Boggs Center – Living for Change News -October 24, – October 31, 2016

Living for Change News
October 24, – October 31, 2016

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 for more info.
Support The Party that Supports You!!#DetroitCultureCreators

Thinking for Ourselves

Imagining the Impossible
Shea Howell

100_1694The Without Borders (un)conference sponsored by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership this week made an important contribution to the convergence of people seeking solutions to a just and peaceful world.  Activists, authors, scholars, students, artists, and educators gathered to explore possibilities for true liberation and freedom.

The conference opened with a discussion of Afrofuturism, emphasizing that imagination as central to creating a future that secures life and love for all of us. Panelist talked passionately about the possibilities of creating a future that is better than our present.

Looking at all of the work from Gaza to Jackson, Ferguson, Flint, Detroit, Chicago and Standing Rock, people throughout the conference talked of coming together to find new ways of thinking, new paths for action, and new, deeper visions of the kind of future we want to create. Detroit science fiction author Adrienne Maree Brown encouraged us to “unlock our radical and compassionate imaginations” to place justice at the core of our collective thinking. From the oldest of spirituals and community rituals to graphic novels, hip-hop, and beliefs in an afterlife, people drew on the multitude of ways human beings have struggled to move beyond the boundaries that confine our deepest longings.

Throughout the two days people especially drew upon the legacy of black radical activism and imaginative politics as a source of strength and inspiration. Questions were welcomed as more important than answer.

People explored:

What does freedom look like?
Is it possible to create a world without police?
Can we create new forms of community and kinship?
Can we disrupt not only the school pipeline to prison, but the pipeline to capitalism?
How do we create a politics of the impossible?
What are new forms of power?
Where does knowledge come from?
What do decolonized structures look like?
What new languages can we create to de centralize “ the colonial?”
What is the relationship between resistance and revolution?
What is a sustainable future?
What new ways do we create a public sphere?
How can we govern ourselves?
What does democracy look like?
What does the next economic system look like?
How do we develop means of production that embody cooperation and care for the earth?
How doe we shift from an economy based on extraction to one based on care?
How do we create a world that is regenerative and passionate?

Naomi Klein provided a provocative keynote emphasizing the importance of finding ways to dream together about new futures as the fossil fuel frontier closes. Talking of the tension between what is politically possible and ecologically necessary she encouraged us to look at the LEAP Manifesto, for ways to think about the kind of direct political action and broad vision needed now.

This conference affirmed that there is a new political energy emerging in our country. It holds the potential of transforming all of us as we assume responsibilities for the shape of our future. Reaching beyond the borders of this gathering, organizers have made much of the conversation open to everyone by sharing the live streamed sessions here. The impossible is not longer unimaginable.

Detroit entrepreneurs: Young imaginations hold the key to solutions
Tawana Petty
There is something to be said about youth who manage to escape harsh realities imposed upon them by inhumane systems, by imagining a way forward, a more beloved community. The children who go without water, who don’t have enough to eat, who move between homes or schools many times before they leave their adolescence, yet somehow find enough humanity in their souls to keep creating.I can recall the day I made a working lamp for my bedroom out of a dish liquid bottle. I was in elementary school. I couldn’t begin to recount the formula I used to create my concoction, but I do recall that at that time in my development, I had no knowledge of the impossible. I believed that whatever I wanted to do could be done. Whatever I wanted to create could be created. My imagination was powerful. It was the one space where I could escape any curveball life threw at me. And life did throw its share of curveballs my way.Growing up in poverty in my early years, although very tough, afforded me an opportunity to see beyond what was present before me. By middle school I had handmade napkin holders, key chains, dollhouses with popsicle sticks and lots of other cool items, that I would actually use at home. I was lucky enough to have teachers who nurtured a space that allowed me and the other learners in my classes to innovate. A space that allowed us to discover our talents and imagine our solutions. I have been an artist for as long as I can think back, so I didn’t always appreciate the academic portion of school. I’ve always valued the skills I learned in my woodshop, home economics and newspaper classes. They helped me to build character and taught me life skills that I still use today. It’s unfortunate that this creative energy is not a priority in every academic institution. It has been proven that the cookie cutter testing model has failed so many of our children. So, no matter what we feel about an institution, children exist inside of them and our focus must be on them.A couple of years ago, I was invited to visit the Brightmoor Maker Space at Detroit Community High School by teacher Bart Eddy. When I arrived I was immediately nostalgic. I witnessed Black children building rain barrels, making wooden signs for neighbors in their community, rehabbing and turning trikes into fruit and vegetable delivery tricycles, and designing and printing their own t-shirts. The young people showed so much pride in what they were doing and were very knowledgeable about the importance of their new skillsets.

I was so impressed that I invited the students to showcase their work at the New Work New Culture Conference I co-organized in Detroit with the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and other community partners in 2014. The students designed a custom trike as well as t-shirts for the conference, and taught young people and adults who visited their station some of their skills. It was wonderful to watch their interactions.

In early 2015, I received a call from Bart telling me that the young people felt compelled to do something about the water crises in Detroit and Flint. They had been donated some industrial trikes by the UAW and wanted to use them to help support people without water. Bart invited me to speak to the students about the water crises and I accepted. I spent a half-day with the students and instructors, and by the time I left that day, they were well on their way to designing a water filtration trike. Brightmoor Makerspace agreed to donate the first trike beyond their prototype to We the People of Detroit, an organization that has done tremendous work supporting the efforts of residents in Detroit, Flint and other cities across the globe that are struggling with a water crisis. They recently produced the book, Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit, through the We the People of Detroit Research Collective.

I was ecstatic about the possibilities of the water filtration trike when I left the Brightmoor Maker space that day, but had no idea what the trike would become.

A few months ago, I received an email update from Bart and I could sense the joy in his print.
“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 . . . There is much more that can be said, but I will leave that for a further letter.”

The intergenerational team who calls themselves the Water Cyclers have since completed their prototype and are currently working on their first production model for donation to We the People of Detroit.

Photo credit: Brightmoor Makerspace, used with permission

Through this project, the students of DCH have been able to collaborate with The Stamps School of Art Design at University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, community activists and many others who have invested in helping them to see their vision forward.
A bit about the Renewable Energy Industrial Trike:

  • Battery-operated electronic assist
  • Solar-charged
  • Dual water purification with battery powered pump
  • Can be connected to rain barrel water collection systems

Through the innovation of this trike, the students are not only attempting to address the issue of clean water, but they are attempting to tackle the issue of immobility that ironically plagues the “motor city” by creating a trike that can travel up to 30 miles per hour.

Of course, this is just the beginning for this dynamic team, but be on the look out for more from these brilliant young minds, as they teach us that no idea is too large when you have a big enough imagination and a village that supports you.

A Library in Every Neighborhood
Kim Sherobi

Three weeks ago, a Little Library was installed on the corner side lawn of my house. What is a Little Library you ask? It is a small or medium size container with shelves and a door that contain books for the purpose of exchange or to be given away. Books can be placed on the shelves or taken by anyone. Frequently, Little Libraries look like large Bird Houses propped on a pole with books in them. The one on my corner lawn, has a glass door framed in wood so people can see the books displayed.

IMG_8846 3

Since the installation of the Little Library, I have been fascinated by the amount of attention and interaction that people in my neighborhood have had with it.  Where I live in Detroit, there are many burned out houses and foreclosed homes. It is often assumed by numerous people that residents in neighborhoods like mine do not have a love for reading or learning. Yet in the brief time that the Library has been here, I have witnessed people of all ages engaging with the book holder on a regular basis. I have seen students on their way to and from Nobel Elementary Middle School get books, adults who live on my block have been talking to me about how they have been reading books from the Little Library and adding to its collection of books, I have had conversations with a local resident who is a teacher and parents who were walking their children to school about how glad they are to have the Little Library in our community.

The Little Library has given me the opportunity to meet new people in my neighborhood, get better acquainted with some and reacquainted with others. For instance, recently I flagged down a car in which my childhood friend, Gail, was in the passenger seat. Gail has always been an avid reader so I figured she would be excited to know about the Little Library and she was.  Gail and I live different lifestyles so we do not interact with each other too much anymore. Talking about the Library gave us a chance to genuinely connect. It was good sharing a brief and exciting moment talking to my childhood friend about her love for books and reading.

The Little Library has caused me to think about having some type of event pertaining to books. Maybe a read out loud or tell your favor Little Library story. Whatever the gathering, the point would be to get to know my neighbors more. I look forward to inviting Gail and others to the event. We are all that we have. Our relationships should be cherished.

I would encourage anyone to build a Little Library in your community or contact to find out if they can install a Little Library in your neighborhood like they did in mine.

Community Conversation (Oct 29) Flyer

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


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: