Boggs Center – Living for Change News Letter – November 7th, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

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

The first question that has to be answered, therefore, is whether there is any arena in which the United States urgently needs revolutionary—that is to say, rapid and fundamental —develop-ment and reorganization. The answer is unequivocally yes. But, unlike the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the arena in which this country needs revolutionary change is not in the economic but in the political, not the material but the social. The essential, the key, contradiction in the United States that must be resolved if this country is to survive is the contradiction between economic overdevelopment and political underdevelopment.



Living for Change News
November 7th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Truth and Love
Shea Howell

This past week survivors, family, and friends gathered at a quiet cemetery in Greensboro North Carolina to remember the 5 young union organizers killed in 1979 by members of the Ku Klux Klan and America Nazi Party. Over the nearly 4 decades since this massacre the roles of the local police, FBI, Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco agents and the mill owners who opposed unionization have slowly come to light. In spite of a video clearly showing members of the Klan taking rifles from their trunks and carefully aiming at organizers, the shooters were never held accountable for these murders. All criminal defendants were acquitted in both state and federal trials. Often in media and public comments, the victims were blamed for being shot. After the recent killing in Charlottesville, the Greensboro City Council finally issued a formal apology for its role in the violence.

Under the guidance of the Beloved Community Center and Reverend Nelson and Joyce Johnson, Greensboro became the first city in the US to undertake a Truth and Reconciliation process. This week, a decade after the conclusion of the Commission’s report, people gathered to reflect on the lessons learned over the years and to recommit themselves to struggle against “white supremacy;” for” police accountability, living wage, education for all, LGBTQ equity, disability justice, climate change, health care for all,” and to resist the continuing “attacks against democracy.”

Such reflection, discussion and rededication are essential today as we witness the distortions of history at the highest levels of authority. From the President claiming there were “good people” on all sides in Charlottesville, to his Chief of Staff saying the Civil War reflected unwillingness to compromise, people are recognizing that history is not neutral. How we talk about the past shapes our future.

More than a decade ago I participated in one of these graveside gatherings and discussions in Greensboro. I was struck then by the importance of finding our way to talk truthfully about our past. I wrote about the young people in Greensboro, born long after the massacre: “They knew that somehow they were shaped by secrets being kept, lies being perpetrated, violence inflicted and continuing. They knew that they were still suffering from a history hidden from them, distorting their sense of the past, the present and the future. One young woman, barely twenty said, ‘I just want to know what happened. I feel it in my bones and want to understand what happened.’ The pain of the killings and the subsequent lies that have flowed from that day still scar the town and its people.”

We in Detroit carry scars with us as well. From the casual violence of daily life to the political distortions justifying water shut offs, foreclosures, school closing and increase militarization of our neighborhoods, reality is ignored, distorted and denied.

If we as a people are to create a just future, we will have to find our way to a fuller truth. As Reverend Johnson reminded us in his testimony before the commission, “There can be no quality reconciliation unless it is built on a reasonable foundation of truth.  Truth is more than a few facts. At the deepest level truth is love.  It is a deep concern for the other, even when that entails challenging the other.”

What We’re Voting For

Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI), is a metro-Detroit-based small business that works to provide real clean energy engineering solutions to communities that show a strong interest and need for the technology and related education.

Established in January of 2015 out of a need to help bridge the gap between the digital and clean energy divide amongst under-represented communities, RCI’s first project was to find a way to provide clean and renewable energy for Detroit’s urban farm by the name of D-Town Farm by upcycling a used 40-foot shipping container and 10 donated solar panels from a local fabrication lab. Fulfilling the need to provide renewable and sustainable power to this Detroit-area project included the design, building, and installation of a 3-kilowatt solar power station out of these materials for use in powering urban agriculture of the farm in partnership with Detroit Black Food Security Network.

Other projects include delivery of improved neighborhood safety through the training and installation of more than 100 solar home, alley, and streetlights in Detroit and other neighboring communities through the PowerUP Program in partnership with Highland Park based Soulardarity, a local energy-democracy advocacy organization.

RCI has also been commissioned to design and deploy solar cell-phone charging stations for use at public festivals, solar-powered lawn mowers for use in beautifying neighborhoods without polluting the environment with greenhouse gasses, and supporting clean energy efforts in Standing Rock by providing solar-powered generators for the natives to use. Our social commitment to clean energy has extended to the classroom as well with the teaching local groups on community solar and clean energy trainings for teens and adults that prove how education is a core pillar to the sustainable growth of worker owned groups.

Ryter Cooperative Industries’ CEO, Ali Dirul and his team have forged ahead with a vision of green growth by creating progressive partnerships with local entities that can assist in making ground breaking concepts and innovative ideas in renewable energy development a reality for many communities and neighborhoods that would normally not have access.

The dynamic and capable team of Ryter Cooperative Industries consisting of engineers, designers, project managers, and more seeks to build a green coworking demonstration space that uses 100-percent renewable energy resources and the Green America People & Planet Award can help us to make this a reality!

The Ashoka Fellows spent some time with us in Detroit last week. Here’s what they had to say…

“It really was the perfect way to root ourselves in the amazing things happening all around us in Detroit, as we weaved together folks’ different models of change from all across the continent. Thank you for not only hosting us so graciously, but also for holding space for asking the “big questions” with such skilled facilitation and radical welcoming. It was truly a learning moment for me and for all of us!”

“People continued to reference the visit, and the takeaways from the conversation, throughout our whole time together. You really made an impression in the best of ways.”

A note from friend of the Boggs Center, Piper Carter.

Just want to share the live stream video from the other panel I was on during The Women’s Convention. Sharing a piece of my story with a room full of Women who came to hear me at The Women’s Convention was a really powerful experience. The room was PACKED!!! Class was in session. I’m Grateful people listened.

It was a Fantastic conversation with Lux Alptraum and myself on why women tear each other down and what we can all do to be more effective co-workers, friends, and allies.

Mallory McMorrow who is running for State Senator hosted this panel tackling the once-hushed issue of why women tear each other down in the public and professional sphere, why some criticism is necessary between marginalized women and their peers, and why it’s more important to build coalitions now than ever before.  She called it “Build Her Up; Don’t Tear Her Down: Avoiding Standing in Our Own Way” with Lux Alptraum and Piper Martine Carter.