Boggs Center – Living for Change News – Martin Luther King jr Day

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
MLK Day
Thinking for Ourselves
Breaking Silence
Shea Howell
shea25
This year there is a poignant urgency to the celebrations of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the country people are gathering to celebrate, honor, and remember the movement and vision that called our country to find its best traditions and just promise. Everyone is mindful that these gatherings are happening in the shadow of the inauguration of a man who is the antithesis of all Dr. King represented.King would be 88 years old now, an age where many are still offering wisdom and counsel. Yet because of the kind of wisdom and counsel he was compelled to give us, he was killed. That wisdom is best captured in his speech given at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, “A Time to Break the Silence.” That was 50 years ago. It was his most searing indictment of the war in Vietnam, his deepest call to creating beloved communities.

King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking about some sentimental and weak response…Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality…Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act for peace and justice…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

The “dark and shameful corridors” are pressing in on us. And so Dr. King’s call to action is fiercely urgent. He asked us to “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

It is this call that is animating renewed energy in our country. Thousands of people are gathering in Washington D.C. and communities across this land to publicly declare opposition to the policies and practices that threaten to poison our souls.

Dr. King said, “It is the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

In this spirit Movement for Black Lives has called for a Pledge of Resistance and a week of non violent, direct action stating, “The Movement for Black Lives continued in the tradition of civil disobedience and direct action to reclaim the narrative of the Civil Rights Movement from corporate America, Hollywood, and others bent on sanitizing Black history rooted in radical tradition. #ReclaimMLK is a call to connect our contemporary movements, and to eschew respectability in order to embrace the radical courage of our people in the present. Today, as many ask us to “wait and see” and “respect” politicians aimed at hurting us, that original call is even more urgent.”

The National Council of Elders is calling for people to move with this courage to organize public readings of “A Time to Break the Silence” and ask hard questions about what it means for us today.

In this last year of life, Dr. King was becoming increasingly aware of the need for revolution. He said, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Our country is at a turning point. Dr. King reminds us, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Now is the time to give new and renewed voice to determine our future together.


PTOflyer Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”

Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.


Detroit Visionary Resisters
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

As the country experiences the turmoil that is American politics, many people in Detroit are showing visionary resistance to the status quo.

Whether it’s Pastor Barry’s call to action, artist, educator Walter Bailey’s hope to transform nature through art, Complex Movements building better futures, or Halima Cassells, Jerry Hebron and others making a life without money, Detroiters are once again exhibiting brilliance and resiliency in the face of adversity.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.

Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.”

As we look around at the conditions that plague our communities some 53 years after Dr. King gave this speech, we now know that our dignity and our humanity lies within the hands of those willing to struggle towards Dr. King’s later call for a radical revolution of values.

We now know that we must create while we resist.

“I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but we might be able to imagine it if your imagination were rich enough.” – Grace Lee Boggs

Luckily, we know a lot of visionaries.

 

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

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Living for Change News
January 2nd – January 9th
PTOflyer

Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”
Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.

Thinking for Ourselves

Reshaping America
Shea Howell
As we approach the moment when Donald Trump will assume the powers of the presidency, conversations and articles abound about how to survive, resist, and organize our way through the next few years. These discussions are essential. We have never been here before.

Certainly there are many parallels with other moments in our history when racism, ignorance, and arrogance have combined to defend and advance white power and privilege.  But the irrationality of Trump, combined with enormous ego and unchecked power, challenge us in new ways.

Detroit and Michigan have a special contribution to make to these conversations. We have suffered from right wing extremists for the last several years. Our governor, state legislature, and Supreme Court are in the hands of right wing ideologues. They are supported by local and national think tanks and policy institutes that have outline a global neoliberal agenda. Their strategy is tinged with fundamentalist Christian views of the most corrosive kind. Their actions in Michigan point the direction that will mark the Trump administration.

First, Trump will make every effort to diminish democracy. Michigan has experienced unrelenting assaults on normal democratic practices. The right to petition, to assemble, to pass resolutions, and to peacefully, publicly oppose policies have been undermined and attacked. With the imposition of emergency managers, more the 50% of all African American in the state were denied the right to vote for local government. Rev. Pinkney of Benton Harbor is in prison on fake charges for his vocal opposition to emergency managers in Benton Harbor. Artists in Detroit faced felony charges for painting “Free the Water” on an old water tank.

Second, big business will prosper at the expense of people. Wall Street profits will overshadow the will of the people. For example, in the Detroit bankruptcy process, explicit state constitutional prohibitions against reducing pensions were “set aside.”  Pensioners bore more than 70% of the cost of the bankruptcy.

Third, basic essentials of life will be turned into profit. From education to water, businesses will be enabled to turn public responsibilities into private profit centers. Those who cannot pay will be shut off, locked out, or left to struggle with underfunded, neglected public programs.

Fourth, the capacity of children to be creative, critical, and imaginative will be attacked. The relentless testing, controlling of curriculum and dumbing down of ideas will accelerate. Turning students into consumers, not citizens, will drive education.

Fifth, what is real will be denied. Politicians will proclaim victories by distorting and defying the realities of most people’s lives. In Michigan, the Governor proclaims “relentless, positive action,” as the people of Flint still cannot drink their water.  Detroit’s comeback is limited to 7.2 square miles of a city that is 139 square miles. Most people have become poorer, not better off, since bankruptcy.

Each of these areas will be advanced by the coming administration. With initiatives large and small, Trump, Pence and company are dedicated to reshaping American life under an extreme, right wing ideology intended to promote business interests and personal wealth.

Just as we can look to Detroit and Michigan as signs of what to expect, we can also see the kinds of resistance that will be essential to challenging and changing our country. Here we see people carving out self-determining, caring communities, new forms of cooperative economics, collective efforts to save homes and defend against evictions, alternative media, and independent child centered educational efforts.

We should have no illusions. American is being reshaped. All that we hold sacred will be profaned. But this we know. The imagination, creativity, and collective actions of people who seek justice and joy matter now more than ever.
—-
A note from Rich

I want to share with LFC friends and supporters of the Boggs Center some exciting news about my son, Micah and the forthcoming film Intelligent Lives.

Micah is now 32 years old and has been a disability organizer, speaker and activist for many years. As parents and as activists, we have watched and nudged the political community to create an inclusive social movement for the Next American Revolution and always ask the question: Who is not at the table?

Micah has an intellectual disability and was alongside Detroit Summer and attended many meeting at the Boggs Center over the years. He’s currently a teaching assistant at Syracuse University School of Education, works as an outreach organizer for the Taishoff Center and has a strong circle of support that provides opportunity, love and and challengeds that help him live a full dignified life.

It is with great honor that I want to share that he will be speaking in LA and SF in late January where they will also share the trailer of the film intelligentlives.org. As my wife Janice and I often say quoting Dan Wilkins, “A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”

For more about Micah’s journey, check out Throughthesamedoor.com & Janice’s website, Dance of Partnership.

Please join the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education and Syracuse University Los Angeles for two exciting events this month!

Wage Love Lessons
Shane Bernardo

as we look upon the most recent cycles of seasons, moons and solstices for guidance, here are some lessons from my journey that i’d like to share with you and reflect upon.

as dear friend, comrade, speculative fiction writer and conspirator of radical love, Adrienne Marie Brown says, “things are not getting worse. they are simply being uncovered.”

in the same spirit, please also notice that the capacity to not only survive but also thrive is being uncovered. we are not mere beings defined by contemporary moments but rather timeless spirits being called upon to the purpose of serving the greatest good and stepping into our highest selves.

the presence of uncertainty, anxiety and trauma are indicators that we have the capacity to do this arduous and revolutionary work of healing ourselves, our ancestors, our families and communities “from the inside out and from the bottom up.” as spirit sister and ancestor, Charity Hicks would often say. these emotional and bodily indicators are a reflection of our innate human ability to care and to empathize. we can do no worse than to welcome and embrace them with open arms, mind and heart.

there is ancient wisdom in fear, sadness and loneliness. they are messages from deep within that are translated into tears, clenched fists and sore backs from carrying their weight. we embody ancestral intuition that has accumulated over countless generations. these gifts require deep reflection to honor their lessons. it takes a swell of gratitude and relaxed ego to crack them open.

Red Lake Ojibwe and wisdom keeper, Renee Gurneau says, “our triggers are where our power is.” and that “our innerverse is as expansive as the outerverse.” Renee calls us to remain ardently present and tender within life’s challenges and allow ourselves to be transformed by what brings us discomfort, pain and trauma…to not simply succumb or react to the harm they inflict upon us and instead allow these emerging signposts to illuminate the power that lies just past these triggers.

it’s important that we don’t allow the temptation of dejection and isolation to delve too deeply or long within our hearts. we must be able to access love in a way that transforms fear into purpose. it is here where life is fought for and won…within the palms of our inner most selves. as comrades, Movement Generation says, “what the hands do, the heart learns.” we can knead these inhibitions into submission and write ourselves as victors of our own stories.

stay vigilant. stay present and be very mindful of developing the muscle of intuition. recognize what is emerging. anticipate it.

notice our tongues unfurling. our sense of sight, hearing and smell becoming more acute. our touch more delicate and sensitive. our hearts feel more deeply and our collective imagination of what is possible is richer than ever.

stay in the womb of this heart center and ground y/our sense of what’s possible within the places where we are most strong. it is here where rich expansive possibilities are brought into the light and encourage our deep sense of love to lead the way. #WAGELOVE family. #WAGELOVE!

*this piece is dedicated to chosen fam that literally and collectively saved my life this past year; Natasha Tamate Weiss, ILL Weaver, Joya D’Cruz, Adrienne Maree Brown, Kezia Curtis, Mahima Mahadevan, Michelle Martinez, Lola Gibson-Berg, Louxoi Stoakley, Erin Martinez, Monté, Sterling Tolles, Sage Crump, Hong Gwi-seok, and Julie Weatherhead.

**inspiration for this piece came from the abundance of the collective wisdom of Adrienne Marie Brown, Charity Hicks, Renee Gurneau, Movement Generation, the Wildseeds Collective and ancestral femme spirits within my lineage that speak thru me. some of which can be found at the following links:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/233820532/Emergent-Strategy-Handbook

http://movementgeneration.org/

https://nolawildseeds.org/

otherwise, i can be contacted at Shanebernardo@gmail.com.

Disillusionment & the Need for Community In the Imminent Era of Trump
Naim Edwards

Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and the Republican Party controls the House and the Senate. The election has revealed a sobering truth: the “United” States are far from united, and significantly more Americans turned out to vote for the Donald than we thought. Moreover, it is clear that within states across the country, we are more divided than ever. Our separation is both ideological and geographic, ethnic and economic, intellectual and religious.
Mainstream media and most of the circles I hang around slated Hillary as a shoo-in. The news and political commentary professed and joked that an inexperienced, racist leaning, hot headed, misogynist could not possibly win the election. NEWS FLASH!!!! He won, and based on the electoral vote, Hillary had no chance. The American people, although not the majority, voted adamantly against the establishment and arguably for the greater of two evils. Trump voters were presumably neglected in the polls, and they exist outside the media narratives. Or then again, it could just be the Russians.

Trump’s win indicates the people’s frustration and inability to achieve the “American Dream”. Donald Trump is not the problem, but rather the product of our government’s failure to serve its people and enforce the values communicated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Despite all of the ways we are divided (and connected), we – the electorate – have been funneled for centuries into a two party system that for all intents and purposes has failed to bring forth justice for all. However, anyone familiar with history may recognize that “justice for all” was never really the goal though. Democrats and Republicans alike as a whole have spent the last few decades catering to Wall Street and multinational corporations at the expense of America’s social and economic fabric. Parties have focused primarily on winning elections, while deprioritizing their commitment to serving their base.

Furthermore, government officials have increasingly been shepherded by corporate execs into the fields of neoliberalism to graze on interference and exploitation of foreign countries. At the same time, elected leaders were coaxed into undermining their own constituents’ rights as our educational system, local economies, and access to public resources were handed over to private interests. There was minimal commitment if any to addressing and healing centuries of oppression based on race, class, and gender – although I must acknowledge that the government has never expressed or concerned itself in a concerted effort to genuinely confront injustice. Fortunately, the founding fathers ratified the constitution in a language that has allowed the oppressed to leverage it against the system itself. All the while, the U.S. has maintained and broadcasted a message of “equal rights for all”, “land of the free”, etc.

Thankfully, many of us continue to be jolted awake from the American Dream, as our fellow American’s demonstrated with the ballot that they want America to be great again. Of course, those who voted for Trump and agree with what he has said suffer from their own illusions. Now however, we must all prepare for what the next four years may bring; “greatness” will surely lead to continued if not increased suffering. We all must rise from the complacent slumber and simply dreaming and challenge every facet of our lives that has lead to this political juncture and our state of separation. Our dreams can either be visions that guide our being and actions, or they can be illusions that pacify, blind us, and distort reality.

It is not my intention to place full blame or responsibility on us as individuals, but rather recognize that we all play a role in the separation that has lead to Trump’s ascent. In order to prepare for and resist the worst of what is yet to come, we must shift our behavior and orient ourselves towards strengthening our communities. I am glad to point out that in Detroit and neighborhoods across the nation, millions of people have been organizing and doing just that for decades already, but we may need to do it better and differently. We must operate in ways that weaken the system and strengthen our bonds. This political- economic system is weakened when we intentionally participate in interdependence i.e. community and depend less on everything that is sold to us for the almighty dollar.

We must slow down and consume less: less television, less driving, less shopping, and less working (less tweeting and facebook too!). We can gradually or as quickly as possibly transition to lifestyles where we share our gifts with one another more. Instead of the grocery store or supermarket, try a local food producer or Community Supported Agriculture. Enjoy slowing down and balancing work with other life giving activities, or figure out how to intertwine work and joy in creative ways. Discern how your consumption patterns and daily behaviors perpetuate and reinforce our oppression and separation; then seek community-building substitutions. Let’s connect, struggle, and create together. With trust and love we can persevere and overcome our brokenness, and dare I say “Make America Great for real!”

 

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

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

daplconcert
I Too, Sing America
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

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

10 Things to Think About this Year
Rich Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


15,000 Lights
Rabbi Alana Alpert
Detroit Jews for Justice

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

alpert

GUIDING LIGHTS

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

REDEDICATION

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

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

As we sang together:

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

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

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

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

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

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

Thinking for Ourselves

Beyond Balance Sheets
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

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

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

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

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


Winter Soup
Myrtle Thompson Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

FFG-102

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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

Thinking for Ourselves

Light and Water
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#DetroitCultureCreators

TAKE THA HOUSE BACK – WILL SEE

(official music video)


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

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

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

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

Two Steps Forward, Ten Steps Backward

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

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

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

The Awakening

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

Trump’s Rhetoric

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

What Now?

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/READING

“Netflix’s Barry Imagines Obama Before He Found His Way”
KEEP READING
00-holding-barry1


A message from our friends at Tewa Women United

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
December 12th – December 19th
 
Dear Friends and Comrades of the Boggs Center, 

 

We are deeply grateful for all of the support you have given to us over the years.

 

As we face a tremendous moment of both crisis and opportunity, we feel an enormous responsibility to continue the commitment to revolutionary and visionary work and resistance that was at the heart of the lives and works of Grace and Jimmy.

 

We also believe that at this “time on the clock of the world,” their vision of possibilities for a new America are not only relevant, but urgent.

 

As 2016 comes to an end, we are asking for your support. 

 

Please visit our website to make a donation or send checks to 

 

Boggs Center

3061 Field St
Detroit, MI
48214
Thinking for Ourselves

Our Reality
Shea Howell

 

One of the clear casualties of this political moment is any semblance of a shared reality based in fact. Last week the Wall Street Journal offered a headline that demonstrated how out of touch they are with the truth of people’s lives. The headline of an opinion column penned by Detroit News editor Ingrid Jacques read, “How Trump’s Schools Chief Helped Turn Around Detroit.” The sub heading, which for most people in the city is an explanation for why public education is in trouble, read “There’s still work to do, but thanks to Besty DeVos more than half the city’s students attend charters.”

The text of the article begins with the real reason why the right wing loves Betsy Devos. Her education reform is primarily an attack on unions, and has nothing to do with education. The opening sentence defining the “turn around” is “To the dismay of teachers unions nationwide, President elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos” as the next education secretary. The thrust of the article then chronicles DeVos’s long history in promoting schools of choice “free from union constraints, “ and notes these schools “have flourished—especially in Detroit, where more than half of students attend charters.” Jacques then defends the virtues of charter schools with the lame claim, “charters are doing better.”

Better than what is unclear. By any reasonable standard the DeVos initiatives have been a failure. In the spring of this year, before the distortions of reality became so widely endorsed, the New York Times published a page one story with the headline, “Heralded Choice Fails to Fix Detroit Schools.” The online version states “A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.”

The Times article opens with the a summation of the move to charter schools saying Detroit “got competition, and chaos” and the DeVos backed initiatives have “produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.” The Times reports “half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit’s traditional public schools.”

For profit charters now operate 80 percent of the charters in Michigan thanks to the efforts of DeVos’s Great Lakes Education Project. Today, after nearly two decades of State control over Detroit schools they are “found to be the lowest performing urban school district on national tests.” The Times concluded, Detroit was “awash in choice but not quality.” It notes that efforts backed by DeVos to lift caps on the number of charters resulted in  “twenty four charter schools have opened the since the cap was lifted in 2011. Eighteen charters whose existing schools were at or below the districts dismal performance expanded or opened new schools.” These included schools operated by the Leona Group, an Arizona based for profit company identified by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes as producing schools where students “grew less academically than students in the neighboring traditional public schools.”

The failure to protect our children or to think seriously about what it means to develop young people to make critical decisions in a democracy has forced many of us in Detroit to ask basic questions about education.  What is the purpose of education today? What role do schools play in educating our children? What responsibility does the community have to offer education? How do we organize ourselves to engage young people in solving the problems we all face?

Rethinking how to raise our children as caring, socially responsible people will not come from the DeVos’s of the world. Their reality sees our children as sources of profit and our educated adults as threats. We in Detroit, and now the rest of the country, have to create a different reality, holding tightly to our children to protect them from this onslaught. This means finding ways to keep the reality of our lives and hopes central to all we do.

**Please call your state representative and ask them to oppose SB 1162-63.**

 

Call Your State Representative: AK Steel Company Requests a Tax Break Without Environmental Accountability
Senate Bills 1162 and 1163 would extend tax credits to AK Steel for its Dearborn plant — credits that were previously provided to the factory’s former owner, Severstal Steel. Both bills were passed out of the Senate today, 31-6.

 

Based on information provided by the Department of Treasury and MEDC, the bills would permit an estimated $50 to $60 million of existing certificated credits to be claimed over roughly the next 20 years. AK Steel, located in Dearborn’s south end, near the notorious 48217 ZIP code, is arguably one of the state’s biggest polluters.

 

The air pollution in Southeast Michigan continues to jeopardize public health of our most vulnerable residents. Asthma hospitalization rates in Detroit are three times higher than that of the state as a whole.* 275 deaths per year take place because of the air pollution in Michigan.**

 

AK Steel violated their 2006 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)-issued air permit, releasing pollutants at levels up to 725 times higher than the permit initially allowed. Since July 23, 2010, there have been 117 citizen complaints alleging fallout and smokestack violations from varying processes at the plant; and more than 20 violation notices sent to the company.
Despite new ownership, the plant has continued to receive violation notices from the MDEQ, as recently as October 14, 2016, less than two months ago, for failing to obtain a permit and for not monitoring particulate matter.

 

Please call your State Representative (http://www.house.mi.gov) and Speaker Kevin Cotter (517-373-1789 /kevincotter@house.mi.gov), urging them to oppose Senate Bills 1162 and 1163, unless the environmental accountability amendment is adopted. The amendment would ensure that a company doesn’t get the tax break unless they have zero environmental violations that tax year and work with the community on air monitoring and pollution control equipment upgrades.

 

*Wasilevich EA, Lyon-Callo S, Rafferty A, Dombkowski K. “Detroit – The Epicenter of Asthma Burden.” Epidemiology of Asthma in Michigan. Bureau of Epidemiology, MI Department of Community Health, 2008.
**http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/air_pollution_causes_275_death.html

 
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
In an op-ed for Mic, Opal Tometi, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, shares her thoughts on what to do in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. WATCH IT HERE

 

 

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

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
December 5th – December 12th
It's time to (2)


Dear Friends and Comrades of the Boggs Center, 

We are deeply grateful for all of the support you have given to us over the years.
As we face a tremendous moment of both crisis and opportunity, we feel an enormous responsibility to continue the commitment to revolutionary and visionary work and resistance that was at the heart of the lives and works of Grace and Jimmy. 
We also believe that at this “time on the clock of the world,” their vision of possibilities for a new America are not only relevant, but urgent. 
As 2016 comes to an end, we are asking for your support. 
Please visit our website to make a donation or send checks to 
Boggs Center
3061 Field St
Detroit, MI
48214

Thinking for Ourselves

December Connections
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

MLK-Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12.09.16 Water as a Human Right   Flyer

Boggs School Dispatch
Julia Putnam

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

WHAT WE’RE READING

Finding a Way Forward with Grace
Jia Lok Pratt
Huffington Post

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

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

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

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


“We beg for your forgiveness…”
Charlie May
Slate

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

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

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

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

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

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dear Friends and Comrades of the Boggs Center, 

We are deeply grateful for all of the support you have given to us over the years.
As we face a tremendous moment of both crisis and opportunity, we feel an enormous responsibility to continue the commitment to revolutionary and visionary work and resistance that was at the heart of the lives and works of Grace and Jimmy.
We also believe that at this “time on the clock of the world,” their vision of possibilities for a new America are not only relevant, but urgent.
As 2016 comes to an end, we are asking for your support. 
Please visit our website to make a donation or send checks to 
Boggs Center
3061 Field St
Detroit, MI
48214

Thinking for Ourselves

Educational Oppurtunities
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


comm_tech_handbook (1)

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

LEARN MORE HERE!


Thoughts on Learning
Piper Martine Carter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On Cuba
Rachel Harding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT WE’RE READING

Identity Politics and Left Activism
Immanual Wallerstein
Monthly Review

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

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

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

Moreover, there is no doubt that once in office Trump and his administration will continually do and say things that will inspire protest. For at least the next four years people in the US will rally and march against his government, regularly and in large numbers. Protesting against threats to the environment will undoubtedly be urgent, as will be the generalized atmosphere of violence against people of color, women, LGBTQ populations, migrants, Muslims, workers of various sorts, the poor — and the list goes on. KEEP READING

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have just begun to fight….


Thinking for Ourselves

Election Reflection
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


After the Blame
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
eclectablog

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

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

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

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

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

In that speech, Dr. King said in part:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s Our Time or Their Time…
Rich Feldman

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

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

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

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

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


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

Detroit, Michigan USA

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential Platforms:

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

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

OTHER PLATFORM PLANKS:

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

INDIVIDUAL WORK SHEETS/QUESTIONS:

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

Yes: 3    No: 5    Sometimes: 1

  1. Why do you say that?

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

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

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

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


In Love and Struggle Book Release!

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  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
November 7th – November 14th
non

In Love and Struggle book cover

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

Thinking for Ourselves

Water Protectors
Shea Howell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


cbo a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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