Boggs Center Living For Change News Letter – September 17th, 2018

September 17th, 2018

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COMMUNITY MEETING
CONCERNING THE CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

SACRED HEART ACTIVITIES BUILDING
3451 Rivard Street (off I-75 and Mack)

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2018 6:30—8:30 P.M.

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell


Memory Work

It has been 17 years since the attacks on September 11. That was a lifetime ago for the young people entering the military, going to university, or heading to what they hope will be the beginnings of life after high school. Many are preparing to vote. All of them have spent their lives in a country at war. They have known Shock and Awe and a series of promises to end the death and killing. Each promise proved a lie.

I was thinking about these young people as I read the news that Muqtada al-Sadr is days away from forming a new government in Iraq. I have followed al-Sadr for more than 20 years. In the 1980s he fought against Saddam Hussein. With the 2003 invasion he led fierce military opposition to the U.S. In 2008 the US puppet government launched Operation Charge of the Knights against him, causing him to flee to Iran. There he shifted his strategy away from military operations and began providing social services. He returned to Iraq in 2011, joining with those fighting the Islamic State. Now he is on the verge of elected power.

Throughout all of this time, Al-Sadr has had three central concerns: The end of the occupation of Iraq, the end of corruption, and the establishment of a government dedicated to the well- being of all its people.

Little covered in the US press, these demands have become critical as Iraq faces a civilian emergency.  Recently there have been massive demonstrations against the existing, US backed government, its corruption, and lack of services.  This summer over 30,000 people were hospitalized for drinking polluted water. For years, people have complained of the lack of basic infrastructure. Meanwhile billions have been spent on “reconstructing Iraq.”

So now Al-Sadr appears after all these years to hold out a promise of a new day, continuing his demands that US leave Iraq alone, that the current government apologize to the people, and step down. He is calling for “radical and immediate solutions.”

Such stories encourage people to ask, what has all of this death and destruction been for? What have we learned about the limits of US military? These questions go to the heart of who we are, who we became through the course of the lives of these young people.

Henry Giroux,  writing on the 10th anniversary of 9-11, as these young people entered 5th grade offered a critical analysis: “The forces that had been undermining democracy since the 1980’s appeared to receive new life under the Bush administration. These included:  the growing power of corporations in American politics; an intensified attack on unions; the ascendency of the military-security state; a persistent and growing racism, especially targeting immigrants and Muslims; the suppression of civil rights, especially under the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Act; the rise of the punishing state, with its mass incarceration of people of color; the rise of a culture of surveillance and fear; the attack on the social state; the increasing privatization of public life; growing support for a cutthroat form of economic Darwinism and its celebration of cruelty; and the reformulation, under the Bush-Cheney regime, of politics as an extension of war, both abroad and on the domestic front. Lawless behavior has become standard practice.”

He went on to describe the coarseness that has taken over public life, saying, “America has taken a dire turn to the dark side and embraced a ruthless kind of moral Darwinism in which a survival-of-the-fittest logic and a cult-of-the-winner mentality legitimate a war of all against all and pernicious cynicism as the prevailing attitude toward everyday life.  We now live in a society driven by a hyped-up market fundamentalism that thrives on a culture of hardness to the point of cruelty.”

These words were written during the Presidency of Barack Obama, not Donald Trump. But they capture the world we have created. And they cry out to us to recognize the emergency we face. They ask us to look to the life of Al-Sadr, who recognizes there are no quick solutions, no easy paths to creating a world that cares for people.

Giroux concluded with his own call: “If we believe in the promise of democracy, the American public needs to engage in a form of memory work in which loss both evokes the principle of communal responsibility and reinforces the ethical imperative to provide young people, especially those marginalized by race and class, with the economic, social and educational conditions that make life livable and the future sustainable.”

Meditations on activism following the turbulent 1960s—back in print!

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 Following the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, four veteran activists, Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs, and Lyman and Freddy Paine, came together to rethink revolution and social change. Posting tough, thought-provoking questions, the recorded dialogue among these four friends ultimately serves as a call to all citizens to work together and think deeply about the kind of future we can create.

Meditations on activism following the turbulent 1960s—back in print!

Following the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, four veteran activists, Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs, and Lyman and Freddy Paine, came together to rethink revolution and social change. Posting tough, thought-provoking questions, the recorded dialogue among these four friends ultimately serves as a call to all citizens to work together and think deeply about the kind of future we can create.

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Come see Ali Dirul, Founder and CEO of Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI) give a ground breaking TEDx talk on sustainability and his grassroots approach to community based alternative energy solutions.

What We’re Reading

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – September 11th, 2018

September 11th, 2018

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What does it mean to be intelligent? How can we open doors to inclusive education and employment?

 

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

 

Come to a screening of INTELLIGENT LIVES with filmmaker Dan Habib this September.

 

NEW YORK CITY National Theatrical Premiere!

September 21-27, one week only: Village East Cinema, with an opening night Q&A featuring Director/Producer Dan Habib

Plus special free events on September 20 at LIU Post andWestchester Institute for Human Development

 

Free LOS ANGELES Special Events

September 12California State University Northridge

September 13University of La Verne

September 14Los Angeles Theatre Center – with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, Exceptional Minds, and Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

 

Free WASHINGTON, D.C. Premiere

September 26National Press Club with the Syracuse University Alumni Association in Washington, DC and The Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education

 

 

Get your tickets today before these events sell out!

 

 

Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell

Mourning Times


Daily life moves quickly. But some moments deserve reflection. This past week we had such a moment, with the funerals of Aretha Franklin and John McCain.
Detroit engaged in a week-long celebration. Neither the 6-hour concert, nor the 8-hour funeral could fully encompass the generous, soaring gift of the life of Aretha Franklin.
Former City council person JoAnn Watson said of her friend, “Listening to her music brings chills because there’s no voice like Aretha’s voice. She was a woman filled with a stirring soul that touched your heart, evoked passion, and a special insight. There’s just not another voice in the universe comparable to Aretha Franklin. She truly was our queen. She was a wonderful woman. A wonderful woman, more than a singer, more than an entertainer or an actress. She was a woman who felt deeply about causes. She was as committed to human rights and civil rights.”
She loved Detroit. And Detroit loved her back.
Throughout the funeral, much of America learned about the life of a woman who represented what is best in us: generosity, commitment, family ties, faith in people, and purpose. Hour after hour we heard about the qualities of life that matter, qualities missing in our public lives.
Franklin’s funeral was followed the next day by that of John McCain. The Senator orchestrated his own funeral to send a political message. Unable to defeat Trump in life, he made one last effort.
Former President Barack Obama captured the essence of the challenge. “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult, in phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a politics that pretends to be brave, but in fact is born of fear. John called us to be bigger than that. He called us to be better than that.”
Funerals have long been focal points for political action. Whatever their contradictions, tyrants fear them. When public spaces become brittle and restricted, the democratic impulse finds new forms of expression. Historically funerals have been transformed from private grieving to calls for public action.
Consider the funeral of Emmett Till. In 1955, 14 year old Till was murdered in Mississippi and his body dumped into the Tallahatchie River.
Against the instructions of officials, Mamie Till Mobley, Emmett’s mother, insisted on an open casket, vividly displaying her son’s mangled body, only recognizable by the initials on a ring.  She said, “Let the world see what I’ve seen.”
She wanted to “put that body on display for five days and people could walk by and see what racism had really generated.” Jet magazine and the Chicago Defender published the photo of Till’s body. Thousands of people walked by the open casket in Chicago. Most historians agree that this moment helped push America forward into the civil rights movement.
In the mid 1980’s as people in South Africa struggled for liberation, funerals of protestors became places for demonstrating against the Apartheid government.  Decreeing a state of emergency, the white government banned outdoor services and said that the presiding minister “shall not at such a ceremony in any manner defend, attack, criticize, propagate or discuss any form of government, any principle or policy of a government of a state, any boycott action, the existence of a state of emergency or any action by a force or a member of force.”
Funeral routes were set by police and “public address systems and the display of flags or banners are outlawed.”
People defied the ban, ultimately toppling Apartheid.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s it was at the funerals of gay men that the queer community was forced to articulate the meaning of our lives and relationships, again, again, and again, often in the face of hostility.
Such moments require us to define values that matter, values we aspire to for ourselves and our communities. Far more than legal actions or anonymous letters, these moments, where we grapplewith the meaning of our lives, call upon us to reflect on who we are, who we want to become. They have the power to change us.

Tawana Honeycomb Petty Petty Propolis
Petty Propolis hosted its 1st Annual Art Festival and Artist Retreat in Historic Idlewild, Michigan this past Labor Day weekend. As an artist and social justice organizer, I understand that I stand on shoulders and that a lot of those shoulders believed in, organized in, loved on, and performed in Idlewild. Those shoulders include W.E.B. Dubois, Madam C.J. Walker, Della Reese, The Four Tops, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, our recent Ancestor Aretha Franklin, and many more. It was only fitting that we would watch portions of the Queen of Soul’s home-going ceremony at the start of the festival and retreat in Idlewild, at the Red Rooster, while playing her music on the jukebox.

It was an honor to be afforded an opportunity to bring 40 Detroit artists to experience what I experience whenever I have the opportunity to spend time in Idlewild. It is a soul growing and transformative experience each time.

During the retreat portion of the Petty Propolis Art Festival & Artist Retreat, the artists skill-shared through workshops, spent time mending fractured relationships, created new ones and meditated in the healing waters. During the festival portion, they performed for two days for the Idlewild community at the Robert Riffe Youth Center, also known as The Idlewild Lot Owner’s Association.

In addition to all the incredible talent that graced the stage in Idlewild, Dr. Gloria House (Mama Aneb Kgositsile) led two mornings of history workshops based on her book on Idlewild, Home Sweet Sanctuary. Baba Jamon Jordan of Black Scroll Network History and Tours, and Micala Evans of Historical Idlewild Tours led the artists on mesmerizing, physical journeys through Idlewild history.

Tylonn Sawyer and Sabrina Nelson live painted an incredible artistic tribute for the Idlewild community, based on a historic “Come to Idlewild” Brochure, ca. 1955 (Ronald Stephens Collection), that used to promo the Black resort.

It has been a dream of mine for many years to attend an artist retreat. It has been an even bigger dream to create one for others. I could not have imagined years ago that either would happen in Idlewild. This year with the support of the Radical Hope Fund and the New Economy Coalition’s regranting program, I was able to make both come true. New collaborations were fostered. New projects were innovated. Mental, physical and spiritual healing was realized, and we poured resources into Black owned businesses that valued our support, like the Historic Morton’s Motel. This was especially timely, as the Idlewild community and the surrounding areas had suffered a powerful storm and massive power outages, just days before our arrival. We were honored to offer our talents as a bit of relief at such an important time, in such an important place.

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Look for more to come from Petty Propolis — a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects.

 

Watch American Gods

A message from our friends @ ROC

Dear Friends,
Seventeen years ago, I made a simple decision that saved my life. I was a cook at the Windows on the World restaurant, and my colleague Moises Rivas asked me to switch shifts with him. I agreed, and Moises took the morning shift. Along with 72 of our friends working in the restaurant that day, Moises perished when a plane struck the 92nd floor of the North Tower.On the day of the attack, I was with my wife who was 8 months pregnant. I received a call from the wife of one of my coworkers who was seeking my help to reach out to her husband in the building. Following the tragedy, I would visit the hospital every day, searching for him. I decided that I no longer wanted to work in a restaurant. I took jobs as a security guard and then as a cab driver.
Along with others who struggled with grief and financial hardship, I volunteered at a relief center that was formed by HERE Local 100 in order to support displaced restaurant workers. From this effort — and from the ashes of the magnificent Windows on the World restaurant that had been destroyed and all the lives that had been lost — Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC NY) was eventually born.
Co-founded by Fekkak Mamdouh, a former waiter at Windows on the World, and Saru Jayaraman, President of ROC United, ROC NY was formed to champion the rights of New York restaurant workers. In 2008, the team expanded into chapters in cities across the country and launched Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, which has grown into a national organization with members who work in restaurants nationwide. I joined ROC in 2003 and now am proud to serve as its Executive Director.
As you know, ROC United’s mission today is closely aligned with its origins — promoting equality, financial stability, and safe workplaces for hard-working restaurant professionals nationwide. Women of color and immigrants are particularly vulnerable members of the population of 13 millions workers in the industry. Nearly 40 percent of female restaurant workers are women of color, while 23 percent of all restaurant workers are immigrants.
Since 2013, the organization has been leading the One Fair Wage campaign—a project that educates about and advocates for raising the exploitative subminimum tipped wage to the full minimum wage across 42 states, some of which still pay tipped workers an unimaginable $2.13 per hour. Just last week, Michigan became the eighth state in the Union to phase out its exploitative subminimum tipped wage, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, and Minnesota and two municipalities, Washington, DC, and Flagstaff, AZ.
On this anniversary of 9/11 and of our founding, my colleagues and I invite all consumers, workers, and employers to pledge support for women, immigrants, and people of color working in some of the lowest paid occupations and to demand wage increases and fair labor practices across the restaurant industry. We are profoundly grateful to all of you.

In solidarity,                                              Sekou Siby

Executive Director, ROC United

P.S. Pledge your support by clicking here.

 

Boggs Center Living For Change NewsLetter – September 3rd, 2018

 

September 3rd, 2018

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Thinking for Ourselves     Shea Howell Abundance of Caution

Early Wednesday I drove to my usual downtown meeting, about 20 minutes from my home. Most of the drive is on freeways. On the few miles of surface streets, I passed four Water Department crews working on broken lines. Two included fire hydrants spewing water into intersections.
On Saturday, heavy rains fell. Two of the four blocks up my street were flooded. Sewers could not absorb the water.  The drain just next to my house is clogged. It took us more than 5 years to get the city to fix it. Since the fix, it worked for about 6 months and is once again flooding.  Neighbors have organized calling into the city, but so far, no action. This drain, along with all the others that are flooding were “repaired” under Duggan’s repaving the street effort.
Detroit Public Schools just announced that drinking water will be shut off in all of its buildings because of concern for elevated lead and copper. The decision came after testing ordered by Superintendent Nikolai Vitti revealed that 16 of 24 schools had excessive levels of the toxins in drinking water.
Researchers at the University of Michigan recently published a study concluding that “Low-income households across metro Detroit can’t afford their water bills.” Although the United Nations recommends that water bills should be between 3 and 4% of monthly income, many people across the metro area are paying 10%. In Detroit it can be closer to 20%.
The researchers also found that “84 percent of residents surveyed said they cut back on monthly expenses to pay their water bills, while 51 percent of households reported switching off between water and energy bills.”
Earlier studies raised the very real concerns that continued water shutoffs affect household sanitation and increase the risk of infectious diseases. Using data from Ford Hospital and the city health Department, former public health director George Gaines found both increased risk of infectious diseases in areas with high numbers of water shutoffs and a dramatic spike in these diseases, correlating with shutoffs. He found “GI outbreaks annually averaged 10.2 from 2012 thru 2015 years. However, 2016 had 45 & 2017 had 87 outbreaks of group clusters.”
Anyone who walks the streets of Detroit’s neighborhoods knows we are facing a monumental water crisis. The Duggan administration has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the wisdom of community voices who press for a real water affordability plan based on two simple principles: water is human right and a public trust. This refusal is rooted in white supremacy, casting Detroiters as unwilling to pay for water. Thus the demand during the bankruptcy process to collect “unpaid bills.”
Today, as the infrastructure crumbles, as repairs appear shoddy at best, and as both water and sewerage rates score, the only winner is Homrich. By the end of this year, they will have gained about $20 million dollars for shutting off people’s water.
The Mayor and City Council know full well that this is an unsustainable outrage. A water affordability plan based on percentage of income rather than usage would provide a consistent income flow to allow for a rational, sustainable policy that protects our people and our water.
In shutting off the drinking water in the schools, Dr. Vitti said. “Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools.” Where is the caution and concern from our Mayor and Council?

 

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I Had Never Eaten in Ghana Before.  But My Ancestors Had.
Michael-Twitty-11

 

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to Take Place at Eastern Market for Newly Installed Windmill
A public ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Thursday, September 6, 2018 to celebrate the installation of an energy-generating windmill outside of Eastern Market’s Shed 5. On Friday, August 24, 2018, Detroit-based metalsmithing workshop CAN Art Handworks worked with Eastern Market Corporation and a diverse team of experts and volunteers to install the windmill. Soon it will power a charging station where visitors to the market can charge their cell phones and other electronic devices.
At the ceremony, which will start at 10:30 am, Carlos Nielbock, CAN Art Handworks President & CEO, Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market Corporation, professors from University of Michigan Dearborn and community supporters of the Detroit Windmill Project will gather to celebrate the successful installation of the first of two windmills to be installed at Eastern Market.
The second windmill will generate energy for a weather station for the Detroit Market Garden at Wilkins and Orleans. Both windmills were made from reclaimed or ‘upcycled’ materials and serve as functional public art that will help visitors to the Eastern Market visualize the potential to use existing materials to build green technology to power solutions for Detroit’s energy needs.
Installing the windmills is the first step towards a larger vision implementing upcycling and green energy projects in Detroit. CAN Art Handworks, Eastern Market Corporation and researchers from University of Michigan-Dearborn are partnering to assess the feasibility of scaling up the project.
The Detroit Windmill Project has been made through the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, which funds ideas that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts, and a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places initiative.
For more information about the ribbon-cutting ceremony or Detroit Windmill Project, contact Paul Draus at draus@umich.edu or Janai Gilmore at 313-444-9317 or janai.canarthandworks@gmail.com.

 

 

Boggs Center – Living for Change News Letter – August 28th, 2018

August 28th, 2018

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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Democracy is not Static

Trump’s defense is crumbling. Criminal charges of corruption are moving closer and closer to the White House. The President is now referred to as a Mafia Boss, described as waging war on the rule of law. As guilty verdicts and plea bargains proliferate, more and more people are focusing attention on Republicans in Congress, asking how it is possible for them to remain silent in the face of mounting evidence of corruption, immorality, and greed.  Most Republicans cannot find their way to denouncing Trump’s behaviors.

Paul Krugman, wrote in the New York Times that the real news of the week is “the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.” Krugman warns that this “spineless” and “sinister” behavior is likely to get worse if Republicans retain their hold on congress in the coming election.  He concluded, “I don’t think most political commentators have grasped how deep the rot goes. I don’t think they understand, or at any rate admit to themselves, that democracy really could die just a few months from now.”

Democracy is in trouble and Trump and his supporters have weakened the institutions we have long associated with its practice. But there is a deeper consideration here. Democracy is not static. It is not a single, solid entity. It is more than voting every few years. At its best, it is an aspiration, imperfectly grasped, made real by the political forces of any given moment. In reality, the US has never had a full democratic practice. Rather, the history of the last two hundred and fifty years has been the history of people struggling to expand the narrow confines of a controlled, representative process, that has only rarely represented the interests of the people over those of corporate power.

At the heart of the democratic impulse is the desire to not only shape the decisions that affect our personal lives, but to take responsibility for the direction of our country. This impulse was nurtured in this land, long before the American Revolution. Many Indigenous people practiced a radical, participatory democracy, where decisions were made in council circles as people talked, listened, and thought together. Elders, especially women, were looked to for wisdom and guidance. Under the influence of these practices, settler colonists established town meetings and public conversations to determine policies and actions. Long before the first American Revolution, direct democratic process evolved. Many of these ideas were codified in the Declaration of Independence and put into practice in the Articles of Confederation. But both these documents also enshrined the idea that only some people, mostly white, male, and wealthy, could be trusted with decision making power. Many historians argue that the Constitution and all its compromises were more about limiting democracy than encouraging freedom. From the very beginning, Native peoples, African Americans, women and immigrants have had to fight to become included in the most elemental practices of democracy.

Today it is clear that this compromised idea of Democracy is as corrupt as Trump. We now face the responsibilities of finding new ways to influence the course of our lives together. Democracy is something we have yet to create in this land. But make no mistake, it is emerging everywhere. Trump just underscores the urgency of our collective need to establish new principles and practices that will allow us to form more perfect ways of living.


Jazz Lovers Paradise Tour9/1/18

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An exciting, fascinating fact-filled tribute to faces and places of Detroit’s Jazz Legacy. Visiting clubs where Chick Corea and John Coltrane played. See the high school where Alice Coltrane, Ron Carter, and Donald Byrd learned their craft. Miles stayed in the “heavy city” perfecting his cool.


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Kim Sherobbi is a native “Detroiter” who lives in the same house she grew up in. She is on the Board of Directors of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center, a SWF partner organization in Detroit that aims to help grassroots activists develop into visionary leaders. Her relationship with Sweet Water Foundation began in 2011 and has been growing ever since.

Sweet Water Foundation’s relationship with Kim is one of many that demonstrate the intersection and similarities between people and communities across the nation. We are excited to highlight Kim’s work as we collectively work towards tackling this country’s most pressing systemic problems. Read on to learn more about Kim.


12th Annual D-Town Farm Harvest Festival

9/15

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – August 7th, 2018 –

August 7th, 2018

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Thinking for Ourselves    
Shea Howell
Shaping Our City

Detroit has always been shaped by the impulses of white men.  It was established in 1701 in the midst of war by white men pursuing land and access to the wealth of the natural world. Over the centuries, war and violence, pursuit of personal wealth, and destruction of the commons have been part of our legacy.  But so, too, are the moments of resistance to these efforts. Chief Pontiac forged one of the largest armies contesting imperial expansion on the globe. Henry Ford’s mechanized industrial production, made possible by publicly financed streets, water and sewers, was contained by the humanizing thrust of the labor movement, emphasizing the dignity of people who work. Many of our streets bear the names of those who wantonly killed, enslaved, stole and sold other human beings. Yet we also honor the Abolitionist, the outlaws, and the troublemakers and peace seekers.

Today, as we pass the five years since the beginning of the bankruptcy declaration, we see a resurgence of personal greed overwhelming the public good. Powerful interests are attempting to force their vision for the future on all of us.

The figure to emerge most clearly in this post-bankruptcy era is that of Dan Gilbert. Hotels, casinos, restaurants, former police stations, and failed jails are only part of an estimated $2.15 billion in investments in the downtown area. These investments are supported in large part by public funds. The public funds are justified with the argument that only public financing and creative tax incentives make it worth the risk for people to invest in the city. Such public financing, we are told, will trickle down, providing jobs to Detroiters, whose tax dollars are leveraged in these deals.

Like many of the most brutal ideas of this present moment, this notion was fostered in Michigan, in the battle for Poletown. There, in 1980, for the first time, corporations and government elites joined forces to argue that the public need for jobs justified the government’s ability to take a community and give it to a private corporation for the development of a for profit business. In this case it was the community of Poletown where 3,500 people were forcefully removed. Their homes, businesses, churches and schools were leveled for a Cadillac plant.  

Of course, the promised jobs never materialized. Nor the revitalized economy. But General Motors got its plant, and the profits that flowed from it. Years later, after pain, disruption and death, the Michigan Supreme Court said, opps. In 2004 the Court reversed its support of the “quick take” legislation, finding it unconstitutional.

But the intellectual foundation had been established and it became normal for City Councils, County Commissioners, and State Legislatures to provide tax incentives and a range of tools for to shift public money into private hands.

Such mechanisms contributed in no small part to the Detroit bankruptcy and to the chaos in our public schools.

Meanwhile forces of resistance continue to press for alternatives, to find ways of building a sustainable, just, and inclusive city.

Around the country cities are experimenting with progressive polices that promise affordable housing; access to clean, affordable water; corporate accountability;  sustainable development; and protection for vulnerable people.

Detroit, once a leader in visionary municipal development, has fallen under the control of a small group of men who think narrowly about advancing their own wealth. This path only leads to violence and destruction.  

Yet throughout the city people are advocating for a different vision. People press for a real water affordability program, such as the one designed here, but adopted by Philadelphia. They are working to evolve affordable housing plans and rent controls, drawing on ideas from Richmond to NY. Community land trusts and benefit agreements are evolving with sophisticated reporting mechanisms, as in Houston.  Visionary ideas are everywhere in our city, just not in the halls of this administration or Gilbert’s board rooms.



Black Power on the West Side
Sunday, August, 26th
2-6 pm


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Please join
Black Scroll Network History & Tours and historian Jamon Jordan on a tour of important sites connected to the Black militant liberation movement. We will visit and teach/learn about sites connected with: The Republic of New Afrika, the Black Panther Party, the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, the Algiers Motel, the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X and SO MUCH MORE!

Bus Tour is $25

SIGN UP HERE



Most years, this last week in July is the only time that the media turns its attention to people with disabilities. But this year has been different.

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Summer Gatherings 
Rich Feldman

As Donald Trump and the counter-revolution take advantage of the systemic breakdown of Western Civilization, we are witnessing a massive re-alignment of those in power. I had the opportunity to be with people this summer in Toronto and Cape Cod who are asking fundamental questions about what this means as we work to nurture leadership, create community, and develop spiritual warriors for our movements to envision and create local, sustainable communities.  

These two gatherings represent some of the essential rethinking that many people are now doing about this moment in human history

While some will say we are at the end of another civilization, others will say we are at the end of an epoch. Those who have been reading Living for Change and the work of James and Grace Lee Boggs recognize that we are at a crossroads. We are not going back to the way things were, but there is no guarantee the “next system will be better.”  That is why what we do individually and collectively matters so much.

At both gatherings I had the opportunity to be with people from the around the globe who recognize that this is a dangerous time, but also an opportunity to engage in local transformative work, and leadership development. We talked of preserving the values and principles of interdependence, compassion, and generosity of spirit so that we can create communities that care for our elders, our children, our earth.

Meg Wheatley led one of the gatherings. It was a week long study session based upon her recent book “Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity.”  Each day focused on probing one of the following issues:

What time is it on the clock of the world?
The pattern of collapse: Lessons for leaders
The dynamics of living systems: Lessons for leaders
Leading an Island of Sanity
Who do we choose to be?


Joanna Macy also attended the gathering, bringing her spirit, intellect ,and decades of commitment to creating new ways of living and being.  She understands that at the “end of Empire we must find ways to lift up hope. You can learn more about her here.

What is hope? Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.  

Earlier in the month I attended the Toronto Summer Institute on Inclusion.

At this gathering we showed the film: Intelligent lives which profiles our son Micah, and also Naieer and Naomi on their journey. The film captures how they successfully challenge labels, IQ testing ,and preconceived notions of people with intellectual disabilities (mental retardation).

In the course of these conversations I thought about the often used phrase:  “It takes a village to raise our children.” It is becoming clearer to me that we also should consider, it takes our children to create a village.

We also showed An American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Folks were excited to learn about Detroit and eagerly received Riverwise magazineThe daily conversations revolved around how we consciously create community.

Deamon Harges of Indianapolis, Indiana, calls himself a Roving Listener.  He is creating power through deep listening.
By listening, he discovers the gifts, passions, and dreams of citizens in his neighborhood, using them to build community, economy, and mutual delight.”

Daemon was joined by Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, GeorgiaCaitlin Petrakis Childs is a thirty-something, white, queer, intersex, femme, vegan, community organizer. Caitlin is a visionary spirit and organizer of the future while totally rooted in the present.  She has worked successfully to create inclusive urban farming and food security models across Georgia with folks who have intellectual disabilities. Her organizing fosters community, dignity, and engagement.

As I reflect on these two gatherings I know that over the next few months much of the country will focus on elections. Trump is already organizing his post election Veteran’s Day parade to celebrate War and Militarism. We know the depth of the counter revolutionary, white supremist forces backing Trump will not disappear in an election. Thus it becomes critical that we deepen our own efforts, expanding our thinking, our organizing and our connections.  

Since the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, James and Grace Lee Boggs emphasized the need to think dialectically, to commit ourselves to place, and re-imagine the concepts and practice of revolution as well as our vision of a new city. Grace and James also emphasized the need to study place and history.

As I participated in these gatherings, I am so grateful for their gift to me to know our history, locally, nationally and globally. Having this longer view helps me understand that our work in Detroit creates the possibilities that a more inclusive, sustainable and loving  epoch can emerge.

We are at the end of an epoch that began more than 600 years ago.  That epoch began with pushing people form the land into cities, burning women as  witches, the rise of capitalism, the slave trade, racism, individualism, white supremacy, patriarchy,  scientific rationalism, and reductionism. Now we are witnessing the decline of the Nation State and the limits of a so called democracy that represents corporate powers. The illusions and delusions that there are scientific and economic solutions to our current fears, pain, and hungers have been laid bare.  

Where do we go from here?  What time is it on the clock of the world?  How do we face these new realities with hope and vision? Can we, as theologian, friend and historian Vincent Harding hoped, become “a citizen of a country that does not yet exist?”

“I am a citizen of a country that does not yet exist.”