Global Visit to Detroit-
By Rich Feldman & Tawana Petty
On Saturday evening, September 21, eighteen participants from the Future Generations Class of 2013 arrived in Detroit for a learning journey sponsored by the Boggs Center. . They arrived in two vans from West Virginia and were part of a global masters-graduate program dedicated to community and peace building. They came from Afghanistan, Tanzania, Haiti, Nepal, Guyana, Bolivia, Uganda, Namibia,USA, Nigeria, This two year Masters Program combines on-line study with 4 month long residency studies in Haiti, India , Kenya and the US.
The Boggs Center provided an opportunity for our guests to engage in conversations with Detroit philosopher activists, urban gardeners, community builders, organizers and artists from across the city. On Sunday they tour Detroit based upon the theme : From growing our Economy to growing Our Souls. On Monday they had a tour of Incite Focus where Blair Evans shared the evolution of the Fab lab and the emerging programs to create intentional communities, emphasizing his programs committed to create a new work-new economy and community production.
From discussions on Restorative Justice, Creating Peace Zones with Ron Scott and Diane Reeder to visiting the Conscious Corner for some spoken word and dinner : to critical discussion on the practice of creating community and food security with Myrtle and Wayne Curtis of Feedom Freedom Growers, to a workshop with the Allied Media Project, to a visit of the recently opened Boggs School on Mitchell street, to a visit to CanARt and the Windmills on the east side. Barbara Jones from WSU Peace and Justice Center shared her slide show from September 21- Internaitonal Peace Day. The group had a chance to meet Yusef Shakur and discuss the concept of Putting the neighbor Back in the Hood and to view Grace Boggs’s new film- An American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Before having Thursday night’s dinner at They Say , they toured southwest Detroit and Dearborn. So they saw both that Detroit is a blak city emerging form the great migration of African Americans from the south (82% black city) and a city of growing Latino and Arab American communities. We visited the Alley Project in Southwest Detroit and participated in a program with WOW- Warrior on Wheels and Matrix Theatre introducing our global friends to the concept that a communty that excludes even one of its members is no Communiy.
They were all able to live in community at The Hush House Black World Community Museum and Leadership Training Inst. for Human Rights located 6179 Wabash . Detroit, MI 48208. Mama Sandra Simmons and Papa Charles Simmons and the staff of Hush House provided warm and supportive living arrangements for the entire group..
We walked Belle Isle on a sunny day and had the privilege to participate in two presentations by brothers form Kenya and Haiti. From these presentations and the amazing conversations, it was clear that all across the globe people the “outsiders” of the world are facing similar questions.
If the industrial age is over, how do we create a new economy, a new mode of production?
If unemployment is 30-50% among people in cities and towns across the globe, how do we create new work and community?
When the politics of our governments and the institutions are systematically failing and the nation state is more and more powerless to global capitalism, how do we create local sustainable economies?
It was clear that community self-reliance, the respect for the land, and the writing of Wagari Mathei were part of moving beyond the post- colonial, and independence movements of the 20th century,
The brother from Kenya- who presented on the history and present movements emerging and challenges clearly emphasized that we need to move beyond capitalism and socialism
We are all in solidarity to create the beloved community where we live and a commitment to create a new epoch human history. It was clear everyone is creating ideas nad practice to work locally-Detroit was an important place for them to join with Americans who are experiencing both the pain of this change and the hope for the future thru the projects and work that they visited and the people they met-
As Grace says in the opening of her film:
“I feel sorry for anyone who does not live in Detroit” We see giants fall and live at a time when we have the awesome responsibility to can create the future and shake the world with a new dream.