Boggs Center -Living For Change Newsletter – Oct 26th, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

 James and Grace Lee Boggs, “Uprooting Racism and Racists in the United States” 1970

The economic advantages to the United States of having a colony inside its own borders have been tremendous. By using the colonial force of blacks, US capitalism has been able to moderate the general contradiction of capitalist accumulation. That is to say, it has been able to accelerate technological expansion and at the same time keep profits coming in from continuing exploitation of it obsolescent “used” factories, homes, schools, stores, etc. As a result, the United States has developed into the technologically most advanced country in the world.

Living for Change News
October 26th, 2017

Thinking for Ourselves
Heart Fierceness

Shea Howell

This week Detroit hosted two major conferences, the 13th Annual Great Lakes Bioneers and the 1st National Women’s Convention. I shuttled between the two, getting a sense of the new energy emerging in our country.

womens con

The Bioneers are dedicated to creating resilient, sustainable communities. Conference planners invited everyone to embrace the theme We the People Love this Place, saying, “When people come together as a learning community to discover new ways of being and when they share transformative ideas for the sake of the Commons everyone benefits. When students and teachers attending the conference bring back what they learn to their schools, education can flourish. When everyone is welcomed and affirmed we move toward wholeness.”

Friday was dedicated to young people. Naelyn Pike, a 17 year-old Apache change maker from Arizona, challenged people to find their own voices and stand for protecting the earth and one another. She was followed by a several city tours exploring the water crisis, new approaches to housing, work, art, agriculture, and sustainable communities. Young people asked critical questions about what kind of future we want and how we organize in new ways to secure it.

Saturday morning began with powerful poetry offered by Dr. Gloria House to open our hearts and minds to think creatively about our city.  The opening session brought together 4 women who experienced the 1967 uprising and are now offering leadership to critical struggles. Erma Leaphart and Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club are immersed in issues of environmental justice. Gloria Lowe of We Want Green 2 is working on rebuilding community while restoring veterans to a sense of wholeness and purpose. Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights spoke passionately about the impact of nearly 60,000 water shut offs in our city and the importance of creating new narratives about our lives based on an understanding the forces attempting to profit from the sufferings of people.

Panelist talked not only about the fear and confusion created by tanks and curfews, but about the joy in seeing people stand up for each other and say “enough is enough.” They shared memories of neighbors organizing to go grocery shopping and protect children in the face of gunfire and tear gas. All the speakers emphasized finding ways to take action now. Gloria Lowe said, “There is a lot of work to be done as we understand what it takes to become more human human beings.”

Downtown nearly 5000 women and some men gathered to extend the energies unleashed in January 2017 in the historic Women’s March calling for resistance to the Trump agenda.

While the gathering emphasized strategies for midterm elections in hopes of countering the policies and direction of Donald Trump, there was a deeper tone. In large meetings and smaller workshops women affirmed the belief that change is coming. It is being born by the power of women exploring new forms of resistance, working toward a larger vision of liberation for all people. Maxine Waters captured the feeling in a fiery speech echoing the words spoken earlier that morning. “Enough is enough,” she shouted, challenging us to take responsibilities for our futures.

Sister Gloria Riveria captured the mood of both gatherings when she spoke to the young bioneers at the opening session. She talked about finding a politics from our heart and having the courage for fierce action. Heart. Fierceness. These will carry us to a better future.

Do Labels Define a Person’s Worth?
An Evening with Author Janice Fialka
Thursday, November 2, 7 pm
Crazy Wisdom Book Store
Ann Arbor, MI


Her book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love, is the powerful story of Micah Fialka-Feldman, who has an intellectual disability, his community, and the ground breaking journey of full inclusion in K-12 schools, college work and life.  Learn what it takes to ensure that labels such as “low IQ” do not define one’s ability to contribute to the world and live a meaningful life.  Discover why Krista Tippet of On Being praises the book as “mind-opening, life-altering, soul stretching.” A book of practical guidance, wisdom, and humor for all, because we all need to be included. Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized speaker, author, award-winning social worker and advocate on issues related to disability, inclusion and family-professional partnerships.  She is also a compelling storyteller.

The mother of Micah and Emma, Janice brings grace and grit to her conversations. Hosted by Bill Zirinsky, owner of Crazy Wisdom.

For more information:  Contact Janice Fialka at or

Taking a (Michi)Gander Down a Path of Possibility
Sydney Fine

Dark soil caked underneath my fingernails and seedling in my hand, rays of sunshine beating down from the sky, the smell of fresh produce in the air, and laughter roaring from all directions, I looked up to see a row of houses that had been abandoned and boarded up to be demolished. The juxtaposition between the life I was holding in my hands, in the form of small sprouts that would soon become brightly colored vegetables, and the devastation 50 feet away from me was uncanny. This observation hit me several times over the course of my three-day service trip in Detroit.

I had the privilege of co-leading a service trip to Detroit over Fall Break with Kate Longo. Seven intelligent and observant students and Alex Serna-Wallender, our fantastic chaplain, joined Kate and me on the alternative break trip with the intention of making an impact outside of the Wooster community. We partnered with an organization called Repair the World (RTW). With locations in several major cities in the United States, RTW is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring about community-wide change, focusing on food and education injustices in these cities. The organization gets its name from the Jewish value of Tikun Olam, which translates to “repair the world.”

On our trip, we spent the majority of our time working in urban gardens. We gained new perspectives about the importance of urban gardens that supply fresh produce in the middle of communities where public transportation is incredibly sparse. While we were planting garlic or building a green house, we had the opportunity to talk to the founders of the urban gardens and members of the community who lived by the gardens who had come to join us in the work. We heard incredible stories of entrepreneurs starting with a plot of overgrown grass and turning the land into spots where neighbors come together to harvest vegetables, tend to animals, and share each others company. One man, Magnetic Sun, explained to us that everything that he has learned about agriculture, he taught himself from reading every book he could get his hands on and connecting with other urban gardeners.

Thoughts about how ubiquitous poverty and food scarcity is in the United States are often overwhelming. They often inhibit me from determining what clear-cut things I can do to make a small impact on those problems. However, there are things I am doing to begin to repair the world, and, if I can do it, you can do it. Wooster is anomaly in that we get a full week off for Fall Break and two weeks off for Spring Break. Participating in a service trip over one of these two breaks is a great start. I have been on three alternative break trips, and every time I return from the trip feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated. If participating in a service trip is not your cup-of-(volun)tea(ring), look for opportunities to volunteer in your local community. I find that residents residing in struggling communities have fascinating stories to share. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to listen to and learn from these experts. It is important to recognize that the people who know what any community needs most are the members of that community, not volunteers or local political leaders. Step outside of your comfort zone, talk to members of your surrounding community, and take a (Michi)gander down a path of possibility.

The North Pole_Flyer 3

NOVEMBER 11 flyer


Please Support the Boggs Center

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.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:

You can contribute directly at our website:  –  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

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

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214