Dig – Angela Jones – 2009

 

In DIG poet Angela Jones, now 24 and on her way to the Peace Corps in Peru, shares with us the identity she has forged for herself from being in and with Detroit Summer since she was 14. It is from imaginations like hers that will come answers to the many fundamental interconnected and demanding questions with which this essay began.

 

There are forgotten truths in this soil

And I’m going to dig for them

But don’t give me those tools that my brothers used

To extract diamonds from a land

That they once called home

Oh ,no, I’m going to use my hands.

 

I’ll scar the ground and scrape the stones

In desperation

Digging for a truth that is buried down deep

Buried with a purpose

I’ll scratch with my nails and punch with my fists

Shaking the earth with their urgent blows

Until I hit some solid surface

The surface of a revelation so true

It’s too true to bear witness to.

 

These violent secrets unveiled that are dirty

Like t he dust on my knuckles

Angry and clenched in a fretful pose

This earth is not a lake, where I can dip palms in

And let drops drip from my fingertips

No, these secrets are too painful

And the earth is unwilling

So I will make my hands of metal

Digging through the cracked cement to excavate

Skyscrapers

 

Finding tombs of wombs that bare the fruit

Of privileged elite

In moth-eaten purple pin-stripe

My destiny is to dig for doubtless truths

Shattering dogmas with jackhammers

And hiding jailhouse files in my raised fist

To file away the bars of steel mines

And copper mines

Freeing ancestors of mine, and y ours

From slavery, indentured servitude,

And minimum wage.

 

This earth that hides the headlines and hellraisers

Of old revolutions

Is that same earth that bore me into a kingdom

Of corrupt kings and cruel intentions

This institution is not amorous

It knows its sins – now I shall know them, too.

 

This dirt is soaked with nuclear test sites

Ghetto mounds of grass-covered garbage

Where children run through mutated weeds

This dirt is carried on the wind

Gets in your eyes and blinds you

From the internment camps that were once there

In this soil rests the sullen graves of adobe huts

And in their place grow reservation HUD houses

And welfare cheese

Barrio booze and CIA-sold street crystals

All picked from the same genetically modified tree

Grown in the closet we hide our skeletons in.

 

The deep, dark depths of the earth

Hide the secrets to shame and bad decisions

What’s fair is often forgotten

And you can’t find freedom from a flag

You have to dig for it.

 

So dig for your freedom

Fragile figures of history’s failures

Or I’ll dig for you

For those fools of fortune I’ll plow through

The lies and muck of middle-earth

Turning stock shares into ploughshares

Giving campesinos back their poly-cultural crops

I’ll worm my way though the holes in this planet

To other kingdoms and freedoms forgotten

Because t his earth is not rotten

It cleanses itself every other empire

By hands that dig for the truth

 

Through old tragedies and fallen legacies

We must keep the past in mind and at hand.

To seize that chance to begin anew.

 

 

Jobs aren’t the Answer by Grace Lee Boggs written 2011

LIVING FOR CHANGE

Jobs aren’t the Answer

By Grace Lee Boggs 2011

The continuing Jobs crisis is an opportunity to go beyond protest organizing for more Jobs and begin imagining Work that frees us from being the appendages to machines that we have become because of our dependence on Jobs.

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times

Instead of looking to politicians for programs that will provide millions of Jobs, we need to encourage the creation of Work that not only produces goods and services but develops our skills, protects our environment and lifts our spirits.

In a letter read recently to hundreds of activists at an Environmental Justice gathering, University of Michigan Professor and futurist Bunyan Bryant explained the thinking needed for this visionary organizing.

It begins, he said, by making a distinction between Work and a Job as outlined by Mathew Fox (The Re-Invention of Work)

“A job is similar to slavery in that one is forced to perform actions in return for some sort of compensation for one’s labor.  Therefore the rewards are extrinsic, and without such extrinsic rewards people cannot be forced into a job they dislike.  To tolerate or compensate for these job conditions often times people will engage in excessive consumerism or self-medicate to counteract the boredom that comes from a job or to make themselves feel better.

“Work, on the other hand, is defined as activities that one enjoys.  To be compensated with money is not important because of the pleasures and satisfaction of work. Therefore the rewards are more intrinsic.

A Society that Works

“ I envision a multi-racial society where people perform the requirements of a job three days a week.  Jobs are designed to perform the basic functions or necessities of society.  The other four days of the week are devoted to work activities of teaching, learning, and healing the earth. It would also be a time to spend more quality time with family, friends and to pursue one’s hobbies and special interests.

“Full employment can be defined as 90 percent unemployment. People will devote their time to build a green economy and one that is compatible with the Earth’s life-cycle. People will be liberated to participate in community-based research projects to help the poor and to protect the environment.

“Every six years people would get a two year paid sabbatical to travel to distant parts of the planet to help people in need and to work for healthy environments, green economies, peace and prosperity of the mind, body and spirit. In order for this to happen requires a skillful use of technology and a commitment to the future.”

Bunyan’s vision of a Society that Works reminds me of the               {r} evolutionary transformation that Jimmy Boggs envisioned nearly 50 years ago in The American Revolution as automation and Hi Tech eliminated the need for human creativity and energies to make things. Those energies and that creativity, Jimmy said, could be used to make politics and a better world — without war and without global warming.

REIMAGINING WORK: A conversation in Detroit, sponsored by over 15 community organizations. Oct. 28-30, 2011. !!!!!

Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – October 2nd, 2017

  Jimmy and Grace  
 Grace Lee Boggs 6-27-1915 – 10-5-2015
____________________________
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
October 2nd, 2017

3

Thinking for Ourselves

Democracy and States?
Shea Howell

This week, as much of the nation’s attention has been riveted to the devastation of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the Michigan Legislature is quietly continuing its efforts to destroy local democracy.  

This time the Republican controlled house passed two new gun bills, aimed not at guns, but local city councils. The first bill shifted the legislation around carrying concealed pistols. Instead of classifying carrying a gun after a permit has expired a felony, the bill makes the action a civil offense, subject to a fine. It seems republicans want to “make sure a normally law-abiding citizen doesn’t lose their right to carry a concealed firearm because of an expired permit.”  This action raises interesting questions about other felonies that we should consider reclassifying and for whose benefit.

But it is the second piece of legislation that is most troubling. It is intended to stop local governments from enacting any ordinances to control the use of guns. Representative Gary Howell’s proposed legislation would impose a $500 to $2,500 fine on any local government official who knowingly adopts “a gun ordinance out of line with state gun laws and does not repeal the ordinance within 90 days after a formal complaint is brought against the official over the matter.” One way to think about this effort is right wing republicans want to prosecute local officials for attempting to protect children from guns while protecting state officials or emergency managers from law suits for poisoning cities and destroying schools.

This effort is referred to as a “super pre-emption.”

What is pre-empted of course is the ability of local councils to respond to local constituents and local needs. The effort to destroy local decision making is part of a broader effort by right wing republicans to reduce the capacity of people in cities and towns to control our own lives.

Earlier this summer, a similar effort was launched against sanctuary cities to prohibit local communities from limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Local officials, including law enforcement officials testified against such bills. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said that the bill would discourage immigrants from cooperating with police when they investigate crime.

“Most of the police service leaders recognize that fighting crime occurs with strong and trusting relationships with community members, who work as witnesses and help develop solutions to neighborhood problems,” he said. “The trust and strong relationships that I speak of is often a very fragile thing.”

These latest efforts are part of a broad pattern of actions by right wing state legislatures to undermine democracy at the local level. From gun control to protections of basic human rights, and emergency managers, state level legislators are pre-empting or overturning the judgments of local cities about the values and policies we want to define our shared lives.

These efforts diminish all of us. They are raising fundamental questions about whether or not representative level state government is compatible with developing a vibrant democracy. Each time the state legislature moves to restrict, control or overturn local decision making it attacks the basic capacities that enables us to define our civic life. Creating sovereign cities and towns is an essential part of developing a human future. State level legislation is increasingly at odds with what we need to develop our region and our people.


AMC

What We’re Reading

Visionary organizing, not protest, brings change
Fran Salone-Pelletier

Grace Lee Boggs, a life-long activist who died in 2015 at the age of 100, believed and lived as a visionary woman. As stated in an article from The Daily Good, “She lived and breathed her truth and believed that tending gardens, caring for the self, and caring for others were ways to nourish activism. In a sometimes harsh world, these simple acts of kindness end up restoring the energy needed to carry on the hard work of social change.”

Those were, and are, life-saving actions for me to contemplate. My computer is inundated with emails requesting support for innumerable issues. Daily, I receive multiple surveys to complete and return — with personal comments, if possible. I’m asked my opinion, whether or not I am knowledgeable about the stated concerns. Obediently and loyally, as a person dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, and peace, I have complied. I am now depleted, drained by the effort to protest what I believe to be lacking in authenticity and discouraged with the apparent failure to be effective.

KEEP READING


 

october 14


 

How does the State take over our schools 3

2How does the State take over our schools


 

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:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  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
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lee Boggs – June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

At almost 100 years old.

By Grace Lee Boggs  –  June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

August 2014

At almost 100 years old, I experience falls, new levels of pain, and difficulties moving. I also feel the need to record the most important influences in my life over the years. When I started college I had no idea what I was going to study. Japan had just invaded Manchuria so I thought international relations and political science should be my field of study. But in the middle of my sophomore year, the great depression started and I dropped all of my classes and decided to take philosophy even though, at the time, I could not tell you what it meant to study philosophy. Somehow, in my late teens, I was beginning to ask what life was all about, and that has been the question that has shaped the more than 80 years that have transpired since then. That’s where philosophy begins.

What is life about? How do we know reality?

Philosophy begins with conversation. We ask ourselves what it means to be human, how do we know reality.   What a wonderful gift to be able to talk with one another.

Conversation is a wonderful gift and not to be replaced with speakerphones or emails that are so unilateral and not mutual.

Socrates believed in dialogue and he was afraid that the new technology of writing would replace dialogue, where human beings actually interact with one another and through this they discover what they truly think.

In my living room I have a hundred books that I have selected from the thousands of books in my library. I am going to record why each of these books is important to me. They are about education, they are about philosophy, they are about this city.

 

On the first shelf are the books of philosophy. There are books from Socrates, who created the topic of philosophy, all the way to Lenin and Mao and Hegel. And then on the second shelf are books on the history of cities, including the history of Detroit. These are the books that I share with the people who visit.

As I think about my nearly 100 years and these 100 hundred books, I want my life to challenge people to think philosophically. I want people to ask themselves and each other what time it is on the clock of the world.

Naming the Enemy

By Grace Lee Boggs

 A spectre is haunting the American people– the spectre of destruction by capitalism. In its limitless quest for profits capitalism has defiled our human relationships by turning them into money relationships. It has transformed Work from a precious human activity into Jobs which are done only for a paycheck and which have become increasingly meaningless and increasingly scarce as the profits from our labor are invested in increasingly complex machines. It has undermined the Family ties by which human beings down through the ages have absorbed naturally and normally the elementary standards of conduct and the sense of continuity with the human race which make us human. By encouraging us to value material things more than social ties, it has turned us into a society of selfish individualists and materialists, seeking to compensate for the spiritual emptiness of our lives by the endless pursuit of distractions.It has despoiled the Land, Waters and Air on which our lives depend.

Up to now, most Americans have been able to evade facing this destructiveness because it was primarily other peoples, other races, other cultures which were being destroyed. For the sake of westward expansion the Native Americans were massacred and their survivors driven into the world’s first concentration camps. To clear the land and build the agricultural infrastructure necessary for industrial development, millions of Africans were enslaved and the ideology of racism created. Convinced that it was our destiny to rule the entire continent, Americans seized the Southwest from Mexico. When we came to the end of the American frontier, we reached out to Latin America and the Pacific. When capitalist expansion and centralization created the Great Depression, we got our economy moving again by producing for World War II. After the war we used our economic power and monopoly of nuclear weapons to protect capitalism in Europe from socialist revolution and to crush revolutionary struggles in the Third World by supporting and installing military dictatorships.

Ever since World War II it has been able to keep going only by producing weapons of destruction and by turning us into mindless consumers, unable to distinguish between our Needs and our Want, utilizing the mass media with the same cunning with which Hitler turned the German people into collaborators in their own destruction. New shiny cars and appliances have been pushed as sure ways to win love for ourselves. Women (and men) have been turned into sex objects. Credit cards have been promoted as badges of status.

As this brainwashing process has gained momentum over the last few decades, the moral and social fabric of our society has been steadily undermined. Our small towns and communities, in which neighborliness and character were more important than money, have been replaced by suburbs. Our judgment has been so distorted that we now consider “square” those who still value self-reliance and hard work, while we admire the “big spender.” Banks and loan sharks, whom we once viewed with suspicion, we now consider our friends, while more and more we fear those closest to us, our families, co-workers, and neighbors. Crime, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, teen-age pregnancy and venereal disease have reached near epidemic proportions because, instead of depending upon each other for company and comfort (as human beings have done down through the ages), we look to more colorful goods and new, more exciting experiences to make us feel good.

Pursuing private happiness in the form of material goods, we did not care that we were passing on these materialistic and individualistic values to our children. Instead of recognizing that we were breeding criminals by the supreme value we had put on material things, we tried to project the blame for crime onto others. We ignored the growing threat to our health from the Love Canals that were being created by the dumping of industrial waste in our waters and our earth. We closed our eyes to the degrading lives being lived by the millions whom capitalism had already cast onto the Welfare rolls, little dreaming that the same fate was being prepared for us

But now the chickens have come home to roost. While we were collaborating with capitalism by accepting its dehumanizing values, capitalism itself was moving to a new stage, the stage of multinational capitalism. Big capitalists have been swallowing up smaller ones, creating giant corporations who buy and sell other giant corporations all over the world. A few hundred multi-national corporations now move capital and goods everywhere and anywhere, according to where they can make the most profit.

These multinational corporations have no loyalty to the United States or to any American community. They have no commitment to the reforms that Americans have won through hard struggle. Instead of giving more each year, they demand that we accept less or else.

If American workers do not accept wages and benefits competitive with those of Japanese or Mexican or Filipino workers, they do not hesitate to shut down a plant that has been the heart of the economic life of a city or region.. City workers and school teachers find that they are no longer needed; small businesses go bankrupt. So millions of workers, skilled and unskilled, blue collar and white collar, have already been laid off . Whole cities have been turned into wastelands by corporate takeovers and by runaway corporations. Yet our city and state officials, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, white or black, continue to compete with one another to offer tax breaks and reduced worker benefits to these corporations, knowing full well they will pick up and leave when they can make more profit elsewhere.

Meanwhile, because American capitalism no longer dominates the world market, our government can no longer afford the reforms with which all administrations since the Great Depression have tried to make capitalism more palatable. So social and Welfare programs are being ruthlessly dismantled; unions are being busted or immobilized; the moral, environmental and civilized restraints on capitalist expansion which have been won only after decades of struggle are being abandoned.

That is why we must now make a second American revolution to rid ourselves of the capitalist values and institutions which have brought us to this state of powerlessness or suffer the same mutilation, the same destruction of our families and our communities, the same loss of national independence as over the years we have visited upon other peoples and other nations.