July 3rd, 2018
We are writing to ask for your support during one of the most dangerous and turbulent times in recent memory. Internationally we are witnessing increasing brutality in defense of empire. The same disregard for life is a common experience everywhere in our own country.
At the same time, we know this violence cannot defeat the long push by human beings to create a more just, sustainable world.
Many of us know another world is possible because we see glimpses of it as people care for children, protect refugees, stand up to state violence and develop new ways of sharing and caring for one another and our planet.
We also know another world has never been more urgently needed.
For the past several years the Boggs Center has nurtured this new world’s emergence. From urban gardens to new ideas on education, we have fostered places and spaces that remind us of our capacity to create new centers of peace and power in the midst of a dying culture. Today, we recognize that we must move from emergence to convergence, connecting and deepening our abilities to advance toward a more just, sustainable future.
Over this past year we have emphasized creating tangible images of the future. Birwood House and Feedom Freedom Growers are vivid examples of efforts to create new community bonds.
The Center itself has hosted more than 30 tours and nearly 100 conversations, with well over 5,000 people moving through our doors. We have been humbled by the many visitors who have been strongly influenced by and even had their lives changed by the film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, and the book The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activist for the 21st Century. Members of the Boggs Center Board are writing about critical issues, engaging with community and university audiences, and developing independent programs fostering new ways of thinking about justice in our city. We continue to produce our weekly newsletter, Living for Change, sharing ideas and practices from Detroit, and are actively supporting Riverwisemagazine as it enters its second year.
We recognize this moment demands more of us and are committed to strengthening our capacities. We are beginning a strategic planning process and are moving toward finding people who can assume responsibility for the Center as their daily work.
The physical space of the Center has benefited from a number of repairs. Our roof no longer leaks, our steps are now sturdy, and the fence is being restored to its original condition. Increasingly the Center is a hub for activists seeking to think in bold news ways about this moment and our responsibilities to create the next American revolution.
We need your support to continue expanding our work, carrying our charge from Grace and James Boggs to advance our humanity. Please consider supporting us over this next year. For current supporters, we ask you to consider becoming a monthly sustainer by clicking the DONATE button at the top of our home page.
The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center
3061 Field St. Detroit, MI 48214
TAX ID: 38-3267875
The Boggs Board
Thinking for Ourselves
Do it for Love
People rallied across the country to fiercely denounce the horrific immigration policies of Donald Trump and his administration. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit saw large rallies. Smaller towns gathered as well. Here in Maine, Portland saw so many people come to the steps of the City Hall that streets had to be closed down to traffic. I went with friends to the tourist town of Bar Harbor where about 250 gathered on the Village Green.
Organized by MDI Indivisible most of the signs were home made. They carried simple messages. “This is just wrong.” “Call it what it is, ethnic cleansing.” “You can’t have family values if you don’t value families.” “Stop caging children.” “Families belong together.”
The bandstand was surround by stick figure cut out chains, connecting people. Bo Greene who opened the event encouraged people to think together, to reflect, and to commit to actions. She acknowledged that we are at the beginning of a very long struggle.
As I imagine happened in most of the more than 750 gatherings, a series of speakers followed, each offering a different perspective on why we needed to act in this moment. A priest-geneticist talked of faith and DNA, emphasizing the long scope of our human need for connection. A social worker followed. She asked us all to remember a time when we as children had feared the loss of our parents and to use that memory to imagine what so many young people are experiencing at the hands of our government. She reminded us that the trauma of separation echoes through generations, as we have learned from the experiences shared by Indigenous people, from people whose families were separated in slavery, from people separated from loved ones in the name of making us safe. Real safety, she said, comes as we find ways to connect, to love, and protect one another. A young woman followed, talking of her work in migrant communities. The core of this policy, she emphasized, is racism, disguised by a claim to security. All children deserve places to play, to laugh, to delight in a world of safety and protection. She was followed by a new African American citizen, a lawyer, mother, and minister’s wife who talked of how complicated it is to have chosen to love a country that is violating the most fundamental human rights, the deepest dictates of faith.
The speeches concluded with Bo Greene asking us to find ways to recognize that we come to this moment from different perspectives. Some of us are people of faith, some are activists, some are supporting candidates, and some are concerned parents. She encouraged us to find ways to honor the truth that each of us brings, and to find ways to move forward together.
All of us know that rallies will not stop Trump and his forces. But these demonstrations are essential steps in finding ways to move toward a just future as we learn together to take responsibility for making a different kind of country. In the course of these efforts we are opening ourselves and each other to the possibilities of creating essential connections.
In a recent article Rebecca Solnit observed:
In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world, to those whose ideology is “I really don’t care”—whether or not it’s emblazoned on their jackets. Somewhere in there is the reality that what we do we do for love, if it’s worth doing.
SEMIS Comes to Town
On Tuesday, June 26, 40 teachers and friends of SEMIS visited the Boggs Center, Noble School and also met with Birwood House.
SEMIS mission is to “create community stewardship through student citizenship.”
Community stewardship transforms education and our future.The Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS Coalition) nurtures partnerships between schools and innovative thinkers in the community. We build ties with visionary community practices so that students can grow into citizen-stewards of healthy ecological-social systems.
Place-based education drives student engagement. Place-based education is more than taking a fun field trip. It’s a transformative approach that makes learning real and empowers students to create positive changes in their communities while mastering an integrated array of skills.
Our discussion focused on the need for a paradigm shift in education acknowledging that listening to students is essential to practicing democracy in our class rooms and our school community. Teachers came from schools across Detroit and the metro area.
SEMIS is another expression of the growing movement to redefine education for the 21 Century. Living for Change and Riverwise Magazine have shared the emerging visionary organizing and institution building that is emerging throughout Detroit. Examples include the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools, the Birwood Block Club and the Community Lens program, Noble School, and Detroit Summer 2018.
Incite focus has an apprenticeship program for folks to learn advanced technology to create community, Feedom Freedom Growers on the east side of Detroit has another full summer program with young folks emphasizing garderns, art and community housing.
Some will say Detroit is coming back and point to Downtown, we say Detroit is birthing a new epoch based upon the need for a radical revolution in values and a commitment to be solutionaries in our neighborhoods where every individual has the opportunity to reach his and her potential.
This Tuesday visit to the Center and Birwood, ends an amazing month of more than 750 folks visiting the center and asking deeper questions about the future of our city and our country.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will bid farewell to its long-time President & CEO Juanita Moore with a tribute at The Wright Museum on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 from 5 PM – 7 PM.
Remarks at 6:15 PM.
Join us for a reception in honor of Ms. Moore’s retirement as we come together to offer our best wishes and thank her for her 12 years of hard work and dedicated service to The Wright and metropolitan Detroit’s arts and cultural community.
This is a free event, but you must register by July 5th.
Space is limited.
For more information please contact 313-494-5851