Boggs Center News Letter April 25th, 2017


Detroit Joins Hundred of Thousands to March for Climate Justice Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty Electablog
Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to join nearly 400,000 people in New York City for what has been called the “largest climate-change demonstration in history.” I was in NYC with water warrior, Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People of Detroit to attend the climate march and facilitate a workshop on water at the Church Center for the United Nations for International Day of Peace. We were also there to pay our respects to Ancestor Ruby Dee and attend her memorial on behalf of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, particularly her longtime friend Grace Lee Boggs. The memorial was fittingly a star-studded affair held at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan. I don’t think I had a dry eye during the entire affair. I can only hope that I can do half the things Mama Ruby did to advance the cause for human rights.
The experience talking about environmental injustices and grassroots visionary resistance with organizers from Chile, Malaysia, and Appalachia at the UN convening was transformative. Monica was there to represent Detroit, and that she did. She made such an impression, that subsequent speakers referenced her in their presentations.
It was difficult for me to hold my composure as I listened to the stories of water injustices that spanned the globe. Part of my role was to listen with Water and Sanitation Expert Leanne Burney from UN DESA and to help synthesize what we heard to the public. There was also a moment where I was able to participate in role-play as Mother Earth. The events of that day forever changed how I view and interact with the earth.
By the time Monica and I made it to the People’s Climate March the following day we were emotionally full and a bit overwhelmed. As we headed towards the end of the enormous line of hundreds of thousands of people, organizers recognized our We The People of Detroit t-shirts and we were escorted respectfully to the head of the line. We were acknowledged as front line community members facing and struggling against tremendous environmental injustices. It was rewarding to see Detroit acknowledged in such a way.
When we arrived at the front of the line we were united with our comrades from the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), an organization consistently spearheading environmental justice organizing in Detroit. It was a tough time for all of us to be in New York, as EMEAC, Detroit and people all over the world had just lost our beloved Charity Hicks to a hit and run accident there a few months earlier. Charity was what I have lovingly called, the “Rosa Parks of water.” Seeing people from various cities and countries in tears at the mention of Charity’s name during Monica’s water demonstration at the UN a day earlier made clear her global impact. Chile even mentioned to us that they would be honoring her work.
It was soul growing to participate in the People’s Climate March and to share space with hundreds of thousands of people struggling for a better society and a healthier planet. So, when I was asked to join the organizing team for the Detroit People’s Climate March, I leaped at the opportunity. Detroiters have suffered significant health challenges because of a myriad of environmental injustices. The Detroit People’s Climate March provides an opportunity to shine a brighter light on those injustices, as well as to lift up the work of residents, organizers and environmental justice activists who have been on the frontlines of the struggle. The march also provides an opportunity for those Detroiters who cannot make the trek to DC for the People’s Climate March.
The Detroit People’s Climate March programming will begin in the auditorium of the Charles H. Wright Museum 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201 at 12pm and will be followed by a march outside of the museum at 12:45pm.
Following the march, we will end with “The Future of Detroit is NOW” celebration at nearby Peck Park from 2-4pm.
There are also some exciting ways to support leading up to the march. You can join us for the 2nd Detroit People’s Climate Art Build on April 24, 2017 from 3pm at Cass Corridor Commons 4605 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI 48201. We are hoping to make two 5x3ft banners and 50 -100 signs. Donations of supplies are being accepted. Check out this video if you need a little more inspiration.
We hope to see you at the march on April 29th!

#DetroitClimateMarch #PeoplesClimateMarch #PeoplesClimate


Thinking for Ourselves Water, Detroit and Earth Day Shea Howell
This year there was a renewed energy in the celebrations of Earth Day.  Facing an administration that has shown little regard for evidence, climate protection, ecology, or funding for basic research, scientists and their friends called for a March for Science.
They said:

“This Earth Day, join the effort to defend the vital public service role science plays in our communities and our world. Science serves all of us.
It protects our air and water, preserves our planet, saves lives with medical treatments, creates new industries, puts food on our tables, educates the next generation, and safeguards our future.”
This is not the first time scientists have felt compelled to bring their skills and intellect to the discussion of public policies.  After WWII scientists helped us understand the enormity of the dangers the world faced from nuclear weapons. Their voices were critical in advancing the global movement to reduce the madness of the nuclear arms race.  Later they extended this understanding to nuclear power plants and waste.
In the 1990s it was science, especially here in Michigan,  that demonstrated the link between environmental degradation and racism. The School of Natural Resources helped give birth to the Environmental Justice Movement by documenting the clear correlations of toxic dumping and communities of color across the country.
Globally more than 600 cities joined in the celebration of Earth Day to support science.  Here in Michigan at least 15 cities participated, along with countless school, church and community events. People walked and ran for science, made art, visited zoos and parks.  In Detroit thousands gathered at Hart Plaza, many emphasizing the importance of the Great Lakes.
Last month the Trump administration proposed eliminating the $300 million annually spent on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  This effort has been critically important in improving water quality and restoring the vitality of the entire water system.
In the face of all of this activity encouraging us to think more deeply about our responsibilities to our earth and one another, Mayor Duggan announced another round of water shut offs. His appointee, Gary Brown said nearly 18,000 homes face shut offs. Emphasizing the inability of the Duggan administration to grasp the enormity of this decision, Brown emphasized that the number is less than it was a year ago. He misses the essential point that no human being should be denied water.
In response to the news of renewed shut offs, Wenonah Hauter, the director of Food and Water Watch said, “This is absolutely unacceptable.” She went on to say:
“Community groups have been working to establish a water affordability program for over a decade, as water rates have steadily climbed over the past several years—partially to compensate for much-needed infrastructure upgrades. But nearly 40 percent of Detroit households live below the poverty line, and it is not fair to expect them to make up for the dwindling federal support for their water system. “While the city has implemented a payment assistance plan, shutoffs increased from 2015 to 2016, indicating that the plan is not working. Moreover, many of the recommendations issued by the United Nations when it investigated the shutoffs in 2014 were never implemented.”

Mayor Duggan refuses to face reality. His approach to our water crisis is based on the same willful ignorance as that of Donald Trump. He has refused to look at the science behind a water affordability plan, he has refused to look at our ecological responsibility to encourage conservation, and he has refused to explore the real public health costs to a city denying many of its most vulnerable citizens access to water.
As we approach the People’s Climate March on April 29th at the Charles H Wright Museum in Detroit at 12pm, they Mayor can be sure we will continue to demand no more shut offs. Adopt an affordability plan. There is no other path to the future.




No Water, No Life

A short film about the Detroit water shutoffs in 2014, made by students at The Boggs School, with support from Detroit Future Schools.
check it out
Allied Media Conferance
watch here

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

April 22, 2017 Mt Clemens – Break Silence Community Conversations / April 29, 2017 Ferndale


An open invite to friends & family of Macomb County:

“We have a great opportunity to create beloved, caring communities… But
first, we must break our silence and have safe, serious conversations

about our history and how we reached this point.”

APRIL 22 from 2-4PM at GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH (115 S. Main Street, Mt. Clemens) ~ Sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership ~ CONTACT US AT: // (586) 596-5059

Sent from my phone.


Break Silence Ferndale April 29, 2017

Boggs Center – Living For Change NewsLetter – April 17, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

Living for Change News
April 17th, 2017



Thinking for Ourselves
Educating Values
Shea Howell

Teacher and alums from the Bank Street School in New York visited Detroit this week on a learning journey. Since 1916, Bank Street has been a force for progressive education.  Bank Street is both a school for children and a Graduate College dedicated to teaching and learning. It emphasizes experience based and collaborative learning.  It has been a strong advocate for educating the whole child—heart, head and hand. In conversations at the Boggs Center the educators talked about how much they had learned from our city, how moved they were by its imagination and resilience.

They were a reminder that educating children in today’s world requires a lot more than what happens in many schools. Much of the thinking about education is dominated by two outmoded ideas: the factory model of mass schooling and the Enlightenment idea that children are empty minds, waiting to be filled up. In urban areas these ideas find their way into increasing efforts to control our children, to make them sit down, sit still, take tests, not talk, and respond to commands. This control is enforced by a military presence with methods of physical control, surveillance and psychological intimidation.

At a time when curiosity, creativity and imaginative solutions are needed for our very survival, our young people are denied the opportunity to develop and explore these qualities in much of their official schooling. Instead they are told if they are quiet, study hard, graduate and go to college, they can find a job and move out of their community. Most young people learn quickly that this story isn’t for them. It is no wonder that nearly half our children stop participating in a system whose rewards are to leave all that has nurtured them.

Recently, the assault on public education has taken a particularly insidious turn with the emphasis of STEM, pushing science, technology, engineering and math. These are all good things to explore, but the notion that they are the only things is destructive and dangerous. In thinking about this question it is helpful to read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1954 Dr. King delivered a guest sermon at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit on the theme of Rediscovering Lost Values. He said:

“The trouble isn’t so much that our scientific genius lags behind, but our moral genius lags behind. The great problem facing modern man is that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.”

Dr. King went on to say that, “if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind.” Among those values is the principle that “all reality hinges on moral foundations.”

King explains, “It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.”

It is learning these values of our shared humanity that make democracy possible.



The Prision Factory
Al Jazeera

The US state of Alabama has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the world. Its prison system has become so dangerously overcrowded that in 2016, for the first time, the US Justice Department launched a federal civil rights investigation into the entire state’s prison conditions.


The future of race in America
Michelle Alexander



The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Riverwise Detroit Magazine first edition

Riverwise Detroit


Mission Statement


‘Riverwise’ is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photojournalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries. We are working together to create media that reflects local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods. We envision deepening relationships through media that serves as an essential part of weaving beloved communities. We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.


It is often said that we live in two Detroits– one affluent, the other neglected. We know there are many versions of Detroit and in some communities there is a striving toward self-determination and new, visionary ways of life. It is our goal through this publication to show these efforts that are rooted in community, sustainable, transformative and based upon new forms of citizenship. Detroit is a movement city. And our movements need creative media. By sharing resources and encouraging open participation of engaged citizens, especially people of color, ‘Riverwise’ shall help us to examine our own personal and political contradictions and generate lasting solutions.


‘Riverwise’ needs your stories of resilience, visionary resistance, place-based education, self-determination and sustainable, creative ways of transforming yourselves and your communities. Please contact us with article ideas and notice of programs taking place in your neighborhood. We’ll do our best to follow up. Or submit an article, personal anecdote, poem, interview, photo, illustration of your own for our next edition of ‘Riverwise’ by April 7, 2017. We will do what we can to tell your stories. We won’t be able to print them all. Some articles may also be printed in the Living For Change Newsletter put out by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. Submissions should not be more than 1,500 words long and may be edited for content and/or space. They should also include contact information and proper credits and affiliations. Send digital submissions to ‘’. Hard copies may be sent to 3061 Field St., Detroit, Michigan, The Riverwise collective also invites you to join us for a series of community conversations. We hope to regularly discuss the direction of the magazine, story ideas and the future of our emerging Detroit communities with all interested parties. The next Riverwise community conversation will take place at the Birwood House on April 20, 2017 at 6:30pm.

BC – Living for Change Newsletter – April 11, 2017

Living for Change News
April 11th, 2017
Michelle Alexander and Ruby Sales 
in conversation about Beyond Vietnam
a Sermon
by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.WATCH IT HERE

unnamed 2

DEQ Public Information and Hearing
Nestlé Permit for Increase Water Taking
Wednesday, April 12th

Public Information: 4-6 PM
Public Hearing: 7-9 PM
Location: University Center at Ferris State University
More info:

TRANSPORT TO  THE HEARING:? A FREE bus will meet riders at noon at Central Methodist on the corner of Adams and Woodard and return there after the hearing, which ends at 9:00 PM. It’s a long day, but MCWC is providing food at Ferris State for bus riders upon arrival. To reserve a spot on the bus, email Peggy Case at

Thinking for Ourselves
Resisting Closures
Shea Howell

We are rapidly approaching the moment of decision on Detroit public school closings. The announcement in January by the State School Reform Office that another 24 schools would be closed in Detroit has been met with angry, vocal resistance. Parents, students, teachers and community activists are holding meetings. They have stages rallies, protests and speak-outs. Everyone agrees that more school closings will harm our children and our communities. The Mayor is on record as opposing closings and the newly elected school board has found the courage to file a lawsuit, claiming the closures violate state law.

In response, Governor Snyder commanded State Superintendent Brian Whiston to develop agreements that he hopes will defuse resistance. These agreements are a shameless scam. They will subject schools to stringent requirements and provide a pretext for continued state intervention, including the possibility of more closures and district takeovers. Unable to make the distinction between coercion and a partnership, the spokesman for the state education department, William Disessa said that if the schools “don’t develop a partnership agreement with the Michigan Department of Education by April 30, then they will be subject to the next level of accountability.”

These forced partnerships are not in the interest of our children or our communities. They are another pretext for relentless privatizing actions. The same forces that have been destroying our schools for nearly two decades designed these “agreements.”

Meanwhile the search for a superintendent has sparked additional controversy, especially given the State imposed restrictions on the process, including a short time line and unrealistic requirements for the job. Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press wrote last week that the selection process was “ill advised,” and now “we have a bit of a mess on our hands.”

In this atmosphere parents are organizing to take a stand against the testing used to justify closing schools. These test scores have become a potent weapon in the drive to privatization. They reflect the effects of chaos created by State imposed instability and economic disparity, not the development of our children or the full context of the school. Some parents are refusing to participate. About 450 parents have already turned in letters opting their children out of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Performance. This effort is likely to accelerate as we move through a testing period that lasts to the end of May.

Parents, students, teachers and community activists are coming together to challenge what is happening to our children and to our communities. Schools are essential to the life of our neighborhoods and the development of our children. We are not only demanding that all schools remain open, but that education be provided in ways that reflect the deepest needs and aspirations of our children to become socially responsible, creative and fully engaged adults.

In the course of struggling to keep these schools open and to ensure critical, creative education, young people are learning how to become active citizens. They are learning that justice requires collective, organized actions to become real. The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools Initiative is part of this effort. They are hosting a youth forum at Bob’s Classic Kicks on Friday evening, April 29 at 6 pm.  Join us to hear what our young people are saying about the kind of education we need.


Reflection on Love and Struggle
Robin D.G. Kelley in conversation with Fred Moten
Transcription and commentary by Mike Doan

How do we build a new future? How central to this work are love and power?

“Love is the answer.” “All you need is love.” “Love trumps hate.” Hopelessly naïve?

Love (noun): A sentimental feeling. An intimate, personal, private state of mind. The dullest of the weapons of the weak.

Or, can love become “a material force for change,” as Jimmy used to say?

“Power is the enemy.” “Change the world without taking power.” “Power corrupts, absolutely.” Hopelessly naïve?

Power (noun): A repressive, abusive force. The essence of domination and oppression. What they’ve got over us, or we’ve got over them—and we’d rather do without.

Or, is there also power with, the power we build and share together, as Grace used to say?

What, after all, is power? And what’s love got to do with it?

Transcribed below is part of a conversation featuring Robin D.G. Kelley and Fred Moten. The discussion took place in Toronto on April 3rd, 2017—one day before the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” delivered at New York’s Riverside Church in 1967; also a day before the 49th anniversary of King’s assassination.

Earlier that week, Kelley joined Stephen Ward in Detroit to reflect on the lives and activism of James and Grace Lee Boggs, and on the complicated legacies of Martin and Malcolm. The discussion excerpted below, from April 3rd, takes up many of the same themes and questions…

Robin D.G. Kelley (1:31:07-1:35:44): “To live together, and renewing the habits of assembly, are really critical…. We assume that somehow mass movements are sources of power, and I think we misunderstand power. And I was trying to talk about this Saturday night, you know, and there was a quote from Dr. King that I was paraphrasing but that I wanted to pull up here, that I think is really important, where he talks about why we shouldn’t be afraid of power.

And he says, you know: ‘You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power; and power, with a denial of love…. Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive; and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. (Yes.) Power at its best, power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.’

Right? So, think about the importance of love as a center for renewing our habits of assembly…. And recognizing that taking power, building power, is not something that we should resist, but we should claim.

We often are on the other side of power: we see power as something we resist, rather than something we take. And I wanna say that because, the other person who is, sort of, a huge influence on many of us is Grace Lee Boggs. And one of the things that she and Jimmy Boggs were working on, was they argued that dialectical materialism, as we knew it, was an epoch that was over. And to replace dialectical materialism they argued for dialectical humanism: that the fundamental struggle is not the class struggle between proletariat and capitalist—especially in an age when automation and other forms were, sort of, transforming the proletariat—but rather, our struggle to become more human, whatever that—and you know, we could debate about that—but the struggle to become more human.

And to become more human, is to basically recognize, you know, what it means, to live with… to live for, about, with… love. To build community, where there’s no outside.

You know, what does that mean? What does that require of us?

And you cannot build, or embrace, a new humanity for the future without actually acknowledging what Fred [Moten] began with, and that is: our planet is in peril, you know?

That to love the planet, and to love each other, and to love life, is not a sentimental love, but agape—that is, love where there is no outside, where you are constantly building community. And it’s filled with tension to do that, it’s a struggle to do that.

But that, to me, is the only way we could build the kind of futurity that you’re talking about. We can’t have a future that’s based on a false utopia—that is, you know, a land of milk and honey. That our future is actually here. We’re already in the future.

The question is, how do we hold on to that vision, that through power and love we could produce a world in which we’re not shaming each other, we’re not beating each other down, we’re not afraid of each other; where we’re not invested in economies that are based on both scale and profit; where we’re not trying to make, sort of, new entrepreneurs as the future, you know, as the only future available—that we’re not reduced to human capital, but human beings, whatever that means?

And that, to me, is really the essence of how to build a new future.”


10 Rousing Struggles for Public Water

Transnational Institute

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214