Archive for the ‘Get Involved’ Category

An open invite to friends & family of Macomb County:
WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY AND WORLD CAN WE ENVISION TOGETHER?

“We have a great opportunity to create beloved, caring communities… But
first, we must break our silence and have safe, serious conversations

about our history and how we reached this point.”

APRIL 22 from 2-4PM at GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH (115 S. Main Street, Mt. Clemens) ~ Sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership ~ CONTACT US AT: Lejla@umich.edu // (586) 596-5059

Sent from my phone.

____

Break Silence Ferndale April 29, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
December 19th – December 26th
daplconcert

Thinking for Ourselves

Light and Water
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#DetroitCultureCreators

TAKE THA HOUSE BACK – WILL SEE

(official music video)


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

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

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

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

Two Steps Forward, Ten Steps Backward

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

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

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

The Awakening

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

Trump’s Rhetoric

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

What Now?

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

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

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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  
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
non

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.


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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…

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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

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Detroit, Michigan 48214
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Living for Change News
October 24, – October 31, 2016
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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

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
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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.

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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 littlefreelibrary.org to find out if they can install a Little Library in your neighborhood like they did in mine.


Community Conversation (Oct 29) Flyer

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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
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
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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

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 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 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

13923458_10154383916256506_9098556403309458433_o


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_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