“These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world a new” Grace Lee Boggs The Next American Revolution –
Living for Change News
June 19th, 2017
Victory for Homrich 9 Spurs Group to Continue Fight Against Water Shutoffs
Nearly three years of legal chaos results in dismissal of all chargesDETROIT- After almost three years of chaotic, rambling and ultimately failed prosecutorial legal proceedings, all charges against the Homrich 9 have been dismissed by the court because of the government’s dismal failure to comply with the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial. Members of the Homrich 9 and their counsel will declare victory at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
What: Press Conference – Victory Water Warriors, Fight for Affordable Water Continues
It was July of 2014 that the group blocked trucks of the Homrich Corporation for several hours, preventing the private company hired by the City of Detroit from depriving Detroit families of water during that time. After being charged with disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor, members of the Homrich 9 declared in court that their act of civil disobedience was not a crime, that they did not commit disorderly conduct and that they stopped a greater harm which was people being denied access to clean and affordable water.
Despite the defendants’ persistent efforts to be heard by a jury and/or a trial judge, their cases languished for months at a time while the City of Detroit Law Department appealed every ruling, repeatedly sought stays of proceedings and met privately with the appellate judge; all while the appellate court sat on the appeals for nearly a year before issuing its decisions (all in favor of the City). On June 14, 2017 — three judges, two court venues and one interrupted jury trial later — 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles dismissed all charges, finding that the defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial were violated by the “…numerous unexplained and unjustified delays.”
Victory for the water warriors in this case is an inspiration to continue to seek victory for the tens of thousands of Detroiters who continue to struggle without water and who desperately need a viable Water Affordability Plan. Economists have shown such a plan would bring in far more revenue especially compared to the $6 million the city has spent contracting with Homrich to cut off Detroiters’ water access.
Thinking for Ourselves
Shortly after the national elections, the organizers of the Allied Media Conference
(AMC) in Detroit issued a statement “Get Ready Stay Ready.” They said, “We offer the AMC as a space for our movements to converge and explore how we can use media-based organizing to dig up the roots of systemic hatred and violence. We offer the AMC as a space to create art that detoxifies the soil of this culture, so we can grow without its centuries of poison.” After nearly two decades of patient building, the organizers recognized that they had created a unique and important space to help all of us think together about how we can most intentionally respond to this political crisis.In the Welcome to the AMC the organizers said, “We are gathering with an urgency to share the skills and strategies of visionary resistance.” Acknowledging the uncertainty of this moment, they went on to say, “We do know that an incredibly powerful community will be assembled in Detroit…We know that in the space of four days at the AMC we will share the energy, the love, and the vision we need to b ready for whatever is happening and whatever comes next.”
Sprawling across the campus of Wayne State University north to the Jam Handy and New Center Park down to the MOCAD, thousands of media activists came together last weekend to forge a new future. For those of us at the AMC, we could see the future emerging around us in workshops, plenary sessions, hands on activities and the joyful, intentionally caring ways people moved and worked with one another. Community dinners, raucous parties, quiet reflections and provocative plenaries pushed all of us to think in new ways about the possibilities of birthing a world based on justice and love.
One of the early plenary sessions was about the relationship between stories and movement making called “Stories Become Movements, Become Stories.” In many ways this session went to the heart of much of what motivated the conference this year. Stories shape and change our world. Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice reminded us that “disorganized truth can be overcome by an organized lie.” We need to organize our truths with the understanding that stories have the power to “move people past fear to action” as people strive for “meaning.”
Panelists explored the question of what stories do we need now? Paige Watkins co-founder of the Black Bottom Archives and the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project 100 talked about the power of community driven, collaborative story telling and highlighted Riverwise as an example of the kind of storytelling that gives us a vision of the possibilities of local actions that enable us to not only survive, but thrive.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder of the media training organization Third World Majority, reminded us that stories are the way we are able to imagine a future for all of us us, saying that “darkness can be a tomb, or a womb” and that this moment requires a “collective ferocity” grounded in the belief that we as a species have the capacity to create an interdependent, liberated future. The first step, speakers said, was to listen to one another with our hearts.
The Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Institute for Human Rights
invites you to its 2nd Annual Black Family Festival happening in Detroit on July 15-16th, 2017!
The 2nd Annual Black Family Festival will center on celebrating US and our youth. We will have family centered arts and crafts, fun games and dancing, open mic, tours of our community museum, black films and real talk discussions on community affairs. We hope you can join us!
We are asking for your assistance as we bring this much needed celebration to our community. We are searching for black business vendors to sell their unique products as well as to teach and show their entrepreneurship capabilities to the community. We are also in need of volunteers; a dedicated staff of leader-servants who are willing to help make this celebration a success! Please see the attached forms for both vendors and volunteers. Feel free to pass along to those who will be interested!
As always, we want to thank our neighbors, our family, for your enduring support and we want to honor your loyalty to us and to our community. We are grateful for all of the support the community has provided us throughout our years. Without you, our programs and community efforts would not be possible!
Please contact Lea, our Hush House Leadership Fellow, with any additional questions: Lea.HushHouse@gmail.com
The Hush House Museum & Leadership Institute
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017
Doors @ 5:30pm
Panel Discussion moderated by Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien 7:30pm
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
June 12th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
I saw my first young person in the neighborhood walking with her graduation cap on the way to church this week. It is a common sight in Detroit at this time of year. All over the city young people mark their graduation from high school or college by wearing caps and gowns as they go to community gatherings or just walking down the street with friends.
I don’t know if this happens in other cities, but here, graduation is a public affair, celebrated on street corners. As in other places there are family parties and balloons, church acknowledgments and lawn signs, but here graduations are about more than individual achievement. Although often they signify remarkable accomplishments by our young people in a city where nearly half of them have dropped out and many never complete what is needed to get a diploma. Still, there is a sense that wearing caps and gowns as you go about normal life is a way of acknowledging the long, hard struggle for education by people who risked their lives to learn to read. It is a tribute to ancestors and a hope toward the future.
This image of my neighbor proudly wearing her cap was very much on my mind as I gathered with a small group of students in a nearby high school. All of the students were one or two years away from the possibility of having a cap. We had come together to talk about what they thought about their school. It was a dismal picture. Students shared concerns for the physical space and talked about mice, falling tiles from the ceiling and lack of heat in winter. Of the eight students we talked to, only one said she had learned anything in the past year. She had only one teacher who cared about her and really taught the class. She had come to love literature. All students said math and science were never taught. Instead, day after day worksheets were handed out, many never returned. They didn’t feel safe in the building, and the security guards were as much of a problem as the other students.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing was the young woman who had learned something over the year. She clearly loved the thrill of new ideas and insights and felt she had grown and developed in her understanding of the world. Yet she had also decided that she had to give up her dream to be an engineer. Given the poor instruction in math and science, she had concluded that she would now be too far behind to really learn what she needed. She had yet to come up with a new dream for herself.
There is something terribly wrong when children’s dreams are smashed. The message that many of our schools send them is quite simply, “you don’t matter.” In thousands of ways large and small our institutions tell young people they are incapable, useless, and not worth caring about. Our children get the message “you are disposable.”
As we left the school and walked out into the warm street, Langston Hughes would not leave me. He was with us, offering his questions:
Maybe it just sags
Or does it explode?
19th Annual Allied Media Conference Convenes Media Makers and Activists in Detroit June 15-18
DETROIT, June 8 2017 – The 19th annual Allied Media Conference will take place June 15-18 in Detroit at Wayne State University. As the conference approaches its third decade, the AMC has become the most important national convening for exploring how grassroots communities can harness the power of media and communications to affect change.
AMC2017 offers over 250 sessions including hands-on workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, performances, tours and more. New for 2017, the conference will convene participants for a series of daily plenaries on topics including storytelling, digital security, pop culture, and the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s 1967 Rebellion. The conference’s Opening Ceremony event will feature a keynote presentation from Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.
The theme for this year’s conference is Get Ready Stay Ready, a call to to develop and innovate strategies of preparation, sustainability, and survival within the current political climate.
“This year we are gathering with an urgency to share the skills and strategies of visionary resistance,” says Morgan Willis, director of the AMC. “Get Ready Stay Ready is inspired by a Detroit-based disaster preparedness workshop. Through this theme we embrace our community’s skills, resources, ideas, platforms, and visions of media-based organizing.”
The full schedule of 250+ sessions is now available online at amc2017.sched.com and covers an incredibly diverse range of topics such as:
AMC programming goes beyond daytime workshops and presentations with “AMC @ Night,” a four day music showcase featuring performing artists working at the intersection of art and social change. Events include live music performances, karaoke and bowling, dance parties, a kids party, and more. Featured performers include Tunde Olaniran, Mic Write, Danni Cassette, DJ Rimarkable, and more.
Registration for the conference is offered on a sliding scale rate, from $75 – $500. Individuals can register in advance online: http://bit.ly/2j1urqY
The Allied Media Conference is a project of Allied Media Projects, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. Allied Media Projects’ mission is to cultivate media strategies for a more just, creative, and collaborative world.
Notes from Freedom School
• What is Justice?
We learned that everyone in the group identifies as an Artist and that making Art should be a part of how we Organize.
Some ideas they came up with:
1. Transportation is PARAMOUNT to participation, especially high school age and younger.
2. Food is necessary at every gathering.
We’ve identified they want to:
• Do things in community
Regarding what a Safe Space looks like and what they identify as necessary to have a Safe Space and a Valuable Experience:
We ended the meeting with them starting to create a song they’ve come up with temporarily titled “Where is the Freedom?”
It’s a work in progress that they were inspired to create. We gathered around the piano while Kingg (from Southeastern High School) played various pop tunes they recognized until they all felt comfortable enough to freestyle rap & sing. So far there’s a possible chorus but mostly they just had fun playing around for about 20 minutes after the meeting. They decided that needs to be how we end every meeting.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017
Doors @ 5:30pm
Panel Discussion moderated by Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien 7:30pm
“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
June 5th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Questions in Education
As the Michigan Elite gathering on Mackinac Island for their annual celebration of one another came to a close, another gathering took shape in Detroit. Actors, musicians, writers, poets, and cultural workers of all kinds gathered in the heart of the Cass Corridor for the 22nd annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference (PTO). Its theme was “Breaking the Silence.” Sessions explored storytelling and transformation, inclusion and collaboration. Conversations on language, power, choreography, and laugher flowed through the gathering.
The Saturday morning session focused on “The struggle for education in Detroit.”Simona Simkins and Rebecca Struch, of the conference leadership team were joined by Nate Mullen, Kim Sherobbi, Tawana Petty and me for a conversation about what people are learning in Detroit about the kind of education we need to shape a more human future. We were joined by two Detroit Independent Freedom School students who had participated in an earlier workshop and had much to offer the larger gathering. Chevon read her poem WHY (see below) and pressed us to think about the relationships between teachers and students. T. Jones, talked about young people becoming change makers.
I began the conversation with an overview of the role of the state in privatizing education and undercutting democratic decision-making. Since 1999 a combination of greed and hubris have taken a solid school system and twisted it beyond recognition into a form of child abuse that lines the pockets of folks like Betsy Devos and her friends. Kim Sherobbi emphasized the difference between education and schooling, and invited us to think about the many places we have for learning and growing in all aspects of our lives.
She also asked us to think more deeply about the question of what is education for? What is the purpose of education? Nate talked about the unique clarity we get in Detroit, where contradictions are so stark. Detroit makes it is clear that the old way of approaching schooling is dying. As a result, we have the opportunity to reimagine what we mean by education, by school, and by the development of children. Seeing children as capable of creating solutions to our common problems, rather than as empty beings that need to be controlled, he said, takes us in very different directions as we think about schools. Tawana Petty stressed that we need a new paradigm for education. We are not talking about personal problems or individual failings, but a system that is in collapse.
The dialogue with the audience began with a request by Rebecca for us to prioritize the voices of young people and Detroiters. The first person to come to the mic was a young woman from Detroit who recently graduated from the University of Michigan. She began by saying she wanted to acknowledge that this was the first time in her life that her status as a Detroiter and as a young person were honored.
In the course of the conversation people shared imaginative and creative possibilities for how we can learn and grow together.
The PTO supports “a world based on radical love and social justice instead of oppression and violence.” Inspired by the theories and practices of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, the gathering fosters “collaborative connections to share, develop, promote, and document liberatory theatre, popular education and other revolutionary actions.”
In his provocative essay on education and liberation, Friere offers us a perspective that is important for us to consider. He observes,“The power which creates an educational system in its image will never allow education to be used against it and therefore a radical transformation of the education system can never take place unless society itself is transformed.
And he challenges us to love the questions we face in this transformation, saying: Our hope lies in questions, whether in the school system or outside it. What must we do to promote liberation? How? When? With whom? For What? Against what? And in whose favor?
WHY are the schools closing?
Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL)
INFO DEMOCRACY TRAINING 2: PUBLIC RECORDS
TUESDAY, JUNE 6 FROM 6:00 PMTO 9:15 PM
Wayne State Law School (Keith Center for Civil Rights)
WHAT WE’RE READINGTurning Capital against Capitalism
Experiments in funding an equitable economy.
In These Times
From ‘Turtle Island to Palestine’: Black4Palestine Congratulates Palestinian Prisoners on Win
Shortly after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails ended their hunger strike with nearly 80 percent of their demands agreed to by the apartheid state, organizers from the U.S.-based solidarity group, Black4Palestine, sent a message of congratulations.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Living for Change News
May 30th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
No one thinks the budget proposed by the White House will get much support. The details will change. Various interests will do their best to protect vital programs and services.
But there is an element of casual cruelty behind these projections that we need to address. Our elders, our children, and the people who care for them are especially targeted as excess expenditures. These projections are a clear articulation of values and polices from an administration that delights in chaos, manipulation, and lies.
Called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the budget would completely eliminate 66 federal programs, with the biggest cuts aimed at Health and Human Services. Over the next decade the budget projects cuts of more than $3.6 trillion, mostly from Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security Disability and insurance for children. Military spending of all sorts escalates.
No where is the relationship between budgets, priorities and values clearer than in the projections for education. Betsy Devos proposed $10.6 billion in cuts to educational programs. She wants to cut funding for Special Olympics, parent support programs, teacher training, and academic and psychological support for students. While cutting public education, Devos proposes increasing funding for charter schools by 50% and she intends to encourage corporate incentives to support her “school choice” schemes.
These schemes are not some effort to “transform education.” They are a deliberate effort to shift public money to private, primarily religious schools. In the process, they would further enrich the Devos family and friends. As Michael Sainato wrote recently, “Devos’ approach to the United States Education System is to benefit the private corporations that have leeched off it for personal profit at the expense of the public. From the student debt collecting agency she was personally invested in, to the for-profit schools that benefit from tax credits, vouchers, and other financial incentives, Devos is further increasing the polarizing class divide in the education system to benefit those already wealthy and powerful.”
Nor are these schemes motivated by religion. Rather, they cynically use religion to protect and promote white supremacy. The drive to private, Christian Academies supported by Devos has its roots in the backlash against desegregation of public schools. Between 1964 and 1972 hundreds of white Christian academies were set up, “in response to anticipated or actual desegregation orders.”
In an editorial opposing the Devos appointment, Felicia Wong of the Roosevelt Institute, said:
“An estimated half-million white students left public schools between 1964 and 1975 to enroll in schools that were known as ‘segregation academies.’ This move to private schools was part of a larger ‘white flight’ movement. White flight was one of the greatest demographic shifts in American history. Millions of whites nationwide moved out of cities and into racially isolated suburbs. Scholar Kevin Kruse has called white flight ‘the most successful segregationist response to the moral demands of the civil rights movement and the legal authority of the courts.’ The character and quality of most American schools today, like the neighborhoods in which they are found and which they shape, have a racial past.”
Across the country people are organizing to resist this assault on our children. The #WeChoose campaign is now in 35 cities. #WeChoose demands:
“A robust, rigorous and relevant curriculum, support for high quality teaching (smaller classes, teacher aides, effective professional development), wrap-around supports for every child (nurses, counselors, clubs, after-school programs), a student-centered school climate, transformative parent and community engagement and inclusive school leadership. The result: sustainable, community schools.”
The Detroit Independent Freedom Schools (DIFS) are part of this effort. Join us as we begin a summer of growing and learning together.
A quick note from El Kilombo
the EZ communiques announcing “the Candidate” or, that is, the announcement of a proposed indigenous governing council for Mexico with an indigenous woman as its spokesperson.
Dudley Street is Re-imagining its future
After returning from North Carolina where I had the privilege to spend time with comrades and friends like El Kilombo and Nelson and Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community of Greensboro, I was lucky to visit my daughter, Emma, where she is a second grade teacher at Dudley Elementary-Community School. This school is located in a neighborhood where folks have been “putting the neighbor back in the hood.”
My wife Janice and I spent two days with the class as they engaged in writing, math, recess and shared stories on the carpet. The patience, love and challenges I saw were truly a learning experience. As I read the letters that each parent wrote to his/her child about their hopes, dreams and high expectations, I was again reminded me how deep our responsibility is to keep those dreams & expectations alive.
During the short visit, we had a chance to see the Dudley Community Center and visit the area urban gardens and mural, that demonstrated both history and a daily commitment to turn vacant lots into community safe spaces. Some of the current organizers from the Dudley Street Community Initiative were raised in the neighborhood, as are some of the students from the school.
I learned more about the Community Land Trust initiative, which has proved to be an antidote to the foreclosures which have been rampant across the city for the past decade. Dudley hasn’t been as hard hit because of a commitment of interdependence that states, “The community cares about each other and protects each other.” Almost all the stores in the neighborhood had written signs stating, “No One is Illegal.” These signs were from the children who marched last week in a demonstration welcoming all immigrants and opposing Trump’s Bans and Walls.
As I walked with the second graders in the rain around the Dudley area, it reminded me of Detroit and the community gardens, urban farms, murals, and placed-based schools. It reminded me of the Boggs tour: From Growing Our Economy to Growing Our Souls.
The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s vision was crystallized in a “Declaration of Community Rights.” The declaration, produced by the Human Development Committee, highlights fundamental DSNI objectives in all areas of community development.”
We – the youth, adults, seniors of African, Latin American, Caribbean, Native American, Asian and European ancestry – are the Dudley community. Nine years ago (1993), we were Boston’s dumping ground and forgotten neighborhood. Today, we are on the rise! We are reclaiming our dignity, rebuilding housing and reknitting the fabric of our communities. Tomorrow, we realize our vision of a vibrant, culturally diverse neighborhood, where everyone is valued for their talents and contribution to the larger community. We, the residents of the Dudley area, dedicate and declare ourselves to the following:
We have the right to shape the development of all plans, programs and policies likely to affect the quality of our lives as neighborhood residents.
We have the right to quality, affordable health care that is both accessible to all neighborhood residents and culturally sensitive.
We have the right to control the development of neighborhood land in ways which insure adequate open space for parks, gardens, tot lots and a range of recreational uses.
We have the right to live in a hazard-free environment that promotes the health and safety of our families.
We have the right to celebrate the vibrant cultural diversity of the neighborhood through all artistic forms of expression.
We have the right to education and training that will encourage our children, youth, adults and elders to meet their maximum potentials.
We have the right to share in the jobs and prosperity created by economic development initiatives in metro-Boston generally, and in the neighborhood specifically.
We have the right to quality and affordable housing in the neighborhood as both tenants and homeowners.
We have the right to quality and affordable child care responsive to the distinct needs of the child and family as well as available in a home or center-based setting.
We have the right to safe and accessible public transportation serving the neighborhood.
We have the right to enjoy quality goods and services, made available through an active, neighborhood-based commercial district.
We have the right to enjoy full spiritual and religious life in appropriate places of worship.
We have the right to safety and security in our homes and in our neighborhoods.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross— The Spiritual Work of Black Lives Matter