Archive for the ‘Thinking for Ourselves’ Category

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
January 2nd – January 9th
Thinking for Ourselves
Faithful Days
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

daplconcert
I Too, Sing America
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

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

10 Things to Think About this Year
Rich Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


15,000 Lights
Rabbi Alana Alpert
Detroit Jews for Justice

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

alpert

GUIDING LIGHTS

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

REDEDICATION

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

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

As we sang together:

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

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

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
December 26th – January 2nd
The Boggs Center would like to thank Vassar College for the opportunity to share the stories and work of Detroiters who are visionaries, solutionaries and place-based educators during a recent learning journey in Detroit.

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

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

Thinking for Ourselves

Beyond Balance Sheets
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

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

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

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

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


Winter Soup
Myrtle Thompson Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

FFG-102

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
November 14th – November 21st
We Have Just Begun To Fight
Grace Lee Boggs, August 18, 2013
(written after Detroit was taken over by an emergency manager and plunged into a corporate-styled bankruptcy.)grace 5I‘ve been a Detroiter for 60 years and this is the first time in my experience that so many different organizations with different ideologies and personalities have recognized that the time has come when we must join together to resist and defeat the growing counter-revolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have just begun to fight….


Thinking for Ourselves

Election Reflection
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After more than 50 years of political struggle for better lives, one thing should be clear. Only love can overcome this violence. As Dr. King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response…Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality…Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act of peace and justice…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight…Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

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

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


After the Blame
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
eclectablog

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

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

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

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

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

In that speech, Dr. King said in part:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s Our Time or Their Time…
Rich Feldman

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

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

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

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

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


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

Detroit, Michigan USA

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential Platforms:

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

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

OTHER PLATFORM PLANKS:

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

INDIVIDUAL WORK SHEETS/QUESTIONS:

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

Yes: 3    No: 5    Sometimes: 1

  1. Why do you say that?

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

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

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

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


In Love and Struggle Book Release!

IMG_0659

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

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


I-Voted-CBA 2

Nearly 100,000 voters stepped up to support communuty benefits

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

KEEP READING


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

(From the Veterans of Hope Project)

Dear friends,

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

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

Enjoy!

The Veterans of Hope Project


14900614_1449011775120709_7190114770529716455_n
Repair The World: DetroitThe Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, and Voices For Earth Justice are partnering to host a screening of the documentary “The Amor of Light” at the Repair the World Workspace on 2701 Bagley Ave this Friday, November 18th at 6:15 pm.Please come out for a great film on the intersections between faith, religion, gun control, gun violence, and politics. There will be light refreshments and snacks, and small group discussion after. The film is a little less than 1.5 hours.

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
September 4th – September 11th

14199549_10154995259485616_7357777310561262411_n


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.


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!

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  
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.


13923458_10154383916256506_9098556403309458433_o
Boggs Center board member Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty discusses new book and upcoming one woman show of the same title, Coming Out My Box with Michigan Literary Radio. Book illustration by Beehive Design Collective.


WHAT WE’RE READING

Education Coalition works to connect Detroit students with their community

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

KEEP READING


At Freedom Square, the Revolution Lives in Brave Relationships

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

KEEP READING

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

Ron Scott’sHow to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
May 22nd – May 29th
This-Changes-Everything_Final 3
Bringing Climate Justice Home to Detroit
A Free Showing of the Naomi Klein Film
This Changes Everything

Thursday May 26, 2016

Doors open/networking at 6pm

Film at 7pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tawana Honeycomb Petty

Joe Louis Fist

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


rio penthouse card front 2rio penthouse card back


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

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

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

KEEP READING

 


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs

Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News May 8th – May 15th
AN OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE STEVEN RHODES, LAST EMERGENCY MANAGER OF DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (DPS)Judge Rhodes:
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, you will hold the one public meeting required by Governor Snyder’s “emergency management” statute.  This is an inadequate forum for any meaningful standards of democracy, transparency, accountability and public input at a time of crisis.  It speaks directly to the fatal flaws of “emergency management”, and of your illegitimacy.
Eloquent and informed commentators from our community, and from the national human rights movement, have summarized the key issues facing DPS today under your fundamentally lawless and white supremacist power grab.  More broadly, we have recently published “Detroit 2016” linking Detroit’s struggles for racial and economic justice, including education, water, housing, development and democracy.   You cannot evade the basic contradiction in your role by preferring to change your title.  We need an honest public discussion.
You freely admitted at the time of your appointment that you have no relevant experience or qualifications to run a public school district, or to run an education system.  You have stated that you bring only one tool to this situation: the possibility of state appropriations; with this tool, you in effect seek to continue the state’s racist policies of corporate child abuse that have destroyed public education in Detroit over the last 17 years.
The very idea that there a meaningful top-down “solution” can be imposed by the state is absurd.  This state legislature will use any financial excuse to further attack our children and their teachers.
A real solution must, at an absolute minimum: 1) come from Detroiters;       2) emphasize education over finance; 3) embrace democracy; and 4) reject structural racism,  which has contaminated both Detroit’s bitter experiences with educational “reform”, and the state’s “emergency managed” debacles in predominantly African-American urban communities.
Your role as presiding bankruptcy judge in Detroit’s Chapter 9 case ratified the abuses of “emergency management”, and eviscerated local government accountability.  Now, in spite of your admitted lack of knowledge or experience, you come out of retirement to claim the role of education czar, providing cover for the state’s failed policies.
Your current drive to impose a state- driven, top-down, designed-to-fail “solution” on Detroit destroys your credibility.
Unless you change course immediately and use your “emergency management” powers to help facilitate community-driven, democratic and educationally sound solutions, you betray yourself and basic principles of justice you’re sworn to uphold.  Your judicial robe cannot cover up these crimes against our children, our city and our hopes for the future.-Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM) May 9, 2016http://www.d-rem.org/Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo‘s floor speech on the Detroit Public Schools package of legislation that passed last night deserves to be heard. As a former DPS teacher herself, she is passionate about doing what’s right for Detroit’s kids. That’s why she’s so disappointed that House Republicans passed this legislation in the early hours of the morning by a razor-thin margin over strenuous objections.
WATCH IT HEREglbwhitehouseThis amazing portrait of Grace Lee Boggs by artist Shizu Saldamando is currently on display in the White House for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Commissioned by the Sons and Brothers campaign and pictured with “Fresh Off the Boat” actor, Hudson YangThinking for Ourselves Fair Waters Shea Howell
This week Director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Gary Brown announced that water shut offs would accelerate in Detroit. He is threatening to shut off as many as 20,000 homes as quickly as he can. In preparation for these shut offs Brown announced a Water Assistance Fair. The Fair was surrounded with publicity touting the innovative Assistance Plan (WRAP), pushed by the Mayor. Brown said the WRAP is “the most robust, compassionate and comprehensive program of its kind to help low income customers keep their water service.” He said, “We have a responsibility to our customers and citizens of the City of Detroit to make water affordable.”
I went to the Fair. There was nothing “fair” about it. Nor was there any compassion or comprehensive effort to help residents. Here is what I saw.
People were lined up around the block. The first woman I met coming out the door was upset. Her bill was coming to “resident,” as most of our bills do. The worker inside told her that she needed to pay $150 to get the bill in her own name before they would consider a payment plan. She didn’t have $150 dollars. So she left, still facing a shut off.
The next woman I met had recently had a new meter installed. She has always paid her bill on time. Her last bill was $4,966 dollars. She was told that her bills had been estimated for the last 7 years and she now owed the full amount.
A bit further back in the line was a young woman in similar situation. Her January bill showed a $250 credit. In February she got a bill for $3,400.
Of the 22 people I spoke with directly, more than half had bills of over $1000, in some cases even after they had turned off water in part of their home to save money. Everyone had experienced increases in their bill of between $100 and $400.
Most people got little or no help from the city.
Moreover there was no compassion from the city. It was a cold morning, with small children bundled up against the wind. Elders leaned on walkers. The only chairs were those the more experienced in dealing with the city brought with him. People stood in line for over three hours.  One young, pregnant woman brought her two small children to the front of line, asking to use the bathroom. Her littlest child needed to go. Too bad. She was turned away, as was everyone else.
This is what compassion looks like from Gary Brown and the Mayor. Almost everyone I talked to said the same thing, “The city doesn’t care about us. They want us out of here.”
Brown re-enforced this antagonism when he once again tried to pit one person against another. In perverse logic, Brown repeated those who don’t pay, cost the rest of us more money. “Customers pay an average of $10 more on their bill each month to cover the cost of uncollectible accounts,” he said.
A more truthful statement would be that until the city adopts a water affordability plan based on income, its shut off policy will continue to drive prices up. Every time someone is shut off, fewer people have to pay the fixed costs of the system, so prices go up. Every time prices go up, more people are shut off. This is an unsustainable downward spiral.
There is a robust, compassionate way for us to ensure Water is Human Right. But it wont be found coming from the Mayor or his henchman, Gary Brown.This weekend, in the face of hysterical times Stadtkuratorin Hamburg is asking What Time Is It on the Clock of the World with a performance festival and symposium.

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

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

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

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

READ THE REVIEW AT THE BLACK BOTTOM ARCHIVES

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

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

 

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
.
3061 Field Street Detroit, Michigan 48214 US

Continue Reading »

Distorted Story

By Shea Howell

shea25We are beginning the third year of the crisis in Flint. In spite of thousands of news articles, visits by politicians, apologies, and claims of relentless positive action, little has changed in the daily lives of the people. Water is still unsafe. Filters, touted as a cure all, have been operating for so long many are approaching fatigue. They require constant flushing. Many need to be replaced. Every day most people still organize their lives around water safety. They cannot simply turn on their tap to bush teeth, bath, cook or wash. This week volunteers from Detroit will again go to Flint to deliver bottles of water, talk with residences, and explore how to advance political pressure to mobilize a will to act. Continue Reading »

Thinking for ourselves

By Shea Howell

No Excuses

April 17, 2016

shea25This week headlines warned that the crisis of water in Michigan is far from solved. More than one third of Detroit elementary schools reported unsafe levels of lead and copper in their drinking water.

Officials believe the problem rests with old lead pipes, not the quality of the water.

Still Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer for the city of Detroit’s Health Department, said that all Detroit children under 6, regardless of whether they attend a DPS school, should be screened for lead.

These reports were followed by an announcement that Henry Ford Hospital advised patients and employees to drink bottled water after water flowing from their pipes started coming out brown. The problem was attributed to a construction issue with the M-1 rail line, not water quality in general. “No patient services are affected and all hospital operations are fully operational. We are using sterilized water for all procedures,” hospital officials said. Continue Reading »

Thinking for ourselves

By Shea Howell

Establishing justice

March 27, 2016

shea33This week the Flint Water Crisis Task Force released its final report. The report makes critical contributions to the public discussion of what happened in Flint, where the responsibility rests, and what should be done about it. Most importantly, the report makes clear that state authorities treated the people of Flint with contempt, disrespect, and disregard for their health and lives. At the core of the State’s actions was deep-seated racism. The report invokes the concept of Environmental Justice, opening important perspectives for us to consider as we decide how to move forward. Continue Reading »