Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – August 7th , 2017

Jimmy and Grace  
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
August 7th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
What We Owe
Shea HowellMayor Duggan is acting like a mini-Donald Trump. This week he went after scientists. Duggan simply refuses to accept the fact that his policy on water shutoffs is a failure. He is risking the health and safety of the city by refusing to declare a moratorium on shutoffs. He ignores the advice of economic experts that shutoffs make no economic sense. He denies clear evidence that his assistance programs are not adequate to protect people. This week he demonstrated a new level of bullying and paranoia, spying on activists and confusing a meeting of health professionals with potentially violent protests.

Community groups have been trying for months to get the Mayor to recognize that the scale of water shutoffs is not only a violation of human rights, but it posses basic health hazards to all of us.  Realizing that common sense would not sway the Mayor, local activist groups partnered with Henry Ford’s Global Health Initiative to look at emergency room data that might be related to water shut offs.

The study used block level data and analyzed 37,441 cases of waterborne illnesses to see if there was any connection between incidents of the illnesses and shutoffs between January 2015 and February 2016.  They found two statistically significant correlations:

  • Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff.
  • Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness.

This information was released in a press conference in April. It received little attention. Moreover the researchers at Henry Ford began to back away from any public use of the information. They talked about this being an “extremely limited study” and are concerned about the “political purposes” for which the study is being used.

The Mayor and his GLWA cronies have chosen to focus on what they consider the “politics” of the study, ignoring the science. Even while distancing themselves from the study, Henry Ford officials were forced to acknowledge that it is at the least the findings call for further study. Brenda Craig, of the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative said, “Additional studies with multiple factors and controls would be necessary. At this point, we remain open to talking with city and other officials about appropriate next steps.”

Unlike the Mayor, activists are concerned that the possibility of serious health issues become part of the public discussion around water shutoffs. Thus they invited standard health scientists from around the country to review the study and offer suggestions for what we should do to protect our people.

The panel of experts who gathered at Wayne State University this week concluded the city should declare a public health emergency and stop water shutoffs. One of the panelists, Dr. Wendy Johnson, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington said that Detroit water shutoffs are a public health crisis. “Water-related diseases are now occurring in Detroit as the result of water shutoffs,” Johnson said. “Access to clean and safe water is a basic human right that is essential from a public health standpoint to prevent infectious diseases. We have run out of time and solutions must be immediate.”

Johnson said the connection between a lack of water and illness is not rocket science: People without access to water are not washing their hands as often and are at higher risk of contagious diseases and waterborne illness, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The actions the Mayor should take are obvious. He can walk into any Coney Island in the city and be reminded that he should wash his hands after leaving the bathroom. Yet he persists in policies that deny this basic gesture to thousands of people every day. He is endangering everyone by his refusal to acknowledge science and by his efforts to silence those who care only to protect everyone in the city.


WHAT WE’RE READING
Detroit is Not a Movie

Frank Joyce
alternet

Are you thinking of seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s movie Detroit? Don’t.
Read John Hersey’s book The Algiers Motel Incident instead. It is one of the most remarkable books about race ever written by a white man. And it’s as accurate an account of the massacre at the Algiers Motel as currently exists.

Oh, never mind. By all means, see the movie if the marketing campaign has persuaded you it’s the kind of entertainment you like. But please don’t think you are going to gain any deep insight into what happened in Detroit in 1967. Or what’s happening now. Or most importantly what you could do to reduce the destructive grip of white power on our society going forward.


Live and work as a community
grassroots activist in Detroit, Michigan

Open Call August 1st thru September 29th, 2017

Do you need a place to begin living the life of activism in service to the community of humanity? We have the opportunity of a life time for strengthening your current work, for discovering your new work and a place where you may, in a positive and affirming environment,  discover and or define your Purpose. You will have an opportunity to work with us, to walk with us and we offer two residential opportunities that will allow you to discover and re-discover your passion. Ours is a place of compassionate refuge where we employ and deploy the lessons of our ancestors in growing communities that nurture humanity in each other.
  • Are you ready to be the change you are seeking?
  • Are you ready to change your life and become part of community where you matter?
  • Do you need a place where you may continue an “established “activism of service, to learn and grow?
  • Do you need a place to live and a place to network, in a community that needs work?
  • Do you desire to uplift humanity while learning, growing and sharing together to build compassionate community?
  • Are you ready to make the commitment to learn by doing, about leadership and advocacy, literally building compassionate communities from the ground up from a truly grass-roots methodology?
If your answer is “yes” then you are who we are looking for. We want to invest in those who are ready, hungry, for a society of intentional compassionate community building in a unique and highly inter-relational local –global organization.

We are The Hush House Collective and we are presently comprised of five fingers to our  Collective Arm initiated through our museum’s purpose and service: 1)The Hush House Black History Community Museum, 1986; 2) The HH International Leadership and Training Institute For Human Rights, 2007; 3)The Simmons Center for Peace, Justice, Education and Environmental Studies, 2014; 4) The McIntosh Residential Leadership House, 2014;  5) HYMM: Hush Your Mouth Multi-Media,2008; 6)TruDSoul Bed and Breakfast, 2015.

We believe that this is the time for those who “see”: and need a place to take root and build.  We of The Hush House purpose to make available the following in our Leadership/ Intern House:

  1. 2 flats of nearly the same dimensions: 2 bedrooms, living and dining room and kitchen: the space can be used for multiple functions, including residence for Interns and Fellows to serve as their home base in the community. The live in Residence is situated in (Midtown), which also includes The Hush House main campus (also in Midtown).
  2. Lower level of the house includes a basement that has its own entrance and will be developed by Interns/Fellows as office and meeting and teaching space(s); and a recording studio.
The Residents are encouraged to agree on some places in their work to evolve a Compassionate means to encourage humanity through their individual and their corded visions that take on “flesh.”
  1. Utilities will be paid as a collective: water, gas, electricity (our desire is to be off the grid, so if we are able to accomplish those goals of “going off the grid”: solar/wind energy/water collection/storage/toilets/ref use collections and disposals.
  2. There is an open, multi- use space to run the programs inside the community and with the benefit of emergent and ever evolving support and infrastructure of the New Work of The Hush House Collective.
Through our Collective, we have an opportunity for four to six persons as HH Resident Leadership Fellows and Resident Intern opportunities through our International Leadership and Training Institute for Human Rights and The Hush House Black Community Museum as Leadership Fellows and Interns. We encourage applicants who are currently in school to apply. Send inquiries, & applications to our email: thehushhouse@gmal.com

INTERNSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIPS: Internships 12 to 15 months/ Fellowships 15 month commitments.

Each Intern selected will be awarded a deeply discounted living space and a work/ meeting space to develop and implement their programs that supplement and support Hush House programs: each person selected is expected to use their skill set that they have now and those that will evolve through our leadership training programs to maintain and establish replicable and sustainable community-grass roots based- solutions that strengthen our communities.  Each intern is also expected to share in the tasks of maintaining the infrastructure, public and private spaces of the community. All spaces are shared and the collective is responsible for utilities: water, electricity, gas and water/sewage.  Interns are obligated to contribute 20 scheduled hours work per week, minimum.

Leadership Fellows are vetted based on recommendations and of the quality of their proven work in community engagement. Fellows, receive a stipend of free rent and must only pay an equally shared portion of utilities (lights/gas/water). Fellows are expected to incorporate their interests with those of our collective, and to take responsibility as mentors, administrators, fundraisers and rising leaders in the local to global community.  Fellows are obligated to contribute 25-30 scheduled hours of work per week.

*Programming may require weekends and travel (overnight/weekend and Belize -worked out in advance)

SUBMISSIONSWe are accepting letters of interest and applications August 1, 2017-September 29, 2017. If selected, Residency begins officially October-November, 2017. ThehushhouseSubmissions@gmail. com

Please submit a letter of interest that includes a “community resume” that expresses the work you have been involved in and the type of commitment that you can make. You must also provide verifiable references, be willing to have a background check, Veterans, Families, Young Adults (25 up), Active Elders (any age), and persons who have been incarcerated (with some limitations): If you don’t know your purpose but you have the passion to serve and want to learn and you are not afraid of divers work, then send us your letter too!

We also offer non-residential fellowships and internships; please call or email us for more information at our office: 313 896.2521 or email us: thehushhouse@gmail.com

*Our plan to caravan to Belize is based on our successful funding of this project.

5050


police
For Immediate Release:

Resolution condemning President Trump’s call for mistreatment of suspects in police custody

Whereas,  the President of the United States of America takes office by swearing to uphold the U.S. Constitution and all the nation’s laws for the benefit of all its peoples and the advancement of a more perfect Democracy, and

Whereas, the U.S. Justice Department in modern history has been an instrument for the country to ensure that local communities adhere to practices that are Constitutional and result in a more level playing field in education, housing, employment, criminal justice and other arenas. This is especially true of police forces in towns, counties and cities where the Justice Department has ensured protections of all those accused of crime until they are proven guilty in a court of law, and has helped eliminate improper and systemic police practices through consent decrees and other measures, and

Whereas, the current President, Donald Trump, continues to voice beliefs and take action through polices that undermine the very tenets of our Constitution and that dishonor our highest elected office. On Friday, July 28, 2017, President Trump spoke before an audience of New York law enforcement and urged them to “rough” handle suspects in custody. His remarks, taken along with his actions through the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continue to rollback police practices to a rudimentary era of physical abuse, unlawful confinement, and wholesale discrimination that endangers all of our human rights, and

Whereas, President Trump used an ethnic slur in his speech, a stark reminder of how ingrained discrimination has been in law enforcement and how some officials have used police powers systemically to intimidate people based on their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or heritage, as Irish immigrants once experienced. It was especially disturbing that President Trump’s audience included Suffolk County police officers, whose former chief right now faces prison for beating a man and whose Police Department remains under federal oversight for years of abusive police practices that violated the Constitution and discriminated against Latinos and immigrants; and

Whereas, our Board and other oversight bodies have worked diligently to modernize law enforcement policies and procedures for greater effectiveness in identifying, arresting and securing the conviction of criminals.  We cannot let one person, even the President of the United States, undo the progress stemming from the work and often sacrifice of countless police officers, community leaders, activists, and others who together ensure the profession of law enforcement is elevated to the highest excellence; therefore

Be It Resolved that the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners strongly condemns President Trump’s support of unlawful and abusive police tactics, and his ongoing efforts through the Justice Department and other parts of his Administration to dismantle modern professional police standards and proven criminal justice advancements. His approach to policing is antiquated and embodies a mindset that has no place among officers sworn to uphold the law, or frankly among any civilized society in the 21st Century. Our Board wants President Trump to know that he will not deter our mission to work with stakeholders at all levels towards the proven best practices that ensure safe neighborhoods and a thriving city.


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

Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – July 31st. 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

We may Be Able to Change the World if our Imagination is rich enough.

Grace Lee Boggs

Living for Change News
July 31st, 2017
 Riverwise   special edition 67 Rebellion  riverwisedetroit.org
2017-1196 Riverwise Rebellion w-notes

Thinking for Ourselves

Science and the Mayor       Shea Howell
Mayor Duggan is acting like a mini-Donald Trump. This week he went after scientists. Duggan simply refuses to accept the fact that his policy on water shutoffs is a failure. He is risking the health and safety of the city by refusing to declare a moratorium on shutoffs. He ignores the advice of economic experts that shutoffs make no economic sense. He denies clear evidence that his assistance programs are not adequate to protect people. This week he demonstrated a new level of bullying and paranoia, spying on activists and confusing a meeting of health professionals with potentially violent protests.Community groups have been trying for months to get the Mayor to recognize that the scale of water shutoffs is not only a violation of human rights, but it posses basic health hazards to all of us.  Realizing that common sense would not sway the Mayor, local activist groups partnered with Henry Ford’s Global Health Initiative to look at emergency room data that might be related to water shut offs.

The study used block level data and analyzed 37,441 cases of waterborne illnesses to see if there was any connection between incidents of the illnesses and shutoffs between January 2015 and February 2016.  They found two statistically significant correlations:

  • Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff.
  • Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness.

This information was released in a press conference in April. It received little attention. Moreover the researchers at Henry Ford began to back away from any public use of the information. They talked about this being an “extremely limited study” and are concerned about the “political purposes” for which the study is being used.

The Mayor and his GLWA cronies have chosen to focus on what they consider the “politics” of the study, ignoring the science. Even while distancing themselves from the study, Henry Ford officials were forced to acknowledge that it is at the least the findings call for further study. Brenda Craig, of the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative said, “Additional studies with multiple factors and controls would be necessary. At this point, we remain open to talking with city and other officials about appropriate next steps.”

Unlike the Mayor, activists are concerned that the possibility of serious health issues become part of the public discussion around water shutoffs. Thus they invited standard health scientists from around the country to review the study and offer suggestions for what we should do to protect our people.

The panel of experts who gathered at Wayne State University this week concluded the city should declare a public health emergency and stop water shutoffs. One of the panelists, Dr. Wendy Johnson, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington said that Detroit water shutoffs are a public health crisis. “Water-related diseases are now occurring in Detroit as the result of water shutoffs,” Johnson said. “Access to clean and safe water is a basic human right that is essential from a public health standpoint to prevent infectious diseases. We have run out of time and solutions must be immediate.”

Johnson said the connection between a lack of water and illness is not rocket science: People without access to water are not washing their hands as often and are at higher risk of contagious diseases and waterborne illness, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The actions the Mayor should take are obvious. He can walk into any Coney Island in the city and be reminded that he should wash his hands after leaving the bathroom. Yet he persists in policies that deny this basic gesture to thousands of people every day. He is endangering everyone by his refusal to acknowledge science and by his efforts to silence those who care only to protect everyone in the city.


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

WDET

1967 Was Decades Before They Were Born

Find out what some young Detroit students think of the uproar that happened in their city 50 years ago.

LISTEN

AND

Democracy Now!

Fifty years ago this month, rebellions broke out in the cities of Newark and Detroit. It all began in Newark on July 12, 1967, when two white police officers detained and beat an African-American cabdriver. Shortly after, on July 23, police officers raided an after-hours club in an African-American neighborhood of Detroit, sparking another mass rebellion. Forty-three people died in Detroit, and 26 were killed in Newark, while 7,000 people were arrested. The rebellions reshaped both Newark and Detroit and marked the beginning of an era of African-American political empowerment.

Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, and Scott Kurashige, author of the new book, “The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit.”

LISTEN

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

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter -July 25, 2017

Jimmy and Grace

We are the Children of Martin and Malcolm…

We are the children of Martin and Malcolm,       

Black, brown, red and white,

Our birthright is to be creators of history,

Our Right, Our Duty   

To shake the world with          

A new dream!

July 25th, 2017

Thinking for Ourselves
From Contempt to Love
Shea Howell

Throughout the city people are talking about the Detroit Rebellion, now 50 years in the past. The debate between riot and rebellion still surges, igniting energy and argument. The meaning of it all is still analyzed, the images still inspiring. In all of these conversations, fear lingers. Will it happen again?

Many people comfort themselves by narrowing the cause of the 1967 rebellion to police brutality.  The story goes something like this. Detroit was becoming a majority black city, but the police department was 95% white. Many white officers had been recruited from the south, specifically because they were good at intimidating African Americans. It was excessive force and harassment, used against people celebrating the return of two Viet Nam veterans in an after hours joint that sparked what was then the bloodiest urban uprising in US history. Now, after Coleman Young and his efforts to integrate the police department, we no longer face the problems of police hostility.  All may not be perfect, but it is much better.

Others acknowledge the complexity of racism, white supremacy, deindustrialization, and a host of local, regional and national policies that combined to oppress and dehumanize people of color. Many recognize that these forces are still distorting and destroying the lives of people throughout our city. School closing, pension seizures, unemployment, shut offs of heat and water, foreclosures and police harassment are part of daily life.

What rarely gets openly discussed, however, is the underlying logic driving much of the corporate elite and the choices they are making in the name of developing our city. That logic is the same as it was fifty years ago. It rests on a profound contempt for the lives of poor people, especially African Americans and other people of color. Their very presence has to be controlled. Their lives made invisible, their hopes and dreams diminished.

Public officials today reflect this same contempt. It is the foundation to all of their responses to the problems we face. For example, in a recent article in the New York Times discussing the blatant disregard for the law in the foreclosure crisis, Mayor Mike Duggan is quoted as saying he would not consider reimbursements to people who lost their home because of unconstitutional city actions. Duggan’s position is people had a chance to appeal their tax assessments. If people didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, it is just too bad for them. It is their own fault that they lost their homes, not the illegal actions of the city.

This contempt for people around the foreclosure crisis is the same attitude Duggan takes on water shut offs. He said people should just pay their bills. His attitude was echoed by the former radical, former city council person Sheila Cockrel. She was more direct, telling people who wanted “free water” to grab a bucket and head for the river. Comments from suburban leaders are no different. Most famously this contempt was expressed by L. Brook Patterson in Oakland County, suggesting putting a fence around Detroit and throwing in “blankets and corn.”

Contempt is essential to the protection of privilege. It justifies the inhuman and destructive practices necessary to maintain relationships based on injustice.

In sharp contrast to these corporate elites, people throughout the city are fostering relationships based on love and respect. They are growing food together, caring for children, creating new forms of education and developing local means of production for local needs. They are telling new stories of our past and opening new possibilities for our future. Whatever fires come next time, our best hope is in these community connections forged in love.


facebook_1500552758669


Eyewitness to History: July 23rd, 1967
Carl R. Edwards (founding member of the Boggs Center and People’s lawyer).

Violence is the voice of the unheard.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, July 23, 1967, I had just turned 20 years old.  I was born on Bastille Day, July 14, 1947, the date in 1789 that the French people rebelled and overthrew their economic and political rulers, the King and Queen of France and the French monarchy.  I had spent the day with my girlfriend at her parent’s home across the street from the old Olympia Stadium, home of Detroit’s professional hockey team, the Red Wings and its professional basketball team, the Detroit Pistons.

In the early afternoon, there was breaking news as we watched television: a disturbance had broken out in a lower west side neighborhood when the Detroit Police conducted a raid on an “after hours joint”.  As time passed there were additional television news flashes: violence and looting of stores and business spontaneously erupted all over the City of Detroit.  When I got ready to leave to return home, my girlfriend’s parents told me it was not safe to venture out and suggested that I spend the night and wait until the morning to return home.

I demurred.  I thanked them for their kindness and set off for home, a mere 2-3 miles north on Grand River Avenue.

However, nothing in my 20- year-old young life prepared me for what I was destined to encounter.  I was a witness to the apocalypse; a people’s primal scream for crimes committed by the white American and European race against African and African American humanity that shook the very foundations of the City of Detroit and the surrounding region, state and the nation.

It was both a riot and a rebellion. At that time, like so many other main streets in Detroit, Grand River was a beautiful avenue of retail stores, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, automobile sales lots, and all manner of large and small businesses.  I witnessed scores of African Americans, young and old, breaking windows and stealing the store contents: groceries and meat, furniture, refrigerators, washers and dryers, irons and ironing boards, mops brooms and buckets, clothing, and every imaginable consumer good, vividly comes to my mind. 

Although it was nearly midnight and the summer sun had gone to bed hours earlier, I recall the sky being “lit up” as if it were night and day at the same time. Bright red, yellow, orange, purple and black it was. Eerie. Flames danced up and up, higher and higher, to the heavens it seemed blotting out the dark night. To my young barely outside of mental adolescent mind, I said to myself: “This is what hell must look like”.

Why were people breaking into the stores and businesses stealing, and looting, I thought out loud. What my young, evolving mind could not yet piece together was the days and years of mistreatment, daily humiliations and myriad insults and degradations, heaped upon us all because of the color of our skin. I recall my father telling me that his stepfather was a dental school graduate but he could not practice in the dental profession because of the color of his skin.   He found work instead at the United States Post Office where he worked until retirement. These and other narratives that were worse occupied the daily lives of African American Detroiters. More, the white Detroit police force was tasked with the responsibility of instilling fear and control, especially for those African Americans who dared challenge the normal operation of the way “things just were”. On that fateful Sunday, a typical day of rest, quiet and peace, “All HELL BROKE OUT” and African American Detroiters, as had African Americans in other American cities, exploded, releasing pent up energy, for a trillion grievances, outrages and despairs.

Police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances sped up and down Grand River Avenue.
For the hour or so that I walked up Grand River, I saw absolutely not a scintilla of activity that could be described as resistance to the suffocating reality of virulent white racism, white skin privilege, white supremacy and white control over every fiber of my existence as a young African American Detroiter born and raised locally, not yet legally an adult.  And it was white racism that caused this contagion.  The report of president Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (The Kerner Commission) was unequivocal when it concluded, I am paraphrasing, that white racism caused the “Uprisings” in America’s cities, including Detroit.  The Kerner Commission further stated unless drastic actions were undertaken immediately America was moving toward two societies, one black and one white, separate and unequal.

Yes, there was spontaneous unorganized resistance to the white police department when a largely white, Detroit Police Department attempted to quell the uprising by African American Detroiters against the symbols of white privilege and control in our largely racially segregated communities in Detroit.  But the uprising also spread to Downtown Detroit’s political and economic power center and headquarters to most corporate businesses.  It was only years later that I discovered there was also organized resistance by politically developed activist and revolutionaries in a few sectors of the uprising. However, and let me be absolutely clear on this point, there was no large-scale involvement of the masses of Detroiters with the goal or objective of organizing to seize control of private corporate property or power or state (governmental) property or power nor any aspect of same and negotiate with the moneyed or economic and political class for relief from the structures of white racist political and economic power in this city and region.

This statement should not be read, however, to support in any manner those apologist for the status quo as it existed for my entire young 20-year-old life in 1967. There has been a wealth of research, studies and books written on the history of race and racism as well as segregation and economic class domination in the City of Detroit. It is often loss to history that there was also a terrible racial uprising in 1943 that has been aptly documented by the national NAACP. Moreover, professor Thomas Segrue has documented this history of racial segregation and Jim Crow in the City of Detroit with his masterfully researched and written: “The Origin of the Urban Crisis”.  Additionally, “Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, A Study in Urban Revolution” by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surken, is also a riveting account of the organized resistance and struggle against “Apartheid Detroit”, post-July 23, 1967.

In July 1967, a trillion pent up grievances, outrages and despairs exploded into spontaneous violence on a massive scale.  Businesses and property, private and public, were targets for the most part.  This is the definition of a riot.  Indeed, $40-45 million dollars was the estimated cost in 1967 dollars ($325 million in 2013 dollars).  This was the most destructive uprising and insurrection in United States history until the 1992 uprising following the not guilty verdict of the white Los Angeles police officers after their savage beating of Rodney King.

However, this eruption in mass violence by African American Detroiters was at the same time a rebellion, because although there was mass anger and revolt, the white owned businesses and property were the symbols of everything that was regarded as normal: the Detroit Public School system was racially segregated, with certain schools closed to African Americans; certain Detroit neighborhoods and homes were closed to African American Detroiters; the colleges and universities were also largely closed to African Americans, including those located in the City of Detroit and throughout the State of Michigan.

Jobs and employment, especially the skilled trades and white collar, salary, supervision and management, and all professional categories, also found it normal to exclude persons of color from their ranks.  Banking, home ownership, business ownership, the legal and political process and even the downtown Detroit restaurants were off limits to African American Detroiters.  In a word, whites reserved the “good stuff” and the “good life” to and for themselves.

African American Detroiters revolted and rebelled against this normal relationship of whites over blacks.  From July 23-28, 1967 “…the world was turned upside down”.

Tragically, the decisions of the economic and political dominant class and their handpicked African American Detroit junior partners and comprador leaders created the storm that has created the legitimate grievances of African American Detroiters.

All too often these African American Detroit economic and political educated leaders and junior partners to white economic and political power elite served their individual interest first and the interest of their family members, friends and peers, rather than the interest of ordinary African American Detroiters, the people.

In a similar context in Africa, the iconic Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has referred to these individuals as “neocolonialist”: Africans whom serve the interest of white European and American economic rulers in power and not the interest of ordinary Africans.  See “Kwame Nkrumah, The Conakry Years”, his life in exile in Guinea, Africa, after he was removed from office as President, Ghana, Africa, by his then Ghana Africa educated and military elite in collaboration with the United States and European powers; see also “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” by Ayi Kweiarmah, for a description of the lives of ordinary Ghanians under the rule of black Ghana, Africa, Junior partners to the United States and England economic powers, after independence when Britain was thrown out of Ghana.  The replacement Ghana Junior partners treated ordinary Africans no better than their white former colonial masters, the English; and the values of these black African Ghanians remained fundamentally as they had been under British rule: worshipping at the altar of extreme materialism.

Martial law was declared in Detroit. The Constitutional protections and the Bill of Rights were locked away and placed in cold storage and the counter-revolution was unleashed with full fury and effect on African American Detroiters, men women, teenagers and, yes, even children. 

In 1967, I was working as a janitor at Fred Sanders Bakery in the City of Highland Park, just outside Detroit on the afternoon shift. I was a sophomore at Michigan Lutheran College in Detroit attending day classes. I recall having to walk miles in order to make it home after my work shift ended at 10:00pm. An 8:00 pm curfew was in effect so we asked our supervisor if we could leave work in time to avoid being in violation of the curfew. We were told by our boss that as long as we possessed a permission slip from our job we could be out after the curfew went into effect. I decided to move back into my parents’ home located near Livernois and Warren Avenues because there was less public and private property destruction than there was in the Grand River Avenue area where my apartment was located. On day one after martial law was declared a coworker dropped me off on Livernois. As I walked passed the Detroit Police Department 10th precinct at Elmhurst and Livernois I saw a stunning spectacle that literally rattled me from my head to my soul. Scores of public buses were parked stuffed with African American Detroiters. No restroom there to relieve one’s self. No privacy whatsoever. No food, water, ability to buy a bag of potato chips or a soda pop. And this was the circumstance all over the City of Detroit. Every Detroit Police Department precinct mirrored what I witnessed at the 10th precinct. More, Detroit Public Schools football and baseball fields were converted into “ slave holding pens” and “concentration camps”. Later when the 82nd and 101st Airborne United States Army divisions and tanks moved into Detroit some of these playgrounds were also converted into military commands and stations. Even Detroit’s beautiful Belle Isle Park, at the time called the 8th wonder of the world, had its historic Bath House commandeered and converted into a modern day “slave holding pen”. 

Army tanks randomly machine-gunned apartment buildings all over the city including in the areas where the uprising occurred. The “Dogs of War” were unleashed on a largely compliant African American Detroit citizenry. Legal murder and death were savagely committed against African American Detroit citizens by the United States military and local Detroit Police Department. Both were populated by white Americans raised on the toxic brew that we were their “inferiors”. Like their ancestors before them society gave these white citizens the privilege and powers and the right to control their darker brethren in any manner that they chose, including murder and death, including my death.   A bestselling book was written by noted author, John Hersey, entitled: “The Algiers Motel Incident”, concerning the savage, cold-blooded death of three African American teenagers at the hands of white Detroit police officers.  It was an open secret that Detroit’s economic and political power brokers went to the southern states and recruited white males to become police officers.  So too, the United States military has been historically disproportionately comprised of white males from the south.  These “good old boys” were born and raised with the powerful ideas that their darker citizens were “inferior” and it was their solemn, sacred duty “…to put and keep the “niggras” in their place”.  Unlike their white northern brethren who dressed up, disguised and prettified this same system and personal white supremacy feeling and mental thinking, including the northern educated “liberal racist” socioeconomic class.  For many years I have wondered why the towering Frederick Douglas sought personal independence from the white northern liberal abolitionist of his day, including establishing his own anti-slavery newspaper, “The North Star”.

For two nights, I trekked along Livernois Avenue the several miles to my destination, my parents’ home. During those harrowing nights, each step I made and each breath I took was anxiety filled as countless police cruisers and military vehicles sped by me. I carried the obligatory pass in my right pants pocket. But the fear of the “slave catchers” occupied my every young, innocent thoughts. 

On night three my luck ran out. A police cruiser occupied by four Detroit Police Department officers, (nicknamed “The Big 4”), pulled alongside me as I walked home.  I was ordered to stop. I froze in fear for what seemed like eternity. The first officer to exit his vehicle was particularly aggressive: “Nigger what are you doing out here. There is a curfew? Niggers are not to be on the streets”. In a nanosecond before I could provide an answer I see his right-hand move and he pulled out what appeared to my unschooled mind in weapons the biggest hand gun I had ever seen. Before I could say a word the barrel of this big, black pistol was pressed hard to my temple. I told the white officers I was heading home from work and I had a pass from my employer to be outside after the curfew. I reflectively went to reach into my right side of my pants pocket to show the white police officer my pass. I took a quick look out of the side of my eyes and saw and heard him pull the hammer back and hold it to the side of my head. My mind thought also reflexively this is my last seconds on this earth. I felt my heart racing, I was sweating profusely, a cold sweat on an extraordinary hot, Detroit, July summer day.

The white police officer holding the gun to my head grabbed my right hand and removed my paper pass from my pocket. He read it out loud and said words, I am now paraphrasing because of time and distance: “Nigger, this is just a piece of paper.  It don’t mean shit. If we catch your black ass out again after the curfew we will kill you”. I watched as the crumpled paper pass was picked up by the wind and blown a half block distance.  My hand still shakes as I recount this unspeakable experience 50 years later.  I still suffer from the “guilt of the survivor” syndrome.

I was one of the fortunate young black men that July day and of that time. Many African American young men faced the wrath of the modern-day police state and it cost them permanently, with their life or their freedom, as it had cost millions of our ancestors. Our creator had her arms wrapped around me. She had a different purpose for my earthly life. I am certain that the seeds of what I was later to become were clearly planted with that harrowing life and death encounter with the modern day “slave catchers”: A trial lawyer, activist, humanitarian and freedom fighter.

July 23, 1967 was both a riot and a rebellion. Tens of thousands of young men and women of my generation heard and headed Malcolm’s call and challenge, a challenge that is just as urgent today:

“Wake up, from your oppressed status at the bottom of the economic, social pyramid; Clean up, mentally, spiritually and physically from your woeful miseducation concerning your history;  you are not an inferior person or people; we are all exceedingly flawed and imperfect human beings but we have this incredible power that lies within, the power of choice and redemption; to choose to become a responsible citizen and purpose driven human being; and Standup; be a ‘man’ not a permanent ‘boy’, a woman, not an adult girl and stop being complacent to injustice in the face of what seems like an impossible challenge and odds.”

July 23-28, 1967 also confirms the enduring principle of the towering titan Frederick Douglass when he intoned: “Power concedes nothing without a demand; and that demand will be by words or sometimes by blows or both; the limits of tyrants are governed by the degree endurance tolerated by the person or persons they oppress and deprive of basic natural rights”. 

July 23-28, 1967 was an insurrection. African American Detroit and African Americans in other sister cities both rioted and rebelled against the status quo and system of African American and black inferiority in every aspect of American and European life, imposed by white supremacy, white skin privilege and white control, circumstances which were considered normal by white Detroiters, white Americans and indeed white Europeans.  Sadly, this normalcy fundamentally still persists today, 50 years later.

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to the violence that was occurring all over America in her cities shortly before Detroit exploded July 23, 1967.  In a riveting passionate speech against the Vietnam War, delivered at Riverside Church in New York, Dr. King reminded America that violence is the language of the unheard and the poor.  More, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated America urgently needed a revolution in values.  He challenged America to shift from a “thing” oriented society to a “person” oriented society.  Dr. King stated that “machines and profits cannot be more important than the people”.  He warned America that it was headed for spiritual death unless it reversed course from worshiping at the altar of “…racism, extreme materialism and militarism”.

Finally, James and Grace Lee Boggs followed the words and example of Dr. King.  They repeatedly called on us to struggle and fight to save the soul of America, not because we hate America, but because we love her so.


WHAT WE’RE READING

No water for poor people:
the nine Americans who risked jail to seek justice

Drew Phillip

4500 2

(Marian Kramer and Rev Bill Wylie-Kellermann stand beneath Transcending, the monument built to honor Detroit’s Labor Movement. Photograph: Garrett MacLean for the Guardian)

KEEP READING

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

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter -July 17, 2017

 Jimmy and Grace  

“We still survive, in the culture of estrangement, for how much longer no one knows. Yet to change that culture intelligently, we must understand it, trace its roots, know its history – not because estrangement is the lineal descendent of one particular historical event or time, but because the past is still alive in the present.”

Burning Times – Dreaming The Dark – STARKHAWK

 

Living for Change News
July 17th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Beyond Boundaries
Shea Howell
Across the country people in small towns and cities are experimenting with new ways to create change. While we have experienced a national catastrophe on the presidential level, municipal governments are showing a deep resilience as citizens find ways to address income inequality, climate catastrophe, and basic needs for health, welfare, and education.

Writing in the Nation, John Nichols talked about the “radical experiment in community-guided governance and cooperative economics” emerging. Along with the election of Chokwe Antar Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi, Nichols documents progressive victories from “Cincinnati to St. Louis to South Fulton, Georgia.”

“The list of victories thus far on this year’s long calendar of contests—mayoral, City Council, state legislative, and even statewide—is striking.” Nichols argues.  “Many of them are unprecedented, and most are linked by a growing recognition on the part of national progressive groups and local activists that the greatest resistance not just to Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan but to right-wing governors could well come from the cities and states where the day-to-day work of governing is done. Municipal resistance is crucial.”

These victories begin by saying “no” but they do not end there. Instead, Nichols explains, “They recognize that an alternative vision can be proposed and put into practice in communities where taxes are levied, services are delivered, commitments to fight climate change are made, resolutions to establish sanctuary cities are adopted, and questions about poverty, privatization, and policing are addressed.”

He continues, ”These victories make a powerful case that a new resistance-and-renewal politics is sending a signal to conservative Republicans and cautious Democrats alike about the ability of bold progressive populists to win in every part of the country.”

The radical potential of local governments to create new forms for enacting values of cooperation, care and commitment to sustainable ways of living is precisely why the right wing is assaulting the very idea of local government.

In Michigan we have seen violent attacks on local sovereignty. Embedded in right wing republican thinking is the idea that local governments exist only at the behest of states. Michigan Attorney General and would be governor Bill Schuette said in defending Emergency Manager Laws that people “do not have a constitutional right to local self government.”

Current Governor Rick Snyder demonstrated this notion recently as his Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB) overrode a unanimous city council vote in Flint to place a moratorium on liens on homes with delinquent water bills.

As journalist Curt Guyette explained, “The decision to strike down the moratorium highlighted yet another prong of an anti-democratic receivership law—the same law that created “emergency managers”—that also resulted in the lead contamination of the city water supply and a prolonged, deadly outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease…The RTAB has complete authority to reject budgets, revenue decisions and major contracts approved by the elected council and mayor. Calling it an “advisory is really a misnomer.”

We are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country. What values will we live by? Will we care for one another and our earth or will we continue a system of survival of the greediest and most vicious, destroying people and places for the benefit of a few?

Communities that care for one another are providing real alternative directions toward a better future. But these communities are vulnerable to the whims of state governments in the hands of right wing politicians funded by corporate dollars. Thus, as we create new forms of local governance, we need to be forming new associations of support and resilience, creating ways of linking our selves together beyond the boundaries of the State.


Become a Warrior for the Human Spirit

LEARN MORE


Organizing in Detroit: Why it Matters to Me
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
electablog

I am a social justice organizer who enjoys introducing conferences and other social justice initiatives to my great city, Detroit. However, it’s more than just organizing. It’s a responsibility that I find as difficult as I find rewarding.

Detroit is a city that is over 80% black. It is a city that was disinvested from for many decades and, in many neighborhoods, is still being disinvested from. It’s? a city that has suffered under a half century of propaganda assault. Because of this systematic propaganda assault, many folks who travel to Detroit have preconceived negative notions about the mostly-black city. Even well-meaning people succumb to this bias.

This makes bringing conferences or any diverse gathering into the city challenging. A lot of black residents are skeptical of whites who enter the city because of the sordid history of white flight and the racial tension that still permeates the fabric of the city and the United States. The tension that had the perception of bubbling under the surface has been unearthed with the emergence of the Detroit “comeback narrative” and the “Make America Great” call to the country from the current administration. The comeback narrative has reinforced the perception that black residents are less than and incapable of caring for where they live.

As a student of history and the present, as well as a poet and visionary organizer, I am cognizant of the type of environment I am inviting conference participants into. It’s an undertaking which sometimes presents quagmires that aren’t sorted out before a conference leaves the city.

Nonetheless, I have made a commitment to analyze the conference invitations that I am approached with, to engage other organizers with similar interests in the city around the invitation, to invite panelists, artists and presenters who live in, love on, and have a historical analysis of Detroit to present, and to challenge the dominant narrative that still haunts this great city. This is a task that holds even greater significance as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Rebellion.

The Rebellion was a response to police brutality and racism in 1967. Identifying it as a riot minimizes the righteous indignation exercised by a community that was living under constant violence and profound neglect. The lack of reference to the 1943 race riot is also telling and contributes to a lopsided narrative around Detroit history.

During the week of June 1st – 4th, the Pedagogy and Theatre of Oppressed Conference was held in Detroit. I accepted an invitation from my neighbor and comrade Reg Flowers several months prior to join the planning team because I am an artist who believes in Toni Cade Bambara’s challenge to artists to “make revolution irresistible,” and I believe art, education, and theatre centered on Paule Freire’s and Augusto Boal’s ideologies are good opportunities to do just that.

I had also worked with Reg in the past and had grown to admire him and his work, as well as his compassion for humanity.

The conference was not without challenges, but there were moments of reflection and transformation throughout that encourage me to continue to analyze and accept some of the invitations I receive to co-organize and expose Detroiters to new conference experiences that are rooted and invested in social and environmental justice. It is also an opportunity to engage visitors to Detroit in a new, more humane way of seeing my city by sharing with them the brilliance and innovation of the residents who loved on Detroit when she was left for dead, and still love on Detroit today.

Of course there are many conferences held in Detroit. Some conferences are organized by kick-ass organizers with similar commitments, others are facilitated in ways that reinforce harmful stereotypes and narratives. I am grateful that the PTO Conference succeeded in challenging those harms while planting seeds of humanity in its participants.

The reflection below from Pedagogy & Theatre of Oppressed, Inc. board member Rebecca Struch is a touching reflection and why it was worth it to expose diverse voices to Detroit.

I am still processing the many gifts of my time in Detroit at the 22nd Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference. My heart expanded with our collective commitment to create a better world through theatre, education, and community leadership. Building on the historical legacy of the Cass Corridor Commons (Shea Howell taught me the Parlor Room was the first place in the city where black and White folks could gather together to read), we spent our days laughing, crying, questioning, disagreeing, dreaming, and scheming—all in an effort to lay siege to systems of oppression that seek to destroy our communities from within. We will not be fooled. Detroiters have taught me the power of true intersectional organizing.

We can’t talk about education without talking about water shutoffs. We can’t talk about school closings without talking about emergency management and the intimate relationship between racism and capitalism. We can’t build a revolutionary movement without ensuring access to healthy foods. Detroit is where it’s going down, y’all. Watch, listen, and support in any way you can.

I know I intend to carry the seeds of my new knowledge into all the work I do back home. It seems to me that cultural resistance—something so economically “useless” as community-engaged theatre—is the best hope we have for mocking and dismantling neoliberalism and the structural oppression that supports it. Liberation is ours to create. We must. We will. #wagelove #resist

Rebecca’s reflections are significant in recapturing the spirit of Detroiters who never stopped loving Detroit. It’s easy to find value in the “comeback” areas of Detroit. It’s more significant if your love for Detroit encompasses the full scope of her being and survival when the rest of the world turned its back on her.

I am committed to nurturing an understanding of the city that raised me, but never at her expense. If you come to Detroit, try not to bring the seeds of propaganda with you.

Join us for the FREE premiere of DETROITERS on June 22nd at 6pm. Detroit’s story is still being told.

Detroiters_DIA


WHAT WE’RE READING

Noble Folks’ spirit linger

Prosy Abarquez Delacruz, J.D.

“Another time, we had Grace Lee Boggs in our house, celebrating her octogenarian birthday. A bunch of students and friends were at my house sharing stories. Grace was quick in her wit and she had a longer view of the world to share. It was always about hope, it was about how empowered we were. But most especially, how to care for the other person at the other side of the world. What time would it be for them, as opposed to simply a focus on our time here in the US? It was a source of bewilderment for me for a long time, but the more I think about time in the other side of the globe, I got to think more about how they lived in that part of the world, and how each moment becomes a struggle to live one’s humanity.?..”

KEEP READING


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

How Does a Community Internet Organizer Work?

Diana Nucera runs an organization that promotes digital literacy and internet access in Detroit.

170707_working_communityinternetactivis.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

LISTEN

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

Independence Day, 2008 Grace Lee Boggs

LIVING FOR CHANGE
Independence Day,  2008
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, July 13-19, 2008

“There is nothing like the threat of execution to focus the human
mind.” (G.K. Chesterton, author of the Father Brown mysteries).

In 2008,  our “threat of execution” is taking the form of high gas
prices, floods in Iowa, wildfires in California, the cyclone in Burma
(Myanamur) and earthquake in southwest China, melting icecaps, rising
seas and a sinking economy.

That is why, decades from now, if the human race survives,  this
year’s Fourth of July may be remembered as the one when holiday
celebrations went beyond beer and barbecuing to include stories of the
steps that we and others are taking and can take to change the way we
are living to stop global warming.

This year we realized that we are the masters of our fate and the
captains of our souls.  Instead of viewing ourselves as subjects who
can’t stop driving SUVs, we began viewing ourselves as citizens with
the right and responsibility to care for our planet and our posterity.

Decades from now, as our grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather
in backyards with friends, families and neighbors to celebrate their
Independence Day, I can imagine them toasting each other as Sons and
Daughters of the Second American Revolution. Once upon a time, they’ll
be toasting and boasting, it was our grandparents and
great-grandparents who began biking or taking the bus to work. It was
our grandparents and great-grandparents who urged others to do the same
instead of just griping. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents
who brought  about a historic decline in the number of  floods,
hurricanes, droughts and wildfires by changing their own gas-guzzling
way of life. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents who
organized the  demonstrations which persuaded city governments to
create one or two carfree days every month and provide completely free
public transportation to discourage people from driving cars.

I have little patience with the prophets of Doom and Gloom.  I know as
well as they do that our whole climate is changing, that water
shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather
events, etc. threaten a breakdown in infrastructures and democratic
processes.

But doomsayers breed and deepen despair. They apparently believe that
the only way to avoid total collapse is by changing the whole system
with one stroke –  as if human beings were like a school of fish who
all change direction at the same time or as if changing the whole
system was as simple as rubbing out some misspelled words on a
blackboard.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who, alarmed by rising food
costs, last year’s spinach and this year’s tomato crisis,  are taking
small steps that can become big ones.  They are choosing of their own
free will to eat locally, to become locavores. This year there has been

a giant leap in the number of grow-it-yourselfers. These days  the
urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the
United States.

The huge changes now necessary to avert a planetary catastrophe will
probably come about from an accumulation or culmination of such small
changes,  through a combination of Necessity (being kicked from behind)   and Freedom (choosing to do the right thing).

It was not because of abstract idealism that Detroit’s “Gardening
Angels”  sparked the  urban agricultural movement that is pointing a
direction for 21st century cities.  The sight of all these vacant lots
(in the wake of de-industrialization) inspired these elders who had
been raised in the south to plant community gardens.  These gardens,
they thought, would not only grow food.  They would give young people
raised in the city a sense of process.

As columnist Ellen Goodman put it in a recent article, gardening
“doesn’t have the marching sound of John Philip Sousa. It doesn’t have
the patriotic salience of a flag. But in dicey times, the idea of
growing just a bit of your own food carries the real flavor of July
Fourth. It smacks a lot of independence.”