Boggs Center News Living for Change – January 20th, 2020

January 20th, 2020

Thinking for Ourselves
Do The Right Thing
Shea Howell

Detroiters have been faced with the horrific news that many of our family, friends, and neighbors have been driven out of the city illegally. Thanks to careful reporting by the Detroit News, we have learned that 90% of the tax delinquent homes were illegally over assessed between 2010 and 2016. The News calculated 28,000 homes were foreclosed since 2013 because of this. The amount of over taxation was estimated at $600 million. The dimensions of this scandal are staggering.

Losing a home to tax foreclosure is one of the most violent, traumatic things that can happen to people. I have seen a 14-year-old boy refuse to leave the pile of goods in the front yard belonging to his mother, who died weeks earlier of cancer. I have watched neighbors, too embarrassed to acknowledge they could not pay their bills, break down when they were forced to abandon a home where they had raised their children, and I have stood with people resisting what they knew was not right.

The devastation done to people and to the community can never be made right. But if we are to create a city that fosters the values we need for the future, we must find ways to acknowledge and respond with as much imagination, compassion, and creativity as we can find.

Mayor Duggan and his administration are not up to the task. The Mayor’s response to the crisis demonstrates why he is not capable of providing meaningful leadership. Duggan says there is “little he can do.” For a man who loves to brag about his abilities to “fix” things, this response is inadequate.

But his reasoning is far more troubling, explaining his lack of will. Duggan claims that doing something to fix the injustice suffered by those who could not pay illegal taxes would somehow be “unfair” to those who managed to pay them. This immediate identification with those who pay, rather than those who cannot, is why Duggan is so dangerous now. He is fostering a politics of division that fuels racial and class antagonisms in ways that are as ugly as the tweets of Trump.

This line of unreasonable reasoning is familiar to everyone in the city. It is the same one he invokes over the water crisis. It argues that “good people” pay their water bills and Duggan claims it is “not fair” for those who pay their bills to have others in the community get water “for free.”

For public leaders to invoke individualism, to advocate that fairness rests with those who are most able to provide for themselves, and to claim that some problems are just too big to be fixed, is disastrous thinking. We need leadership that acknowledges problems, seeks solutions and encourages us to care for one another and the earth upon which we depend.

This last week we saw some of that kind of leadership emerge on the City Council. Council President Brenda Jones is holding hearings on the issue. President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield convened a working group to gather information, listen to citizens, and propose a series of solutions. They have already issued a report with some imaginative solutions.

As the country begins in earnest to talk about reparations and restorative justice, we in Detroit have a responsibility to advance the values, ways and means to do the right thing. There is no other way to secure our future.


Extreme worship of the Constitution is a feature of U.S. life. It’s been that way for a long time. Even so, the zeal with which it has been deployed throughout the current impeachment process is a wonder to behold. KEEP READING.


Happy New Years – Boggs Center – Living For Change News – January 8th, 2020

January 8th, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves
War Crimes
Shea Howell

The decision by Donald Trump as President of the United States to order the murder Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran was an act of war. It is a war crime and a crime against humanity. It is murder made possible by the illegal use of state power. The President, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who encouraged this action, are equally guilty.

So are the generals and advisors who treat military violence as little more than options on a menu.

They reflect the lack of moral judgment in this administration. Such actions come in a long line of such abuses of power, misuses of force, and refusal to look at the consequences of actions.

What is sure to be an escalating conflict with Iran goes back nearly 100 years. As the world moved toward confrontations with Nazi Germany Reza Shah Pahlavi was drifting closer to Hitler. Fearing the loss of control, Great Britain with the help of its then ally the Soviet Union, occupied Iran, forced the reigning Shah into exile and put European educated Mohamad Reza, his eldest son, in power. After the war, as popular movements for more democracy gained momentum across the globe, the power of the corrupt, autocratic Shah was challenged by Mohammad Mosaddegh. A popularly elected leader, as Prime Minister from 1951 to 1953 he moved to nationalize British petroleum interests and pushed for more accountable government. The CIA and Britain’s M16 staged a coup, imprisoning him for 3 years in solitary confinement and then placing him under house arrest until his death in 1967. They restored the Shah to power. This illegal and misguided action by the CIA led directly to the growth of anti-US feeling and fueled the 1979 Revolution.

This murder also reflects how much the Bush drive to war changed our understanding of world relationships and responsibilities. In response to 9/11, George W. Bush articulated something called the Doctrine of Preemption. Bush argued that the use of force was justified if we anticipated an attack. He expanded earlier ideas to claim that force could be used, even without evidence of an imminent attack in order to ensure that a serious threat to the US does not “gather” or grow over time. This broadly based doctrine was seriously flawed. Within two years of its invocation to justify the Iraq war, it was considered deeply flawed.

The two assumptions behind this doctrine proved in practice to be wrong. The first assumption was that the US would have reliable intelligence about the intentions and capabilities of adversaries. This proved completely false as US officials hunted frantically for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Second was the belief that we hand entered a new era of technology that would give us the edge in any combat situation. As the Brookings Institute noted its assessment of the doctrine in 2004:
“This belief, which seemed so convincing in the immediate afterglow of the U.S. military’s rapid march to Baghdad, looks naive in the wake of the fighting in Fallouja and Najaf. Not only have the costs of war escalated significantly in the 13 months since the president prematurely declared an end to major combat operations, but the emphasis on breaking regimes ignored the far more difficult task of rebuilding nations.”

We need to take a forceful, consistent stand against this drive to war. Trumps decision to kill, to announce this action to cheering crowds, to threaten even greater violence via twitter, is criminal. He deserves far more than impeachment. He and his enablers should be tried by the world court for crimes against humanity. And we must look deeply at ourselves as a people.

As Dr. King so clearly reminded us,
“It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries.… Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores.”

For now, all of us must know that the chickens do indeed come home to roost.

Conversations on the Philosophies of Jimmy Boggs



Not For Sale
Denise Griebler

Friends, neighbors, today we bless this sign as a sign that in the midst of change that seeks or just happens to displace the poor, St. Peter’s isn’t going anywhere.


Conversations on the Philosophies of Jimmy Boggs



Not For Sale
Denise Griebler

Friends, neighbors, today we bless this sign as a sign that in the midst of change that seeks or just happens to displace the poor, St. Peter’s isn’t going anywhere.



Manna Community Meal isn’t going anywhere.


St. Peter’s will continue to welcome and serve people who have been made poor


who are being made more vulnerable as shelters and services move out of our community.


The Corner Shower and Laundry will open and serve people.


The Water Station will continue to flow for people and families who have been shut off


The St. Peter’s Hive will continue to buzz with organizations that work for justice and peace and the dignity and wholeness of
human beings, and for the healing of Earth.


We will continue to make space for people planning and organizing and training to take big non-violent risks in pursuit of peace.


We will care for our neighbors. We will join with others to work for truly affordable and low-income housing in our neighborhood.

We will welcome our neighbors and practice radical hospitality.





What does your union fight for?

Emma Fialka-Feldman
2nd Grade Teacher at the Dudley Street School
Originally appeared in the Boston Teachers Union Newsletter

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. In the early 1990s, my family fought to have my brother, labeled with an intellectual disability, included in the general education classroom. My parents knew that an inclusive schooling experience was the best education. They believed that he deserved to learn alongside his neighbors and friends with and without disabilities. The district fought at every level to prevent this. It took an unwavering belief, creativity, and negotiation to make it happen.

While he was successfully included in his K-12 experience, it was despite the local district. It was only years earlier, that students like my brother were denied access to their local public school. They were kept in institutions (or none at all) that believed in a medical model that prioritized compliance and low expectations over learning and rigor.

While there were incredible teachers and paraprofessionals along the way that nurtured my brother, developed strong family-school partnerships, and sought out resources to expand their professional expertise, my parents often felt like they were constantly fighting simply for his right to belong in his neighborhood school. I wonder what our family’s journey would have been like if our local teacher’s union said, “We believe in inclusion. We want it to work for all kids in our district. We will fight with you.”

Unions have a mixed history. On one hand, their advocacy has led to health and safety standards, living wages, and for some, the acclaimed 40-hour workweek. On the other hand, unions have been known for perpetuating racism, furthering inequities by intentionally excluding membership for some groups, and for fighting for contracts that further marginalize groups.

In recent years, the Boston Teachers Union has moved from a mostly service-driven union, focusing on enhancing and protecting wages and benefits, to a social-justice union where fighting for the schools our students, families, and communities deserve, is matched with the learning and teaching conditions our members deserve.

Gratefully, in this work, the Boston Teachers Union members have not forgotten about the needs of students with disabilities. In the Boston Public Schools, many classrooms designated as “inclusion classrooms” rely on incredibly inadequate supports. In these classrooms a single multi-license teacher is responsible for both special education and general education supports. These structural conditions, dictated by the district, are inclusion in name only. The learning conditions in these classrooms make learning and teaching incredibly challenging – leaving many paraprofessionals, teachers, and support staff feeling inadequate and ill-prepared.

We are not giving children the education they deserve. Families of children with IEPs across the district are often not aware of the various models and the gross inequities, leaving families feeling like sub separate classrooms are the best places for their child, despite the research. BPS’ “inclusion roll out” has undermined the potential and possibility of inclusion for our students.

In a historic move, the union made “inclusion done right” a central component of its most recent contract negotiation. The union is fighting for inclusion where students with and without disabilities learn in classrooms with ample support (for some classrooms this means two teachers and a paraprofessional; for other classrooms, this means the right special education services beyond one dual or triple certified teacher, and for ensuring our classrooms have the natural proportions of students with and without disabilities that reflect our neighborhoods). We have some nationally recognized inclusive schools, like the Henderson Inclusion School, but our city needs more.

This is historic as often special education victories have been individual-family fights where a family is fighting for the school/placement they believe their child (and the law) is entitled to. This is historic as often, despite research stating the power of inclusive classrooms, teachers’ unions, and school districts have been adamant in protecting segregated classrooms, sub separate spaces, and exclusive special education policies. While Boston Public Schools on paper believes that inclusive schools are best practices, their policies reflect otherwise.

In 2013, in response to the large BPS rollout of 20 inclusion schools, Boston Teachers Union members reflecting a range of BPS schools, classrooms, grades, and special-education service delivery models formed a committee to begin the work the district was not prioritizing. As a new teacher, this committee gave me hope that I was entering a union surrounded by other educators who care deeply about building an educational system that works for all.

The committee created pamphlets to help teachers and families know how to fight for the best learning conditions for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). It designed an extensive survey to collect data across BPS schools to better understand the vast models of inclusion and to have teachers reflect on the challenges and opportunities of inclusion in Boston. It organized events for families to work with the BTU to be advocates for the schools our children deserve. All the way, inclusion, and inclusion done right was the guiding principle. The union’s members prioritized this best practice.

While different, this history is not unlike what happened in Boston during school desegregation in the 1970s. Instead of uniting with the just demands to desegregate the schools, the union took a more narrow approach that put the value of a negotiated contract over the aspirations of a historically underserved community. With a more social justice perspective our union of teachers could have united with parents to create welcoming schools for all children, especially children of color.

As we work to build inclusive schools, I hope you will join the Boston Teachers Union in this fight. We have the opportunity to build the schools all children deserve. We have the opportunity to undo the racial and social inequities that our schools replicate. In Boston, white students with IEPs are more likely to be placed in inclusive classrooms than students of color with IEPs. It is often recognized as a privilege to go to an inclusive classroom – rather than a legal right. Across the nation, 83% of students with intellectual disabilities are left out of inclusive settings which leads to dismal graduation and employment rates. We know inclusive schools provide the best academic and social outcomes for all children, for both students with and without disabilities.

Inclusion done right means that all BTU members must examine our beliefs about who we think belongs in an inclusive classroom, what we think is possible for students with disabilities, and how we challenge our false-belief that inclusion will lower the academic rigor for students without disabilities.

Let’s continue to be on the right side of history for students with disabilities. You can join this fight by:

*attending the next inclusion meeting (bring a family member or colleague from your school): Tuesday, January 14, 2020 from 4:30-6:30pm

*sharing the inclusion tracker with your colleagues so we can collect the data about what’s happening in our schools:

*engaging your students’ families (those with and without disabilities) and your colleagues in building and dreaming the schools we all deserve

I am proud to be part of the Boston Teachers Union and I hope our “inclusion done right” campaign will inspire our members, our district and other teacher unions across the nation to get on the right side of this historic fight.

Boggs Center – Living For Change News – December 23rd, 2019

December 23rd, 2019

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Thinking for Ourselves

Oppose Operation Relentless Pursuit
Shea Howell

As Donald J. Trump was being impeached by the U.S. Congress, his Attorney General, William Barr, was in Detroit. In an orchestrated public relations stunt, Barr surrounded himself with Directors of the FBI, AFT, DEA, and the US Marshals to announce the launch of Operation Relentless Pursuit, a new “crime fighting” initiative by the Trump administration. Supporting background was provided by Detroit Police Department Chief Craig.

As even conservative columnists were quick to mention, the selection of Detroit as the place to launch this seven city program “is no accident.” “You can bet” on it. Michigan will be a key battleground state in the upcoming election. Republicans have made it quite clean they are targeting everything from voter pandering to voter suppression to “win” Michigan next year.

But it would be a great mistake to think this latest hyped up program is only about the coming election. It is about the extension of mechanisms of control, coordinated at the federal level, aimed at dissent.

Neither Donald Trump nor William Barr are friends of people in our cities. Certainly not in the seven cities targeted for this program. Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee join Detroit for the enhanced federal involvement in local policing. Each of these cities voted overwhelming against Trump in 2016. Each of these cities has played an historic role in resistance to the militarism, racism, and destructiveness of American corporate power. Most recently, they have been especially critical of police abuses. Detroit community organizers, for example, have been leading efforts to  establish community controls over surveillance technologies.

This is at the heart of Barr-Trump’s new initiative. First, Attorney General Barr is not an impartial, independent official. He has made his allegiance to Trump, and more importantly, Trumps distorted world view, clear. Second, he has a history of supporting police abuse. Earlier this month the ACLU director for the Trone Center for justice and Equality, Jeffery Robinson,  was compelled to respond to remarks Barr gave at an award ceremony. Robinson concluded that the remarks encouraged abusive policing saying,

“Attorney General Barr is telling communities across the country to bow their heads in respect to police even if those same police are violating their rights and killing people without justification.

This administration has repeatedly made it clear that it is not interested in holding law enforcement accountable. Communities of color around the country are consistently being abused by their police departments without receiving the type of public safety benefits that Attorney General Barr described. Police work for communities, not the other way around. It’s time for increased Congressional oversight of the Department of Justice, and its policy and practices on local policing.”

Operation Relentless Push builds on two previous initiatives of the Trump administration to increase federal and local coordination and support.  The first was Project Guardian and the second Disruption and Early Engagement Program (DEEP).

Both of these initiatives, coming from slightly different perspectives, have fanned fears of “safety in order to further the coordination and sharing of advance technologies of surveillance. The Guardian program ,for example, seeks to coordinate “ Federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement” to  “work together to ensure effective use of the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGICs), and all related resources, to maximize the use of modern intelligence tools and technology.”

In his announcement of Operations Relentless Push, Barr says it will increase, “resources, training, and equipment” for local police. It will also increase the number of federal law enforcement officers in our city and dictate new task force operations and “collaboration.” Importantly, it will also provide money for “mission-critical equipment and technology.

Most recently, Detroiters have been pushing for community oversight on the purchase and implementation of new “equipment and technologies.” We are a city that has long understood police abuse of authority. From the days of STRESS to the most recent Consent Agreement, we know that our safety does not lie in increased police power. As Barr, himself said when he introduced this new program, “The magnitude of this operation cannot be underestimated.” Neither should we underestimate the need for our resistance to it.



Detroit 1967 Bus Tour
January 5th, 2020


Join Black Scroll Network History & Tours educator/historian and President of the Detroit chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Jamon Jordan for a BUS TOUR that will take you through the history that LED to the 1967 Rebellion (some refer to it as the 1967 Riot), and the most significant sites DURING the 1967 Rebellion, and a discussion on the legacy of 1967, and how that history affects the present day reality in Detroit. REGISTER HERE


New Generation of Black-Led Co-ops Want to End Food Insecurity


Black activists viewed the work of supplying quality food in their communities as part of the black liberation movement, explained Malik Yakini, who has been a food activist since the mid-1970s.

“There was always a school of thought in the black movement that promoted self-reliance through agriculture and food retail,” he said.

Yakini is currently a board member of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, a full-service grocery store slated to open in 2020. It will be part of the Detroit Food Commons, a larger community development complex spearheaded by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, where Yakini serves as executive director. KEEP READING



Boggs Center – Living For Change News – December 18, 2019

December 18th, 2019

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WATCH THISone nation 3

Thinking for Ourselves

River Lessons
Shea Howell

As activists led by young people stormed the stage at the Global Climate Summit in Madrid this week demanding urgent action, Detroiters gathered to voice our concerns over our own regional expression of our changing world. Called together by several environmental justice organizations, and with the support of some elected legislators, over 200 people met at the Cass Commons to strategize about the most recent spill of toxins into the Detroit River.

On November 26 a dock collapsed under the weight of crushed limestone, recently unloaded at the Detroit Bulk Storage site.  The site has long been known to hold toxic sediments. Its history as a uranium processing center during the Manhattan Project and through the early days of the Cold War raised immediate concerns that the spill had exposed the metro area to nuclear waste contamination.

By the time of the Town Meeting, the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) was assuring residents that there was no danger of radiation nor to public health. Leisl Clark, the director of EGLE said:
As part of our initial investigation, we took radiological measurements of the soil at the site, and results from 1,000 data points showed readings below naturally occurring background levels. That matched results from river sediment tests we took in the spring adjacent to the Detroit Bulk Storage site that found radiation at or below background levels.

Knowing that conventional industrial pollutants were in the river’s sediments and potentially on the site, we also took water samples upstream, in front of the collapsed shoreline, and downstream. Test results from the samples show no detectable amounts of all but two substances. Both of those were well below water quality standards and did not appear to be specifically associated with the collapse.

Based on this data we found no current adverse impact on water quality due to the spill.
Unsurprisingly, these reassurances were greeted with skepticism. The legacy of Flint and the lying of government officials will not be easily changed. Nor should it be.

This incident did little to create confidence.  For days water flowed down river passed the spill, but the public was unaware of any possible problem. At first it seemed it was because no one was aware of the collapse. But as time went on, we learned that collapse was first reported the day after the limestone was unloaded. The Army Corps of Engineers knew of the spill, but felt it was “not their problem.” State officials learned of it through the reporting of the Windsor Star.

Such bureaucratic, limited thinking by major government agencies will kill us. The idea that we can go along as we always have is collapsing with the shore lines. Everyone knows full well that the banks of most of the rivers in the world scarred by industrial development are contaminated. Water flows over toxic soil. To pretend we can “contain” this without major clean-up efforts is fantasy.

Global climate change is raising the levels of the Great Lakes. As we move into winter, ice is forming. With spring, breaking ice flows will scrape into poisons buried for decades.

We need to rethink our priorities and our practices. Old paradigms are crumbling as quickly as the shoreline. We need to heed the voices emerging around us proclaiming, “We are unstoppable, Another world is possible.” It is up to us to bring it into being.

by water

A Precious and Historic Moment
Rich Feldman
10 years ago this month, US Federal District Court Judge Patrick Duggan ruled that Micah Fialka-Feldman had a right to live in the university dorm. Micah has an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment (formerly mental retardation). During his school years, he tested to have a 40 IQ. Last week, family and friends gathered with the Judge to honor his decision and to share how Micah’s life has unfolded with purpose over the decade. After watching the film Intelligent Lives, Micah, through Face Time, thanked the Judge who was surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchild. Judge Duggan was presented with a letter from Meg Grigal, co-director of Think College, acknowledging: “Your decision changed Micah’s life and the lives of everyone in his orbit for the better!”

10 years ago there were few people with intellectual disabilities going to college and only one other person living in a dormitory.  Now over 100 universities in 40 states offer housing for more than 6000 students with intellectual disabilities.  Micah knew that he had a right to live in the dorm. With his community he fought for justice. We are all stronger. What a glorious day.

For many social activists, disability justice, rights, pride and advocacy are only recently becoming part of our historical understanding of the humanizing movements that began with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.  As the movements of the 20th century emerged, we have consistently asked the question: Where are we going? Who is not at the table? What do we mean by revolution and the most fundamental questions: What does it mean to be human?  What is our relationship to each other & to the earth?

Let us take a moment and look at time and history.

2019 was the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Seattle. 1919 was birth of James Boggs and this year the Boggs Center commemorated his life, his writings and practice.

2020 will be the 30th Anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) & the 10th Anniversary of US Social Forum in Detroit Michigan where our theme was:  Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary and Another Detroit is Happening.

In the early part of the 20th century, less than 100 years ago, eugenics was established and respected in the US. President Teddy Roosevelt clearly stated; “Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them”. Funding for the eugenics cause came from such distinguished sources as the Carnegie Institution and the WK Kellogg Foundation, and support also came from the influential leaders of the oil, steel and railroad industries. The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.  Hundreds of thousands of people were placed in state institutions (prisons for the mentally impaired, the mentally ill and the “feeble minded”).

In 1927, the US Supreme court supported these developments and decisions. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hitler escalated the practices that were birthed in the US. Between 1940 and 1941 approximately 70,000 Austrian and German disabled people were killed under the T4 program, most via large-scale killing operations using poison gas. (This methodology served as the precursor to the streamlined extermination methods of the “Final Solution.”) Although Hitler formally ordered a halt to the program in late August 1941, the killings secretly continued until the war’s end, resulting in the murder of an estimated 275,000 people with disabilities.

The “othering of people”, the placing of migrant children in concentration camps, the internment of Japanese Americans, the genocide of indigenous people and the 20th century removal of children placing them in Native American boarding schools, also known as Indian Residential Schools were established in the United States during the late 19th and mid 20th centuries. This history of barbarism is built upon the foundation of enslavement and Jim Crow. This is the history that we have not yet faced and instead face a growing counter-revolution.

While 2020 will be an election year and people will work to defeat Donald Trump, the counter-revolution will not disappear, nor will the possibility of a civil war dissolve because our journey since Montgomery, our humanizing movements have not ushered in new systems nor acknowledged that we are at the end of a period of human history that requires revolution. A revolution that is a two-sided revolution. A revolution to transform ourselves while we create new structures and institutions essential to dedicate ourselves to becoming healthy human beings living in healthy communities. Some will call it the Beloved Community, others Liberated Zones, others Peace Zones.

In 1974, James and Grace Lee Boggs wrote: Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century. The book emerged from Conversations in Maine which began after the Detroit Rebellion of 1967 and a series of lectures at Wayne State University in 1970 (50 years ago). In this reflection and critique of 20th century revolutions and significant study of US history and challenges, Grace and James emphasized a few points.

  • Think dialectically, concepts of revolution are not static, theory emerges from reflections on practice and theory…do not try to prove theory.
  • The fundamental contradiction in the founding of the US is the contradiction between economic and technological overdevelopment versus the human and social underdevelopment on the other.  Economics commands our values, politics and our humanity rather than our humanity and our politics needing to govern our economics. “Our valuables are more important than our values.”
  • The primary purpose of revolution is to advance human evolution, our dignity, our relationships with ourselves, others and nature.

Let us become solutionaries and work to ensure that our movements, our institutions, our vision include everyone.  As the Disability Movements often say:

  • “Nothing about us without us!”
  • “A Community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”

Micah’s victory 10 years ago is one small expression that has had many ripples across our country.  Each decision we make matters.





Boggscenter – Living For Change News – December 9th, 2019


December 9th, 2019

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Thinking for Ourselves

Water Warnings
Shea Howell

As thousands of people across the country participated in the December 6th Climate Strike lead by youth activists, many Detroiters were wondering if their drinking water was safe. Sketchy reports were surfacing about the collapse of the shore line holding land long contaminated with toxic chemicals, including uranium. The Wall Street Journal listed the site as one of “America’s forgotten nuclear legacy wastelands” in 2013. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said in 2011 that the “potential exists for significant residual radiation” on the site.

But no one seemed particularly concerned until last week end. Having been passed along through a series of “owners,” including the city, only people with long memories thought of the piles along the river as the Revere Copper and Brass site. Few, including its current owners, seemed aware of the critical role the former pot and bearing company had played in the development of the Atomic bomb. But during the 1940s and through the 1950’s uranium was processed there. Between 1943 and 1944 , under the Manhattan Project, at least 1,220 tons of uranium were extruded on the site. Today we are told that the possibility of uranium contamination is slight, but there is no question that the soil contains a toxic mix of chemicals including mercury, PCBs and PAHs.

As various news outlets began to report on the collapse into the river, long-time activist and water plant expert Russ Bellant said:

The Detroit Free Press reported today that with the radioactive material entering the Detroit river “the news is concerning because the Detroit drinking water intake lines are nearby downriver.”  This is not true and thus needlessly alarming.

Detroit’s main intakes are at about seven miles upriver and therefore not subject to this material. The Detroit system has one intake on the Canadian side of the Detroit River that supplies the Southwest Water Treatment Plant in Allen Park. That plant feeds downriver communities. That plant should cease its intake and receive water for its customers from the huge Springwells plant. We are in a low demand season for water so shifting these loads is doable.

Of more concern are cities like Wyandotte, Monroe, Toledo and many Ontario communities that have their own intakes downriver from the spill. They need an aggressive investigation by EPA and EGLE and quick remedies, but their record to date is disconcerting. The Free Press reports that EPA did not know of the November contamination until the Windsor Star called them Wednesday, while EGLE says don’t worry. Neither agency shows the alarm and urgency required. The same attitude they had regarding Flint for far too long.

I urge folks to contact the Great Lakes Water Authority to urge protection of the downriver communities by shifting the load from the Southwest plant to the rest of the Detroit system until safe water can be assured for all their own intakes downriver from the spill. They need an aggressive investigation by EPA and EGLE and quick remedies, but their record to date is disconcerting. The Free Press reports that EPA did not know of the November contamination until the Windsor Star called them Wednesday, while EGLE says don’t worry. Neither agency shows the alarm and urgency required. The same attitude they had regarding Flint for far too long.

I urge folks to contact the Great Lakes Water Authority to urge protection of the downriver communities by shifting the load from the Southwest plant to the rest of the Detroit system until safe water can be assured for all.”

This most recent, predictable possibility of contamination to our water is a reminder of how urgent the message is of young people gathering on our streets to demand action on climate change.  Business as usual is what has brought us to the point where shifting sands can poison entire cities, where waters are rising, and the legacies of war, empire, and industry are threating all life. The  river reminds us that we urgently need to make broad, deep changes to how we are living if we are to find our way to the future.

Neighborhood on the Edge

Who chooses what happens to our neighborhood? This is the question posed by the multi-media installation, Neighborhood on the Edge, by Shaun Nethercott, activist, 2016 Kresge Arts Fellow and award-winning co-founder of Matrix Theatre Company in Hubbard Richard.  This Art X Detroit 2019 art experience will take place at the Mexicantown Latino Cultural Center, 2835 Bagley, Detroit, 48216.

December 8 – December 22

Installation visitors will encounter the voices and images of ten Hubbard Richard residents and hear them tell their stories, why they may stay or go and how the area has changed over the years. The installation is part of a city-wide, multi-disciplinary series featuring twenty-two newly commissioned exhibitions, performances and events developed by alumni Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Awardees.

Find out more at @mexicantowncdcdetroit