RE-Imagining Leadership By Grace Lee Boggs , with Adrienne Brown

RE-Imagining Leadership

By Grace Lee Boggs , with Adrienne Brown

December 3 – 10 2011

I am often asked why we began rebuilding and redefining Detroit from the ground up ourselves–instead of waiting for experts or politicians to lead us.

I think Ii’s because in Detroit we believe deep in our hearts and minds that “we’re the leaders we’re looking for.”

This conviction began to take root in the early 1990s when we founded

Detroit Summer, a multicultural, intergenerational program/movement to involve young people with elders in rebuilding, redefining and respiriting Detroit.

At the time I was also reading Leadership and the New Science, an extraordinary book by organizational consultant Meg Wheatley.

Wheatley explains how understanding Change from the viewpoint of Quantum rather than Newtonian physics empowers us to go beyond linear and hierarchical concepts of leadership so that we can recognize leaders emerging organically at the local level.

Inspired by this idea, Hip-hop artist Invincible began developing what has become a multi-media/album project on complex science, social justice movements and hip-hop. This past spring she hosted an event at the Detroit Science Center linking complexity theory, emergence, community work in Detroit, and the cultural art of hip-hop.

Next week Meg Wheatley is coming to Detroit.

On December 10 from 12-4, at the Cass Corridor Commons (4605 Cass Avenue) she will engage in a public conversation evaluating our work in Detroit and the ways in which our organizing is unique.

This session is targeted to groups already organizing in networks, such as the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Detroit Food Justice Network, Detroit Future Youth Network. Individuals not affiliated with organizations are also welcome.

Then there will be an event organized by Detroit Future Youth (DFY) to concentrate on what the next generation of organizing leaders are already practicing and learning about their movement building.

This event will feature performances by artists who work with DFY. Please RSVP to for more information on this event.

Finally, at 7pm, there will be a multimedia performance at the Furniture Factory (4126 Third Avenue) featuring excerpts of Complex Movements by Invincible + Waajeed, Wesley Taylor, and other artists who are creating music that unveils, uplifts and deepens our understanding of these concepts.

In Detroit we are reimagining everything, not only Leadership but the kind of Education and Work we now need to enhance our humanity and our communiities. <>

For more by and about Margaret Wheatley;

Several networks in Detroit have been living examples of these ideas, most having never heard of Wheatley. For years, organizers in Detroit have focused on how we think differently about the kind of leadership needed – in the city and in the nation. This has included thinking about the kind of work needed to enhance our humanity and our communities, what movements look like if we can release the idea of massive large-scale outcome oriented work, and drop into deep, life transforming, community building work.

A while ago, Grace Lee Boggs came across Wheatley’s work, and shared some of the ideas in her speeches and writing. Upon hearing Boggs speak of Wheatley’s work,

Now, after years of this ideological synergy, Wheatley is on her way to Detroit.

On December 10, several networks in Detroit will participate in a series of events to intersect Detroit organizing with Wheatley’s work. These events will take place from 12pm til 9pm.

A key moment in the development of any network is the moment when it truly comes into awareness of itself. In Detroit, so much incredible work has been happening for such a long time, and most organizers are wearing multiple hats as they build deep connections and do deep work. It can be exhausting and overwhelming.

This December we invite these groundbreaking networks to take a second, step back, and see ourselves whole. Our work may seem very hard, and may seem too small, and may seem somewhat disconnected on daily basis. But in putting together this event, our theory is that when we see all of our efforts as part of a whole, we can see that Detroit is turning new soil in terms of what mass movement can look like.

Please join us in this next step in the journey of understanding the new society we are co-creating.


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