Boggs Center – Living For Change News – May 14 2018


May 14th, 2018
grace and jimmy




Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Mother’s Day with Nestle

Shortly after Mother’s Day, three Nestle semi-trucks will roll into Flint with free bottled water. Between Mother’s Day and Labor day Nestle will donate 100,000 bottles a week to three service centers where people can pick up the bottled water.  The Mayor of Flint has graciously thanked the company for its “willingness to help the people of Flint.”

There are so many things wrong with this public relations stunt, it is hard to know where to begin. First there is the obvious problem that Nestle is “donating” water that the entire state, and in some ways much of the globe, is paying for. Nestle is pumping 400 gallons a minute out of the underground springs that feed the Great Lakes.  For this desecration it pays the state $200 a year. That is less than many people in Flint pay for water on a monthly basis. They are doing this in spite of the largest public outcry on record for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Over 80,000 people objected to the authorization to nearly double the amount of water Nestle takes and puts into little bottles.

The decision to allow Nestle to increase its pumping capacity came on the heels of Governor Snyder’s decision to no longer distribute free water to the people of Flint. The Governor noted the water in Flint is now safe to drink, mostly. Nestle is the largest “owner” of a private water source in Michigan. Its head spokesperson is Deb Muchmore, the wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff. The science behind the decision to allow increased pumping of water is based on questionable science, especially given the information gathered in a court case in 2003 when Nestle was order to stop operations due to “ecological harm and massive reduction in water levels.”

Given the series of lies the people of Flint have heard from public officials since 2014 when their Emergency manager joined with the Detroit Emergency Manager to remove Flint from the Detroit water system, it is understandable why the Governor’s comments are greeted with suspicion. Moreover, the glacial pace of removing lead pipes and replacing them means that aggregate testing of water does not mean every home is safe. Some families in Flint are depending on 22,000 bottles a year to live. But people still object to taking water from a company that is essentially stealing a precious resource for its own profit.

This year, as we celebrate Mothers Day, we should all remember just what kind of company Nestle is. Since the early 1970’s it has callously manipulated people around the globe into using baby formulas that require reliance on contaminated water. In 1974 a report called the Baby Killer by War on Want, sparked a global boycott. In 1981 the World Health Organization adopted a strict code of advertising to ban the promotion of formula as “comparable to breastmilk.” In February of this year Nestle was found to still be pushing formula as comparable to breast feeding, violating international guidelines and its own stated ethics.

In many places around the world, baby formula depends on water. Water that is often contaminated and unsafe to drink.

Nestle’s efforts to deflect our concern is foolish. The people of Flint, like people everywhere, deserve clean, fresh, affordable water. Until Flint’s entire water system is replaced, the State has a moral obligation to provide bottled water. We need a thoughtful, region-wide policy that recognizes our responsibilities to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and to respect the people and life they support.


Piper Carter is back for the 3x Dope episode


March For Our lives Detroit – Grace Lee Boggs

March for Our Lives – Detroit, MI

Rivard Plaza

1340 E Atwater St
Detroit, MI 48207

3.1 mi away

When: Saturday, March 24, 11:00 AM

The Detroit March for Our Lives is an inclusive student-led march being organized by a coalition of very dedicated metro-Detroit high school students, with support from a large group of university students and adult allies. People of every age, race, ethnicity, citizenship and gender will come together for this cause, and all are welcome. On March 24, students and community members of ‘March For Our Lives’ will take to the streets of Washington, DC and nearly every other major city in the United States to demand that their lives and safety become a priority. Detroiters will march at the Riverfront in view of and only .5 miles from Canada, a country that has 51 times fewer gun deaths than the United States. We need your help to deliver the message that mass shootings must stop in this nation and that governing action on gun laws must be taken. Our collective voices will be heard!

The Why and How of Visionary Organizing By Grace Lee Boggs Sept 29 – Oct 6 2012

The Why and How of Visionary Organizing By Grace Lee Boggs Sept 29 – Oct 6 2012

“At this time on the clock of the {R}evolution, movement activists need to discuss and struggle around different forms of Organizing. Jimmy’s Boggs were in the plant and the community. From his experiences as an organizer he had learned that human beings are individuals and not just masses or members of a class or race.

For example, as he used to say. “ Some workers organized the union; others had to be whipped into it. “

In “Going where we’ve never gone before” and “Building Community: An Idea whose time has come, ” Jimmy recognized that while many, perhaps most people have been demoralized or immobilized by our disintegrating communities, there are also some who want to or are already trying to rebuild our communities.

That is what a Visionary Organizer does. S/he devises methods of Self-Selection through which visionaries can identify themselves and join with others.

That is why in the early 1990s, we created Detroit Summer, a multicultural intergenerational program to Rebuild, Redefine and Respirit Detroit from the ground up to bring together individuals who wanted to or were already doing this..

Only a few dozen people became involved in Detroit Summer but these few were individuals with the energy and the drive themselves to do something positive. Given the opportunity to work with others on different programs these natural leaders not only developed themselves and each other. They also inspired and developed us. Moreover, most of them became lifelong activists and leaders in the city of Detroit.

That is how Visionary Organizing works. It is a method for identifying and helping leaders to develop, a process of Self-Selection and Self-Development . Movement organizers can help that process along but it has to be Self-Initiated.

Those movement organizers who do not understand or engage in this process are likely to begin acting like politicians, trying to impress or attract victims of the system by providing them with the needs and services denied them by the system.”


Living by the Clock of the World: Grace Lee Boggs’ Call for Visionary Organizing By:  Matthew Birkhold Date Published:   April 17, 2012

“In contrast to rebellions, revolutions create new societies because they begin with “projecting the notion of a more human human being” whose development has been limited by structural conditions.  Revolutions are not significant simply because they involve seizing state power but because they create societies more conducive to human development. A revolution is not for the purpose of resolving past injustice.  Rather, “the only justification for revolution is that it advances the evolution of man/woman.” Understanding revolution as “a phase in the long evolutionary process of man/woman,” that “initiates a new plateau, a new threshold on which human beings can develop,” the Boggses saw revolution as a period when human beings rapidly advanced. “
“We are at the point of a cultural revolution in ourselves and in our institutions that is as far-reaching as the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture 11,000 years ago, and from agriculture to industry a few hundred years ago. How do we reimagine education? How do we reimagine community? How do we reimagine family? How do we reimagine sexual identity? How do we reimagine everything in the light of a change that is so far reaching and is our responsibility to make? We have to think beyond capitalist categories. We can’t expect them to make it. We have to do the reimagining ourselves.” GLB
How Do “We Reimagine?
We reimagine by combining activism with philosophy. We have to do what I call visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition. That’s why it’s so wonderful to be here today—that we dare to talk about revolution in such fundamental terms.”



Boggs Center Living For Change News – February 5, 2018

February 5th, 2017
grace and jimmy

James Boggs, “The American Revolution:

Putting Politics in Command” 1970

The urgent, crying need of the American people is to undergo a fundamental transformation from the individualists and materialists they are today into a new breed of socially and politically conscious and responsible human beings. Instead of being concerned only with their own material advancement and satisfied with the political decisions of the military-industrial-complex as long as these expand production and consumption, the American people must be dragged, pulled, and pushed into situations where they are compelled to make socially responsible decisions—until the energy, skill, and the will to make such decisions have become second nature.


James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970


Restorative justice city: One woman’s quest to create a more just Detroit

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Environmental Protections

Members of the Michigan State Legislature have learned nothing from the poisoning of Flint. This week the legislature is considering handing over the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to corporate polluters by passing three new bills currently under consideration. Together these bills are an environmental disaster that would put all of us at greater risk.

HB652 would give private industry the power to veto any new state environmental rules by creating a new committee with a majority of members representing big business.

HB653 establishes a governor appointed panel with the power to overturn decisions by the DEQ denying permits on environmental grounds. Given that 99.5% of requests are approved by the MDEQ, it is hard to imagine what real difference this would make, except to further undermine the opportunity for citizen action.

HB654 sets up another governor appointed committee to provide advice on scientific matters as a counter to DEQ judgments. Given the current republican attacks on education and science, the quality of such advice is likely to represent the worst thinking in our country.

Taken together these bills diminish the opportunity for direct citizen influence, strengthen executive authority over environmental matters, and ensure that the highest bar set for our state is that set by the Federal Government which is rapidly lowering national standards and practices.

The motivation for this dangerous legislation seems to be some legislators who think business development is unfairly constrained by environmental concerns.

Senator Tom Casperson is the lead sponsor of the bill and a right wing republican from Escanaba. In a recent radio interview he explained the goal of the legislation saying, “Well, I think [the bills are] necessary …We’ve tried different approaches to, what I would call, put some reasonable standards in place, and we keep running into roadblocks and problems within the department, and so we’re trying to come up with something that levels the playing field.”

These “roadblocks and problems” are the concerns raised by environmentalists and people who actually bear the brunt of dangerous environmental decisions, from polluted air and water to increased cancer and brain damage.

Yet, as Casperson explained in a jumble of metaphors that gives a frightening clue to the non-thinking behind this legislation, “I would argue that some of the critics that are coming from the environmental groups, have no dog in the fight whatsoever. They have no skin in this game at all, as far as financial or anything else. So, they seem to be included in all these processes, they seem to be included in the end game as far as what the standards will be…. Just because an environmental group says it has to be done in a certain way, that’s not necessarily true either.”

This legislation is especially dangerous today. Federal environmental protections are rapidly unraveling. Scott Pruitt, whose main support comes from the fossil fuel industry, has been busy dismantling the EPA. Over this past year Pruitt has scaled back enforcement activities, refused to ban brain damaging pesticides, taken steps to remove protections on drinking water, weakened protections from toxic chemicals and is proposing to eliminate programs designed to protect our children from lead paint.

At a moment when all of us need to protect our earth and create new ways of living that are not only sustainable but regenerative, the Michigan Legislature is abdicating its responsibility to provide for the common good. This lack of leadership at the state and federal levels means that we must find new ways to protect our communities.

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SUBSCRIBE to the new podcast hosted by sisters adrienne marie and Autumn Brown as they learn from the apocalypse with grace, rigor and curiosity.

Kim Sherobbi’s Birwood Street home doesn’t look like a community space from the outside. But step into her house on Detroit’s northwest side, and you find yourself in a place that’s more meeting center than private residence.

A table of pamphlets greets visitors at the entry. The dining room area is an open meeting space with chairs arranged around the perimeter and her living room is half furnished to make room for potluck dinners for visitors.

Welcome to Birwood House, Sherobbi’s home and non-profit neighborhood community house since 2016. Sherobbi says her work to nurture a caring community is an extension of her mother’s work in the same house as Birwood Block Club secretary in the 1960s. KEEP READING


Boggs Center News – December 26th, 2017

Living for Change News
graceandjimmylfcheading with border
December 26th, 2017

“Men don’t need to show our manhood, we need to show our humanity” — James Boggs, 1990


Together We Make a Family
A disabled, biracial, (and totally normal) American family


With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June. Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

You can contribute directly at our website

or mail a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, MI 48214.

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
In Quest of Peace

For many of us this is the season to turn toward family and friends. It is a sacred time, calling for reflection and affirmation of our deepest longings for peace on earth. Rarely has such a hope been so far from our daily reality. We are living in a moment when relationships among people are marked with causal violence and intentional brutalities. Since 2001 we have been a people at war. It has been the backdrop of the lives of an entire generation who have never known a time without active US military interventions.

Recently, Nick Turse documented the increased use of Special Operation forces under the current administration. He notes, “On any given day, 8000 special operations from a command numbering roughly 70,000—are deployed in approximately 80 countries.” In 2017 troops were deployed “to 149 nations.”

The reach of these forces influences every part of our globe. As a report from TomDispatch explained, these troops are in “about 75% of the nations on the planet.” Under President Obama, and now Trump, this is an increase “of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House.”

General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some chilling views on what this global reach means. He said, “We operate and fight in every corner of the world.” He went on, “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key integrating and enabling capabilities to support their campaigns and operations.” 

Over the last two decades we have drifted from the doctrine introduced by George W. Bush of “preemptive war” to the acceptance of perpetual war. Anywhere we choose. We have become the most dangerous predator on the planet. We have allowed military solutions to become normal.

The idea that military force can create security is a false and deadly way to think. Rather, we need to acknowledge that we are a people without restraint, promoting violence and disruption across the globe.

Willful blindness to such violence corrodes our souls. Often carried out by bombs, drones, missiles and a few men and women, the use of massive force has become ordinary. We are barely stirred by even the dropping of the largest mega bomb on earth, the Mother of All Bombs. Talk of nuclear destruction is tossed out in tweets.

This is perhaps the gift that Trump has given us. He has made our hypocrisies transparent. While the United States has always depended on violence and destruction to secure its wealth, we have often hidden that ugliness behind aspirations of becoming something better.  But in the age of Trump, we can no longer pretend. We see daily the cruelty and violence that support our ways of living.

We can no longer evade the reality of who we have become as a nation. Nor can we evade how much force and violence shape not only our relationships around the globe but our public spaces at home and our most intimate relationships.

As we turn to each other this season, the questions before us require the courage to re-imagine what it means to create peace in our lives and on the earth that sustains us.  Finding our ways to peace and respectful relationships has never been more urgent.


Round the corner on Grand River Avenue onto Vinewood Street on Detroit’s West Side and you’ll encounter a building covered in mirrors. The eye-catching Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum is a striking, immersive introduction to African material culture.”
(Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum renovation rendering by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

Look for the new edition of Riverwise is out in your favorite stores and community spaces!


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Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214