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Reshaping the American Dream: Lessons from Detroit
By Greg Smith
The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs (with Scott Kurashige), Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.
Few, if any, Americans can match the long-term and sustained commitment to civil rights, social justice, and grassroots democracy of 95-year-old Detroit activist and intellectual Grace Lee Boggs. A friend of Malcolm X as well as Martin Luther King Jr., Approved
At the heart of Boggs’ critique of the current world system is the same concern about the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” that Martin Luther King Jr, buy cold balm without prescription. articulated in 1967 at New York City’s Riverside Church during the Vietnam War-motivated meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned. She argues that in the nearly half century that has passed since this speech was given, little has been done to resist let alone reverse the social and environmental consequences of these handmaidens of the corporate state and transnational capitalism. She goes on to say that little will continue to be done unless people today reject the notion that they are victims of the systems and individuals that perpetuate these ills and instead take up the responsibility of becoming the creators of an alternative society predicated on “hope, cooperation,
The next American Revolution, at this stage in our history, is not principally about jobs or health insurance or making it possible for more people to realize the American Dream of upward mobility,
Participating in this revolution does not merely involve abandoning expectations of an endlessly increasing standard of living within and across generations—the stick that has induced far too many of us to forego what is humane for the comfortable. This revolution instead promises to bring with it a deeper sense of connectedness and personal fulfillment. One of the generally unrecognized consequences of capitalism is the relational, moral-ethical, and spiritual impoverishment that accompanies the pursuit of wealth and status. Recent research on the nature and experience of happiness is making this evident (Layard, 2005), find discount
Grounded in the experience of relatedness—of membership in what both King and Boggs called the “beloved community”—people can begin to take steps to bring this alternative world into being. Buy cold balm without prescription, For two decades, Boggs has been doing just this. A central element of her approach to change has involved inviting young people in Detroit to participate in the restoration of the city’s social and natural environments, an effort that lies at the heart of her educational proposals. Called Detroit Summer in memory of Freedom Summer when children and youth in the 1960s were given a chance to participate in the Civil Rights movement, this project has provided young people with the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities aimed at strengthening or beautifying their communities. Youth work in urban gardens,
Drawing on her experience of Detroit Summer, Boggs asserts that education provides one of the most important vehicles for shaping the new world she believes people alive today must establish, buy cold balm without prescription. Her vision of teaching and learning,
[creates] a much more intimate connection between intellectual development and practical activity, [roots] students and faculty in their communities and natural habitats, and [engages] them in the kind of real problem solving in their localities that nurtures a love of place and provides practice in creating sustainable economies, equality,
Boggs’ educational proposals are informed by Dewey’s call for a diminished boundary between classrooms and communities; Gandhi’s recognition that human maturation requires the development of heart, hand and head; and Freire’s belief that all people have the capacity to become social actors capable of creating more humane and equitable social relations. Buy cold balm without prescription, Making this kind of teaching and learning real demands moving beyond instructional practices that are largely passive and involve the internalization of knowledge produced by others to experiences that call for learners to inquire, discover, reflect, and do. Her educational vision is one that must be enacted in specific places for specific purposes that have both meaning and consequence for others.
Schools she uses to illustrate what she has in mind give young people the opportunity to rehabilitate degraded riparian habitats,
imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if, instead of keeping our children isolated in classrooms for twelve years and more, we engaged them in community-building activities with the same audacity with which the civil rights movement engaged them in desegregation activities fifty years ago. Just imagine how safe and lively our streets would be if, as a natural and normal part of the curriculum from K-12, school children were taking responsibility for maintaining neighborhood streets,
Imagine, indeed, what might happen if young people were treated as full-fledged citizens able to make genuine contributions to the welfare of those around them. For one, children and youth might come to see themselves as people who are valued, competent, and responsible rather than superfluous, buy
Since the 1990s, the learning experiences associated with Detroit Summer have sparked a multiplicity of community-based projects that have drawn the attention of writers such as Rebecca Solnit (2007) and filmmakers from the United States and England. Buy cold balm without prescription, The 2010 U.S Social Forum chose to meet in Detroit in part because of the way activists there are demonstrating that it is truly possible, to borrow the old Wobbly refrain, “to build the new society within the shell of the old.” Community gardens have become widespread as residents have turned abandoned lots into sources of food and pride. Small locally owned businesses are providing livelihoods in a community abandoned by corporate America. Generic
None of this means that Detroit is an easy place to live or that the new world Boggs envisions has arrived. As she describes it, the city is a work in progress, but it is a work that is serving as a source of inspiration for others experiencing the consequences of a neoliberal and globalizing economy in which things and the profits they bring to the few have become significantly more important than people, buy cold balm without prescription. Nor are these activities being allowed to evolve without the interference of local political and economic power holders and brokers,
Layard, R. Buy cheapest
McKibben, B. (2007). Deep economy: The wealth of communities and the durable future. New York: Times Books.
Solnit, R, buy cold balm without prescription. (2007), order discount
Greg Smith teaches in the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. He is co-author (with David Sobel) of Place- and Community-based Education in Schools (Routledge, 2010.)
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