The House passed a resolution today against anti-Asian racism. Rashida Tlaib’s

FYI: The House passed a resolution today against anti-Asian racism. Rashida Tlaib’s comments paying tribute to Vincent Chin and Stephanie Gray Chang invoked Grace’s spirit: “In this moment, I think of one of our nation’s greatest heroes, Detroiter Grace Lee Boggs. While she would be proud of our vote here today, she would remind us that we are not done. We must commit as she did for over a hundred years to the revolutionary struggle to liberate our world from hate and embrace all humankind with love, and grow our souls in the process.”

Boggs Center Living For Change Newsletter – September 16th 2020

September 16th, 2020

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wealth


Thinking for Ourselves
Welcome Efforts
Shea Howell

This week the calls for an independent investigation into the Detroit Police Department’s response to demonstrations in the city were given support  from popular, elected officials. In a strong letter written by U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, State Senator Stephanie Chang, Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield and City councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, the Mayor and Police Commission were called to establish an investigation in to the “use of excessive force against (protesters), legal observers and journalists during recent demonstrations.”

The four officials explain their motivation for the inquiry saying “The right to free speech is one that is fundamental to our country’s democracy and critical to ensuring that our beloved city is one where everyone is heard…” “(Protesters) and others exercising their constitutional right to speak up about police brutality and racial justice deserve the same protection others receive. No person should fear being beaten, tasered, tear gassed, shot, or killed by law enforcement officers.”

Chief Craig’s responses to this latest call for an independent investigation are another indication of why he should resign. He is blaming his own actions and those of his officers on others. He is claiming he is standing against “terrorism” and rampant “crime.” He is even asserting that the lives of heavily armored and armed police are endangered by water bottles.

The call for Craig’s resignation has been growing as people examine the facts. It  emerged at the end of June in response to the aggressive use of force by police officers who drove an SUV through a crowd of demonstrators, speeding away with people on the hood. At the time Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib reviewed video taken by demonstrators, posted it on Facebook, and described the police behavior as “outrageous.”

Now, for Chief Craig to “rip into a group of lawmakers, accusing them of “giving rioters a free pass for attacking cops,”  is absurd.  Craig said, “It’s unfortunate that these representatives have chosen to repeat a number of false claims in their letter without verifying the facts,” he said in a statement, the paper said. He told Fox News that  “Some who are in political leadership are folding to the pressure by the protesters.”

“When you think of US Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, she would say these are peaceful protesters and to support their free speech. We do support it, but we are not going to let you terrorize the community, period.”

None of the lawmakers are responding to pressure. In June they were able to see a different account of what the Chief called “justified force.”  Since that time more than 50 community organizations have called for independent investigations into the police. A federal judge has reviewed videotapes and issued a restraining order on the use of specific weapons and tactics including batons, shields, gas, chokeholds, rubber bullets or sound cannons. We have all seen the photographs and images of people beaten just a few weeks ago.

Even the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, usually the first in line to cheerlead the police, has been forced to take a stand against routine tactics used by the police. The new policy directives “require a de-escalation continuum and a minimal reliance on force” and set measures for reporting when an officer threatens to use force. It also requires that the public be better informed about complaints against officers.

These are small but important measures. They are reflective of a responsiveness by at least some in authority to the recognition that the police are the problem, not the answer to creating safe communities.  Chief Craig is resorting to name calling, innuendo, and blatant disregard for fact. He is not the leader we need.

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The Green Light Black Futures Coalition is dedicated to educating and creating a movement with Detroiters who are most affected by government surveillance to build communities that center racial and economic justice for all. The group is collecting input from residents through a community survey that I encourage you to take, and to share with your networks so that more people can submit their input as well. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed here >> bit.ly/GLBFSurvey

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The future is dark. But is this the darkness of the tomb — or the darkness of the womb? We are a nation waiting to be born & this is our great transition. @ValarieKaur’s book #SeeNoStranger shows us how to show up to the labor, and last.


In case you missed the discussion, Beyond Acting: The Enduring Impact of Chadwick Bosemanhere is the video.


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – September 1st, 2020

September 1st, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves

New Consensus

Shea Howell

 Over the last few weeks, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Detroit Police Department routinely uses deadly violence and excessive force as a normal part of their operations.  This week Detroit Will Breathe filed a federal lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit documents the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, chokeholds and beatings, all without cause as people demonstrated to protest these very tactics and the white supremist culture that produces them.

Chief Craig responded predictably. He said he is “pleased” the group filed the suit, because the City of Detroit plans a counter suit. Craig is appreciative of the city efforts “fighting to reject…another example of the perpetual false narrative.”

Since May, every single time anyone has raised a question about police conduct, Chief Craig has said the same thing: It’s a false narrative. So. when police initially responded with brutal force in early May against demonstrators, it was false. In June the use of force by police was so outrageous, demonstrators held a public tribunal. At the tribunal Nakia Wallace, one of the founders of the movement happening in our city said. “What we saw over the course, particularly the first two weeks, was excessive use of force and violence towards people exercising their constitutional right to protest.”

A few weeks later police drove an SUV through a crowd, speeding away with at least two people on the hood.  The video was publicized nation- wide. At the time, Gabriela Alcázar of the Black Brown Alliance said, “It was awful, and attempted vehicular manslaughter against clearly peaceful protesters” and added that the people were “very concerned, and we definitely demand a thorough investigation take place.”

Because of the initial public outcry about both the righteousness of these protests and the quick condemnation of the use of force, the Detroit Police became more cautious in their tactics. But as we continue to witness the relentless killings of Black People by police across the country, and the increased violence of police everywhere, Detroit police are responding to demonstrations with more force. Unless, of course, it is demonstrations by white people, carrying guns to “protect property” or demand legislators act in their interest.

This police violence is being encouraged at the national level, especially through the use of federal troops and para military actions.

Most recently, as “Operation Legend” unfolded in Detroit, people demonstrating against the federal escalation of force in the city were met with brutal violence from the police.

Violence against demonstrators is not the only problem we face. We have had 4 killings in less than a month. These come in the context of nation-wide protest and a long history of police abuse. At the beginning of this century, independent studies documented that the “Detroit police were the deadliest in the nation.” The rate of police shootings was 2.5 times higher than in New York City and 1.5 times higher than in Los Angeles. This culture of violence is deep within the institution of policing. It has historic roots, and will not evaporate because the Chief of Police refuses to address it. He is playing a very dangerous game.

We need to support the demonstrations and demonstrators in our city who are challenging this culture and demanding the defunding of the Detroit Police so we can begin to create a new kind of responsibility toward protecting each other.

While many in our city have been supportive of the Chief, that consensus is beginning to unravel. Former Chief, and one of the most respected men in the city, Ike McKinnon, is calling for “transformation.” Labor unions, sports teams, and community groups are challenging the official line and demanding change.

As people continue to gather to envision a culture of peace, one narrative is clear:

Change gonna come.
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we will dance

We Will Dance with Mountains: Let us Make Sanctuary is a hybrid course (online and offline practices), collective research inquiry, and cartographic project emerging on the heels of cataclysmic endings and strange inflections.

LEARN MORE AND ENROLL HERE

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The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability

Contact: Kim Hunter, kim@engagemichigan.org 313-287-2992

Detroit Must Resist Operation Legend, Trump and Barr’s Escalation of Violence
Groups cite federal involvement and major increase in police violence against demonstrators 

DETROIT – The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability has issued a statement calling for the Detroit Police Department to stop taking orders from the racist Trump administration’s Attorney General William Barr and to stop the police violence against the people of Detroit.

Saturday’s major escalation of police violence against activists and Police Chief James Craig’s cooperation with AG Barr have increased the urgency for Craig to step down. The Detroit Police Department must end its liaison with the most openly racist US president in living memory.

While Detroit Police have previously used violence and falsely accused protestors in the past, Saturday’s protest against federal policing in Detroit featured more direct and violent attacks from police than ever including attacks on the press, legal observers, street medics, and those not involved in the protest. Lawsuits against the city have resulted from the use of excessive police force, including force used on those who followed police orders on where to stand.

The level of violence and the attacks on observers and demonstrators repeats a pattern in other cities where the Trump administration has been involved. Beating, lacerating and pepper spraying nonviolent protestors is never acceptable. And, in a mass meeting following the Saturday action, participants reported that Detroit Police charged the crowd with batons and shields, not to arrest people engaging in alleged unlawful behavior, but rather to fight and attack unarmed people.

We believe this brutal, unacceptable increase in police violence and attacks stems from the Trump administration’s influence through Attorney General Barr who has been working closely with Chief James Craig. It has increased the urgency of our call for Craig to step down and for Detroit Police to end the attacks on unarmed people exercising their First Amendment rights.

We demand the immediate end of police violence against protestors and observers. We demand the immediate resignation of Police Chief James Craig.

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Boggs Center -Living For Change News – August 26th, 2020

August 26th, 2020

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Shifting the Culture of Anti-racist Organizing with Tawana Petty 

ENGAGE and the Undoing Racism Workgroup present a special virtual discussion featuring Detroit organizer, scholar, author and human rights activist Tawana Petty. Petty will lead us through a discussion on how we confront and work to dismantle historic racism and anti-Blackness in our society, without tokenizing or creating undue emotional labor for those most affected. Petty will share principles of anti-racist organizing from her book, “Towards Humanity: Shifting the Culture of Anti-Racism Organizing,” and discuss how non-Blacks can practice genuine non-performative collaboration with the movement for Black Lives. Discussions on how we can incorporate lessons learned from this significant moment in Civil Rights history into our practice as social workers, community leaders, and advocates will also take place.

WATCH IT HERE


Thinking for Ourselves

No Rush
Shea Howell

    The desire to “return to normalcy” is palpable. It swirled through the Democratic Convention. While much of the programming was deeply moving and surprisingly fresh, the theme of returning to predictable, certain times was woven throughout the events. The New York Times summed up the desire, noting, “The party has offered Mr. Biden, 77, less as a traditional partisan standard-bearer than as a comforting national healer, capable of restoring normalcy and calm to the United States and returning its federal government to working order.”

The desire for normalcy is undergirding much of the debate around opening of schools. Outside of the political posturing of the Trump administration and its efforts to bully states into in person teaching, many parents and teachers long for life to return as it was last fall, when children went off to school, every day, as they have for generations across this land.

This desire for predictable lives is a part of our human experience. Patterns protect us, and free us. But in moments of extraordinary change, this desire is also a trap, limiting our sense of the possible, shrinking our capacity to embrace change and create anew.

This is why we should welcome the efforts of teachers to slow us down as states and cities rush toward returning to normal.

In a recent  thoughtful essay on reopening schools, Belle Chesler, a public school teacher said:

“Let’s just call the situation what it is: a misguided attempt to prop up an economy failing at near Great Depression levels because federal, state, and local governments have been remarkably unwilling to make public policy grounded in evidence-based science. In other words, we’re living in a nation struggling to come to terms with the deadly repercussions of a social safety net gutted even before the virus reached our shores and decisions guided by the most self-interested kind of politics rather than the public good.”

This attempt is already failing, as communities with in person classes are experiencing increases in the spread of the virus, forcing closures and renewed chaos.

And it is obvious to everyone that whiter, wealthier districts are in much better positions to open school buildings than those of us in urban areas, where historic neglect by state and federal governments have resulted in crumbling classrooms, lack of basic sanitation, heating and cooling. The idea that our children will be safe in these building is exactly the kind of normal most of us have been fighting against decades.

In many places some parents and teachers have begun to see that the closing of schools is offering us ways to open new possibilities for learning and teaching one another.  Old notions of “deschooling” are surfacing in new ways, emphasizing intergenerational connection, creativity,  and care for one another and our world.

As the pandemic continues to threaten us, we are facing the need to ask fundamental questions. What is education for? How do people learn? What is the difference between education and school? What do we need to know? What is essential? What do we want to create? How do we care for our children?

These questions are being asked with a new sense of urgency, but also with the sense that we can take the time to explore them together more fully.

Our teachers are right. We cannot and should not rush to reopen schools. But we should open ourselves to the possibilities of what we can create together to protect our children and develop our communities based on values to protect life.

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MBD

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Suburban Silence is Racist Violence

Rich Feldman

On Saturday, August 15, people from Troy, Ferndale, Berkley, Farmington Hills, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Shelby Township and Detroit gathered at 11 mile and Woodward to clearly state that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) Cruise, which was called and endorsed by the Oakland County Republican Party was not the only voice in town. There were also demonstrations and protests in Ferndale and on Square Lake Road and Woodward in Bloomfield Hills.

This was not the first year that the Trump election campaign and the Make America Great Again Troops came to build “their movement to support their elections and their visions” for a continuation of the racist, anti-immigrant, ableist, sexist, ANTI-MASK lifestyle.  Last year they traveled the dream cruise with AR15s, Trump Masks, and brought their Trump Election Mobil Home. They want to return to the past. They want to return to a time before the Freedom Movement, Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Movement of the 1960s-1970s.

They believe that is “normal.” Their normal was built upon an American Dream which fundamentally upheld racist policies, segregation and Jim Crow. Too many anti-Trump folks want to return to a pre-COVID normal or a pre-Trump normal. I do not believe in returning to normal. Normals from the past are business as usual. 2020 is a decade ushering in the view that we need a future different from the past. A new purpose for our suburbs besides exclusion.  A new purpose for suburban life beyond consumption and individualism. A new purpose that fundamentally includes a new relationship with Detroit & Pontiac.

As Vincent Harding said: “We are citizens of a country that does not yet exist.”  A new potential is emerging from Black Lives Matter, the Me Too Movement, Global Climate Strikes and Standing Rock. A new potential is emerging to Defund the Police, Abolish Prisons, create alternatives to jail and so much more.

It is time to face the lie of America and not be fooled by the past or the illusions of the “promise of America.  As MLK said:  We need to struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” That was 1967. Now we could add Patriarchy, Planetary Destruction and Abelism.

One of the protestors remarked that the viciousness, the anger and even the pain in the voices (screams) and eyes of those driving the MAGA Cruise with their signs showed the desperation of those needing to face themselves and a changing world. The US will be a majority people of color in the next 30 years. The protestors were disciplined and committed to non-violence. We did not respond but it was so clear that their story of “no longer having their American Dream because of a changing economy, a declining US empire, failed leadership and so much more has taken the veil from their “pursuit of happiness and Their/Our entitlements.  While their cars and trucks zoomed by with their signs, they saw our signs:

“Black Lives Matter, Dump Trump, Fossil Fuel Profits Kill our Earth, 140 million live in poverty, suburban silence is racist violence, vote, dump trump, we Love Postal Workers,  support the postal workers,”

They yelled back “All Lives Matter! “You are all Communists.”

This is the Cold Civil War emerging in our state. The Cold Civil War in Oakland County was not so cold in Georgia or Kalamazoo.
On Saturday at Georgia’s Stone Mountain, its giant rock carvings of Confederate leaders was closed to the public because of a planned white nationalist rally and a counter-protest.

“Go home, racists, go home!” Members of Black Live Matter, Antifa and independents chanted during protest in the town of Stone Mountain. A far-right group, Three Percenters, a white militia group had planned to hold a rally.  The militia said it wanted “to defend and protect our history” and Second Amendment rights.”

On Saturday, in Kalamazoo, MI, the Proud Boys, which is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, would be coming to Kalamazoo. Their social media posts from late July read that the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group, and Bikers for Trump were planning a rally in Kalamazoo on Saturday, August 15th.

From the Trump Troops on Woodward Avenue to the Proud Boys in Kalamazoo or the 3% at Stone Mountain, they are not going away in November or in January.  We are not going away, growing numbers of suburban folks have begun to say “We need to break our silence” and end the systemic racism that has blinded us, hurt us and supported policies of destruction, gentrification, police brutality and facial recognition, water shut-offs and evictions in Detroit.  This decade is the end of that silence.  James Baldwin wrote, “The truth which frees black people will also free white people, but this is a truth which white people find very difficult to swallow.”

Every Monday: 5:00 pm – 6:00 PM, people gather at Woodward and 11 mile. The gathering is sponsored by the Huntington Woods Peace and Education Committee.  Everyone is welcomed, bring your sign:  Black Lives Matter, Suburban Silence is Racist Violence, Silence is Violence, Vote and Dump Trump…

How can the suburbs respect the dignity of all and stop being silent to the policies of suburban materialism, racism and militarism ?

What will be a respectful, engaging , interdependent relationship with Detroit?


What is our vision for suburbs in 2050?
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Facing Education Challenges During COVID-19

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Boggs Center Living For Change News – August 19th, 2020

August 19th, 2020

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What We’re Listening to:

Manger on McNichols

by Boldy James and Sterling Toles

Manger


Thinking for Ourselves
Embracing Imagination
Shea Howell

The 75th anniversary of the dropping atomic bombs by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki passed with little notice. The bombs killed 210,000 people and tens of thousands more were to die of radiation poisoning, minutes, days, weeks and months later. For many others, death came more slowly, after lifetimes of illness and pain.  Many of the few remaining survivors continue to advocate for a nuclear free world.

Of all of the brutalities of the last century, nuclear devastation unleashed by the US, now endangers all life.  Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has been a leading thinker-activists for the elimination of nuclear weapons observed: “Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission. Our planet is in the intensive care unit, approaching several terminal events.  Will we gradually burn and shrivel life on our wondrous Earth by emitting the ancient carbon stored over billions of years to drive our cars and power our industries, or will we end it suddenly by creating a global gas oven?”

This is not an abstract question.  Caldicott explains, “The International Energy Agency said recently that we only have six months left to avert the effects of global warming before it is too late. Earlier this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been.”

The drive toward extinction has accelerated under President Trump. Along with the denial of climate change, the removal of even modest efforts to limit deadly corporate extraction of vital resources,  Trump is moving us closer to nuclear devastation. He used this anniversary as an opportunity to announce the resumption of nuclear weapons programs.

Further, the Washington Post reports  his administration has been holding discussions on carrying out nuclear test explosions for the first time since 1992.

Since coming into authority, Trump has been dismantling international safeguards aimed at limiting nuclear weapons. He has withdrawn the United States from arms treaties including the landmark INF agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. He has failed to extend the New START accord,  and rejects the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear test explosions.
He  has gone forward with expensive nuke modernization plans, spending billions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction. Almost all of this has happened with little public attention or outcry.

But Trump is only the latest manifestation of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  called a deep “malady within the American spirit,” rooted in our denial of the death and destruction we cause to protect the power and privilege of a few.

King understood that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” That is why he called upon us to make a “radical revolution of values.”  We must rapidly begin,” he said, “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.

We are today again in revolutionary times. The promise of creating the world anew is being raised daily as people gather in the streets, in neighborhoods, and across the country asking how can we live peacefully, with compassion and joy. As Einstein commented in the shadow of the bomb, it is our imaginations that will enable us to create and embrace this new world.


M4bl


Open Letter to the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners
Tom Stephens

In public discussions of recent high-profile police incidents in Detroit there’s been a repeated failure by police leaders to distinguish between alleged serious crimes by individuals, and what police say “the protestors” allegedly did.  Such contradictory framing could potentially help make nonviolent resolution of public controversies that are currently shaking the US republic to its foundations effectively impossible.

 

Crime is individual. Protest is collective.  Crime is illegal but protest is constitutionally protected. The city or ‘the state’ has no legitimate interest in punishing protestors collectively for what some individuals may have done that  was illegal, if anything.  If the police can recognize and act appropriately on these real interests at stake and these main facts of the overall legal and political situation in a timely way, before more serious violations of public health and safety occur, it could hopefully defuse a dangerous and unjust situation.  But I don’t believe they’ve been doing that, necessitating this statement.

 

Around the end of May, violence in George Floyd demonstrations in Detroit was much less than in other cities.  However, a couple very high profile police incidents since then involving police vehicles driving dangerously through a crowd, and then the recent police killing of Hakim Littleton in the course of an arrest that provoked protests, threaten that this explosive situation may now be getting worse not better.  Meanwhile, the police chief and deputy chiefs are repeatedly providing versions of “facts” before investigations are even complete.  Undermining their own credibility by prejudging cases in public and in real time, they inappropriately seek to imprint in the public mind their biased versions of supposed facts, before they have been established by professional investigation.

 

We are in a very dangerous phase right now.  Detroit Police Department policy makers’ demonstrated inability to distinguish between historic protests since George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on May 25, and actual criminal threats to Detroiters’ public health and safety, by at the very minimum simply awaiting results of investigations before publicly slandering “the protesters”, is inexcusable and potentially counterproductive under very dangerous circumstances.  I object and call on fellow Detroiters to insist that the police be subjected to due process, oversight, accountability and reforms.


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The Great Lakes

Deb Hansen

The Great Lakes is a living miracle, with over 20% of the entire world’s fresh surface water.  Who could imagine a more inappropriate place to be pushing 23 million gallons of crude oil daily?  Every day, we are knowingly playing a high-stakes game of Russian roulette with this goodness and beauty.

Looking back, I was passionate, but naïve.  When we first learned of the existence of this menace, hardly anyone knew these twin pipelines were lurking on the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac.  I remember thinking, surely when decision-makers realized we were at risk for a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes from Enbridge’s Line 5, there would be prompt action.  And here we are, seven years later with no end in sight.  Clearly, I had underestimated the power of the oil & gas industry over government along with our own way of life, driven by plastics and fossil fuels.  Still, as a result of recent damage to the pipelines, we probably now have the best opening for action we’ve ever had.

Line 5 is part of the large Lakehead pipeline network.  It begins in Superior, Wisconsin and ends in Sarnia, Ontario.  It splits into two lines as it transits the Straits of Mackinac, lying exposed on the bottomlands in a major shipping channel.  These 67-years-old pipes are older than the Mackinac Bridge.

Drilling a tunnel under the Straits might sound like a common sense solution to get those pipes out of the water.  It is not.  The deadly cargo of crude oil and natural gas liquids we burn is the greatest contributor to a rapidly destabilizing climate.  Surface water temperatures on the Great Lakes are almost off the charts with spots over 80 degrees.  Heat waves and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense, knocking out electricity for days.  For the State of Michigan to enable a massive investment in fossil fuel infrastructure in a time of climate and social breakdown is perverse.

Decommissioning Line 5 and rerouting the oil somewhere else in the network is a needed short-term fix to protect the Great. Lakes, but is also not a solution.   Fossil fuels and industrial processes are responsible for 65% of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.  And we are subsidizing the destruction of a climate that supports life as we know it with our tax dollars.

But that’s not the only reason.  Environmental racism shows up at the end of the line at the refineries in Sarnia, Ontario with a large indigenous population and in Michigan’s most polluted zip code in a largely African American community.  Rerouting the oil to these same refineries ensures people who live near them will continue to sicken.  You can’t not breathe the air where you live.  To see schools and playgrounds with a view of flaring gases in zip code 48217 is shocking.  To hear stories people tell about the old days when foxes ran through meadows and small local businesses thrived is heart-breaking.

Elected officials of both parties have paid lip service to protecting the Great Lakes.  It is getting more and more obvious with PFAS, microplastics, Line 5, sulfide mining that we are failing at every level.

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In April of 2018, we almost had the catastrophic oil spill we knew was possible.  A tugboat dragging anchor, destroyed two electrical cables, spilling 600 gallons of toxic insulating fluid into the waters.  Not one drop was recovered.  A few days later we learned that one of the arms of Line 5 was gouged.  You would have been wrong if you thought that that near miss would finally motivate action.

We got a second chance in June when Enbridge shut down the twin pipelines when damage was discovered during a routine inspection.  One arm of the pipeline is still shutdown.  The Governor has the authority and the responsibility to revoke the easement that gives Enbridge permission to operate in the Straits, but has yet to act.

Line 5 is embedded in a larger movement nationally and internationally that has seen indigenous peoples asserting their voices and legal standing.  With it they bring the integrity of their relationship of respect and mutuality with the living world.  But maybe it’s about much more than pipelines, the “black snake,” and the need to imagine an economic base that is not reliant on fossil fuels.

Mni wiconi or Water is Life as a rallying cry has shifted the conversation from protest to protection and the responsibilities we share to protect life, a reality where communities get to have a voice in decisions that affect them.

Here in Michigan relationships of trust and solidarity are being built when it comes to protecting the quality and beauty of the waters that surround us, making sure everyone has access to affordable water, and that water remains a commons.  Surely this is medicine, an antidote to the racialized politics that have infected public life in this state.

Line 5 is only one example that illustrates how a people behave when they are not well in their souls.  We live in a culture of death, violence, and exploitation.  The invitation before us is to shift to a culture of reverence and respect for life:  for bodies of water, for black and brown bodies, for the air we breathe, for the soil in which our food is grown, a stable climate, for beloved community, and for the future of our children.  If we refuse to make this shift, the challenges and crises will only grow more dire.  Hope lives in this moment.  You can see glimmers of it everywhere when you look.   We can love one another and our world back to life.

deb straits

Rev. Deb Hansen worked for many years in corporate America before becoming a refugee of modern culture.  She was a chaplain at Sinai-Grace Hospital and is currently a spiritual director, water and climate protector, and advocate for healing and repairing our relationships with the larger kin-dom and with one another.  She’s endlessly fascinated by the process of cultural transformation that allows human life to renew

its self.

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