make a decision that protects people or the fragile eco-system on which we depend.

For more than a decade Mecosta County residents have resisted the ability of Nestle to simply take water out of the aquifer for free. Nestle pays zero to take the water out of the earth. It gets an additional $13 million in tax breaks from the State.
The obscenity of this arrangement is highlighted by the fact that all of this is happening within 150 miles of Flint, a city still dependent on drinking bottled water to survive as the State complains it has no funds to help replace lead pipes to homes and schools.

No one should be under any illusions about Nestle’s desire to make money without concern for people or the planet. They recently claimed victory over a hard fought citizen lead effort in Fryeburg, Maine. Nestle won a state Supreme Court case upholding its claim on local groundwater for the next 25 years. The deal could be automatically extended for 45 years.  Protesters said,

“Contracts of this length come with an unprecedented concern in our current times. With the changes we are witnessing in our climate, increasing global water insecurity, and industry polluting freshwater resources with little accountability… corporate control over drinking water resources for profit aligns us on a collision course with local water security.”

This defeat underscores the importance of creating national, state and local protections to affirm water as a human right.

In the meantime, we should consider the efforts of water protectors in Oregon.  This spring they used a ballot initiative to stop Nestle from extracting over 118 million gallons of water a year from their community. They passed a first-of-its-kind ballot measure banning the production and transportation of 1000 or more gallons of bottled water per day for commercial sale within the county. The measure succeeded by an overwhelming majority of voters. It stopped Nestle.

Only the organized power of local citizens will protect our waters now. Join the effort to protect the Great Lakes by sending you comments to the MDEQ
deq-eh@michigan.gov.


cbo a

Detroit’s Proposal A: It takes big hits and keeps on ticking
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

eclectablogAlthough it often gets lost in the propaganda mania of election season, ballot initiatives that impact communities at a neighborhood level are equally as important. This is why so many folks are talking about Proposals A and B in Detroit.

Some pretty heavy hitters came out against Proposal A a few weeks ago and it was very telling. This is the crew that the people expect to represent their interests; the crew that we don’t expect to go against grassroots efforts. But, this year of money vs movement has been one of near daily political upheaval in Detroit.

On everything from water shutoffs to public education, grassroots organizers and community members have been left scratching their heads when political decisions are made to their detriment.

Whose voice can we count on to represent us? Who is going to stand in the gap for the least of these? Let’s recap Proposal A vs B. See the epic MetroTimes article, Getting past the heated rhetoric and talking with Proposal A’s supporters, that got it right:

It’s safe to say the spunky little ordinance never had friends in high places — but all of a sudden it’s as if the proposition had a kick-me sign on its back. It’s the clear underdog in a David-and-Goliath battle, going head- to-head with a full-spectrum campaign waged by state politicians, trade unions, public-private partnerships, both daily papers, undisclosed funders, and shrill paid advertisements boasting sky-is-falling rhetoric, all taking aim squarely, if not exclusively, at Prop A.

Now is not the time to count the community out. If we count out the grassroots organizers and community members who have stood on the frontline of struggle on everything from the water shutoffs in Detroit, to the poisoning of water in Flint, the takeover of public education and the massive displacement of Black and Brown residents through ramped up foreclosures, gentrification and blight removal, then we may as well lay down any hope for true democracy in Detroit, and in this country.

Some of us still have hope that the little people’s voices will not have screamed out for their dignity and humanity in vain. Some of us still have faith that if we organize with and for the least of these, our organizing efforts will nudge those in power to make decisions that actually represent the interest of the people.

Proposal A may be the underdog’s proposal but, as we have learned historically from many underdog stories, victory is not determined by the strength of the aggressor.

We hope to learn on November 8th in Detroit that the voices of the people of Detroit actually mean something. Listen to Reverend Joan Ross’s interview on Stateside and watch this video:

Then Vote Yes on A and No on B when you go to the polls on November 8th.

WHAT WE’RE READING
Social Activists Kathleen Cleaver and Tawana Petty Kick Off Weeklong MLaw Seminar on Race, Law, and Citizenship
Jordan Poll”The question of whether we, as a nation, have reached an era of “post racial America” has been debated for decades. The answer to such a question lies not only in an ever-evolving conversation but also by exploring the definition of racism and the formation of American jurisprudence.”


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Our neighborhoods, our streets: The march to peace in Detroit
Zak Rosen

…whether you live amid the violence or just hear about it on the news, it can be easy to think of murders as inevitable in poor, inner-city neighborhoods. But historian Heather Ann Thompson cautions against that view.

“By normalizing it and making it seem as if it’s just synonymous with inner-city living, we totally miss the fact that this is a created crisis, that the drug war and mass incarceration together have created the conditions where violence is not only regular, but actually guaranteed,” said Thompson…

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bc_logo-2016 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 31st – November 7th
 
Does this election season have you feeling sad, isolated, angry, or hopeless? Join us for a night of celebrating community, movement, and struggle at the Cass Corridor Commons.

Instead of spending the election disappointed, frustrated, and alone we will come together to remind each other of why we fight and will continue to fight. This event is open to all those who believe in justice, liberation, freedom, and love.

There will be a separate space for election monitoring, an org fair with food vendors and ways to get involved, and an open mic followed by a dance party featuring local DJs. Come for part or stay all night.

We’re asking for a $5 donation at the door, but no one will be turned away! This is a fundraiser for the Cass Commons, a space where movement work never ends.
Interested in tabling at the event?
Email juliascuneo@gmail.com for more info.

 

Support The Party that Supports You!!

#DetroitCultureCreators
#EntertainmentJustice

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/648755775301310/
Thinking for Ourselves

Freedom Schools Are Open
Shea Howell
About 200 people attended the community conversation on the crisis in education hosted this week-end at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event was organized by the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative. It was a gathering marked by love, hope and righteous anger.

 

The program opened with the call to remember,  “Education is about becoming the best human being you can possibly become.” Young people took center stage to frame the reality of what they face on a daily basis. Some of what they talked about was all too familiar to those of us who have witnessed the destruction of public education.  They explained how they saw programs cut back, classes cancelled, basic courses eliminated, and teachers struggling to teach subjects for which they were not prepared.

 

On a deeper level, the young people reflected on the assaults on their sense of possibilities. One young woman talked about her desire to be challenged and her disappointment at being in a system where “we are basically robots.” Another asked, “How is anybody supposed to grow in an environment that just puts them down?” They talked of hopes to be journalists, facing school without English teachers, dreams of being a cardiologist while being harassed by attendance offices, pushing them toward the juvenile system.

 

They also talked about how the lack of response from adults moved them to take actions for their own education. After losing teachers and having no one respond to letters protesting this, one young person said. “So I joined a coalition about education. I realized that this is happening throughout the district. I know it is not my fault, not my schools fault, and that I have a good home base with a mother and father who help me, but what about the people who don’t have that at home? I am not the only student in public schools with no math teacher, no AP teacher, nothing to prepare them for tests.” Echoing the desire to organize with other students, learning “life lessons inside and outside the classroom,” students talked about organizing Freedom School discussions in classes, working to create funds to deal with economic discrimination, and putting washers and dyers in schools. “We shouldn’t have to do this,” but it is necessary.

 

The students concluded saying, “Tell the truth, believe in us, make us feel wanted.”

 

These demands provided the backdrop for remarks by Professor Thomas Pedroni of Wayne State University. He gave a picture of the destruction of public education beginning in the late 1990’s at a time when DPS had a budget surplus and test scores were strong and rising.  He said we need to “Understand the relationship between this struggle over schools and whose city this is.  Understand how degraded our curriculum has become, and how powerful it could be.  School could be one of the most meaningful places in our community, where people know how to fight for their communities instead of just a place to produce test scores.”

Helen Moore, long time community activist talked about how she was compelled to “Free our children from slavery” and would not stand by and “see our children abused” as people made money off their suffering.

 

Professor Aurora Harris spoke of the importance of protecting our children with special needs from bullying and abuse and about the devastating impact of school closings on them. She called on us to “keep special education children in our hearts and minds, to not forget them” and to insist they have the full protection of the law.

 

Professor Melvin Peters said the education of black children had deep roots in America. He quoted David Walker in 1829 saying that that “as long as we’ve been here, whites have had problems with blacks being educated.” He emphasized the importance of an African American centered curriculum and children being taught by people they can identify with.

 

Kamau Kheperu closed saying, “The spirit of Mississippi Freedom schools is right here…We have to save our babies, we have to support public education, we have to provide supplemental education for our youth. Now what are you all going to do?”

 

Community members stepped up to share ideas and over 100 people signed up to join in the Freedom School Movement. One participant said, “It’s not about us. It is about our children. No one will stand up for our children but us. We need to become the working examples for our children.”

 

Connect with Freedom Schools @ 
313.583-9395 or DIFS313@gmail.com

 

 

 

WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
An Interview with Rev. Joan Ross on Michigan Radio talking Proposal A.

LISTEN HERE
 

From our Friends at Soulardarity

I’m really excited to announce the recent launch of www.OurPowerAndLight.com, a website showing Soulardarity’s proposal to the city of Highland Park, the benefits of municipal solar lighting, and our history of work building energy democracy.

 

Please check out the site, share it, and help us to boost it! You can check out and download the videos on this vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/katelevy

 

I’ll be boosting more of the videos the videos over FB this week, you can track that via our page: https://www.facebook.com/Soulardarity/

 

I’ve got a few asks based on the things you can do on the page:

  • SHARE the page on FB
  • ENDORSE the proposal with you organizations
  • JOIN as members

Thanks all.
Jackson Koeppel

Director@Soulardarity – become a member today!

917-554-3741

 

 

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  
Living for Change News
October 17th – October 24th
Community Conversation (Oct 29) Flyer

Thinking for Ourselves

Who Benefits?
Shea Howellshea25As Election Day approaches Detroiters are being flooded with high priced, deceptive appeals for our vote.  Expensive TV and radio commercials, slick flyers, and glossy mailers are all urging us to vote against the one proposal that could actually make a difference in how development happens in our city.  Proposition A holds the real promise of equitable, thoughtful, and neighborhood based development.  It is this possibility that is driving the business community and its friends in the Mayor’s office to near panic.Developers, the Mayor and their shadow surrogates have pulled every trick they could think of to stop this proposal. They tried to bury it in committees. They tried to prevent an open City Council vote. They tried to block the petitions to have this put before the public. Then they introduced a competing watered down version of the bill to confuse voters. Now they have launched an expensive campaign to tell us “A is Awful.” Yes awful for the business interest that have been making millions off Detroiters, pulling in lucrative tax breaks for themselves, and getting cheap land, without giving anything back to the community.If the stakes were not so serious, the effort to attack Proposal A would border on the comic. A newly formed “dark money” group calling itself Detroit Jobs First, held a press conference at the site of the new Red Wings/Ilitch stadium to launch its slogan Proposal A is awful.  Awful for whom seems a good question.

Just days after the launch of the attack on A, news accounts surfaced that the Red Wings/Ilitch gang are facing $500,000 in fines because they have not been able to uphold their promise of hiring 51% of Detroiters for construction jobs.  This deal, usually touted by the Mayor as an example of his successful negotiating skills, is exactly why we need a strong community benefits agreement.

Billionaire Mike Ilitch received more than $250 million in tax-backed bonds to build this stadium. He has received breaks in land acquisition around the stadium and displaced hundreds of local residents, many of them elders who had lived in the Cass Corridor for years. In exchange, he promised 51% of the jobs would go to Detroiters.  Thus far we are at 40%. Not only is the percentage less than what he promised, the actual number of people involved is minimal. Currently, we are talking about work for 300 people. Ilitch has the money, the land, the tax breaks and will soon have the stadium. Forever.

Community groups, progressive labor leaders, and Council President Brenda Jones have fought for Proposal A for years.  They had done this openly, publicly and on the record. They have argued Proposal A would require developers of projects costing $15 million or more or with more than $300,000 in public subsidies to enter into legally enforceable agreements with communities most affected by the development.

Those against A, and backing B are hiding in the shadows. Maybe they are embarrassed by the failure of the Ilitch deal. Maybe they are embarrassed by the Marathon Petroleum deal.  In 2014 Marathon got a $175 million tax break, expanded it refinery to further pollute our air and Detroit got 15 jobs.

For far too long s developers have said, support us and we will give you jobs.  Repeating the lie on glossy paper does not make it true.

Detroiters have long experience with where the interests of developers really are. It’s time to put an end to the exploitation of our people, our resources, and our city by those who promise jobs, pocket tax money and don’t have the courage to publicly stand for their convictions. Enough is enough.  Spread the word to vote Yes on A and No on Business Backed B.


Proposal A Will Give Detroiters a Seat at the Table
Cindy EstradaIn November, Detroit voters will decide whether to give themselves a seat at the community benefits bargaining table when they choose between Proposals A and B: competing community benefits agreement ordinances.For those who haven’t followed the story, Proposal A is on Detroit’s ballot because community members and grassroots organizations mobilized a successful petition signature drive. They were motivated by the chance to create a structure that would allow developers seeking public assets for major construction projects to sit with impacted communities and negotiate an enforceable agreement that could include jobs, affordable housing, educational opportunities and community programs.Proposal B does not give the community a seat at the table. Nor does it allow communities and developers to negotiate an enforceable agreement. Instead, it calls for a toothless process that the city can already authorize. Proposal B got on the ballot in a last minute maneuver by those who fear that Proposal A will win in November. It’s widely understood that Proposal B is on the same ballot as Proposal A to confuse voters.

The debate over Proposals A and B reminds me of what happens during a typical workplace organizing campaign. Detroit voters are now going through the same challenges.

Workers organize when management ignores or dismisses their demands for workplace fairness. Community members organized to put Proposal A on the ballot because they were tired of seeing major publicly funded developers build in their neighborhood, create adverse conditions, promise to address community concerns and renege, or take taxpayer resources without a requirement to discuss giving back to the impacted community in a meaningful way.

Workers face swift backlash when they successfully join together to demand union representation. A classic way to erode union support is for the employer and its allies to tell workers that if they form a union, the business will suffer or close. Immediately after Proposal A’s ballot signatures were certified, anti-Proposal A interests framed Proposal A as dangerous to Detroit’s financial stability and scary for developers – contrary to the community benefits agreement experience in other communities.

Workers fighting for a voice in their workplace are often vilified for being selfish, reckless and even un-American for inviting a ‘third party” into the employer-employee relationship. Proposal A’s backers were accused of seeking “entitlements” by Gov. Rick Snyder’s senior advisor for economic growth, and adding a layer of “bureaucracy” to Detroit’s property development process by the president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Workers win their union rights when they stand together against the inevitable fierce backlash by their employer and its allies. It will be the same with Proposal A. In November, Detroit voters will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win a seat at the community benefits bargaining table and try to negotiate good things for their community with developers who are benefiting from valuable public assets. That’s not selfish. That’s not reckless. That’s not un-American. That’s what democracy should look like.


Birth of a Nation’s Missing HERstory
Tawana Petty
MEDIUM
The watered down narrative of Black revolutionaries and freedom fighters struggling and dying for the liberation of Black folk, which negates the front line foot work, strategic planning and organizing genius of Black women, is a revisionist HIStory that must be turned over on its head.We must also start to consistently struggle against any narrative that makes invisible the whole in order to lift up charismatic messiahs as liberators of Black people.One of my Ancestors, James “Jimmy” Boggs often said, “it is only in relationship to other bodies and many somebodies, that anybody is somebody.”

When provided an opportunity to lift up the true story of Black revolutionaries who are missing from the text books and narrative of American history, Nate Parker used his money to water down the legacy of Nat Turner, further perpetuating the damsel in distress narrative of Black women who only exist as “yessir masta” mamie’s and/or sex slaves. Parker also used his cinematic opportunity to feed his narcissism by regurgitating a story showing himself as a Black savior who’s sole motivation for struggling against injustice is the thought of Black women’s ownership being transferred from Black men to white men. As long as he could continue to live a captive, yet historically inaccurate comfortable existence without having to think of Black women being possessed by someone other than Black men, he was non-resistant.

I have read much commentary about whether Birth of A Nation should be viewed by women because of Nate Parker’s rape allegations, and ultimate acquittal. I have also read and listened to Nate Parker’s own commentary regarding the rape allegations and listened to his dismissive demeanor towards the now deceased woman.

As a rape and suicide survivor, I will say that it took deep meditation and a calling upon the Ancestors for me to decide to go see this film. Although Nate Parker was acquitted of the rape of his accuser, it is recorded in court documents that while having sex with her, he summoned in two friends to sexually assault her inebriated body. One of the men who was asked to participate in the sexual assault, but declined, testified to that. Because the young woman had engaged in a previous sexual encounter with Parker, he felt entitled to her body. He felt entitled to share her body without her consent with other men. Parker and his friends tormented, bullied and prevented this teenage woman from moving on with her life. They prevented her from leaving her home and they stalked her. So much so, that she refused to testify in the appeal case, leading to his friend, now co-author of the film, having his conviction overturned. The thing that we’ve seen time and time again on college campuses and in sports in general is, if you’re a male star athlete, it tends to transcend race and accountability when it comes to the abuse of women. At least momentarily. The harassment case against the accused was settled for $17,500.00.

This young woman ultimately took her own life after making several attempts. It is for this reason that I decided to go and look Nate Parker in his face on screen, so that I could tell the stories of the women I was nearly 100% sure would be marginalized.

Nat Turner is a revolutionary who’s bravery should not be watered down. His legacy deserves to be taught with honesty and integrity. It is also true that Turner acted with dozens of others to liberate Black people. This is a fact, that is depicted in the film. However, what is not present in the film is the resistance of Black women who participated in Nat Turner’s rebellion. The negligence of rebellion stories written in this way negates the possibility of Black woman revolutionaries existing outside of Harriet Tubman. I would also argue that the ability to paint Harriet Tubman as a masculine and singular charismatic leader is one of the reasons why Tubman’s legacy of rebellion is so well known.

Most of the acts of rebellion were handled by slaves against their own slave owners. Some of those who rebelled were women.

Enter Charlotte, who by several accounts attempted to stab her mistress owner, but was intercepted by another slave who came to her slave owner’s rescue. This same slave owner was also held down by another slave Lucy, who by all accounts and court records, attempted to hold down her mistress owner during the attack from the rebels, but because of intervention from the same slave who had previously intervened, was unsuccessful. Charlotte was murdered without trial and Lucy was tried and hung for her participation in the rebellion. Although these are recorded events, of Black women rising up against their captors, they are rarely portrayed in the tellings of the rebellion.

This is not to say that there was massive support for the rebels by any gender at the time. Many were fearful of the immediate ramifications of their resistance, so it was difficult to recruit participation. But, by limiting the narrative of an uprising that saw dozens voluntarily sacrifice their lives and their families lives by portraying only a singular male hero, we contribute to the revisionist HIStory that plagues the fabric of patriarchal America.

It is far too tempting to water down our stories to fit a version of history that America can stomach. We must resist this temptation in order to force this country to face itself in the mirror. In order to force America to deal with the fact that there is and has always been organized Black resistance against oppression in this country. This includes the resistance of Black women.

When we marginalize the contributions of thousands who have struggled and continue to struggle for self-determination and liberation in this country by limiting them to men only, handing them a bible and putting them on their Sunday’s best, we play into the narrative that the acceptable negro is the only negro worthy of investment and depiction, and that the minute they resist the box they’ve been allowed to function in, their existence and all the helpless, unkept folks around them are doomed.

It’s 2016. Time to tell a different story, one which includes HERstory in the plot.


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

DEMOCRACY NOW: Climate Direct Action: Activists Halt Flow of Tar Sands Oil by Shutting Off Valves of Five Pipelines

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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 Brutalityevolution 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  
 
Living for Change News
September 26th – October 1, 2016
DIFS Generic Flyer (Sept 2016)

Thinking for Ourselves

Parade of Preachers
Shea Howellshea25This week a parade of preachers swept into the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners. They were protesting drainage charges about to be levied across the city. Preachers called for a “moratorium on drainage charges.” They were “appalled” at the “ungodly” charges. They said they were “called to be here by God” to demand an answer to the question of “why should we have to pay for what comes from God?”This was a sad display of what has become of our many of our local churches.

The obvious question is simply “Where have you been?” For more than two years, community organizations have been demanding a city-wide conversation to develop policies reflecting the basic understanding that water is a human right. All human beings should have access to safe, affordable water.  

Where were the voices of preachers as 3000 households experienced shut offs every week? Where were these preachers as organizers established water stations? Where were they as people of faith blocked the shut off trucks from leaving the garage? Where were they as children went to schools to wash up and brush their teeth?

Where were the preachers when home after home faced foreclosure? Where were they when the elderly workers of the city bore more than 70% of the bankruptcy burden? Where were they when the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was turned into a regional affair, almost certain to guarantee greater burdens for the city?

Self interest, not care for the community, seems their only motivation. As a result, their protests are hollow. They offer brittle pronouncement, uninspired by faith or compassion.

Certainly some of our congregations challenge the money changers, the powers and principalities.  But most have been silent in the face of an increasingly brutal division between the small, whiter and wealthier downtown and neglected neighborhoods.  Most have been silent as violence escalates. Most are content to collect offerings, closing doors to chaos and pain.

This is not by accident.  More than 30 years ago, right wing think tanks realized that gatherings of people of faith were a powerful force for justice.  Step by step they began to develop policies that pulled churches and synagogues away from radical visions.

In reaction to the Civil Rights movement, right wing leaders developed a form of conservative religious politics, using the cover of religion to mask white supremacy, homophobia, and the desire to dominate women.  In reaction to school desegregation, for example, Christian academies sprang up, ultimately laying claim to public dollars through charters and vouchers.

Churches were pulled toward conservative stands through money. In 1989, President George H. Bush introduced the idea that social services should be provided by “points of light.” This was followed in 2001 when his son, George W. used executive powers to circumvent long held divisions between church and state.  Under Bush II faith based initiatives became a top priority. Churches were tied into federal and foundation dollars, providing programs that had once been offered by governments. Now public funds not only provide direct services but money to construct, repair and maintain buildings. Religious leaders learned being silent was the best way to keep dollars flowing. Detroit is reaping the effects of this silence.

Meanwhile, a few days after this shameless protest, two young artists faced a judge. They were surrounded by supporters and love. William Lucka and Antonio Cosme are charged with felonies for painting “Free the Water” on a Highland Park water tower in 2014.  They say it time to resist destruction of our neighborhoods, and to build more conscious communities. Preachers would do well to listen to our Artists.


Cortex

(artwork by William Lucka)
#freethewater
an interview with Antonio Cosme of the Raiz Up Collective
by Shanna Merrola
In the spring of 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) announced that a water shutoff quota would begin that March for residents either 60 days or 150 dollars overdue on payments.The unprecedented action of cutting off water to 3,000 households per week in a major U.S. city brought criticism, both nationally and internationally. News spread quickly due to the efforts of water rights activists in both the US and Canada, bringing representatives from the UN to Detroit in October of 2014. During their investigation at this time the United Nations declared that the city was violating thousands of residents’ fundamental human right to access clean, affordable water. Organizers also drew attention to the fact that corporate and large institutional accounts were never shut off, even though their debt was twice that of residential customers and urged for the implementation of a water affordability plan that would assist struggling households.

Instead, DWSD’s process for assistance with water bills was a frustrating, dehumanizing and bureaucratic farce. Residents reported spending hours attempting to make sense of bills that were convoluted and often inaccurate. They were given “assistance” phone numbers that rang endlessly without ever reaching a human being and stood in lines long hours just to learn they were not eligible for help due to missing, obscure deadlines.

During that first summer, community members and grassroots organizers created a rapid response network for water relief. The efforts included a water hotline for assistance in payment plans and water deliveries as well as door-to-door canvassing and the creation of neighborhood water stations. In addition to creating survival strategies through mutual aid, they also circulated petitions to change policy, filled City Council meetings, called press conferences to raise awareness and held endless protests for water rights throughout the city.

It’s been over two years since the aggressive shut-off campaign began, leaving some homes without water for months at a stretch, breaking up families and displacing residents. Not only have water shut offs massively contributed to Detroit’s foreclosure crisis (unpaid water bills can become a lien on a home), they also put parents at risk of losing their children to child protective services. The increasing injustices and struggle around the privatization of water in predominantly Black cities have since been compounded by the tragedy of Flint. And though media attention did help to raise awareness for a brief moment, the hype has since died down. The institutional problems remain and real people are still left suffering. When the camera crews leave, when reporters move onto the next big headline and when the legal system fails to provide protection for individuals over corporations, where do people turn to voice their outrage?

KEEP READING


GET YOUR COPY OF MAPPING THE WATER CRISIS!!!!!!
If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to www.wethepeopleofdetroit.com, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

DREAMSpecial Screening and Panel Discussion
Tuesday, September 27 from 5-8m ET
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American HistoryDream On, a PBS documentary by award-winning producer and director, Roger Weisberg.

The film investigates the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income inequality and declining economic mobility. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where any one, of any background, could climb the ladder of economic opportunity.
The event will kick off with the screening of the Dream On film followed by a panel discussion on the state of the American Dream — streamed liv
e on dptv.org/dreamon.

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PublicforumUofM 2
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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

The Lone Voice in a Hostile World

  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 – September 25th
Thinking for Ourselves
Radical Legacy
Shea Howell

About 150 people gathered to remember Jeffrey Montgomery on Saturday on the Wayne State University campus. Jeff died on July 18, 2016, shortly after the annual Motor City Gay Pride event he championed.

Jeff was a leading voice demanding dignity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from the mid 1980s through the beginning of the 21st century.  Often he was the lone voice in a hostile world.

After his partner Michael was shot to death in front of a gay bar in 1984 Jeff turned grief and anger into activism.  The police had told Jeff they had no intention of investigating the murder. It was just another gay killing.

Jeff refused to accept this. From that day on he devoted his considerable intellect, energy, and humor to challenging the police, state lawmakers, and ultimately the federal government.

I loved Jeff for his commitment and courage and for his confidence that people could be better.  We worked closely together shortly after he co-founded the Triangle foundation in 1991.  

We shared an appreciation for the radical tradition in America.  I still vividly remember the first time I visited his apartment. Hanging in a place of honor above the fireplace was a framed covers of the graphic socialist magazine, Masses.

Masses was published between 1911 and 1917 when it was shut down by the government for encouraging people to refuse to be drafted.  Jeff’s grandfather had been a contributor to the magazine and was a well-known member of the Detroit Socialist Party. It was a history that delighted Jeff. He kept a copy of the Masses credo that declared:

A Free Magazine — This magazine is owned and published cooperatively by its editors. It has no dividends to pay, and nobody is trying to make money out of it. A revolutionary and not a reform magazine; a magazine with a sense of humour and no respect for the respectable; frank; arrogant; impertinent; searching for true causes; a magazine directed against rigidity and dogma wherever it is found; printing what is too naked or true for a money-making press; a magazine whose final policy is to do as it pleases and conciliate nobody, not even its readers — There is a field for this publication in America. Help us to find it.

It was a statement that captured much of how Jeff lived his life.  

In the early 1990’s he helped forge the National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs. It recorded crimes against LGBTQ people in cities across the country. This work became the basis of national hate crimes legislation and challenged the idea that LGBTG people were disposable.

Jeff became a leading voice challenging the “homosexual panic” defense.  This was a strategy arguing that killing a person who is LGBTQ is excusable. People panic in the mere presence of someone who is gay. Jeff’s insistence on our shared humanity and searing arguments shattered this idea. He helped convict Jonathan Schmitz who murdered Scott Amadure in Oakland County in 1995. Amadure had revealed on the nationally televised Jenny Jones show that he had a secret crush on Schmitz. A few days later, Schmitz shot him.

It was Jeff’s voice that helped the country come to terms with the killing of Mathew Shepard. He publically supported the prosecution and helped eliminate the panic defense. Meanwhile, he privately helped Mathew’s family come to terms with their grief.

Confronting the daily cruelties of America took a heavy toll on Jeff. He struggled most of his life against its pull.

Jeff’s life affirms the power of people to create change. But it also cries out for us to acknowledge that those who refuse to conciliate, who fight for basic dignity, become wounded in the battle. As we see a new generation of warriors emerging, we all need to make sure their lives not only matter but are filled with love.


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WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

Ruby Sales—Where Does It Hurt?
ON BEING

Where does it hurt? That’s a question the civil rights icon Ruby Sales learned to ask during the days of that movement. It’s a question we scarcely know how to ask in public life now, but it gets at human dynamics that we are living and reckoning with. At a convening of 20 theologians seeking to reimagine the public good of theology for this century, Ruby Sales unsettles some of what we think we know about the force of religion in civil rights history, and names a “spiritual crisis of white America” as a calling of this time.


WHAT WE’RE READING
Turkey Is Supporting the Syrian Jihadis Washington Says It Wants to Fight
Meredith Tax
The Nation
What political choices can the United States make in the Middle East? Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria and subsequent attacks on Rojava—the three autonomous cantons set up by Syrian Kurds—raise this question, but so far the answer has been framed only in terms of military alliances and realpolitik. But as many have said, the appeal of ISIS and Al Qaeda has to be countered ideologically, not just militarily. This cannot happen without a compelling alternative model. Rojava, with its vision of egalitarian democratic inclusivity, is trying to establish a new paradigm for the Middle East—but so far Washington has seen the Syrian Kurds only in military terms and is short-changing future possibilities because of a misplaced deference to zero-sum ethnic rivalries and the so-called “moderate Islamism” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On August 24, Turkey invaded Jarabulus, a Syrian border town held by ISIS, with great fanfare: several hundred Turkish soldiers, twenty tanks, and 1,500 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters from Islamist militias. In reality, the whole battle was a fake. ISIS had quietly left town several days before, and the difference between this and their usual behavior convinced some observers, particularly the Kurds, that their exit was coordinated with Ankara.

While the mainstream media saw that Erdogan’s real purpose was to go after the Kurds, and noted that it is problematic for the United States to be allied with two parties that are fighting each other, US coverage of Syria has overwhelmingly focused on either the war or state politics. It has thus failed to look hard at the Erdogan government’s support of jihadis, or to ask what they have in common—whether or not Turkey is a NATO member.

KEEP READING


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GET YOUR COPY OF MAPPING THE WATER CRISIS!!!!!!

If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to www.wethepeopleofdetroit.com, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

A message from our friends at the Beloved Community Center

A vision came to life on Monday, September 12th, 2016, in 31 state capitols across the Nation; the vision of a National Day of Moral Action took place and had a major impact all over the country especially in North Carolina.

Over 300 people gathered in Raleigh, NC on this important day in the history of the United States led by Rev. Barber who has had a vision in his heart for the last several years to raise the moral level of our state in quest of a more just nation and a more peaceful world.  That vision was reflected in HKonJ and Moral Monday.  More recently, he established a mission to systematically expand the work in NC and to inject into the current political debate the importance of helping the nation to view issues through a moral lens.  He developed a plan called the “Moral Revival,” in which he and several other clergy traveled the nation, preaching that moral imperative.  As part of that plan, he led in forming the National Day of Moral Action.  From that flowed many, many tasks.

KEEP READING


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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  
Living for Change News
September 4th – September 11th

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Thinking for Ourselves

Sanctuary Cities
Shea Howell

shea25Donald Trump came to Detroit over Labor Day weekend in a laughable, highly scripted bid to prove he is not racist. Protesters greeted him.  Detroit is the largest African American city in the country, with a history of sophisticated political organizing that counters such lame gestures quickly and clearly.

It is also a Sanctuary City. Just days before coming to Detroit, Trump denounced Sanctuary Cities, saying that if elected he would cut off federal funding until they renounced these policies. “Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars,” Trump said.

Trumps statement provoked protests as well. Over 500 cities have some sort of sanctuary policy, refusing to cooperate with immigration officials. Most of these policies have come about in the last decade in response to the inhuman deportation practices of the federal government that rip families apart, send children alone to countries where they are strangers, and creates a culture where people fear to report the most brutal of crimes.

But Detroit, along with about 200 other communities, has a deeper history of Sanctuary, beginning with sanctuary from slavery. We are the only city with a statue honoring the Underground Railroad.

Our current Sanctuary status grew out of bold civil disobedience to the US military in Central America. In the early 1980s, in response to the thousands of immigrants fleeing the torture and death squads of El Salvador and Guatemala, people of faith and community activists joined together to challenge US policies by providing Sanctuary to refugees. They publicly defied the US government and welcomed families into church communities. In December of 1983 the Parish Council of St. Rita Catholic Church resolved that their church would be “a sanctuary for refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala, as a demonstration of our commitment to people fleeing for their lives, and as a public witness to our government to cease arming nations and urge negotiations to settle the long-standing problems plaguing the people of Central America.”

In July of 1984 St. Rita’s became the first church in Michigan to welcome a family. Soon churches in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Lansing followed. The Gonzalez family arrived on a defiant Freedom Train. For the rest of that decade, Raul, Valeria and their children challenged the US government as they lived and organized against US military policies. Supported by activists and people of faith, they were protected in sanctuary, speaking in churches, community centers, and living rooms, describing their lives in El Salvador and the role the US government played in supporting torture and death.

In the spring of 1987 the Sanctuary Coalition organized Sanctuary Sabbath Sunday. On the same weekend, hundreds of congregations participated in a sermon/conversation about US involvement in Central America. Shortly after, the Detroit City Council declared the city a Sanctuary.

The materials prepared by the Coalition to guide the discussions emphasized the long history of Detroit as a city of sanctuary. They consciously drew on the legacy of the Underground Railroad. They also emphasized that suffering of the people of El Salvador was directly connected to the suffering of those in Detroit. All of the meetings closed with participants reciting a pledge:

“I pledge to open my eyes and my heart through reflection, reading, and responding to the needs of Salvadoran and Guatemalan people. I acknowledge the connection I have with these people as members of the human family and pledge to discover how U.S. foreign policy is affecting their lives. I cannot do everything, but I pledge to do something today to make life better in my city and my world. Working together makes change possible.”

To open our eyes and hearts, to learn, to make connections, and to act with boldness are as essential now as at any time in our history.


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GET YOUR COPY OF MAPPING THE WATER CRISIS!!!!!!

If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to www.wethepeopleofdetroit.com, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

WHAT WE’RE READING
Where I Live

Kathy Engel
 The East Hampton Star 

We returned to the tangle of place called home in 1994 — me, my husband, and our young daughters. I was afraid of it, terrified of myself in it, loved it the way you love food you think you’re not supposed to eat and fear will make you sick.

This is where when I was a child Claribel the angry Angus cow taught me caution.

This is where Trill, the Welsh pony, reared up each time I attempted to slip my leg over her back, my stepfather, the farmer, and his brother trying to hold her down.

This is where my mother and her friends showed me how to start something (a school) in your community, at the kitchen table.

This is where the vast salt ocean and rough wind soothed my agitated mind; I learned that in the physical world one could locate a sense of belonging and mystery.

This is where I got the train from the spit of a stop in Bridgehampton back to my father’s life — the city and its grit, activism, my Jewishness, art.

This is where I was the only Jewish kid in John Marshall Elementary School.

This is where I learned to hide my fear.

This is where I couldn’t/can’t hide. Because it’s where I live. The fields, sea, the spectacular beauty, the farmers and what they grow, my family, and the bald glare of contradiction and old plantation segregation.

This is where the landscape of race rode up on me, closed like a barn door locking in the rat of injustice.

This is where I saw how people live in daily acceptance of inequity and don’t name it.

This is where I sometimes joined on the harvester after school.

This is where I sometimes rode in the pickup truck with my stepfather to take Geraldine, who was black and from the South and up here to pick potatoes, back to her shack a few miles from our so comfortable barn-turned-home near the beach.

This is where Geraldine and the others working the harvester welcomed me, showed me how to pick out the bad ones, toss them off to the side — dirt on my hands, brush of wind, red crank of the tractor, the stories, her pipe and deep voice.

And this is where something felt so wrong when I saw where she lived — the tattoo of two worlds divided by train tracks. This is where those who lived on the Turnpike didn’t make that decision, didn’t say: We want to live here in shacks while you have your bigger homes across the tracks and we take care of your kids, clean your messes, and pick your potatoes.
This is where in fourth grade I witnessed a young black female slammed against a cement wall by a white gym teacher, couldn’t shake my inability to intervene, a rock of guilty silence lodged in my abdomen, prodding me like a splinter.

This is where as a young woman I returned after travel to war zones. This is where the summer of ’82 I was called an ignorant self-hating commie in the letters section of this newspaper after writing that American Jews (me) should protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

This is where when we decided to come home, a number of progressive white friends said: You’re moving there? Why? And most of my friends of color said: That’s wonderful. Can’t wait to visit. And did.

This is where whenever someone visited for the first time I was afraid she or he would judge me, find out my secret.

This is where I returned. To live inside contradiction.

This is where once a week as I write my poems or take a run, a woman from Central America cleans my house.

This is where more than one black woman friend traveling on the bus from the city to visit us was asked by a white woman sitting next to her: Oh, are you going to work? This is where, in our backyard, under the mimosa tree, we laugh in that uneasy way when the friends report the story over pasta and poems, as I step back from the squirm of my whiteness.

This is where when our younger daughter was in high school some of her white classmates threatened her Latino and African-American classmates, made swastikas and emblems of white supremacy, so a group of us, parents and teachers, formed a committee. This is where the black former teachers and administrators told about their daily pain working at the school. We didn’t use the phrase white supremacy. This is where the committee soon stopped talking about race and focused on drugs and alcohol. This is where I learned that drugs and alcohol don’t discriminate, even though law enforcement does. This is where I knew that project was urgent, tapping into my own scab and flood of denial. At the same time this is where discussion of race was once again erased.

This is where our older daughter and her friends were told to return after volunteering in New Orleans post-Katrina. The leaders of the unlearning racism workshop led by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond instructed the group to go home and find the Katrina in their own communities.

Here the hurricane lives underneath the belly of the good life and enlightened conversation.

This is where the storm lives, where I live, in my body and the body of the split. In the ZIP code 11962. Under our floorboards. On Shinnecock land. Where many who speak the language of Lorca and Neruda are called alien while digging up weeds in other people’s gardens and mopping other people’s floors, often living crammed in motel rooms and also running businesses or making art.

Here not all residents go to Pilates classes and the ocean on weekends.

This is where it’s hard to find a hair salon that does black hair. Unless you know who’s opened up shop in her living room.

This is where my paragraphs break down because I’m afraid of what I’m writing. It will never be right. I will never be right in it.

This is where I returned after standing on the bridge in Selma last year marking the 50th anniversary of the bloody march. And couldn’t move for a moment. And couldn’t write about it. Couldn’t find an adequacy of language in my throat.

This is where as in so many wheres I often hear white people asking the one or two persons of color in the room to be the expert, the wizard of addressing race, the flag carrier, burdened by teaching.

Where the mirror is confused.

This is where I get calls and emails from people who identify as white asking if I could recommend a person of color for their activity. I believe they are driven toward inclusivity and change. At the same time I want to suggest they ask themselves what prevents them from knowing black or brown people where they live. Will white people fight white supremacy living in isolation, when the reality can be turned on and off like a TV show?

This is where I fear alienating friends and neighbors.

This is where this summer, 2016, I march with my daughters, mother, and husband in support of Black Lives Matter in our villages, following new local leadership. Where in our home we make signs as we’ve always done. This time: Black Lives Matter/White Silence Kills/Cultural Equity/Don’t Shoot. And our older daughter’s boyfriend, who is white, joins, for whom this is a first, and that is powerful. This is where I know again that the young leaders of Black Lives Matter are doing my job for me.

This is where I sit with my coffee after a dunk in the magnificent Atlantic, watching the strolling turkey family, small chicks, and a lone big-antlered buck on our nearly two acres. I hear my best friend’s voice. A brilliant and acclaimed writer, a black woman, and our daughters’ godmother, she recently said to me: “I want to wake up one day and hear that people who identify as white are calling the demonstrations so we who are being killed can stay home for a change.” Her voice vibrates in my chest.

This is where one of the people who have bravely stepped up where we live was a friend of our older daughter from high school days. A young black man, it turns out he is the son of a man who worked for and alongside my white stepfather, the farmer.

This is where I live. I am steeped in the story. I seek an ethical, lyrical language and the courage to do the next right thing. To end the systemic, structural denial and brutality that is white supremacy and is killing us, and my participation in it. So we can all live well where we live.

This is where I live, in this gift of a place, in this particular America, where in mid-August on a Monday evening I go to enjoy Escola de Samba BOOM, the band my husband and a number of friends play with, on the beach, under a nearly full moon, kids of all sizes and colors dancing in the ocean and on the sand, the sound of multiple languages infusing the air, piping plovers still alive. A truly community formation, when I look around, inhale, it smells like hope, it tastes like joy, the sweat and beam emanating from a group of people who resemble the world. For an hour. Making music, in music. By the sea.


INTERESTED IN LEARNING A TOOL FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND PREVENTION?
COME TO OUR INTRO TO
PEACEMAKING CIRCLE 101 TRAINING!
This training will specifically focus on peacemaking circles
IN SCHOOLS
(Teachers, Security Guards, Lunch Aides, Classroom Aides, Principles, Volunteers, etc. )
Saturday, September 10, 1pm-5pm
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
1950 Trumbull St.
Detroit, MI 48216

SPACE IS LIMITED, PLEASE RSVP by September 8 .
Complete Registration Form HERE

From this interactive workshop, you will learn about restorative practices, gain basic tools for leading a peacemaking circle, receive  information on integrating restorative practices in school settings, and leave with materials for continued practice and study.

$20-$50 sliding scale or non-monetary exchange
(no one will be turned away)
all proceeds will go to
the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center.
Snacks and materials will be provided.
Please bring a pen, paper, and be ready to participate!

Please send questions to detroitrestorativejustice@ gmail.com.
Please complete Registration to RSVP
SPACE IS LIMITED

If you are not able to pay or would prefer to barter, please email back with what you would like barter and we can work out an exchange.

Sponsored by the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center

The co-trainers are:

Marcia Lee began with Restorative Justice working with men with a history of domestic violence.  Through this work she recognized the importance of creating circles of accountability and support, inner work, and community building.  Now, her work in Restorative Justice focuses in the communities that she is a part of in Detroit and Hamtramck.  Marcia has a masters in Dispute Resolution and is a trained Peacemaking Circle keeper.  She is a co-founder of the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center, tai chi practitioner, aspiring pun maker, directs Cap Corps Midwest, a full time volunteer program (similar to AmeriCorps), and coordinates the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation for the Capuchin Franciscans.

Mindy Nathan came to realize the power of Restorative Justice by seeing how it changed her alternative high school’s staff and students, and their relationships to each other and the environment in positive ways. Mindy directed the Tri-County Educational Center for 8.5 years – it was the alternative high school program of Berkley Schools. Restorative “thinking” and practices are an essential component of a healthy school culture and are important facets of social-emotional learning and trauma-informed schools. Among other desirable outcomes, restorative practices build empathy and community among students and staff.  Mindy has been a school board trustee, a religious educator, a high school teacher and adjunct instructor in a business college. She is now employed as a learning specialist by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA).

new_mo_cover
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’sHow 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  
 
Living for Change News
August 28th – September 4th

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Thinking for Ourselves

Ending Give-Aways
Shea Howell

Detroit has an historic opportunity to establish a new set of values for how development will take place in our city.  By voting for the People’s Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance, Proposal A, we will set in places processes to ensure developers give something back to the community in exchange for tax breaks and use of public funds.

This proposal has a long history. Beginning in 2012 with the resistance to the efforts by John Hantz to secure 10,000 acres on the East Side for pennies on the dollar, community members have been actively seeking ways to have a greater say over what happens to land in our neighborhoods.  Over the next 4 years we witnessed developer after developer making claims about why they need tax breaks. Marathon Oil got a $175 million tax abatement, and provided less than 25 jobs. During the bankruptcy process we watched the transfer of land to billionaire Ilitch for $1. This was after the decision to provide the majority of the $650 million for his new hockey stadium from public funds.

These are just a few examples of a long line of deals that have benefited private corporations and cost the public.

Proposal A would put an end to these kinds of “give- aways.” It would provide a framework for thoughtful discussion within a community about what impact a development might have on the quality of life. It provides the opportunity to systematically ask how to better support the whole community.

In a recent article in the Detroit News, Councilman Scott Benson argued that Detroit would be better served if we voted for his “enhanced” Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance.  Mr. Benson says it is important to separate “fact from fiction” and that “despite some rhetoric” his proposal is really not “anti-community.  Mr. Benson then goes on to provide some fantasies of his own. Most importantly he does not explain his own history in attempting to make sure developers are held accountable to the community.

Benson did everything he could to keep a real community benefit agreement from coming to the Council.  When faced with the citizen’s ballot initiative, he quickly crafted his own proposal. The only purpose of this proposal is to confuse voters.  It is based on the tired recycling of arguments that are inherently “anti-community.” They rest on the fear that people cannot be trusted to act openly, honestly, and with integrity as they consider the impact of large scale business developments in their neighborhood.

Moreover Benson, like all those who support his version, likes to reduce a CBA to the question of jobs for construction and contracts with local firms. Our history tells us that construction jobs rarely meet the “target goals” negotiated by officials.  And the demand to use “ Detroit based businesses” is open to corruption and misrepresentation.  More importantly, construction jobs are a minor part of multi-million dollar enterprises. Focusing only on construction jobs narrows the thinking of all involved.

Proposal A has a process that encourages community people and businesses together to think more broadly about what benefits a community receives over time. It looks to the broader questions of quality of life and ecological sustainability.

More than 5000 Detroiters petitioned to put Proposal A on the ballot. Now we need to organize to make sure a real community supported ordinance passes. 

The People’s CBO was designated as Proposal A and the ‘Enhanced’ Ordinance will appear as Proposal B.


canadian-water-convoy13

GET YOUR COPY OF MAPPING THE WATER CRISIS!!!!!!

If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to www.wethepeopleofdetroit. com, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

INTERESTED IN LEARNING A TOOL FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND PREVENTION?
COME TO OUR INTRO TO
PEACEMAKING CIRCLE 101 TRAINING!
This training will specifically focus on peacemaking circles
IN SCHOOLS
(Teachers, Security Guards, Lunch Aides, Classroom Aides, Principles, Volunteers, etc. )
Saturday, September 10, 1pm-5pm
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
1950 Trumbull St.
Detroit, MI 48216

SPACE IS LIMITED, PLEASE RSVP by September 8 .
Complete Registration Form HERE

From this interactive workshop, you will learn about restorative practices, gain basic tools for leading a peacemaking circle, receive  information on integrating restorative practices in school settings, and leave with materials for continued practice and study.

$20-$50 sliding scale or non-monetary exchange
(no one will be turned away)
all proceeds will go to
the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center.
Snacks and materials will be provided.
Please bring a pen, paper, and be ready to participate!

Please send questions to detroitrestorativejustice@gmai l.com.
Please complete Registration to RSVP
SPACE IS LIMITED

If you are not able to pay or would prefer to barter, please email back with what you would like barter and we can work out an exchange.

Sponsored by the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center

The co-trainers are:

Marcia Lee began with Restorative Justice working with men with a history of domestic violence.  Through this work she recognized the importance of creating circles of accountability and support, inner work, and community building.  Now, her work in Restorative Justice focuses in the communities that she is a part of in Detroit and Hamtramck.  Marcia has a masters in Dispute Resolution and is a trained Peacemaking Circle keeper.  She is a co-founder of the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center, tai chi practitioner, aspiring pun maker, directs Cap Corps Midwest, a full time volunteer program (similar to AmeriCorps), and coordinates the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation for the Capuchin Franciscans.

Mindy Nathan came to realize the power of Restorative Justice by seeing how it changed her alternative high school’s staff and students, and their relationships to each other and the environment in positive ways. Mindy directed the Tri-County Educational Center for 8.5 years – it was the alternative high school program of Berkley Schools. Restorative “thinking” and practices are an essential component of a healthy school culture and are important facets of social-emotional learning and trauma-informed schools. Among other desirable outcomes, restorative practices build empathy and community among students and staff.  Mindy has been a school board trustee, a religious educator, a high school teacher and adjunct instructor in a business college. She is now employed as a learning specialist by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA).

new_mo_cover
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’sHow 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
August 14th – August 21st
Thinking for Ourselves
Seperate and Unequal
Shea Howellshea25This week the New York Times published yet another story about the reality of two separate and unequal Detroits. With the title “In Detroit’s 2-Speed Recovery, Downtown Roars and Neighborhoods Sputter,” Peter Applebome points to critical questions the Mayor and his administration would like to avoid.

After a brief sketch of downtown, Midtown and Corktown development, Applebome raises the question of what development means to neighborhoods. He says, “But what that means for the rest of the city and who is benefiting have set in motion a layered conversation about development, equity, race and class. It is playing out with particular force here in what was once the nation’s fourth-largest city and is now a place at once grappling with poverty, crime and failing schools, but also still animated by the bones of its former glory.”

This is a conversation the Mayor avoids. Yet even a transient observer like Applebome concludes, “The lack of progress is just as noticeable in the sprawl of often dilapidated neighborhoods, baking in the summer heat.”

Many are baking in that heat without water. No where is the lack of progress and the denial by the Mayor and his administration clearer than in the water shut off crisis. The day before the New York Times article appeared, a group of community based researchers issued an important report. Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit: Volume 1 is the result of an 18 month study documenting water shut offs in the city.  The report demonstrates in clear and specific detail that neighborhoods are suffering from a combination of foreclosures and shut offs, diminishing the quality of life for everyone in the community. Last year 23,000 homes were shut off from water. Over the last decade the city has endured 110,000 foreclosures.

Underscoring the growing divide in our city, Monica Lewis-Patrick, a guiding force in the research collaborative, said, “There is a renaissance downtown full of newcomers, while they are shutting off water for those who stayed and paid” their bills for years.

The impact of these shut offs in a city where 40% of the people live in poverty and many are paying more than 10% of their income for water is to actively drive people out of their homes. Dr. Gloria House, Professor Emerita of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State University explained that the mapping documents that “The incidents of shutoffs, foreclosures and school closures are not random, but intentional and specific… We believe it’s about the dismantling of neighborhoods.”

The Mayor continues to deny this reality. He refuses to consider the consequences of his policies in the lives of people in neighborhoods. Instead he chooses to pretend his water assistance plan (WRAP) is solving the problem.  No one but the Mayor and his administration believes this. No one who sees the shut off trucks moving through neighborhoods on a daily basis believes this.  

The objective statistics do not support this. The WRAP is a failure.  It has a waiting list of 3,000 customers and the majority of people who have been signed up simply cannot keep up with the monthly payments.

The work of the We the People Detroit Community Research Collective documents in stark terms that our city is devolving into two separate, unequal, and unhealthy realities.

It does not have to be this way. Community activists and researchers have consistently advocated plans to make water available to all at affordable prices. They have developed programs to keep people in their homes and to stop foreclosures.  The real choice we face is about whose lives matter in our city.


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Boggs Center board member Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty discusses new book and upcoming one woman show of the same title, Coming Out My Box with Michigan Literary Radio. Book illustration by Beehive Design Collective.


WHAT WE’RE READING

Education Coalition works to connect Detroit students with their community

“Founded in 2008, the Southeast Michigan Stewardship, or SEMIS, Coalition seeks to partner schools and community organizations, as well as help educators learn how to take an eco-justice approach to community-based projects with students.”

KEEP READING


At Freedom Square, the Revolution Lives in Brave Relationships

“If, as Cornel West says, ‘justice is what love looks like in public,’ then Freedom Square is an embodiment of practicing justice….With grace, imagination and courage, Freedom Square offers a glimpse into a new future and is boldly showing the world how to make Black lives matter.”

KEEP READING

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

Ron Scott’sHow 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
July 24th – July 31st
19th Annual
Detroit Tour of Urbans Gardens and Farms 

19th annual

*WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE*

On Wednesday, August 3rd guests will travel by bus and bike to get a taste of the routes that Detroit grown food is traveling from farm to table and learn a little bit more about the deep roots of the urban agriculture community. All tours will leave from Eastern Market Shed 3, located east of Russell St. between Adelaide and Division. Check-in begins at 5:00pm and tours will leave at 6:00pm sharp.

Stick around after the tour for a reception featuring delicious food prepared with Grown in Detroit produce by some of Detroit’s best local chefs. Back by popular demand, we’ll also be hosting the “Good Food Bazaar” an interactive space at the reception designed to help introduce tour guests to opportunities to become active volunteers, consumers and supporters of the organizations and entrepreneurs behind the good food momentum in the city.

Registration is now open and early registration is strongly recommended. The fee for the tour, paid when you register, is a sliding scale $15-$100 to offset cost of producing the event, which is valued at $50/person.


Thinking for Ourselves
Community Wisdom
Shea Howell

shea25Last week a majority of the Detroit City Council voted to place an anti-community proposal on the November ballot.  The intent of this proposal is to confuse voters and protect the interests of big business. Council members Benson, Leland, Tate, Spivey, Cushingberry, and Ayers voted to support the proposal. It was developed hastily by Scott Benson in an effort to destroy a people’s initiative to legally mandate a community voice in major, publically supported developments.

With this decision, Detroit voters are likely to have two competing proposals with the same name on the ballot. One, supported by the people, would use the force of law to ensure that communities have a voice and receive agreed upon benefits from developments that use public money or get tax breaks.  The other, sponsored by Benson, only mandates a public meeting, where developers get to tell citizens what they plan to do.

Mayor Duggan and the business elite oppose a meaningful Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). They argue that a real CBA would limit development and jeopardize job growth. These claims are nonsense. And they are not the core of the objections. The sad truth is that the Mayor, Councilman Benson, the majority of the Council and the business elite fear democracy. They distrust the wisdom of people. They see a CBA only as something that takes away from profits and control. They cannot imagine that a real CBA, with a true collaborative process, would result in better decisions and better development.

This anti-democratic thrust and fear of the people is actually written into the ordinance proposed by Benson. The one public meeting in the ordinance is orchestrated and designed to tell residents what will happen to them. These “impacts” are universally described in negative terms throughout the ordinance. Citizens are allowed to suggest ways to soften the blows. Nothing is binding.  The philosophy reflected in the Benson Ordinance cast people as complainers. Once we get a chance to grip a little, developers go ahead as planned. This is the track record of development, especially under emergency management and Mayor Duggan. Developers don’t live up to even minimal agreements.

In measured support for the Benson Ordinance, Crains says that a real CBA “opens the door to project management by people who may or may not have the subject matter expertise to give guidance and set the rules of play for developers.” The power of the community to “micro-manage specific investments may bring growth to a screeching halt,” they warn.

It does not occur to these folks that there is wisdom and creativity in the community. Community knowledge means better development. Community engagement need not be antagonistic.

The reality is that communities are complex and multi layered. Developers see only one small slice of that reality.  For example, last March, a Detroit icon, Faygo, faced a community picket over a closed road. The leadership of Faygo was stunned at being picketed, but wisely decided to engage with the community. They learned that in an effort to make their truck deliveries more efficient they had blocked off essential community pathways for children to get to buses and for emergency vehicles to enter the neighborhood quickly.  Before long a compromise was reached so kids could pass safely and emergency vehicles could reach distant streets.

Community Development is about more than jobs or limiting “negative impacts.” A true CBA rests on the belief that community wisdom makes for better decisions for everyone.

We owe thanks to Council President Jones and members Castaneda-Lopez and Sheffield for upholding the democratic wisdom of a CBA. Now we need to organize to win the November vote. Detroiters are not so easily fooled.



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For Immediate Release
Alicia Farris, ROC-MI
(313) 962-5020

July 26, 2016
Detroit Organizations Join National Night Out for Safety and Liberation

Community organizations come together to discuss what it means to be “safe”

DETROIT – On Tuesday, August 2nd, organizations are hosting events in more than 20 cities across the country, including Detroit, where they will redefine what public safety means to them during an event called a Night Out for Safety and Liberation.

People who live in communities that are plagued with crime and violence understandably want to feel safe and they have that right. However, the question that organizers are asking is: “Does an increased police presence in a community necessarily translate to more safety’?

“I know that Detroiters have a lot to say about what it means to be safe and free,” said Alicia Farris of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan.  “Therefore, I reached out to several community organizations, because I thought it was important for Detroiters to join in on this national conversation that takes a different look at what safety means to those who are most marginalized.”

Increased policing in black and brown communities has contributed to increased surveillance, mass criminalization, and calls for the implementation of policing tactics like stop and frisk and broken windows. For black and brown communities, this is the opposite of safety. Safety should look like a direct reinvestment in black and brown communities and a strong social safety net. Safety looks like a move away from mass criminalization and a move towards fewer police and less surveillance. It looks like communities where people have homes without fear of displacement. Safety is embodied in quality healthcare that people can access and afford. Safety also looks like neighborhoods where a quality education is accessible for all and communities where people have access to clean water and healthy food.

These reimagined and redefined qualities of safety and more will be discussed at theNight Out for Safety and Liberation Detroit event on August 2, 2016 at the Detroit Public Library – Main Branch from 5pm – 8pm Light refreshments and childcare services will be available.

This event is being organized by: Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan

PARTNERS/CO-SPONSORS

Allied Media Projects
Good Cakes and Bakes
Community Development Advocates of Detroit
James and Grace Lee Boggs Center
Detroit Equity Action Lab
Michigan Faith In Action – Detroit
Detroit Food Policy Council
MOSES
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Mothering Justice
Detroit People’s Platform
Pontiac Policy Council
Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan
Rosa Parks Institute
Equitable Detroit Coalition
The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop
FoodLab Detroit
We the People of Detroit

new_mo_cover
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’sHow 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_gracecenter-300x205
Living for Change News
July 10th – July 17th
Thinking for OurselvesCompromised Confusion
Shea Howell

shea The battle over a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for Detroit is intensifying.  Within a few hours after the Department of Elections ruled the CBA could go forward as a ballot question in November, City Councilman Scott Benson jumped in to try yet another desperate strategy to confuse voters and block meaningful legislation. He said he is offering a compromise.

People have been fighting for a CBA strategy for nearly a decade. The purpose of a CBA is to ensure that when public money is used to support private development, communities receive some direct benefit. The ordinance gives community residents a say in how developments impact their neighborhoods and their daily lives. As City Council President Brenda Jones wrote in a recent letter to the Detroit Free Press supporting CBA’s,

“We need to raise our standards of what we deserve when we invest our land or tax dollars. We deserve better than trinkets that don’t hold up after the development is complete.”

The ordinance requires developers who receive at least $300,000 in public subsidies for projects of $15 million or more to meet with community members and agree upon the benefits for the community in exchange for public dollars.

While jobs for both construction and operations are a key concerns, communities are also concerned about quality of life issues. Neighbors want to ensure support for local businesses, consideration for environmental impacts, and support for neighborhood activities. Rashida Talib of the Sugar Law Center has supported the idea since she was a state legislator. Nearly a decade ago she heard from residents of the Delray area where major expansion of the new international bridge was unfolding. They worry that the increased truck traffic would further damage their already stressed neighborhood.

She said, “Every time I think about a community benefits agreement for the bridge specifically, I think about it being a model bridge that is going to have an air quality program or a volunteer program to get trucks retrofitted. One of the things I heard residents ask is, “Rashida, for the money that they’re getting for the land, could they get bus covers?” Those are the kinds of basic needs that a community who is going to have large transportation pressures are thinking about.”

The idea of a CBA makes sense.  Yet, it is opposed by the Mayor, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. There was even an effort by the State Legislature to outlaw such ordinances. In large part this effort was stopped because of the strong support for CBA’s given by the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, representing thousands of local neighborhood business. These are the kinds of businesses a CBA would most directly help stay in the city.

Fears fostered by the corporate elite that CBA’s would drive out development are not true.  We already have voluntary CBA’s working across the city. Neighbors in Brightmoor negotiated with Meijer for jobs and other community benefits when the new store came to Northwest Detroit. The West Grand Boulevard Collaborative struggled for years to engage Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in negotiations over a massive warehouse construction. Whole Foods negotiated hiring goals, vendors and small minority business recruitment.

This spring, Idea City negotiated a CBA with artists and activists for their international project here. They said the experience was so valuable to them, they will use the process in all other cities around the globe where they create exhibits.

Community Benefits help everyone think more fully and consciously about the relationship between businesses and the communities that support them. An ordinance provides a tool to give these conversations legal standing and provide for ongoing accountability.

Councilman Benson’s compromise does none of this. It is a weak effort to confuse voters and reduce thoughtful discussion to essentially one public meeting.

If the councilman does not withdraw his so called compromise, he can be sure it will be rejected by voters who are tired of efforts to block every democratically developed step toward a more equitable city.

An Update from the Detroit People’s Platform: COMMUNITY BENEFITS ORDINANCE PETITION CERTIFICATION WILL STAND!

Challenge to ballot initiative signatures denied by Detroit Department of Elections.

On July 7, 2016 Rise Together Detroit received word from the Department of Elections. After a review by their office, the challenge to the Community Benefit ballot initiative  signatures has been denied. The petition certification STANDS! This means enough signatures have been gathered and certified to move the Community Benefits Ordinance forward toward placement on the November ballot.

This has been a tremendous effort and an important act of citizen-led democracy on display. The CBA Coalition partners want to thank the members who have supported and made this all-volunteer grassroots effort possible. Detroiters from every corner of the city have stepped up to help move the CBA Ordinance to a vote by the people.

Please visit http://risetogetherdetroit.com/ for more information and updates on the efforts to gain a Community Benefits Ordinance for all Detroiters.
Recent Timeline:

On July 5, 2016 Detroit City Council members heard public comments about the Community Benefits Ordinance. Though the Community Benefit Ordinance was not on the agenda of the meeting, many came out to speak in support of the ordinance due to a challenge to the ballot initiative petition signatures. Videos below.

On Monday June 27, 2016, the City of Detroit Department of Elections certified the Community benefits Agreement Coalition had collected enough signatures to place the long-sought Community Benefits Ordinance on the ballot in November. As required by law, a letter was sent to City Council thereby giving them 60 days to pass the ordinance as written or refer it to the Election Commission for placement on the ballot in November.

Within 48 hours efforts to challenge the Community Benefit Ordinance were underway.  On Wednesday June 29, 2016 CBA Coalition members learned of a legal challenge filed against the ballot initiative. One of Detroit’s leading corporate law firms, working on behalf of an unidentified, anonymous client, has challenged the validity of signatures collected.

Please visit http://risetogetherdetroit.com/ for more information and updates on the efforts to gain a Community Benefits Ordinance for all Detroiters.

“If we have to pay, we get a say!”

Join the conversation: #RiseTogetherDetroit #CBO

Learn more and help spread the word!

#RiseTogetherDetroit VIDEO Angy Webb “People want this. They wouldn’t have filled out petitions if they didn’t” https://youtu.be/tBmWt-_YAqo

\#RiseTogetherDetroit VIDEO Lila Cabil “we’ve given a lot, but we’ve lost a lot”https://youtu.be/bMbwt6472sA

#RiseTogetherDetroit VIDEO Ron Turner: “Detroiters are capable of working with developers for a win/win situation.” https://youtu.be/itIQ3kl6Tuw

#RiseTogetherDetroit VIDEO Bro J Smith @CapSoupKitchen “people served by the kitchen don’t benefit from development” https://youtu.be/mea29FE-uiI

#RiseTogetherDetroit 7 VIDEOS of Public Comments on Community Benefits from

#DetroitCityCouncil’s July 5th Meeting
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLy5aqxoFbwK1t5-eMBGFeQ7cD0PaxuLxC

Detroiters deserve a seat at the table when large projects use public $$$#RiseTogetherDetroit VIDEO https://youtu.be/15PGJ1xljQE
Please take a few minutes to look at this short video Detroit Eviction Defense made of Barbara Campbell, who is facing eviction this month.

Would you be interested in adding your name to the petition (see below), opposing her unjust eviction by Flagstar Bank? We want to gather signatures quickly so you’d like to sign, please email Dianne Feeley (feeleyd@earthlink.net) by this Wednesday, July 13. If you can get an organizational endorsement that’s great too, but time is running out and we want to be sure to send the petition in to Flagstar ASAP.

Many thanks!,
Dianne Feeley

Petition Statement:

As community advocates, we are calling on Flagstar Bank to stop eviction proceedings against Barbara Campbell and work out a reduced mortgage payment so that she can remain in her Detroit home. We won’t speak to the contested legal issues involved in the denial of her application for a mortgage modification and the foreclosure that followed. We say simply that Barbara deserves your help and support rather than eviction. She is a former program director for the Girl Scouts, a mother, and a long-time stalwart in her community. She has also struggled with multiple medical disabilities— including kidney failure, cancer and heart disease—that warrant assistance from a bank promoting itself as a member and protector of our community. This is a matter of justice, if not the law. Detroit doesn’t need another heartless eviction!

 

 

What We’re Reading

Are You Ready for Some Hard Truths About the Birth of Our Nation? Brace Yourself – by Frank Joyce

 

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’sHow 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  
Living for Change News
June 26th – July 3rd
Thinking for Ourselves
Better Answers
Shea Howell

shea25July brings water rate increases to Detroit and most of the region. Even without this increase many people are struggling to make ends meet. Shut offs continue. Children have been protesting the Mayor, and churches, long stable sources of housing for people with limited means, are all facing shut offs.Detroiters are not alone in facing these increases. Across the country water rates have been going up at almost twice the rate of inflation for nearly two decades. Over the last five years water and sewer services have risen 41% nationally. As municipalities face aging infrastructure, shifting climates, and industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff, water is becoming more and more expensive. Fewer and fewer people are able to pay for it.How we care for water and the right of people to it is a central question about the kind of people we are and wish to become. Today in Detroit, as around the globe, fundamental differences are emerging. For some, like the Mayor of Detroit and Michigan Governor Snyder, water is a commodity to be bought and sold. If you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it.

Mayor Duggan’s refusal to acknowledge water as a human right reveals his failure as a Mayor. Every day that he continues aggressive water shut offs and refuses a true water affordability plan Duggan drives people out of their homes and out of the city. While he bends the law and gives tax breaks for wealthy corporations, he continues a policy that everyone knows is broken.

Long before the poisoning of Flint or the massive water shut offs in Detroit, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation recommended that the United States “adopt a mandatory federal standard on affordability for water and sanitation.” The UN experts wanted municipalities to provide clean, safe water at about 3% of a person’s annual income. This 2011 recommendation was never taken seriously in the US Congress.  

Now we are in a national crisis as water is being turned into a commodity. Private corporations are looking to it as a new profit center. More than a decade ago the Detroit City Council passed a plan like that recommended by the UN. Mayor Duggan has refused to implement it. He has instead chosen a policy that pits people against each other.

Selling water to those who can afford it and shutting off those who can’t is unjust. It is a policy that hurts those with limited access to jobs, income or financial support.  It strikes at the well being of the African American community especially.  A recent report by the Unitarian Universalists noted, “Today, one in every two African-American Michiganers live in cities that violate their human rights to water and sanitation.”

Of course, Michigan is not alone in pursuing policies that target African Americans as less worthy than their European descended counterparts. For example in Lowndes County, Ala., a majority African American county, there is no functioning sewer system.

Neither the governor nor the Mayor are able to do the kind of creative thinking that is required to protect water and people. Last week, in a controversial move, Governor Snyder voted to approve the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin access to Lake Michigan. It will take out over 8 million gallons of water a day, and return treated waste water back to the system. Governor Snyder said, “Right now, there’s essentially a diversion of water that has human safety issues and environmental concerns with it, and that’s not a good thing,” The proposal is “a better answer than what we have today.”

Detroit and Michigan deserve “better answers.” In reality, answers have been coming from the community for months, years and decades. Duggan and Snyder are not even asking the right questions.


Happy Birthday Grace
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

Tomorrow, Grace Lee Boggs would have been 101 years old. I have had the honor of serving on the board of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership for the past several years. I have had the honor and challenge of struggling with Grace, being challenged by Grace and now missing Grace.

In the 264 days since Grace has passed, I have been on a world wind as a much younger revolutionary organizer. I have presented on militarization at the SOA Watch Vigil, traveled to Brazil to learn more about their community wireless infrastructure, presented on social justice organizing for North Dakota Study Group at the border of Mexico, shared my Water Love story, took on a new job as the Detroit Community Technology Researcher for the Detroit Community Technology Project, co-organized the North American Social Solidarity Conference, organized several Data DiscoTechsaround Detroit, hosted the Black Organizing for Dignity cohort, four international civil society leaders from Colombia for the Ethnic Communities Historical Memory Initiative Program, and seven political & economic leaders from Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom at the Boggs Center. I have had the honor of serving on the first Advisory Board for the Allied Media Conference, completed my second book for release at my one woman show – Coming Out My Box, had my workshop accepted into CommonBound 2016 and began the planning for Detroit: A Call for 10,000 Black Women, Girls & Femmes.

This is not an exhaustive list and it’s not meant to be a resume. This is an internal reflection that I have decided to share outward, because sometimes in the work we do, we can feel like we are everywhere, but nowhere all at the same time. I am finally at the point in my life where I feel like my work matters. I am at the point where I feel like my contributions matter. Our stories are so important. This is a small part of who I am.

Soon, to be 40 years old, it is difficult for me to imagine seven decades of activism and even harder to imagine 100 years of life. Grace’s stamina in this work, in political theorizing, strategizing and organizing, traveling defies my logic, but what I do understand is Grace’s commitment to the struggle until her last breath. I share in her commitment.

I have also chosen to share these accomplishments/reflections because who I am, who I am becoming, shapes the work I choose to do. I was born and raised in Detroit. I grew up in poverty and didn’t realize I was being considered “poor” until my mother got a “good paying job” and we moved to a “better neighborhood.” In that better neighborhood, my new neighbors told me I was poor nearly every day.  It didn’t stop until I reached my teenage years and spent nearly all of my money pursuing the American Dream, pursuing my escape from poverty. But, somewhere between being a corporate trainer for a restaurant franchise in my teens, to working in the factory in my early twenties and ultimately managing in corporate America for nearly ten years, I woke up and realized that the work I was doing was not meaningful. That I was dying physically, emotionally and spiritually. So, to make a very long story short, I walked off of my $70K per year job one day and a year later I landed on the steps of the Boggs Center. My relationship with the Boggs Center, my relationship with Grace has shaped my development as an organizer, as an artist, as a revolutionary.

As I helped to distribute emergency water to residents on my street the other day, after a Homrich contractor swept through four blocks turning off water, I witnessed elders crying and mothers reluctantly admitting that their water was turned off for fear they may lose their children. The massive water shutoffs had finally made it to Field Street, right up the street from the legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs. It was an exhaustive and emotional day, but rewarding to see how swiftly neighbors and community members sprang into action. This coming together made me think of the days when Grace would march these same streets with community members exhibiting what it meant to turn to one another. Facing massive water shutoffs on your street is a soul growing experience, an “opportunity in crisis.” As Grace would call it.

As we approach what would be Grace’s 101st birthday, I have been in deep reflection about her legacy and an even deeper reflection about my roles and responsibilities as a evolutionary. I hope that we can all take a deeper look at the work we commit ourselves to, and remember the words of James Boggs, “It is only in relationship to other bodies and many somebodies, that any of us is somebody.”

Happy birthday Grace!


An Update from the Trumbullplex

Wayne Association for Collective Housing, also known as Trumbullplex, will be purchasing the two lots at 4238 and 4232 Trumbull. This land, which is adorned with fruit trees, is an extension of the non-profit along with the two homes, Zine Library, community arts center and the green space that has been formally owned by WACH since 1993 at 4202, 4210 and 4220 Trumbull 48208.

It has been proposed to form a fourth collective (in addition to the to the Housing, Booking and Zine Library collectives) to maintain and creatively collaborate around the Trumbullplex green space. Community members are invited to join the new collective or send ideas toTrumbullplex@gmail.com.
So far, the community has collectively contributed $2, 000 toward the $10,000 required by the City to buy the properties. Paypal and credit card can be made at Trumbullplex.org. Checks can be made out to WACH and mailed to 4210 Trumbull Detroit, MI 48208.
Work on the exterior of “corner house” will begin soon, having been delayed by the property dispute. Fundraisers have been happening all winter for this purpose.

We are so grateful for the show of support for this long-standing radical art space and housing collective, which has been a nurturing home for so many, collective-members or not. The strategy meeting held in the art space a few weeks ago drew 50 supporters. A beautiful gathering of neighbors, show-goers, former and current collective members.

We want to remind people in Detroit and beyond, that everyone is welcome at the Trumbullplex. Whether you’d like to attend an event, look at zines, host a meeting or a puppet show, you are welcome to knock on our doors or send us an email to trumbullplex@gmail.com.  Our mission statement includes commitment “to create a positive environment…in which economic and social relationships are based on mutual aid”, as well as to “support other projects that share our goals of dismantling racism, sexism, homophobia, and the oppression of poor people”.
Our motto is, “For roots to grow, seeds must be planted.” Thank you for strengthening our roots and planting more seeds. Onward!
angie comic
(by Angie Coe)

Rosa at Rio
Ruth Lilienstein-Gatton
Heightsites.com

Where spirituality and political activism intersect, there is also a place for visual art.
Rosa Naparstek’s newest exhibition “what is your function…?” is on display through the end of June at the Rio Penthouse Gallery. The artist has built a set of arresting visual works around personally transformative texts. Running the lengths of the inner gallery walls, sheets of type are orderly set side-by- side. The sheets contain text from The Pathwork Lectures (the famously “channeled” work of Eva Pierrakos); writings by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet and mystic; and essays by civil rights leader Grace Lee Boggs– all which have contributed essentially to the artist’s spiritual evolution.

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Across the printed pages, larger and hand-written by the artist, run well-known quotes by Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky, again invoking social reform.

The artist Rosa Naparstek.Biographically, the text-over- text format can be seen to chart a journey through Naparstek’s lifetime involvement in social and political causes (in Detroit, California, and New York), interwoven with an embrace of metaphysical thinking that has critically informed her ideas about social and political change. Naparstek wants to share a truth– that the change we seek on a global societal level is dependent on, if not meaningless without, our personal transformations.

In another part of the installation, the artist shares these truths in a heap of crumpled pages on the gallery floor. More of the same texts, they are meant to be picked up and absorbed at random by observers, who are invited to take a seat around the pile. On a wall outside the gallery, more crumpled pages are affixed to the wall, mirroring the format of the smooth ones within, as though suggesting that the ideas contained in them can withstand physical transformation.

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The ideas embedded in the texts can be “read” into Naparstek’s accompanying found-object sculptures, a sampling of newer and older works of this type for which the artist is known. Naparstek fabricates from collected natural and man-made items—animal horns, dolls, doorknobs, seashells, scrap metal-sometimes framing (as with reclaimed picture frames or canvases) and sometimes assembling the ordinary into the sacred, as when a doorknob set inside bicycle gears, mounted on a bicycle seat becomes a “Third Eye.” Objects worn through human or elemental use form assemblages that can evoke nostalgia, psychological urges, and sometimes humor (used teabags hang like genitals on a male dressmaker’s form); but the artist’s compassion, the same instinct which directs her search for the divine and desire for a just society, are present in each sculpture.

“what is your function…?” connects individual self-actualization as part of the quest for a just society with abandoned objects remade into art. Naparstek asks us equally to question the function of a thing or a person as part of a narrative of meaning.

The artist will be at the gallery this Sun., Jun. 26th from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Rio Penthouse Gallery is located at 10 Fort Washington Avenue, between 159th and 160th Streets.

For more information, please visit bit.ly/28M3mSI.


Visionary Voices
Katie Doyle Myers

Our Youth Global Leadership 2016 Insight Trip, “Resilient Communities: Exploring Social Change in the Midwestern United States,” came to a close last week. Eleven program participants traveled throughout the US Midwest to explore themes related to community organizing, immigration policy, racial justice, urban agriculture, and alternative economics. The following post provides a first-hand account of the last segment of their experience. Thanks to the YGL documentarian committee for the presentation of this blog post!

During the last week of our trip we visited with a number of local community organizers through a tour with the James & Grace Lee Boggs Center. On Monday we landed at the Hush House, our home for the week. We spent time with Hush House founders Mama Sandra and Baba Charles, who are prominent members in the Detroit community and civil rights activists. We spent time discussing the history of the neighborhood, looking at their African-American history museum, and sharing stories about our lives. We were all deeply inspired by our hosts and the lives they have lived dedicated to justice.

On Tuesday, we started at the Boggs Center with our guide Richard Feldman, a writer and activist himself who asked us to think about the question, “How will people relate to each other in a country that’s been built on racism and corrupted Capitalism?”. We were introduced to the work done by activists and visionaries James and Grace Lee Boggs. With Richard Feldman, we drove to the Packard Auto Factory and discussed the history of the automobile industry in Detroit. Seeing the Packard Plant — a massive building that spans 40 acres — completely empty and caved-in was eye-opening. We then spent time exploring the Heidelberg Project, an incredible neighborhood art installation done by Tyree Guyton. We talked with Tyree about the story behind his artwork, and how it reflects his life. Tyree’s ability to create such beauty with what others consider junk was impressive to say the least. He made a powerful point explaining that “you need opposition to be tough, to become a fighter”. From there we visited Kimberly, a teacher at the Boggs School who asked us the question “What is the purpose of education?”. We finished our day by visiting Yusef Shakur at his house (that he’s converting into a community center) and heard from him about his story regarding resilience and his vision to build a deeper sense of community.

While in Detroit we also visited an urban garden Feedom Freedom, and conversed with founders Myrtle and Wayne and helped out in their community garden. We spent time with Carlos Nielbock, a man who re-purposes recycled materials and builds windmills as a method of producing his own sustainable energy. On our final day we got a chance to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts, home of a world famous Diego Rivera mural which makes a statement on the once-booming automobile industry and then pitfalls of industrialization. Afterwards, the YGLers walked around town and grabbed lunch before doing a group reflection activity surrounding the concepts of immigration, the term “compañerismo”, Capitalism, and education.

We are all sad to be leaving, but beyond excited to be heading back into our own community filled with new experiences and valuable perspectives. We cannot even begin to express how much gratitude we feel for the incredible people we have gotten the chance to speak to, and also for both the Boggs Center and the Hush House for hosting us.

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

Ron Scott’sHow to End Police Brutalityevolution 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
June 19th – June 26th

Thinking for Ourselves

This Time
Shea HowellOrlando has joined the list of places linked to mass killing.  It surpassed the killings at Virginia Tech in 2007, when 32 people were killed and 17 were injured. Now Sandy Hook is in third place. There have been 998 mass shootings, since the death of 27 people in that elementary school.In Orlando gay men were targeted for death, this time by a deeply troubled young man.

This time it was not African Americans gathered to pray, targeted by a deeply troubled young man. But it has been.

This time it was not college students, walking across campus, assaulted from a tower. But it has been.

This time it was not an African American father standing in a doorway, killed in a rain of police bullets. But it has been.

This time it was not a 6 year old African American girl asleep on her couch, killed in a rain of police bullets. But it has been.

This time it was not high school students, gunned down by an angry boy. But it has been.

This time it was not a young boy playing in a park, killed by a rain of police bullets. But it has been.

This time it was not woman blown up by bombs while celebrating international athletes. But it has been.

This time it was not patients in a hospital, blown up by bombs dropped from an anonymous drone. But it has been.

This time it was not a group of young Mexican men, women and children, left to die in a trucking crate. But it has been.

This time it was not a gay man dragged to his death behind a car for sport. But it has been.

This time it was not a gay man beaten and tied to a fence, left to die. But it has been.

This time it was not students, protesting injustice, shot down by National Guardsmen. But it has been.

This time it was not a group of Vietnamese women and children gunned down on the edge of ditch by US soldiers. But it has been.

This time it was not a presidential candidate shot to death. But it has been.

This time it was not a president shot to death. But it has been.

This time it was not a man of peace shot to death. But it has been.

This time it was not 4 little girls on a quiet Sunday morning, blown up by a bomb in their church. But it has been.

This time it was not a city, obliterated in an instant from fire from the sky. But it has been.   

This time it was not workers burned to death, locked into a factory. But it has been.

This time it was not union organizers shot down on a bridge, marching for dignity. But it has been.

This time it was not a nation of people driven by US soldiers across a Continent, killing 1/3 of them in that trail of tears. But it has been.

This time it was not the young African American men lynched for sport. But it has been.

This time it was not the children killed by small pox, caught from the blankets given them by US soldiers. But it has been.

This time it was not the young African American boy brutally beaten beyond recognition and dumped in the river. But it has been.

This time it was not a woman killed by her lover, in anger and rage. But it has been.

This time it was not a lesbian couple shot by their elder neighbor. But it has been.

This time it was not a child shot to death for a pair of sneakers. But it has been.

This time it was not a child killed by the people who were supposed to love and cherish him. But it has been.

Our public history and most private moments are steeped in violence. Violence is as American as apple pie. It is not the act of some lone wolf, deranged fanatic, or demonic cult. It is the constant in how we live together.

It is the product of a culture that values some lives more than others. It has always been with us.  Every time we have faced a choice, we have chosen profits over people, the protection of privilege over justice.

Fifty years ago the Civil Rights movement called us to love, to create new, just relationships among us, to radically revolutionize our values of racism, materialism and militarism.

But in the decades since, we have moved away from the vision of loving communities. We are losing the belief in our capacity to create them as we have grown more brutal. Now violence corrodes all our connections.

Even in efforts to honor the dead in Orlando we do violence to them. News reports and church bells count the toll at 49. As though the young man who wielded the gun was not also human, not also a life lost, not also a part of a family left to mourn, not the enemy we are called to love.  

In Orlando, there are also moments of love and courage. A mother, celebrating her victory over cancer, threw herself in front of her son, protecting him. A man riped off his garments and bound the wounds of a stranger. Another pulled a friend to safety. Police officers risked their lives to save victims. A young man hugged a stranger to life.

Orlando again challenges us to love, to care for one another and to find ways of living that restore the sacredness of all life. Love is the only answer to violence.

Perhaps this time, as we are called to affirm life matters, we will have the courage to look honestly at how we have lived. Only then can we create new paths to the future.

______________________________________________

Good morning,

This is Barry Randolph pastor of Chuch of the Messiah. I want to invite you to our 9th annual “Silence the Violence” peace march on Saturday, June 25th at 11am.

Church of the Messiah
231 E. Grand Blvd @ Lafayette
Detroit MI 48207
(313)633-5331

If you need a table for information about your organization, or wish to hand out literature about community resources let me know. (313-633-5331)

Hundreds of concerned citizens from across the country attend the annual march. The event brings together local government, law enforcement, business leaders, religious organizations and the average citizen to combat crime and foster pride in our neighborhoods.

Past speakers have included:
Former Mayor Ken Cockrel
Wayne county Exec. Warren Evans
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
Congressman Hanson Clark
Council President Brenda Jones
Council member Mary Sheffield
Grand Marshals have included:
Ronnie Dahl from channel 7
Woody Woodruff Fox 2
Andrew Humphrey Channel 4
Maureen Stapleton state Rep
Participating organizations have included:
Crime Stoppers
United Communities of America
Moms Demand Action
The Remember Me Quilt Project
Cease Fire Detroit
Mothers of Murdered children
The Boggs Center
The Mustard Tree Co-op
Saving our children’s future
Citizens United for Safety
The BLVD Harambee
Participating law enforcement have included:
Detroit police department
Wayne county sheriff department
Homeland security
Harper Woods police
Hamtramack police
Michigan state Troopers

This is a short list of the many people, groups, and organizations that have participated in our community March. This year will be bigger and better. Let me know if you or your organization will participate in this year’s march. We need your participation. Let’s show Detroit how much we care about our city and its people.



Are you suffering from narrative induced community injury???Do you suffer from stereotyping???

Watch the Detroit Narrative Agency Infomercial to learn more.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Studies show a direct link between poverty and a never ending cycle of imprisonment, in which one finds themselves in a constant uphill battle. Psychological and physical effects of childhood, adolescence, and teen impoverishment increase the chances of adult impoverishment, thus leading to a perpetual path to prison. Once released from prison those initial problems resurface and, coupled with fees and fines, keep individuals from progressing, inevitably repeating a cycle of poverty leading to prison again.

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Black Homes Matter!

Defend One Home. Defend Them All.

From Detroit Eviction Defense

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

Ron Scott’sHow 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

Continue Reading »

 

  sunflower3
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 – June 19th
Thinking for Ourselves
Moral Vision
Shea Howell
As the gathering of Detroit’s elite on Mackinac Island fades into memory, the primary result is the astonishing lack of imagination on display there. After months of planning, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and claiming to set the agenda for the future, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce managed to construct a program of almost all white men evading the most important questions of our time.Anyone seriously thinking about the future knows three things: 1. The growing gap between the minority of wealthy white men and the rest of the world is destroying the quality of community life at every level.  2. The abuse of our ecosystem is threatening the survival of all life, and 3. Reimagining how we live in cities, now holding more than half the population of the earth, is central to resolving these intertwined crises.Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit, who had an opportunity to raise serious questions chose to tout policies that he said would provide “opportunity” for everyone.This is an empty claim. It reflects his inability to understand the imagination emerging all around the city to think and live differently.The Mayor has refused every single imaginative, compassionate effort championed by the Detroit community to create a more sustainable and just city.  He has refused to adopt a true water affordability plan, preferring charity to imaginative thinking. He has continued water shut offs to thousands of homes, he has refused to enact a community benefit agreement, he has refused to challenge the emergency management law, and he has refused to declare a moratorium on foreclosures. He continues an attack on “blight” to clear land for developers.His call of opportunity is for people to join in his image of the city, on his terms, to do the bidding of corporate powers. It is an invitation to join in destruction and the brutal use of force.

The emptiness of this vision is captured in the pointed comment raised more than 50 years ago by Martin Luther King as he challenged the idea that becoming part of the ordinary ways of doing business is something we should want.

In one of his last conversations with Harry Belafonte, Dr. King said, “I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.”

“I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.”

At a time when we need creative, expansive thinking, we have a political and corporate elite wielding authority without intellect, making choices based on the narrowest of self-interest and shortsighted thinking.

While those at Mackinac evaded serious conversation, the Michigan State Legislature continued to do their bidding. We are going into the third year of the Flint water crisis without a viable plan or urgent commitment to restore the most basic human rights to its citizens.  After nearly two decades of failure to support the Detroit Public Schools and enacting policies that amount to child abuse, the legislature continued its punitive practices. Still refusing to allocate adequate funds to move the district toward stability, the legislature chose policies to penalize teachers who act to call attention to the outrages our children face every day.

The urgency of thinking and living differently is clearer every day. Throughout Detroit and other cities, those who have been locked out recognize the question is not how to get into a dying system, but how we should make lives that enable us to care for one another, ourselves, and the earth we depend on. There is the source of a new moral vision.

____________________________________________________

Are you suffering from narrative induced community injury??? Do you suffer from stereotyping???

Watch the Detroit Narrative Agency Infomercial to learn more.

register_now_banner-blue

This year during the 18th Annual Allied Media Conference, The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop will present: Detroit’s 1st Women in Hip Hop Concert featuring Grammy Award Winning Artist Rapsody!

Hear more from Piper Carter, Co-Founder.

Women of Hip Hop Concert


 


Good morning,

This is Barry Randolph pastor of Chuch of the Messiah. I want to invite you to our 9th annual “Silence the Violence” peace march on Saturday, June 25th at 11am.

Church of the Messiah
231 E. Grand Blvd @ Lafayette
Detroit MI 48207
(313)633-5331
If you need a table for information about your organization, or wish to hand out literature about community resources let me know.

Hundreds of concerned citizens from across the country attend the annual march. The event brings together local government, law enforcement, business leaders, religious organizations and the average citizen to combat crime and foster pride in our neighborhoods.

Past speakers have included:
Former Mayor Ken Cockrel
Wayne county Exec. Warren Evans
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
Congressman Hanson Clark
Council President Brenda Jones
Council member Mary Sheffield
Grand Marshals have included:
Ronnie Dahl from channel 7
Woody Woodruff Fox 2
Andrew Humphrey Channel 4
Maureen Stapleton state Rep
Participating organizations have included:
Crime Stoppers
United Communities of America
Moms Demand Action
The Remember Me Quilt Project
Cease Fire Detroit
Mothers of Murdered children
The Boggs Center
The Mustard Tree Co-op
Saving our children’s future
Citizens United for Safety
The BLVD Harambee
Participating law enforcement have included:
Detroit police department
Wayne county sheriff department
Homeland security
Harper Woods police
Hamtramack police
Michigan state Troopers

This is a short list of the many people, groups, and organizations that have participated in our community March. This year will be bigger and better. Let me know if you or your organization will participate in this year’s march. We need your participation. Let’s show Detroit how much we care about our city and its people. Feel free to contact me at

new_mo_cover

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!

 
Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’sHow 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  
 Living for
Change News
June 5th –
June 12th
register_now_banner-blue

This year during the 18th Annual Allied Media Conference, The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop will present: Detroit’s 1st Women in Hip Hop Concert featuring Grammy Award Winning Artist Rapsody!

Hear more from Piper Carter, Co-Founder.

Women of Hip Hop Concert


Thinking for Ourselves
Fantasy Island
Shea Howell

This Friday the reality of “two Detroits” was brought into sharp focus. One version of Detroit was being celebrated on Mackinac Island as Michigan business, political, and media elite gathered at their annual policy conference. Here were tales of Detroit’s comeback. Detroit is open for business and Dan Gilbert urged people to “think big.”

The other Detroit was playing out in a quiet neighborhood near McNichols and Shafer. Detroit Eviction Defense gathered to stop the eviction of a woman and her children. The case has been mired in a court fight for months.

Those on Mackinac refuse to acknowledge the policies and practices they support are driving a vicious ethnic cleansing related to foreclosures, water shut offs, and the disappearance of meaningful work. The Mackinac elite are determined to create a whiter, wealthier city. In the process they are destroying the very essence of who we are as a city.  Increasingly, their efforts depend on the brutal use of force and violence.

That violence was on full display Friday morning. While Stephen Henderson broadcast from Mackinac about Governor Snyder accusing the press of playing the role of Eeyore, the official agenda had no conversation on the foreclosure crisis or the violation of human rights caused by denying water to thousands.  Flint barely made it to the agenda.

But the future of Detroit is more likely to be emerging from the streets than from some Fantasy Island.  Here is what I know.

Shortly after 6am two Detroit Dumpster trucks came up the street. The drivers accelerated in an effort to scare people away. People stayed put. One driver, confronted with a group blocking the street, turned and left. The second driver pulled up and jumped out of his cab. He shouted at the demonstrators and began throwing punches. After a few short minutes, all captured on cell phones and video cameras, one demonstrator had a broken leg and another a badly bruised neck and cut arm.

Police arrived on the scene. The driver said 50 people attacked the truck with chains and pulled him out of the cab.  The police did not want to hear the stories of the demonstrators. Nor were they interested in the video recordings.

Later in the afternoon the bailiff arrived with an overwhelming police presence. They forcefully moved the demonstrators and evicted the family.

This is not the first time this home has suffered an eviction.  About 5 years ago the bailiff served papers at the same address. It seems the company that holds the title, Thor Equities LLC, is in the business of issuing land contracts, only to take people’s money, not pay taxes and not pay water bills. Neighbors believe the company is buying up homes, putting them up for land contract, then forcing foreclosure.  They then purchase the house at auction under a different name, and start the process all over again.

What we know for sure is that Thor is one of the top owners of tax-foreclosed real estate in Detroit.  We know for sure that is was citied in Cleveland for buying properties and letting them rot.

The direction for our city championed in Mackinac depends on brutality. It pits people against one another. It creates a climate where some of us are willing to do almost anything to others of us, just to keep our job as a truck driver or cop.  

Anyone not on Fantasy Island knows that the violence required to protect power and privilege will only intensify as policies of dehumanization are forced on people.

Anyone not on Fantasy Island knows that for decades people have been creating alternative ways of living based on a vision of a compassionate, sustainable future. The clash between these two visions and where each of us stands is becoming clearer every day.

—–

HELP RE-HOUSE AN EVICTED DETROIT MOM AND HER SON


Resisting evictions and supporting Black women
Kristian Davis BaileyLast Friday in Detroit, a Black woman and her 16 year old son were evicted from their home.  A Black woman and her 16 year old son were evicted by a court order presented by a Black woman bailiff and enforced by the threat of violence from an overwhelmingly Black police team. A Black woman and her 16 year old son were made homeless by a team of Black workers who tossed all their possessions into a dumpster outside while the police stood by and kept guard.

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On Thursday, activists from Detroit Eviction Defense and other community supporters rallied to prevent Jennette Shannon from being kicked out of her home. They prevented the bailiff from illegally evicting Jennette.

On Friday, around 6 am, activists successfully blocked one dumpster from approaching Jennette’s home when the driver decided to leave the site after facing a blockade of cars and people. Just as this driver, left, the driver of a second dumpster almost ran protesters over while speeding down a back alley in an attempt to sneak behind protesters to evict Jennette. When activists attempted to lock down the dumpster, the driver assaulted two protesters, placing one in a chokehold and breaking another one’s leg in the process, requiring an ambulance call and emergency surgery.

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The police let this driver go while threatening protesters with arrest and handing out parking tickets to people who used their cars to block the street.

The only thing that allowed a team of some 15 thugs to evict Jennette from her home was the threat of physical or gun violence if we obstructed or resisted her eviction. And it is only through physical and gun violence that the state, the real estate company, and the police have any jurisdiction over the indigenous Anishinaabe land that Jennette was being evicted from. Police and the state quite literally hold up a violent order that places property that is illegitimately held on stolen land over the basic dignity of human lives–and specifically Black lives in Detroit.

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The police and workers smiled, laughed, and joked while we watched them throw a Black woman and her son out of her home. One of the movers, when asked if he felt bad about what he was doing, said “I got me a Louis [Vuitton] belt.” Jennette’s white neighbor looked on at the whole ordeal from his front porch and offered no support. He was passed out on his rocking chair by the time the police left and the house was boarded up.The dynamics of Jennette’s eviction helped me see even more clearly the ways in which the state, the police and capitalism are fundamentally violent, colonial, and anti-Black. The eviction also heightened the contradiction that Black people are also part of repressive power systems.

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As a young, Black organizer, it’s really important for me to stress one final time that almost everyone involved in evicting Jennette was Black–from the bailiff to the police to the two dump truck drivers.  I write almost because the biggest culprit is Thor Real Estate LLC, whom Jennette bought her home from and whose predatory practices have now evicted her. All of the Black people used to evict Jennette worked in the service of a global real estate company that “owns property in key urban markets throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Latin America.”
So as evictions continue in Detroit, and as Black women continue to be at the highest risk of eviction nationwide (with eviction rates for Black women on par with incarceration rates for Black men), we must understand the centrality of fighting for Black women to our liberation.

The Detroit Community Technology Project with a collaboration with the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, the Digital Stewards and several volunteer station managers, hosted it’s 3rd Data DiscoTech in 9 months.

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Here is a video of the Data DiscoTech held in September, 2015 at the Samaritan Center in Detroit.
The 2nd Data DiscoTech was held at Grace in Action in Southwest Detroit in April and at the 3rd at the Boggs School on June 2nd.
The Data DiscoTechs provide intergenerational opportunities to demystify data and technology for even the most novice technologists. They also provide an opportunity to educate residents on the City of Detroit’s Open Data Portal and how it can possibly benefit and impact the community.
Check out some of the brilliant photos from the Data DiscoTechs and the websites for additional information about the important digital justice work happening in Detroit and how you can get involved.
See you at the Allied Media Conference on June 16th!

Thanks to Ryter Cooperative Industries’ Project Lighthouse program, the Boggs Center is now fitted with the next wave of solar renewable energy lighting around the center and alleyway.

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Visit Ryter Cooperative Industries at
www.ryterci.com for additional information.


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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Living for Change News
May 29th – June 5th
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Introduycing the Water Cycler
Bart Eddy

This will just be a quick update with some pictures of the water purification trike that is now nearly complete. The great thing about this project is that it has been a truly collective and imaginative effort on the part of students and instructors to connect with a real community need with global implications i.e. Climate Change. It also addresses the more immediate needs of residential water shut offs in Detroit and the lead water crisis in Flint. This vehicle is a prototype, and it is our hope and intention to market it/them into the larger community through the support of philanthropic foundations and corporate entities.

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There are several features to this trike that have become great learning opportunities for all of us. They are:

·       The ‘electronic assist’ that operates the trike leaves no carbon ‘footprint’ other than the fact that we have to hook up to the traditional power outlets to charge the batteries. This will lead us in the direction of creating a solar charging station for the re-charging of the lithium batteries. At that point, we will become fossil fuel free!

·       The dual water purification system filters both coarse and fine particles out of the water, and the water barrel roof hook up helps with the problems associated with water run off. It is also possible to change the filters so as to filtrate lead out of the water.

·       The design components are both mechanical and artistic and begin to fulfill the ideas and ideals behind STEAM education. Additionally, these projects involve a high degree of student engagement through problem solving and ‘trouble shooting’ as well as hands on learning. And in order to complete the project, it has taken many hands in a variety of disciplines.

·       With the artistry and design capacities of the University of Michigan Stamps graduates, the strategic business and marketing strategies of the MBA students from the Ross Leadership Academy and the enthusiasm and knowledge of community activists, we are not only fulfilling the ideal of diverse communities working together, but are creating career pathways through practical social entrepreneurship.

·       In the future, we are looking at the issues of community transportation and mobility and will soon begin on a “Water Carrier” trike with a sprinkling system for our community market gardeners.

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Become a Boggs Center Fellow!

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership’s mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through Visionary Organizing: 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.

Fellows will participate in this mission through regular political education discussions, assigned readings and writings, and by engaging in local grassroots initiatives, programs, forums and conferences. Fellows may also make regular written contributions to the Living for Change Newsletter and Boggs Center Magazine.
The Boggs Center Fellows Program has been created in order to provide a consistent and strategic planning and artistic space for visionary organizers to build camaraderie through organizing, focused political education and study.
This unique fellowship opportunity will be for a period of 1 year and will consist of regular fellowship with James and Grace Lee Boggs Center Board Members and affiliated grassroots organizations. Fellows benefit from small financial stipends for selected events and contributions, engagement with Boggs Center comrades rooted in political ideology centered around The American Revolution, The Next American Revolution, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, We Are Not Ghosts and other selected writings, films and discussions.
Precise terms and stipend levels of fellowships vary widely, based on fellowshipcontributions and particular programs and events. Most contributions will not carry a stipend.
If you are interested in learning more about the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership Fellowship, please emailboggscenter@boggscenter.org.
Please place “Boggs Center Fellowship” in the subject line.
How to Apply to the Boggs Center Fellows Program: To be considered for the August 2016 Fellows class, you must apply by June 1, 2016. The Fellowship will run from August 2016 to August 2017.
Please write a statement of interest, not to exceed 2,000 words. Describe why you feel this fellowship will enrich your work, and how you plan to contribute to the mission of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.
Applications should also include three writing samples. The above requested materials should be mailed or emailed to: James and Grace Lee Boggs CenterFellowship Committee, 3061 Field St, Detroit, MI 48214
Phone: (313) 923-0797 (allow 24-48 hours for response)
E-mail: boggscenter@boggscenter.org (For email submissions, please send documents in PDF format)

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This year join Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in thinking of the 4th of July as Interdependence Day and come together to learn, network, explore, and inspire each other to create a more cooperative and sustainable world on the weekend of July 2 to 4, 2016.

Workshops and networking sessions throughout the weekend will bring us new ideas for how to live sustainably and collectively. From Starting an Intentional Community and Simple Off-grid Solar, to Natural Death & Burial and Holistic Animal Management. Those wanting to deepen their understanding of the sustainability-community connection can get together for a weekend and create some community!

Tawana Petty of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and the Detroit Community Technology Project, Matt Stannard JD of Commonomics USA and Dr. Jifunza Wright MD of Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living are just 3 of the amazing conference speakers who will present during the Midwest Sustainable Communities Conference.
Additional information and tickets can be purchased at dancingrabbit.org.


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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 22nd – May 29th
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Bringing Climate Justice Home to Detroit
A Free Showing of the Naomi Klein Film
This Changes Everything

Thursday May 26, 2016

Doors open/networking at 6pm

Film at 7pm

Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA
5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit 48202
Sponsored by:
Detroit Film Theatre, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Ecology Center, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, IHM Peace, Justice & Sustainability Office, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Michigan United, People’s Water Board, Sierra Club, Soulardarity, Voices for Earth Justice, Zero Waste Detroit

Thinking for Ourselves
No More Half-Truths
Shea Howell
Last week Nolan Finley, the conservative columnist for the Detroit News wrote a surprisingly sensitive column about “Detroit’s dying kids.”  Contrasting with Flint children who have “names,” “faces,” and “advocates,” Finley explained, “The children of Detroit are nameless, faceless and voiceless.”  Describing the deaths of our children and the violence they face, Finley said, “It’s a slaughter, and no one outside the neighborhoods seem to care.” He observes that, “Dying kids don’t fit into the happy narrative of a Detroit comeback.”

This is the second time Finley has had the courage to raise questions about the dominant narrative of resurgence and revitalization.

One of his most widely discussed columns was about two Detroits, one white and one black. Giving voice to a reality that few in the media are willing to talk about he said :
“Near the top of the list of the challenges Detroit faces as it starts its post-bankruptcy era is avoiding becoming two cities — one for the upwardly mobile young and white denizens of an increasingly happening downtown, and the other for the struggling and frustrated black residents trapped in neighborhoods that are crumbling around them.

Later he explained, “Nobody wants to inject race into the marvelous story of downtown’s rebound” but, “with racial tension simmering across the country, Detroit must heed obvious warning signs.”

It is a sign of progress that a conservative, older, white man at the Detroit News is willing to question the dominant “comeback” narrative. It is important that we find ways to talk about what is happening in our city and Finley is raising questions that most of his contemporaries avoid.

We must talk about race, about genocide and the war being waged on black, brown and poor people across our city.

Still, Finley’s description of the violence is troubling. His article is remarkable for what it doesn’t name.

He doesn’t mention the names we do know. This column was published just a few days before the sixth anniversary of the death of Ayanna Jones. Police killed her while she was sleeping on her couch. She was 7 years old. Her name is known around the country. And so is the fact that no one has ever been held accountable for the taking of her life.  

Nor does Finley mention #SayHerName National Day of Action to stop police violence against Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people, held a few days after his column appeared. In an article supporting the action, Ebony noted, “Stories involving Black women and police violence rarely garner massive outcry. In fact, Black women and girls who are victimized in similar cases are virtually missing from the mainstream media.”

Finley begins his article talking about Flint and the poisoning of children through their water supply. Yet he is silent about the effects of water shut offs in Detroit that deny children the most basic of human rights.

He is silent about the mass evictions, as children and their parents are forced out of homes. He is silent about the violence in schools of relentless testing and unsafe buildings, without bathrooms, heat or compassion.

This silence is as important to understand as the violence Finley does name. They are related, not separate realities. We need to understand that it is more comfortable for Finley to talk about interpersonal violence. In doing so, he does not trouble the powerful who require the violence of police, shut offs and evictions to protect their privilege and consolidate their power.

To look at the full truth of violence demands we look not only at victims, but at perpetrators. It demands that all of us look in the mirror and see how much we have contributed to the dehumanization and destruction of daily lives. To take seriously Black Lives Matter means no more half- truths.


Tawana Honeycomb Petty

Joe Louis Fist

they try and erase us
rename us
displace us
but we ain’t faceless
our bodies are here
BOLD, BLACK, BEAUTIFUL
we shed tears from the sweat
of our Ancestors
bask in the glory of their resistance
the blood in our veins is of legends
doctors
poets
musicians
we will not be nameless
they cannot shame us with their propaganda
demand our silence through their genocide
we will not hide behind their trinkets
their choo choo trains
and hockey rinks
we are Detroiters
the Black mecca of possibility
we will not go quietly into the night
we carry the fight of Joe Louis
got the Black fist to prove it
we are warriors and artists
the innovators
they call arsonists in October
they run us over when we resist them
but we’re persistent
generations of resilience
we wage love in a world out to get us
productive despite their insistence
Detroit
the city we won’t let die
no matter how much
they try us


Technology our Children and the 21st Century: A Father’s Reflection
Rich Feldman
originally published @ bridgingapps

This is our time! My son, Micah Fialka-Feldman is now 31 years old and throughout his life has been given the opportunity to use technology to learn, listen, share, organize, and advocate for himself and for others. He presents at local and national conferences of 500 people with the assistance of technologies like PowerPoint and videos to share his story.

It is common for him to get hundreds of “likes” and comments on his Facebook page. He updates his posts and keeps in touch via texting and emails. In our family, we do not call it adaptive technology or supportive technology – it is simply technology.

Not only is Micah one of the Post-ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) generation of young adults, he also came of age with the emergence of life changing technologies such as personal computers, voice recognition software like Dragon Dictation (Dragon®NaturallySpeaking), screen readers, smartphones, and videos. He has the audacious expectation that he has a right to anything and everything that allows him to reach his potential as a human being.

In 2016 we do not have to spend 20 hours adjusting the voice recognition software to understand Micah’s voice and words. Instead, Micah uses his iPhone with built-in dictation, voice technology and the digital assistant, Siri. With other emerging technologies like 3-D Printers and Fabricators, we are entering a new stage in human history where our children, our young adults and people of all abilities can use technology to create meaningful work in the community.

As a father, I have been outraged at the failure of schools to provide leadership in this area. Administrators often spend time talking about money and ditto sheets for reading rather than creating a serious commitment to the individual ways in which a young person can and is ready to learn and grow. As Micah would say, “folks need to serious think out of the box, and have great expectations!”

You see, Micah was raised in a family that believes individual opportunity comes from emerging social movements, and we as a family live by the following guiding principles:

– Great expectations
– Education (not schooling) is a lifelong process
– Growth emerges from both resilience and the commitment to create community
– Social movements beginning with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and Martin Luther King Jr’s calling for the Beloved Community has been in the soul and spirit and work of our family and thus a driving vision

Our family believes that every human being needs to be given the opportunity to reach his or her potential, and no one can do it alone. When I speak of the “commitment to create community,” I want to emphasize the idea of interdependence – knowing that every human being has gifts to advance our world.

Our family had the honor and privilege to create a three day family workshop and training at the Kirkridge Retreat Center with a group of families and young adults with disabilities from the TIP Program. Together it is Possible!

After Micah shared his story of inclusion using PowerPoint, each young adult presented his or her own PowerPoint, telling their own stories. The pride and dignity gained from sharing stories in a variety of media such as text, videos, pictures, and music were made possible by technology and thus created the foundation for these young adults to then deepen self-advocacy via public discussion. This experience fundamentally creates a space to recruit and invite individuals to a circle of friends and support, thus replacing shame with the honor to ask for help and the honor to move from independence to interdependence, which is the basis of community.

Mobile technology has allowed Micah to be both independent and to call upon others for assistance that encourages interdependence. Breaking the silence and asking for help demonstrates a commitment to belonging and opportunities for each individual to express their human potential. Our children do not have to adapt, nor fit in, nor beg. They can lead the way to create a better world for themselves and others. We live in a time when a circle of support can create the kind of community where all–I mean all–can create our own futures.


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Gentrification’s toll: ‘It’s you or the bottom line and sorry, it’s not you’
Rebecca Solnit

Last week, the Sierra Club left San Francisco, its home since its founding 124 years ago. Like so many individuals and institutions, it was pushed out by high rent.
The Club, the US’s largest grassroots environmental organization, will be fine in its new home across the bay in Oakland; it’s San Francisco I worry about.

Contemporary gentrification is an often violent process by which a complex and diverse urban environment becomes more homogeneous and exclusionary. It does to neighborhoods and cities what climate change is doing to the earth: driving out fragile and deeply rooted species, and pushing the poor past the brink.

KEEP READING

 


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“the goal is to further real relationships.”

  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 May 15th – May 22nd
dianereeder
“In the ’60, Claude Brown called it “Spoken Soul.” Author James Baldwin called it “this passion, this skill…this incredible music.” Author Toni Morrison called it “this sheer intelligence” and “…the thing that Black people love so much.”

This was the golden age of literature in a series of golden ages over the arc of African American history. I would suggest to you that there was a golden age in the 1920s, when Harlem Renaissance writers penned their masterpieces. Forty years later, a swell of Black pride began to sweep the nation and caught many of us up in its spell. We sported our ‘fros; we found a way, with braids or pink sponge rollers and water and sometimes a little Ultra or Afro Sheen, to nap it up and shine it up so we could raise our fists in the air with the integrity of curly, kinky hair that refused to stand down for ANYONE.

In the ‘90s, it became:

“Very threatening” (the late Dr. Maya Angelou, brilliant Renaissance woman).

“A cruel joke” (Hon. Kweisi Mfume, former U.S. Congressman).
“…an unacceptable surrender, bordering on disgrace” (Rev. Jesse Jackson, thought leader and activist).

What was it that engendered so much angst in our community?

This “incredible music” of the ‘60s that became “very threatening” in the ‘90s was none other than the language we know as Black English.” – Diane Reeder

Please join Diane Proctor Reeder at God’s World on Saturday, May 21, 2-4 p.m. to learn more about her book What the Word BE: Why Black English is the King’s English! Enjoy one-on-one or small group conversation in a relaxed setting. Let’s keep the momentum going! Event is free and open to the public.


Thinking for Ourselves
Dishonorable Acts 
Shea Howell
This week the Honorable Judge Steven Rhodes held a public meeting on the state of Detroit Public Schools. It was a dishonorable performance by the Judge. He has no sense of the depth of anger in the community over the daily abuse of our children in schools stripped of any capacity to provide nurturing and love. He appeared unable to grasp the concerns expressed over the destruction of locally elected democratic control, the subsequent lack of accountability for finances, and the impact of the state targeted hostility toward teachers.

What he does understand is that he does not want to be called an Emergency Manager. Rhodes, whose entire career has been based on judging the letter of the law, refused to own up to his title and its legacy of white supremacist, corrupt, and incompetent rule. Instead, he signed his documents as “Transition Manager,” dodging the title Emergency Manager. No such title of Transition Manager exists in the legislation from which he claims his authority.

Throughout the meeting community members objected to his efforts to distance himself from the responsibility he personally carries for acting as an agent of the State Legislature. Emergency Management laws have been used to systematically dismantle public education for nearly two decades. Emergency Management is the essential tool for pushing toward the privatization of education, while simultaneously destroying local capacity to improve and protect the development of our children.

One consistent line of questioning for Rhodes during the meeting was for him to acknowledge and respect the locally elected school board. This questioning was so persistent that Rhodes moved from saying he had “no plans” to meet with them to agreeing to meet with the Board if they were “civil.”

After the meeting, he said he will meet with the board in private. Michele Zdrodowski wrote a note to the Detroit News saying, “Per Judge Rhodes, the meeting will be private so that they may have an open and frank discussion.” Zdrodowski asserted the session can be closed under the state’s Open Meetings Act because no decisions will be made. “This is an information sharing meeting only, and Judge Rhodes is not asking the Board to take any action and therefore the public meetings act does not apply.”

This is a novel interpretation of the Open Meetings Act. All public bodies are required to hold open meetings except for very specific reasons. They include discussing discipline, real estate transactions, conferring with an attorney about litigation, discussing material privileged under state and federal law, and considering employment applications under certain circumstances. There is no exemption for “information sharing.”

Elected School Board President Herman Davis said that no more than 5 of the 11 members would meet as once so as not to violate the law.

“Detroit school board members, unlike the parties who make decisions about expenditures, openings and closings of schools, letting of millions of dollars of contracts, are subject to the Open Meetings Act,” Elena Herrada said. “We will not meet with the emergency manager in a closed meeting.”

Rhodes does not grasp that the call of the community was not simply to hold a meeting. It was for a return to democratically elected control. If Rhodes had any integrity, he would meet openly and publicly with the board and acknowledge the responsibility of the State for the financial crisis it has created. He should the give the elected school board his resignation as Emergency Manager and ask them to forward it to the Governor. Anything less is dishonorable and complicate in a legal fiction that assaults the most basic values of democracy.


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Facilitating Diversity
Starhawk

As I sit down to write this post, I’m taking a break from preparing for our Passover Seder here at the ranch—a ceremony that’s an amalgam of my Jewish roots, Pagan practice, and our very down-to-earth desire to give thanks and celebrate another season of baby lambs and kids.  The goat kind, that is.  I’m remembering a Seder I hosted more than twenty years ago, and it is making me think of some of the challenges and rewards of trying to facilitate diverse groups and work together across the lines of diversity.

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(Support diversity scholarships for Earth Activist Trainings! Photo by Brooke Porter Photography)

Two dear friends were co-hosting with me.  Both were friends of mine, but didn’t know each other.  Marcia Falk, is a brilliant poet, liturgist, author and feminist rooted within the Jewish tradition. She’s written many books of liturgy in both English and Hebrew, including her latest, The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season. Kate Raphael is a lifelong, courageous activist for LGBT rights,  justice for Palestine, and many, many sorts of peace and justice work, and an author of a great mystery novel set in the West Bank, Murder Under the Bridge.

At that time, a new tradition was circulating in the LGBT rights community, based on a story that two lesbians had approached a rabbi and asked, “What is the place of a lesbian in Judaism?”  The rabbi had purportedly answered, “The place of a lesbian in Judaism is like the place of a piece of chametz on the seder plate.”

CONTINUE READING


An older gem of a video about Detroit Summer.
Enjoy it here as summer slowly approaches.

 


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs

Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs

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 8th – May 15th
AN OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE STEVEN RHODES, LAST EMERGENCY MANAGER OF DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (DPS)Judge Rhodes:
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, you will hold the one public meeting required by Governor Snyder’s “emergency management” statute.  This is an inadequate forum for any meaningful standards of democracy, transparency, accountability and public input at a time of crisis.  It speaks directly to the fatal flaws of “emergency management”, and of your illegitimacy.
Eloquent and informed commentators from our community, and from the national human rights movement, have summarized the key issues facing DPS today under your fundamentally lawless and white supremacist power grab.  More broadly, we have recently published “Detroit 2016” linking Detroit’s struggles for racial and economic justice, including education, water, housing, development and democracy.   You cannot evade the basic contradiction in your role by preferring to change your title.  We need an honest public discussion.
You freely admitted at the time of your appointment that you have no relevant experience or qualifications to run a public school district, or to run an education system.  You have stated that you bring only one tool to this situation: the possibility of state appropriations; with this tool, you in effect seek to continue the state’s racist policies of corporate child abuse that have destroyed public education in Detroit over the last 17 years.
The very idea that there a meaningful top-down “solution” can be imposed by the state is absurd.  This state legislature will use any financial excuse to further attack our children and their teachers.
A real solution must, at an absolute minimum: 1) come from Detroiters;       2) emphasize education over finance; 3) embrace democracy; and 4) reject structural racism,  which has contaminated both Detroit’s bitter experiences with educational “reform”, and the state’s “emergency managed” debacles in predominantly African-American urban communities.
Your role as presiding bankruptcy judge in Detroit’s Chapter 9 case ratified the abuses of “emergency management”, and eviscerated local government accountability.  Now, in spite of your admitted lack of knowledge or experience, you come out of retirement to claim the role of education czar, providing cover for the state’s failed policies.
Your current drive to impose a state- driven, top-down, designed-to-fail “solution” on Detroit destroys your credibility.
Unless you change course immediately and use your “emergency management” powers to help facilitate community-driven, democratic and educationally sound solutions, you betray yourself and basic principles of justice you’re sworn to uphold.  Your judicial robe cannot cover up these crimes against our children, our city and our hopes for the future.-Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM) May 9, 2016http://www.d-rem.org/Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo‘s floor speech on the Detroit Public Schools package of legislation that passed last night deserves to be heard. As a former DPS teacher herself, she is passionate about doing what’s right for Detroit’s kids. That’s why she’s so disappointed that House Republicans passed this legislation in the early hours of the morning by a razor-thin margin over strenuous objections.
WATCH IT HEREglbwhitehouseThis amazing portrait of Grace Lee Boggs by artist Shizu Saldamando is currently on display in the White House for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Commissioned by the Sons and Brothers campaign and pictured with “Fresh Off the Boat” actor, Hudson YangThinking for Ourselves Fair Waters Shea Howell
This week Director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Gary Brown announced that water shut offs would accelerate in Detroit. He is threatening to shut off as many as 20,000 homes as quickly as he can. In preparation for these shut offs Brown announced a Water Assistance Fair. The Fair was surrounded with publicity touting the innovative Assistance Plan (WRAP), pushed by the Mayor. Brown said the WRAP is “the most robust, compassionate and comprehensive program of its kind to help low income customers keep their water service.” He said, “We have a responsibility to our customers and citizens of the City of Detroit to make water affordable.”
I went to the Fair. There was nothing “fair” about it. Nor was there any compassion or comprehensive effort to help residents. Here is what I saw.
People were lined up around the block. The first woman I met coming out the door was upset. Her bill was coming to “resident,” as most of our bills do. The worker inside told her that she needed to pay $150 to get the bill in her own name before they would consider a payment plan. She didn’t have $150 dollars. So she left, still facing a shut off.
The next woman I met had recently had a new meter installed. She has always paid her bill on time. Her last bill was $4,966 dollars. She was told that her bills had been estimated for the last 7 years and she now owed the full amount.
A bit further back in the line was a young woman in similar situation. Her January bill showed a $250 credit. In February she got a bill for $3,400.
Of the 22 people I spoke with directly, more than half had bills of over $1000, in some cases even after they had turned off water in part of their home to save money. Everyone had experienced increases in their bill of between $100 and $400.
Most people got little or no help from the city.
Moreover there was no compassion from the city. It was a cold morning, with small children bundled up against the wind. Elders leaned on walkers. The only chairs were those the more experienced in dealing with the city brought with him. People stood in line for over three hours.  One young, pregnant woman brought her two small children to the front of line, asking to use the bathroom. Her littlest child needed to go. Too bad. She was turned away, as was everyone else.
This is what compassion looks like from Gary Brown and the Mayor. Almost everyone I talked to said the same thing, “The city doesn’t care about us. They want us out of here.”
Brown re-enforced this antagonism when he once again tried to pit one person against another. In perverse logic, Brown repeated those who don’t pay, cost the rest of us more money. “Customers pay an average of $10 more on their bill each month to cover the cost of uncollectible accounts,” he said.
A more truthful statement would be that until the city adopts a water affordability plan based on income, its shut off policy will continue to drive prices up. Every time someone is shut off, fewer people have to pay the fixed costs of the system, so prices go up. Every time prices go up, more people are shut off. This is an unsustainable downward spiral.
There is a robust, compassionate way for us to ensure Water is Human Right. But it wont be found coming from the Mayor or his henchman, Gary Brown.This weekend, in the face of hysterical times Stadtkuratorin Hamburg is asking What Time Is It on the Clock of the World with a performance festival and symposium.

The lead question of the festival goes back to an expression of the US human rights activist, philosopher, and feminist Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015), who campaigned for social change, for the workers movement, and for the rights of the Afro-American population. She connects the awareness of the historical placing of current developments with the activist moment toward changing the current conditions: What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?* This expression points at the simultaneity of social transformations worldwide and artistic-social movements not conceived from a Western hegemonic center.

Syracuse University teaching assistant lives his life to advocate for disability rights Claire Ramirez
Micah Fialka-Feldman’s elementary school in Huntington Woods, Michigan, had a very specific rule: Children with disability needs had to walk through a “special” door to get inside the school, while everyone else would walk through the normal entrance.
But Fialka-Feldman, who, at the time was in the first or second grade, didn’t think that was right.
CONTINUE READING

Great Political Texts #1 Eurocentrism by Samir Amin Reviewed by Will Copeland
The purpose of this series is to share some foundational political thoughts with my wider circle.  It is too rare in our day-to-day activism and organizing that we refer directly to the sources of ideas for affirmation or debate. I am choosing political works that raise questions that are related to my work, the work I see in Detroit, and nationwide. I hope that this encourages comrades to read these important texts or, at the least, to intentionally consider the questions these pieces raise. This is writing practice, self-expression, the proactive act of bringing it home #DetroitCultureCreators #GlobalBlackMetropolis #GraceLeeTaughtMe

UNTIL LIONS WRITE THEIR OWN HISTORY, THE TALE OF THE HUNT WILL ALWAYS GLORIFY THE HUNTER ~Afrikan Proverb

READ THE REVIEW AT THE BLACK BOTTOM ARCHIVES

Friends in Resistance,
I’m guessing you’ve seen news of Daniel Berrigan’s passing yesterday afternoon.
He was a dear friend and mentor of mine. I’m trying to figure how to get the funeral events this week (will miss our meeting again). Below is a poem for his 90th birthday 5 years ago this month.
love, Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Giving Voice (for Daniel Berrigan)   the heart dares the word dares the page lest love stick in the throat of this pen, and go untold   i remember my name in your voice echoing down the underground hall beneath niebuhr place: come, crack a jar of scotch come for talk and a minted brew of tea come to life. wake. arise. (an ascent follows, sweet and rash)   somehow that calling pipes through the kentucky hills retreat. while i practiced sport, before smoke rose from detroit your prayer with louis and circle breached the walls to fall also on me. summoning unbeknownst an answer.   (later, in a season of crushing dark you opened for me the gatehouse door there to walk and breathe and eat the psaltery to face dread dreams and heal)   confess a thing: even on this island now the tabletalk of poet and keeper hatches the seminary renegade. that heady charismatic anarchy revives as we speak and our once fresh formation turns, can it be, to eldering.   as toward the body politic flesh of word presented, burning with truth the charnel house lies, this blood on pillars gashing gold vermillion, or hammer nailing it to the door of church and state. in consequence, this bravery with a difference the holy ghost gone militant free in the cuff, in the dock, in the yard   for all for missives kited in and out for the discipline of hope for drinking the moon underground for writing on the wall, against it for bread in lotus fingers   all echoes in the heart at dusk footfalls on the way beloved   this thanks untellable    Bill Wylie-Kellermann, a United Methodist pastor who serves St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, was mentored as a seminarian by Daniel Berrigan.

 

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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Starhawk’s Website


Posted: 11 May 2016 12:30 PM PDT
As I sit down to write this post, I’m taking a break from preparing for our Passover Seder here at the ranch—a ceremony that’s an amalgam of my Jewish roots, Pagan practice, and our very down-to-earth desire to give thanks and celebrate another season of baby lambs and kids.  The goat kind, that is.  I’m remembering a Seder I hosted more than twenty years ago, and it is making me think of some of the challenges and rewards of trying to facilitate diverse groups and work together across the lines of diversity.

Support diversity scholarships for Earth Activist Trainings! Photo by Brooke Porter Photography
Two dear friends were co-hosting with me.  Both were friends of mine, but didn’t know each other.  Marcia Falk, is a brilliant poet, liturgist, author and feminist rooted within the Jewish tradition. She’s written many books of liturgy in both English and Hebrew, including her latest, The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season. Kate Raphael is a lifelong, courageous activist for LGBT rights,  justice for Palestine, and many, many sorts of peace and justice work, and an author of a great mystery novel set in the West Bank, Murder Under the Bridge.
At that time, a new tradition was circulating in the LGBT rights community, based on a story that two lesbians had approached a rabbi and asked, “What is the place of a lesbian in Judaism?”  The rabbi had purportedly answered, “The place of a lesbian in Judaism is like the place of a piece of chametz on the seder plate.”
Now chametz, for those of you who don’t know the tradition, is yeast bread or bread-related substance, and one of the core strictures of the Passover holiday is to banish all bread and anything remotely related to it.  The story goes that when the Jews fled slavery in Egypt, they left so quickly they didn’t have time for their bread to rise.  I actually believe the custom is older, and has to do with a ritual purification of the remnants of the old grain harvest before bringing in the new.  In any case, Orthodox Jews scrub the house from top to bottom, carry out a thorough search for any stray crumbs of chametz that might have crept in, and burn the crumbs in order to purify for the holiday.
So, at our Seder, Kate wanted to put a piece of chametz on the Seder plate to symbolize solidarity with LGBT rights.  Marcia was horrified—not because she didn’t support LGBT rights.  She was a strong supporter of gay liberation, but putting a piece of chametz on the Seder plate, to her, was viscerally horrifying.
We never really resolved the issue. Kate couldn’t let go of the symbol, which was vitally important to her.  Marcia literally couldn’t stomach it.  The guests were coming, the chicken soup simmering, and we ended up with two Seder plates at opposite ends of a very long table, for the duration of a very long, tense ritual.  Decades went by before I dared host another Seder!
But I tell this story to illustrate some of the issues that emerge when we try to work together across our differences.  Today I regularly find myself facilitating very diverse groups.  I direct an organization called Earth Activist Training, that offers permaculture design grounded in spirit with a focus on organizing and activism.  We offer Diversity Scholarships for people of color and differently abled people working in environmental and social justice, and as a result, our groups often span many sorts of diversity—racial, gender, religion, class, physical ability, age, interests and experience.
Permaculture—ecological design—teaches that diversity brings resilience.  A diverse forest can withstand disease or fire or hurricane better than a monoculture of genetically identical cloned trees.  A diverse human system has a greater range of perspectives, a wider intelligence and understanding, than a group made up of people who all share the same background.
But a group with different life experiences and perspectives will also have differing needs, ideas, goals, and responses, that can generate conflict.  In the role of  facilitator or teacher, our responsibility is to create an atmosphere that welcomes everyone, in the fullness and complexity of the many identities we each carry.  But that’s not always easy to do in a context in which oppression continues and the pain is ongoing.
So what can we do—when the differing needs in a group intersect in painful ways?  When a black mother’s fear for the lives of her boys in a hostile world intersects with a Deaf woman’s pain at being robbed of all her communication devices by a thief the police suspect is a local black teen?  When an Egyptian activist’s pride in his heritage bangs up against the blacks students’ need to claim Egypt as Black Culture?  When a sincere, heartfelt gift of a precious object triggers an indigenous students’ pain at the appropriation of her culture and heritage?
I can’t answer that in one blog post—or a dozen.  But I’d like to share some of my own experience—often learned by making mistakes—the experience of an older, Jewish-American, flagrantly Pagan woman writer and teacher who has been struggling with these issues for a lifetime.  I hope to make this the beginning of a small series, and invite the voices of some of the other facilitators and teachers from a variety of backgrounds whom I work with.
So—lesson number one.  Clenching my teeth and muttering “Please, Jesus, rapture me now!” doesn’t help.
Remembering the goal is the starting point.  If our goal is to create a world of justice, how can we respond in a way that will further that will foster more justice?
When we care about justice in this world, and we experience or hear about injustice, we often feel angry, powerless, afraid.  Those feelings are extremely painful—especially helplessness.  I don’t know how to get the cops to stop killing black kids and people of color, or how to stop the theft of indigenous land, or how to close down the tar sands.  But I might know how to police your language, or shame another white person, or lash out at the messenger who reminds me how dire the situation is and how little I’ve done about it.
But in the role of facilitator or teacher, I can’t do that.  My responsibility is to create an atmosphere where everyone can learn and grow and be heard.  I can’t be responsible to that role and indulge in blaming, shaming, or name-calling.  I need to move the group toward learning, by encouraging and modeling listening, and sitting with the pain that arises, naming and acknowledging it.
Pandora Thomas, who is often my co-facilitator in these matters, always reminds us that the goal is to further real relationships, which include the fullness of conflict and disagreement—not to simply pacify the waters and create a surface harmony.
If we create space in a group to address these deep issues of injustice and discrimination, pain will arise, but so will the opportunity for change and growth and learning on a deeper level.  However, the intensity of the pain can also blow a group apart and make other learning impossible if we are not prepared for it.
So I’ve learned, the hard way, to find the right time and space for these discussions.  Not too early—for the group needs a chance to settle, bond, and build trust.  But not too late.  Not late at night, or right before the day off, or right before the end.
Conflict can be creative and productive—when it stays focused on the issues. When attacks become personal, and people get locked into defensiveness, the underlying issues get buried and we lose a huge opportunity for learning.
Had I been wiser, at that long-ago Seder, I might have been able to step us back from the content of that conflict and say, “Hey, this is really about the deep pain of feeling excluded.  The pain lesbians feel at being excluded from the Jewish mainstream—and the pain we all feel as Jews about being excluded for 2000 years.  Once we acknowledge that pain, maybe we can find some common ground.”
It’s easy to get locked into something that feels like a solution to the problem, but really might only be one possible way to address it.  Whether or not we put a piece of bread on the seder plate, discrimination against lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender folks will continue.  In some situations, that symbolic act might strengthen the group’s resolve to challenge and fight that oppression.  In other situations, it might simply create division and deflect attention from the real issues.  Once we unpack the hurt, and remember the goal, we might be able to find some way together to create a symbol of inclusion that will work for all of us.
Earth Activist Training teaches permaculture design with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing and activism.  Our upcoming courses are:
You can stay up to date on all the upcoming Earth Activist Training courses on the website.
We have just launched a new fundraising campaign to support EAT’s Diversity Scholarship Program, which makes training in permaculture and ecological design accessible to people of color and differently-abled people working in environmental and social justice.  If you are inspired by the work we are doing, please consider making a donation to our campaign on Generosity. Or you can donate HERE

Photo by Brooke Porter Photography
A note on the bread-on-the-Seder-plate story:  
In later years, I noticed that the bread seemed to be replaced by an orange, which seemed to me to be a reasonable substitute.  But in googling around for this post, I found this article by Susannah Heschel, who originated the orange tradition in the ‘80s, to symbolize inclusion of women, lesbians and gays, the widows, orphans and all who have been excluded.  She asks that we eat the orange to remember the juicy contributions all these groups have made, and spit out the seeds of hate.  
Rebecca Alpert, whose 1997 book was entitled Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition, suggests that no lesbians ever actually put bread on the plate.  http://forward.com/opinion/172960/slice-of-bread-for-lgbt-jews-and-all-the-excluded/  She should have been at our Seder!  Joshua Lesser, after a trip to offer solidarity to the Immokalee workers striking for their rights in the tomato fields of Florida, suggests placing a tomato on the plate for all those still enslaved.  http://forward.com/opinion/172962/for-those-still-enslaved-tomato-symbolizes-solidar/ And Rebecca Vilkomerson places an olive for the Palestinians and all oppressed peoples, in commemoration of the olive trees destroyed by the Israeli army. http://forward.com/opinion/172963/put-olive-on-seder-plate-for-palestinians-and-all/  And Susie Kisber recounted for us the story of a seder where the crust of bread was shellacked so that it could be placed on the seder plate but not actually touch it and compromise its ritual purity!
Both Kate and Marcia read a draft of this article and graciously consented to my writing the story, and all of us agree that we’re older and wiser now, and might be able to handle the situation more flexibly.
A living tradition grows and changes—and so can we!  The deep message of Passover is that the work of liberation goes on, in every generation.  Let us approach it with courage and compassion, and welcome in a new spring of hope.
I have had many teachers and co-explorers on this journey, too many to name them all.  But today I’m thinking of some of the friends with whom we began the WomanEarth Institute back in the early ‘90s, an attempt to form an ecofeminist learning environment that addressed issues of racism and exclusion:  Ynestra Kind, Luisah Teish, Rachel Bagby, Gen Vaughn, Margo Adair, Shea Howell, and many others.  And some of my current co-conspirators in Earth Activist Training and related groups:  Charles Williams, Pandora Thomas, Rushelle Frazier, Jay Rosenberg, Brandy Mack and Wanda Stewart.
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Once in a lifetime opportunity Cuba

Myrtle Thompson Curtis

wayne_myrtleI recently traveled to Cuba on a learning journey. I went to experience a place I only read about or heard about in the news. I was there to engage as best I could despite limited Spanish. At home on my bookshelves are many books on Cuba, Che, Fidel Castro, Haydee Santamaria, and others.

These books and my life have taken me a long way from the images of Cuba I grew up with. As a child I heard that socialism and communism are anti American and will destroy life as we know it. Cuba was a place to flee from. It was not a place you would want to visit, let alone live there. I heard poverty is rampant, with a lack of shopping and basic freedoms. I had been told people deserved to be cut off, punished, and left to their own devices. After all, they rejected U.S. rules and money.

I have come to learn how much many people in our country see Cuba through fear and uncertainty. But through this journey I have been first hand schooled on how being revolutionary in principle creates strong folks filled with dignity and love.

My partner and I are lovers of justice, peace, the power of self-determination, all of the qualities that I read about in the books lining our shelves. As I spoke with folks in Cuba despite my limited Espanola, I never heard the words communism or any anti American rhetoric. Quite the opposite, I was taught how much the people there want to be able to travel to the states. The people were warm and welcoming, curious and excited about the possible lift of the blockade and look forward to an economic boost from tourism.

After all the country of Cuba is beautiful. Yes some of its buildings are in need of repair and the citizens work hard for little pay, and there is much needed infrastructure work. Sound familiar? The fact that there is health care for all its people, no cost education for all, a food subsidy for everyone regardless of economic status and all social, cultural amenities are free or affordable to its people makes me think we have something to learn from this country.

As our tour guides, Rita Periera and Roberto Perez, spoke to us with a deep and genuine revolutionary love for the country and its people. They want Cuba to remain principled, with focuses on the cultural aspects of the country. The people are proud of their accomplishments in health, education, and arts, despite being cut off from trade with the U.S. and other countries. The only counties that maintained relations were Mexico and Canada. There is not an overburdened prison population, no part of this beautiful country is off limits to its people, and its health care is available to all, despite income.

Our guides were so insightful as we went through Old Havana. We strolled the Prado Promenade, visiting shops and Museums and amazing restaurants. Roberto was amazing in his knowledge of anything to do with the environment and its protection. His love of all things bio was so energetic. We visited the Jovo urban agriculture farm, and the farm theater where actors live off of the land and perform there. There was art everywhere. Complete neighborhoods are dedicated to tile art and the work of Jose Fuster called Muraleando. His work is so vast we could not see it all in one visit. La Tanque was another neighborhood with recycled and reclaimed materials. It was a wonderful place to have lunch. Murals and creativity are prevalent along the roadways and neighborhoods.

 

There is so much to say about this wonderful learning journey, the music that told of Jose Marti and the revolutionary heroes. I purchased cd’s from local musicians and singers. I dined at neighborhood eateries as well as the DuPont Mansion. We visited a barely used, but swanky Marina, saw a 700 yr old cactus tree, and even ventured inside caves.

I have many lasting memories of this journey to Cuba traveling with an engaging group of folks. Some I barely knew, some were complete strangers. By the end of our travels I had made beautiful connections and will share this experience always. I also had the added bonus of traveling with my 30yr old daughter and her son Seti who is four years old. The Cuban people and our travel companions lavished him with love. Seti learned the word abuelo (grandparent) because he was treated as one of their own.

My greatest take away will be how welcome I felt and the smiles and hugs of the Cuban people. Oh yeah while I was there the weather was great until President Obama got there and brought storm clouds and high waves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Fellow-Elders, I am forwarding this celebration of Brother Vincent by Alan Gilbert, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver,, who also sent a poem by Brother Vincent, blazing with light, blazing with The Dark is Light Enough, that was published in 1966 but since then not well-known till now.  Shalom, salaam, peace, Earth! Rabbi Arthur Wasko
vincentharding
(Dr. Vincent Harding, July 25, 1931 – May 19, 2014)
     Vincent Harding was angered by and meditated on Jimmy L. Williams’ death in Vietnam in 1964 – Williams had served in the Special Forces – and the refusal of the “officials” (Ku Klux Klan) of Wetumpka, Alabama to bury him in the lily-white military cemetery.  See the story “Burial Rebuff Shakes Battlefront Buddies” here for statements about this by his fellow soldiers.  Vincent wrote this long poem, published in November, 1966, in Negro Digest which Sean Ray, who is writing a thesis on Tolstoy, Gandhi and King, discovered and transcribed.
***
    There was protest at the time, particularly by Jimmy Williams’ parents, and he was buried in the integrated Andersonville National Cemetery, near where Freedmen had celebrated emancipation:
       “In May 1966, 19 year old Jimmy Williams, an African American Green Beret from Wetumpka, Alabama, was killed in Vietnam. His hometown cemetery refused to allow him to be buried due to his race. His mother said, ‘My son died fighting on the front for all of us. He didn’t die a segregated death and he’ll not be buried in a segregated cemetery.’ Jimmy Williams was buried with full military honors in an integrated Andersonville National Cemetery, almost one hundred years after the Freedmen first celebrated their Emancipation only a few yards away.” (from the Andersonville National Historic Site website. h/t Sean Ray)
***
    Wetumpka’s cemetery remained lily-white…Being buried there currently is perhaps spiritually equivalent to being buried in a sewer.  Jimmy Williams is honored today at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, see here.
***
   Vincent speaks of the “gallant savagery” with which black soldiers, often abused in the well-equipped American army, murdered ordinary people in Vietnam.
***
      In 1967, Vincent authored the first draft of Martin Luther King’s memorable speech against the Vietnam War given at the Riverside Church  on April 4th.  It was a choice Martin made – being on the road 300 days a year, he asked Vincent to write it –  as an alternative to a fairly banal speech, and Vincent wrote words – listen here or  read it here  – which will live as long as American English is spoken.  For that speech is as true today of Obama’s drones, of CIA and Joint Special Operations Command secret activities – 12 raids in 70 countries every night –  as the day it was written.  For the militarized economy is “a demonic destructive suction tube” which steals resources from ordinary people, black, brown, red and white, which could be used for a common good (for an economy which works for all of us, as Bernie puts it) – and funnels them into crazy imperial, and losing wars in the Middle East and a gigantic $1.7 trillion a year war complex/militarism (short for military-industrial-corporate media-most politicians-academic-American trained and aided foreign militaries, and the like complex).
       President Johnson and the commercial media then condemned and ostracized King, a central cause of King’s murder 1 year to the day later, April 4, 1968, in Memphis.  Vincent spoke with many people, including me, of the guilt he felt that he wrote the words for which his dear friend was murdered.  James Lawson helped to lift the cross of this somewhat from Vincent who had asked him whether he felt guilty for inviting Martin to come to Memphis, and he said: no, it was Martin’s decision.
***
     From the age of 26 on in Montgomery, assassination attempts had been made against King; he told Coretta then that he would not reach the age of 40….
***
   In a conversation with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now on this speech in 2008, Vincent spoke of King’s magnificent craziness, of which there is something, as I saw in being with nonviolent village protestors in Palestine, in Dr. Harding also:
    “I think Halberstam was very, very much on the point there, Amy. I think that it is impossible to stand with the poor, to speak on behalf of the poor, without getting the kind of responses that people gave to Martin’s speech. He became a voice that was considered to be an alienated, out-of-his-arena kind of speech. And this was only natural in light of the commitment that he made. When you decide that you must go and stand and work with garbage workers, even though you have a Ph.D. in philosophical theology, it is only natural that many people who are accustomed to hanging out with Ph.D.’s in philosophical theology will say that you are crazy for hanging around with garbage workers. But Martin had a magnificent craziness about him that made him very uncomfortable for some people to understand and to live with.
But, Amy, what I want to remember is not simply what Time magazine said or what the Washington Post said, but what I want to remember is what Nina was remembering in her song, “The King of Love is Dead, What Should We Do Now?” What I also want to remember is that great Jewish rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said, just about ten days before Martin was assassinated, Heschel said, “Martin Luther King is a voice, a vision and a way, and we must all engage with him in his way, because,” Heschel said, “the whole future of America depends upon the impact and influence of Dr. King.” I believe that. And I think that that is part of the reason why so many people were so uncomfortable, because they knew that he was calling us to a way that was very difficult, a way beyond racism, a way beyond materialism and a way beyond militarism. And those are not easy ways to go.” See here.
***
        As an historian, Vincent also wrote the lyrical There is a River, the most powerful historical account of black people and the fight for freedom and decency in America up to the new opening, the hunger of poor, newly free blacks for reading and learning at the end of the Civil War. I had the privilege of going with Vincent to the meeting celebrating the 30th anniversary of its publication at ASALH (the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History) in Richmond in 2011, and saw at a Chapel at the Virginia Theological Union, stained glass designed with the picture of a black woman reading against a fence (see here.
***
    Vincent’s writings will live as long as people consider the struggle against the  long American genocides and its corrupt, imperial – and  self-destructive – wars.  This epic poem is part of the journey which Vincent made in writing these other works.
***
       Until Sean found this poem in The Negro Digest, I had not known that Vincent wrote poetry.  Published  in 1966, it traces four hundred years of violent oppression, celebrates Nat Turner but avoids his bloody hands, satirizes whites who murder blacks humming “John Brown’s body” (for reasons we never discussed, Vincent had a hard time coming to admire John Brown), comments sadly on blacks fighting in settler wars against indigenous people (to be slaves on the land seized) and ends on a vision of hope (Vincent founded the Veterans of Hope…)
***
     For Vincent, the way to his measured and profound nonviolence – mass nonviolent resistance – was through an anger which once sometimes sympathized with violence against the oppressor, even where he thought it unwise.  His profound nonviolence, to force oppressors to submit or hopefully change through nonviolent resistance and not to kill, a matter of spirituality and political judgment, was hard won and learned from and influenced many people, here and abroad (for instance, the courageous Bassem Tamimi – they called each other brothers –  whom Vincent stayed with in Nabi Saleh).
***
    Vincent’s poem cries out against a country which oppresses and throws away black people, uses them against native americans, celebrates them only when they “are gallant” and together with poor whites burn Vietnamese villages thousands of miles away, as King’s speech says, but will not let them live together in East Chicago or Detroit, a country which will not even  bury Jimmy Williams in the lily-white cemetery in Wetumpka…
***
     Wetumpka is still sick. There is no clear mention of Jimmy Williams even on webpage of the new Black History Museum, opened in 2015 here in Wetumpka…
***
“Or only black,” Vincent writes
                                     and dead,
                                     and gallant
                                     and slaves?”
***
     And yet even this poem soars at the end toward Vincent’s (and Martin’s) vision of a common place where everyone is recognized – who owns the water? Martin asked in 1968 –  or  a genuine democracy as Vincent would speak about in recent years…
    For King’s vision of black and white and native american and asian – all of us united in an anti-racist, multiracial democracy is the only one way forward against increasing, day by day, economic oppression and unjust wars.
***
    The racist grave yards of the South –  in Philadelphia, Mississippi, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner, whose parents wished them to be buried beside each other after being murdered by the Sheriff and a reverend, leading a mob, could not be buried together…
         In response to the murders at Mother Emmanuel in 2015, the Confederate flag in Louisiana was taken down from public buildings  – Governor Nikki Haley nonetheless, deserves credit for responding to these murders – but the journey to make the South a decent place will yet take a long time…
***
    Here is Brother Vincent wrestling as a poet with America.  His dignity, and that of the great movement of which he spoke, contrasts utterly with, though it is a hope of, the America in which we find ourselves.  For America is, and remains an opponent, giving way but glacially at best, as Black Lives Matter heroically and tragically, shows (yesterday a 16 year old young man was gunned down in Utah for holding a stick – see here<http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=3BnXW2Uxqqc>).   How can Freddy Grey and Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and Walter Johnson and Trayvon Martin and so many others have been murdered, here and now, in America by officials as depraved and obtuse as those of Wetumpka, how can buildings still be named for the Klan-lover, segregator Woodrow Wilson at Princeton or University Presidents and other officials just not care that black folks are sometimes subject to derogatory howls in the night?

Continue Reading »

Thinking for Ourselves

By Shea Howell

Diminished capacity

March 22, 016

shea25On the eve of World Water Day, Governor Rick Snyder released his new “action plan designed to ensure Flint’s recovery and strong future.” The banner heading of the plan repeats Snyder’s slogan “Getting it right. Getting it done.”

Designed by public relations experts and vetted by lawyers, the plan is intended to show everyone that Snyder is continuing his positive, relentless action. It is also designed to focus attention away from the causes of the catastrophe in Flint and to shift the blame to federal levels.

This plan reflects the moral failures of Governor Snyder, his administration and all those who support him. Ever since he was forced to acknowledge a crisis in Flint, Governor Snyder has failed to understand the human consequences of his own arrogance and indifference. He has half stepped, tried to deflect blame, accused others of failures, distorted his own role, and been reluctant to release all information necessary to uncover the full degree of complicity, complacency and duplicity in this disaster. His latest plan reflects a complete lack of simple human empathy, a diminished capacity for understanding.

Snyder’s distorted view of this human tragedy is expressed in his first point. It reads “Children under 6 with high blood lead levels offered professional support and case management.”

Let us be clear. Every child in Flint has been traumatized by what has happened to their community. Every adult has been traumatized. Every animal, plant, garden, building, road, school, and sidewalk has been poisoned and carries the scars of this tragedy. Every bone in every body for now and future generations will carry some measure of the terrors and pain people have endured.

Governor Snyder sees none of this. He chooses to say some children, who test at some level, for one substance, will be “offered” support.

This kind of small spirited and weak minded response is exactly why Snyder should resign. It is why the Federal Government needs to declare a Public Health Emergency in Flint. It is why we need to support Mayor Weaver and the local activists who are calling for broad support and a truly comprehensive response to the crisis they face.

While Snyder’s pathetic attempt to respond works its way through the media, activists and community members gathered to support efforts by the State legislators to advance a package of bills designed to insure water is a human right in Michigan and make our water, safe, affordable and accessible to all. The Republican Committee Chairperson, Lee Chatfield, is keeping this package of 11 bills from a public hearing.

Moving these bills toward law is a crucial step. But equally important is moving to remove Emergency Management legislation. Even Governor Snyder conceded that “it would be a fair conclusion” to say that Michigan’s emergency manger law failed in Flint.

It is time we act out of fairness and love for one another. Small steps, with even more narrowly devised guidelines designed to save money diminish us all.

Here is the contact information for Representative Lee Chatfield:

S-1486 House Office Building

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI 48909

 

Phone: 517-373-2629

Email: LeeChatfield@house.mi.gov

Thinking for ourselves

By Shea Howell

Wanting Answers

March 12, 2016

shea25The crisis in Flint is moving into courtrooms. Last week reports documented a “floodgate of lawsuits on behalf of aggrieved residents.” Seven families filed a lawsuit on March 7, 2016 charging wide-reaching negligence. Among others, the suit names Governor Rick Snyder and several of his appointed officials. The suit could eventually include 8,000 young people who have been exposed to lead through their drinking water. This latest effort joins at least three others filed since November of 2015.

Meanwhile, Governor Snyder has called for an investigation into the role the State Department of Health and Human Services played in the crisis. Sounding as though he was a person living in Flint and forced to drink poisoned water, Snyder said. “The public health issues the people of Flint and Genesee County are facing warranted an internal review of how the state handled these situations.” Snyder said, “I want some answers.”

This is yet another public relations move to show that Snyder is still the governor of relentless, positive action. Until last month Snyder did not even have a full time Chief Medical Officer. This, in spite of months of concern about lead poisoning and possible deaths from bacterial infections caused by bad water. The Public Health Code requires such an appointment. Snyder had no problem appointing Emergency Managers. He had no problem appointing “transition” boards. He had no problem hiring public relations firms and extra lawyers. Yet he did not appoint a full time Chief Medical Officer until February 1 of this year.

State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint said he was “baffled” as to how Snyder “can continue to push for investigations of departments that carried out his wishes, and then blame them for operating in a departmental culture he created.”

This culture was on full display as more emails surfaced last week. As early as October of 2014, two top aids in the Governor’s office advocated for Flint to get back to Detroit water. Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to Snyder, raised problems with Flint River water in her e-mail to the governor’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and other top aides.

She called the situation an “urgent matter to fix.” She cited bacterial contamination in the river water and reduced quality that caused “GM to leave due to rusted parts.”

Brader was joined in her concerns by Michael Gadola, then the governor’s legal counsel. Noting his mother lived in Flint, Gadola called the idea of drinking water from the Flint River “downright scary.” He said Flint “should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control.”

These concerns were rejected as Emergency Managers. Flint did not switch back to the Detroit system for another year.

Both Brader and Gadola contributed to the cultural of secrecy and denial of the Snyder administration, in spite of their concerns. Brader raised her concerns in a way that would avoid efforts by the public to find out what was going on. She said, “P.S. Note: I have not copied DEQ on this message for FOIA reasons.”

Now we know why. As these emails surface we see relentless, incompetent, callous inaction. Snyder and his team protected their own interests. They dismissed critics as “citizens against virtually everything” and accused the press of seeking to manufacture readers.

Such arrogance is finally being revealed as a depraved disregard for people and for democracy. Snyder and his emergency manager law need to go. We want answers. We deserve accountability.

 

 

Thinking for ourselves

By Shea Howell

Rhodes as Emergency Manager

March 6, 2016

shea25Governor Snyder has appointed Judge Steven Rhodes as the 5th Emergency Manger of Detroit Public Schools. Judge Rhodes presided over the Detroit Bankruptcy hearing and gained widespread support from Snyder and the corporate elite for his handling of the case. Snyder hopes that Rhodes will be able to influence the State Legislature to acknowledge their obligation to step up and pay $515 million debt to put the district back on sound financial grounds. Continue Reading »

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
The State of Our City
shea25Mayor Duggan gave his third State of the City address last week at the Second Ebenezer Church on Detroit’s East Side. He emphasized the progress he has made cutting crime and increasing police response times, tearing down blighted houses, encouraging businesses, and creating job programs for youth. He discussed his initiatives to cut car insurance and to add new technologies of surveillance. He announced his intentions to carve out a role for the Mayor in the Detroit Public School crisis and said he is encouraging the return of power to an elected school board.

 Most of the 2,000 folks in attendance cheered on as members of the audience stood to have their efforts acknowledged.  But for the first time in over 40 years, the speech was interrupted 4 times by protesters.

Mayor Duggan would do well to pay attention to those protests. They say more about the state of our city than all of the orchestrated cheering. These brave young people who stood up to question the Mayor and his “relentless, positive, action” deserve the thanks of all of us who are concerned about the growing racial divide and brutal inequalities we are facing.

It was their voices that raised the important questions we face. Unfurling a banner that read “Opportunity for who?” they challenged gentrification, water shut offs, disinvestment in education, and Duggan’s ties to Governor Snyder and his emergency managers.

“Many Detroiters – especially black Detroiters – aren’t experiencing the ‘revitalization’ of greater downtown,” said Dakarai Carter, an organizer from BYP100. “Millions of dollars are being invested there, while our neighborhoods deal with disinvestment resulting in a lack of community services and resources. We are disrupting business as usual because we know that cities thrive on democratic control and shared access to resources.”

The reality is that Duggan’s speech was almost exactly the same as the speech given by Mayor Dave Bing right before the onslaught of emergency management and bankruptcy in 2013. Bing, too, offered five key initiatives: cutting crime and increasing police, blight reduction, Detroit Works to grow demonstration areas to redevelop neighborhoods, improve public transportation, and encouraging entrepreneurs.

That is why Duggan is failing the city. The questions we face are not the same as those of the pre-emergency manager-bankruptcy era. To move down the same old path of promising the “best way to handle the problem is to grow the city,” is the kind of relentless positive non-thinking that brought us the crisis in Flint.

Mayor Duggan refuses to look at the basic question of how do we develop a city that includes all of our people? How do we create relationships that foster care, compassion, and joy for everyone?

These are not empty questions. Nor are they utopian thoughts. Since Duggan took office, citizens groups have offered clear advice: Put a moratorium on foreclosures. Stop the Water Shut Offs. Adopt a Water Affordability Plan. Adopt a community benefits agreement. Develop place-based education to encourage our young people to learn while rebuilding the city. Encourage land trusts and cooperative businesses.

Shortly after the State of the City, Former Mayor Dave Bing, who no doubt recognized much of the progress claimed by Duggan, offered some advice “As much as we say or think we are being inclusive, the reality is we are not. There is an undercurrent of frustration and anger that could lead to a negative outcome.”

Detroit is a movement city with a strong history of developing creative grass roots alternative ways of living and being. Duggan’s old thinking shows no sign of recognizing the depth of the challenges we face. He would do well to listen to our youth.

Continue Reading »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 

***Media Advisory*** 

Contact: Tawana Petty, tawana.detroit2012@gmail.com313-433-9882

 

Parents Create Alternative to Rodent, Mold Infested Schools

Freedom School echo civil rights era movement for justice

 

DETROIT – Fed up with sending their children to decaying, vermin-infested schools, a group of Detroit parents and their supporters have created a clean, safe alternative – a Freedom School to be held­­­­ at Central United Methodist Church. Parents are pulling their children from Detroit Public Schools on count day, Wednesday, February 10, to protest how funds have been misspent and misused. Parents and students are also showing solidarity with Detroit Public School teachers whose “sick-outs” blew the whistle on deplorable conditions that students and staff have struggled with. Continue Reading »

malcolm-martin

west_vir_flint
February 8, 2016
  • To the People of Flint Michigan,
    We are parents, teachers, faith-leaders, students, business owners and residents of West Virginia—and we stand with you. These last weeks, we have seen you in the paper and on the news: a mother with her
    children outside of a community center waiting to receive bottled water; preachers giving comfort in packed emergency rooms filled with scared neighbors; protesters gathering and calling on their government of offcials to take action.
    Two years ago, we stood in those same lines, visited local emergency rooms, and demonstrated in the halls of power because our water, too, had been poisoned. A chemical tank failure contaminated the
    water of 300,000 people across nine counties surrounding our capital city of Charleston. In the few short months following the West Virginia Water Crisis, we learned that our water company, our Public Service
    Commission, our legislature, and state, local and federal regulators were failing us at all levels. What’s more, no offcials were willing to take responsibility for the crisis and each passed the buck to the next, pointing to one another’s failings. The truth is, they all failed us.
    Today, we stand alongside you as you grieve and rage. We know that no gesture on our part can erase the damage that untold amounts of lead poisoning has wrought on your children’s bodies—their growth and development. We know that it’s not only your bodies that were damaged, but also any trust you’d placed in your government ofcials. We remember what it’s like to be told that our water was “safe” when our bodies told us it wasn’t.
    And we know that it was no mistake that this crisis happened in Flint, a predominantly Black community and one of the poorest in the nation. We recognize that communities of color and communities
    with high poverty rates, such as those counties affected by the West Virginia crisis, are at the greatest risk for water disasters across America. We live in a nation where environmental racism persists.
  • Working together across race and class in the aftermath of this disaster, we are making real change.
    We don’t have all the answers, but we are gaining ground for safe, reliable water here in West Virginia, as you are in Flint, Michigan.
    We are with you.
    — The People of West Virginia
    Advocates for a Safe Water System
    American Friends Service Committee
    Appalachian Catholic Worker
    Catholic Committee of Appalachia (WV Chapter)
    Charleston WV Branch NAACP
    Christians For The Mountains
    Coal River Mountain Watch
    Concerned Citizens of Roane County
    Covenant House of West Virginia
    Doddridge County Watershed Association
    Friends of Water
    Greenbrier River Watershed Association
    Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP
    Kanawha Forest Coalition
    Keeper of the Mountains
    MelRose Ministries for Positive Transformative
    Change
    Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
    Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
    People Concerned About Chemical Safety
    Plateau Action Network
    POWHR (Preserve Our Water, Heritage, Rights)
    Preserve Greenbrier County
    Preserve Monroe
    RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountains’ and People’s
    Survival)
    Southern Appalachian Labor School
    Stories From South Central, WV
    West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
    West Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club
    West Virginia Citizen Action Group
    West Virginia Clean Water Hub
    West Virginia Direct Action Welfare Group
    West Virginia Environmental Council
    West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition
    West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
    WV FREE (West Virginia Focus: Reproductive
    Education and Equality)
    West Virginia Rivers Coalition
    and
    Crystal Good @cgoodwoman
    Ellen Allen and Sue Julian
    Karan Ireland
    Maya Nye
    Paula Swearengin
    Shirley Rosenbaum

Continue Reading »

Thinking for ourselves

By Shea Howell

Repeal EM Law

February 7, 2013

shea33Governor Snyder’s main response to the Flint water crisis has been to hire two public relations firms. He has yet to replace a single lead pipe. Snyder wants to save himself and his emergency manager law. He has launched a full scale campaign to blame anyone but him for the decisions that rest squarely on his shoulders and those of his appointed emergency managers and bureaucratic agency heads. Continue Reading »

A Water Rights Tribubal
Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman                                                                       

Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman St. Peter's Episcopal Church Detroit ...

A Water Rights Tribunal organized by Detroiter’s Resisting Emergency Management heard testimony from witnesses in Flint and Detroit. Governor Snyder and Mayor Duggan were found guilty of Crimes Against the People as they have knowingly and willfully deprived citizens of the basic right to safe, affordable drinking water. Here are the opening remarks to the Tribunal offered by Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman. He presided over the Tribunal. 

The Peoples Tribunal on Water Crimes and Crimes against Democracy is hereby convened.

We are on the record with Case number 2016-H20justice

Tap gavel

Welcome to all present. I trust everyone is prepared to proceed.

I have before me the document convening this Tribunal which includes detailed charges. These have been made available to all present.

The defendants, Richard Snyder, Michael Duggan, Darnell Early, and Kevyn Orr, have been notified and duly summoned.  This document was sent them by registered mail.

For the record, I see that Misters Snyder and Duggan are present in effigy. I will issue peoples’ warrants for Misters Early and Orr.

Proceed with reading the summary of charges variously against them all:

As stated in the summons before you:

Crimes Against Democracy through Lawless Emergency Management
Poisoning the Water Supply of Flint and its People
Mass Water Shut Offs in Detroit
False Claims that Flint’s Water is Safe
False Claims that Making Water Affordable is Illegal
Breach of Public Trust in Water
Theft of the Commons
Ignoring the Will of the Voters and the Health and General Welfare of the People – as required by the constitution

In this matter, it is important to review the previous judicial history which has brought us to this Tribunal.

Emergency Management is a key instrument in a number of these crimes (and indeed a crime in and of itself)– it must be observed that PA4 was repealed by a majority of voters – only to have it repassed as PA 436– necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Fed Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes put a stay on the Federal Court challenge to PA 436 under the Voting Rights Act – thereby effectively legitimating the use of the law against every African American city in the state (Including Flint, Detroit, and Highland Park) – replacing ¾ of black public officials in MI with EMs – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal

In Fed Bankruptcy Court Richard Snyder testified that PA436 was not a violation of the Constitutional right to vote because an EM could be voted out after 18 months, And Yet his Attorney General prevailed in an Ingham Co. Court allowing that this applied only to a particular EM thereby, enabling him to keep DPS under direct gubernatorial rule for 5 years and counting, preventing all that time any forensic audit -–  thereby necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Since Judge Rhodes noted in his ruling (Lyda et al) that there is no Michigan law guaranteeing water as a human right, he thereby allowed mass shut-offs to continue. (Other states CA, MA, PA do affirm such a legal right). This has necessitated appeal to International bodies of law – UN Resolution 64/292 Jul 2010 “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” – Denial of clean, safe, affordable water – necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Judge Rhodes ruled that an irreparable harm was being done to people of Detroit who were massively shut-off from water, but he allowed that the Court was unable and unwilling to prevent the harm – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal.

Since people in Detroit attempted to prevent that harm by blocking the water shut-off trucks from private contractor Homrich inc, from turning off water to hundreds of people in July of 2014 (38K over the year), these civil resisters have been charged but have so far been denied by the courts, use of the “necessity” or “justification” defense (which would demonstrate that they acted precisely to prevent the harm) . Hence, a People’s Tribunal has been required.

Since two of those blockaders have now all but completed a jury trial – a jury being the last vestige of democracy in a city under EM – and during closing arguments and instructions to the jury – the head of Mr Duggan’s law department went behind the backs of the defendants and their counsel to secure a stay from Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway, sending the jury home indefinitely – a People’s Tribunal has been made necessary.

Since Article IVof  State Consitition: (§ 51 and 52)state that the public health and general welfare of the people of the state are hereby declared to be matters of primary public concern.  And that the conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.

And yet to date no charges have been brought against these two men by either federal or state Attorneys General – rendering a Peoples’ Tribunal necessary.

We will begin with Opening statements, hearing first from the People…

6:30
Bill Goodman: Peoples; Opening Statement: Detroit and Flint, Emergency Management, Water and Human Rights, turning water into money resulting in genocide  (10 minutes: 6:30 to 6:40)

Nicholas Klaus: Defense Opening Statement: Heroic and competent defenders of capital, the American way of life and lucrative contracts for well-connected corporate cronies 10 minutes (6:40 to 6:50)

6:50 to 7:30

Witnesses for the People: Valerie Jean (Detroit). Melissa Mays(Flint)
 
7:30 to 8:00

Witnesses for the Defense and cross
Michael Doan (Duggan) 8 min defense, 6 min cross
Fred Vitale (Snyder) 8 min defense, 6 min cross.

Rebuttal witnesses
Debra Taylor (Detroit)
Narriyah Sharrif (Flint)

8:00 pm

Closing Arguments
Prosecutor 6-8 min
Defense  6—8 min

8:15 Judge…

As to instructions for the Jury…Ordinarily, judges instruct jurors in a way that actually minimizes, constricts, and constrains their awareness of their own power. I will not do so. Juries are inherently a powerful and authoritative form of direct democracy. I will not hide that fact from you.

I will encourage you to discern where lies are being told either openly or through spin doctoring. And I encourage you speak and vote using the full powers of your conscience.

Each of you have 2 minutes to share your position and the reasons for your vote of guilt or innocence. You may further, pending the outcome of the verdict, voice a recommendation for sentence.

Michael Balogun Anderson
Will Copeland
William Davis
Elena Herrada
Teresa Kelly
Claire McClinton
Rudy Simons

Jury speaks one by one (2 min each)
8:15 to 8: 30 

8:40

By my tally we have a unanimous verdict of Guilty on all counts.
The Court thanks each of you for your service in this matter.

As to sentencing…

These are serious crimes, violations of democracy and the human right to life itself. All charges which may yet be brought in conventional courts.
I have considered the various penalties which the state itself is able to sanction and enforce:
Imprisonment, being denied the necessities of life, being slowly poisoned with heavy metals, or being forcibly expelled from the region by foreclosure and water shut-off and water poisoning. These I am taking under advisement. But to reiterate, any decision or sentence in the Peoples’ Tribunal does not preclude further charges in other courts.

Mr’s Snyder, Duggan, (Early, and Orr)…you are hereby stripped of your authority to lead or rule the people of Detroit and Michigan. The people are no longer bound to honor you in office. Moreover, you are to be lead in an ignominious spectacle of your failures before the people of Michigan, the people of the nation, and the people of the world. Go. You are no longer over us. Let it be so ordered. Tap gavel.
(The two are led out by the baliffs).

The full implementation of these sentences requires action on the part of the peoples’ movements. I call on Monica Lewis Patrick to lead us in those deliberations.

 

 

 

 

 


 

On Grace
Raina LaGrand

The University of Michigan School of Social Work reflected on the legacy of Grace Lee Boggs as part of their celebration of Martin Luther King. Stephen Ward and Shea Howell of the Boggs Center joined Jim Toy and Raina LaGrand for the panel discussion. Here are Raina’s remarks opening the conversation with about 250 students, faculty and friends of Grace.

glb-coverMy name is Raina LaGrand. I am a Master’s student at the University of Michigan Schools of Social Work and Public Health. I sit on the School of Social Work Multicultural and Gender Affairs committee, and the subcommittee that organized this years MLK Symposium event for the School of Social Work. The event sought to reflect on the life and legacy of Grace Lee Boggs, and consider how her philosophy and activism can help us better understand our role as “solutionaries” in the fight for radical social change today. I was asked to sit on the panel, among some amazing people, including your very own Shea Howell. I was flattered and humbled when Shea asked me to share my comments for your newsletter. I hope you enjoy – or, in Grace’s spirit, perhaps some of you will entirely disagree!

When I was asked to speak on this panel, I was aware that I am not a Grace Lee Boggs expert. But, I am indeed an enthusiast. So I thought about what I would bring to the table. Personally, when I leave events like this, I sometimes walk away grateful for the new information, but unsure of what to do with it. I wonder, “Now what?” So the perspective I am bringing today is one from a student, evolving in my ideology regarding politics and social justice, and considering what Grace’s perspective offers me as an emerging professional. I hope what I offer will help some of you, especially the students, think through the “Now what?”

Grace talked a lot about radical social change. That word – radical – has a number of negative connotations: to some it sounds scary or even violent, to some it might sound like it will pit groups against one another, and for some it may sound unattainable. For Grace, however, radical social change is more about interconnectedness and love. Radical social change, therefore, is not necessarily seizing power and overthrowing governments. Rather, it is radical to change the ways we interact amongst each other, it is radical to think about the way we approach developing social solutions, it is radical to flip solutions for justice and equity on their heads – to think way outside of the box.

Grace mentions in her last book how some of these notions of radical social change were influenced or reinforced by some of the perspectives of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. She appreciated the concept of person-centered activism: shifting responsibility and power from distant governments to local community members, and seeing issues as involving people. As well as two-sided transformation: that we must transform ourselves in addition to our communities and our institutions. Grace said that, “we need to embrace the idea that we are the leaders we have been looking for.”

It is important to consider, therefore, what is as well as what is not radical, and how we all sometimes perpetuate the status quo and conform to outdated strategies and perspectives. There are a few ways I’ve identified that we do not, but can more effectively, work towards radical social change.

The first realm is our standards. In the same way that we value certain movements over others, we also continue to support certain practices. We constantly hear about the “best practices” for solving X issue in X community, and the importance of evidence-based practice. For social work students, we are told that everything we do must be backed up by evidence. While we do need research and evaluation to improve society, we also need to see that following this norm is not necessarily radical because we’re often not giving voice to those who deserve to be heard.

I just learned this term: practice-based evidence. It’s the idea that there are things that work, and that individuals really appreciate and benefit from, but they may not have strong evidence to defend their existence. The fact is that we pay to learn and get paid to do what has always worked. Yet, the times change quickly, and in Grace’s Hegelian perspective our thoughts and practices should too. Sometimes we don’t have the evidence for it just yet. We need to push ourselves to see value in perspectives and solutions that may not have evidence or large followings. Especially as social workers, we need to advocate for these things when communities ask for them. We need to remember as educated folks that education does not make us experts.

The second area we risk losing sight of radical social change tactics is in communities. The attention that is brought to social injustice is great, but it also skews the perception of who is responsible for social change. Similarly, our educations sometimes unfortunately reinforce these perceptions of what our responsibilities are and are not. Many folks try to place themselves in a new community and then expect the community to adapt to their way of doing things. This happens a lot in places like Detroit and southern African countries, for instance. We go where we think our skills our needed. Other folks may avoid their own communities, because they have lost faith in them. We don’t seek how we are most beneficial to the communities we are actually a part of.

This isn’t to say that we should not be aware of other social problems or contribute to solving them (because interconnectedness acknowledges our part in greater global challenges), but that we are aware of where our expertise truly lies. Who knows your self, your family, and your community better than you do? We need to stop working so hard to attain the identity of “activist” and instead see ourselves as responsible community members and citizens. It is important to remember that education does not give you a free pass to go anywhere you please.

Another way we conform to the status quo is by fitting into roles, and this has been a lesson for me recently. In the process of advocating for and enacting radical social change, and even once our radical utopia exists, there are different roles that are necessary. Some roles are more sexy than others, such as “community organizers.” I remember when I graduated high school, and my friends and I were unsure what to put on our resumes. We were interested in social justice, so we thought we were community organizers. We didn’t realize that community organizers have specific skills, expertise and networks; that many are community members who simply care about the wellbeing of their neighbor. Again, our education can make us believe that you can pay to learn how to be a “community organizer.”

In our society now, we have many moving parts, and our radical utopia will be no different. Garbage men don’t necessarily have the most desired job, and they don’t have to go to the University of Michigan to be garbage men, but we would indeed suffer as a society should they not exist. So, the lesson is to build on your strengths instead of compensating and meeting everyone else’s expectations. Remember that the things you enjoy doing – not the things you dread – are what you will do best at. This doesn’t excuse the discomfort of learning new lessons, but is still valuable to consider where you are putting your energy, what brings you joy, and how can you bring joy into suffering.

Our commitment to transforming ourselves in addition to transforming our communities and institutions requires a level of self-awareness. This is crucial to our ability to contribute to society. If we push ourselves into the wrong fit, we are perpetuating suffering at the same time that we are trying to eliminate it. Our own plight is the plight. We are our own leaders. When we are thoughtful about the movements, standards, communities, and roles we buy into, that is where we are acting as solutionaries (Grace’s word for those who think critically and differently about solutions to problems of social inequity). When we stop buying into the way things have always been done, when we stop doing what we are told is “right” or “professional,” that is radical. In Grace and Martin Luther King’s vision, love should be the significant motivator for our action – and if that’s not radical, I don’t know what is.

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