Boggs Center – Living For Change News – March 4th, 2020

March 4th, 2020

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Thinking For Ourselves

Connected Crisis

Shea Howell

Governor Gretchen Whitmer needs to rethink her refusal to declare a statewide moratorium on water shut-offs. If there is one major lesson from the spread of Covid-19, it is that we are all connected. More than three months ago, people went to purchase dinner in an open market in Wuhan China. This was a very ordinary, everyday task. But it was there that some few people were exposed to a new virus, emerging in crowded cages of live animals. Today the virus has spread to 58 countries. Over 83,000 cases have been reported and most people believe this is an understatement. At least 2,900 people have died, many of them health care workers. This week, for the first time, the daily toll of new cases outside China has begun to outstrip the rate of infection there. The first person in the US died from it.

This disease appears to spread through the most casual of contact, a hand that covered a cough, grabs an item, puts it on a surface and passes it on. Or droplets expelled from sneezes and coughs float through the air, remaining alive to be picked up by passers by. Much has yet to be learned about the incubation, spread and duration of this disease, but it is disrupting lives and challenging health systems globally.

In Michigan, Gov. Whitmer has taken aggressive action to both prepare the state and encourage residents to engage in safe behaviors. On Friday she activated the state’s emergency operations center to coordinate responses to the virus. More than 350 people in Michigan recently travelled to China and they are being monitored by local health officials. No one has shown any symptoms, but the Governor is acknowledging the potential spread here.

State actions are critically important, as we are all aware of how limited the Federal response is likely to be. At various points as the news of the virus spread, Trump and his men have cheered it on as good for business because it will hurt China, considered it a media hoax, said it is just a cold being politically weaponized by Democrats, and urged people to buy stocks. Now vice president Mike Pence is in charge. He is they guy who thought prayer was the best response to HIV-AIDS. These nonsensical ideas are backed by actual cuts in our infrastructure. As Paul Krugman reported, Trump consistently cut funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention with as much as an 80% cut in resources dedicated to fight global outbreaks. He also shut down the entire global-health-security area of the National Security Council. This week the biggest step Trump took was to make sure Mike Pence approves all public statements made by government scientists before they are released.

This corruption at the federal level is partly why people are calling on state governments to step up their capacities. Michigan is among the first to act decisively.

Beginning this week, Governor Whitmer will launch a handwashing campaign on radio and social media, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus as well as other diseases like the flu and Hepatitis A.  Washing hands requires water. As study after study has demonstrated, this is the single most important way to maintain public health.

Crisis can clarify what is important for all of us. Water is a human right not only because it is essential for life, but because it connects all of us to one another. The Governor has the opportunity to turn this crisis into a moment when we all reconsider our connections to each other and our responsibilities for how we live and share this planet. We need a moratorium on water shut offs statewide and a serious rethinking of how we care for each other.

News from the People’s Water Board
Statement on Gov. Whitmer Inaction on Water Shutoffs, Public Health Safety

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The Miracle of Kindness


March 4th, 2020


Bogg Center – Living For Change News – February 26th, 2020

February 26th, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves

Fear for Profit

Shea Howell

Facial recognition is big business. Since September the number of police agencies with access to this technology has doubled. Nearly 900 agencies across 44 states now have systems that not only increase police capacities, but interface with home security systems. One such system,  Ring, is promoted as increasing neighborhood safety. Ring spokeswoman Yassi Shahmiri says, “When communities and local police work together, safer neighborhoods can become a reality.” In most cases, this new, hyper-invasive technology has never been proven to be more effective than other, more human ways of creating safety.

One mother, in a suburban home, noticed that much of the behavior caused by people using these home surveillance systems can increase tensions in communities, not decrease them. She commented in a recent article: “We’re not a neighborhood that’s unsafe. We’re also not a neighborhood where people spend a lot of time outside, interacting with each other, so we turn our Rings on and start dissecting all the children. Shouldn’t we be encouraging each other to go outside, say hello and not just get alerts that you’re walking past?”

Spreading facial recognition technologies to combined police and home use is only one new avenue of money making. The newest thrust is to target school districts and exploit the fears communities have for child safety.

While some members of the Detroit City Council are resisting extended public conversation about surveillance technologies, parents in other cities are arguing that school districts are turning “our kids into lab rats in a high tech experiment in privacy invasion.” In early February the small city of Lockport, New York turned on technology to monitor its eight schools. The operation of the new technology caps a two year fight to block it. One of the most vocal opponents, Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union said,  “Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.” She explained, “Reminding people of their greatest fears is a disappointing tactic, meant to distract from the fact that this product is discriminatory, unethical and not secure.”

Digital student monitoring is growing and it is contributing to data bases that will track, monitor, identify, misidentify, predict, and profile children. As Education Week reported in May, Florida lawmakers are planning to introduce a statewide database “that would combine individuals’ educational, criminal-justice and social-service records with their social media data, then share it all with law enforcement.”
Charlie Warzel recently wrote about this new K-12 Surveillance state explaining  the Lockport School District facial recognition technology has “the capacity to go back and create a map of the movements and associations of any student or teacher.” There have been gunfire-detecting microphones installed in New Mexico schools and playgrounds that require iris scans. A recent ProPublica report explored the deployment of unreliable ‘aggression detector’ cameras in places like Queens, New York. The increase is most likely linked to the number of security and surveillance technology vendors courting school district budgets.”

These new technologies are being aggressively marketed to school systems by claiming to provide safety. What they provide is profit to companies and data to marketers. They also provide dangerous new capacities for police powers to misuse so called “predictive” data.

The public debate that erupted last spring in Detroit around facial recognition technologies has helped educate all of us about the choices before us. The City Council has a responsibility to provide ongoing opportunities for us to discuss, learn and evaluate the direction we are being pushed by corporations who know that stoking fear is good for business.


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A note from Craig Regester @ Semester in Detroit

Semester in Detroit is thrilled to welcome the newest member of our team, long-time Detroit educator and community activist, Kim Sherobbi. We first met Kim when she was the inaugural building manager for the Cass Corridor Commons back when it launched in 2011. In addition, SiD Faculty Director, Stephen Ward, has worked with Kim for years on the board of the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, and more recently with her neighborhood-based organization, Birwood House.

The decision to hire Kim grew from SiD’s 10th Anniversary celebrations in April 2019, and in particular, is motivated by one of the main goals for that weekend: Challenge us to create meaningful and sustainable practices to share leadership with our Detroit community partners for the future development and direction of Semester in Detroit.

Kim’s initial work with Semester in Detroit will focus on three areas: 1) deepening how we prepare and support students to engage in community work, 2) helping us to develop a more strategic approach to community partnership, and 3) exploring new approaches to gathering feedback from community partners to further advance our mission.

Please join us in welcoming Kim Shrrobbi as the first Semester in Detroit Community Advisor. Feel free to reach out and send greetings to Kim at: kthinketh@gmail.com; and look out for more about Kim’s work in the coming months and year ahead!
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Boggs Center – Thinking for Ourselves News – February 14th, 2020

February 14th, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves

Lives That Matter

Shea Howell

Many people hoped Governor Gretchen Whitmer would bring a more thoughtful, responsible approach to the education crisis. But her recent comments on the controversial third grade reading law and the future of public schools demonstrate a lack of serious understanding of what is happening to our children.

In her State of the State address, the Governor framed her concerns for our children in the smallest, most dangerous terms. Rather than beginning with the question of how are they?, or what is affecting their lives and deepest aspirations?, she linked education to jobs.  She said, “Protecting our workforce is one step, preparing our workforce is another. And that starts with our kids. Michigan ranks in the bottom 10 states for overall literacy. We’re doing something about that, too.”

Her goal for education was clear, “Ensuring that every child gets the skills to graduate and succeed in our workforce.” She explained that the workforce she wants to encourage will be with “good paying jobs–jobs in construction, IT, and advanced manufacturing. But they demand specialized skills training. Meeting our goal and filling these jobs depends on more than just passing a bill. It depends on our young people.”

Most of our young people are painfully aware of how inadequate this vision is for their lives. They know in their bones that the world is in crisis, our communities in chaos. Across our weary globe they are leading the rest of us into actions, large and small, to challenge the way things are, in a desperate effort to protect human life and the planet on which we depend.

In a recent article on the climate crisis, journalist Rebecca Solnit talked about the need for a deeper ethical understanding of our place in the world. She asks us to think about how this crisis demands more of us than ever before. She says,

“We must expand our imaginations and act on that bigger understanding of our place in the world and our impact on the future. That means making radical changes, like our homes and transit being powered by renewables, our government not plotting more extractivism. It means leaving fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong. We need to remind ourselves why these changes are necessary: that the earth is finite, that actions have consequences, that they go beyond the horizon of what we can see and hear, in time and space, that those who come after us have rights we can’t just annihilate. We must make sweeping changes by the end of the coming decade, and we must stick to them afterward by remembering why they matter.” 

In contrast, our governor offers the opportunity to become plumbers, electricians, and IT experts. Hopefully, we will have a world where we will need plumbers, electricians, and IT people, along with artists, bakers, chemists, carpenters, dentists, farmers, music makers  and zoologists. But going to school to get a job, no matter how “well paying” is a small vision, sure to diminish any child.

Those of us who have worked closely with children and seen them develop into thoughtful, warm, expansive, creative, and caring adults know it was because they saw themselves capable of developing lives that make a difference in the world. They felt loved and cared for, seen and encouraged. They learned about their past, respected who they were, and felt supported in finding their ways to who they hoped to become.

Today, our children are killing themselves. Recently Bridge Magazine wrote that “Michigan adolescents and teens are committing suicide at nearly double the rate of just over a decade ago.” This surge in suicide is among the highest in the nation.

Every day as children walk through metal detectors to enter crumbling, crowded schools, where they are often ignored or seen as a problem to be controlled, their lives made smaller and smaller.

Schools need to change, to become part of the radical reimagining of how we engage our children, and the rest of us, in creating ways of living that will sustain us, enrich the fullness of our lives, regenerate our communities, and protect our earth. This is no time for small, worn ways of thinking. Now, more than ever, we need education that enables us to create a new, life affirming world.

 

FREE DanceAbility Workshop
Let’s energize our hope, joy and power on Saturday February 15th by dancing together! This is likely our last “drop-in” workshop till May, so come check dance improvisation for everyone…however you move/sense…whether or not you’re a trained dancer…

 

…And then you can sign up for our March/April class series if you want! See class series info/registration link at the bottom of this e-mail.

 

For our Sat Feb 15th workshop:

Doors open at Light Box at 11am and the workshop is from 11:30 to 1:30. IT’S FREE! (Donations appreciated but never obligated.)

 

Click HERE for location details, to request accommodations by Monday, and to let us know you’re coming. We’ll again have an emotional support person from Healing By Choice present to provide extra emotional support to anyone who might be struggling with emotions like grief, anger, anxiety, or overwhelming joy because of gaining access to DANCE.

 

And click here for more info and to register for the March/April class series!

 

Justice system needs transformation, not quick fixes

Tell the Michigan Public Service Commission to make DTE work for us!

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Tell the Michigan Public Service Commission to make DTE work for us!


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James and Grace Lee Boggs Center To Nurture Community Leadership – Living For Change News – February 4th 2020

February 4th, 2020

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Historian Peter Linebaugh, author of numerous books on The Commons, Magna Carta, and the revolutionary struggles of the transatlantic, multiracial working class in the 18th and 19th centuries, at the time of the American, French and Haitian revolutions, will discuss his new book “Red Round Globe Hot Burning”

“This wide-ranging, intricate, penetrating analysis provides fascinating insight into the origins of our society.”
—Noam Chomsky

“Evokes and contextualizes moments of crisis and possibility in the past with a vividness that casts new light on our own time.”
—Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell

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WHERE: The Boggs Center
3061 Field St, Detroit, MI 48214

WHEN: 1- 3 PM Saturday, February 8

REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED

THIS WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DETROIT’S ACTIVIST COMMUNITY TO CONNECT WITH SOME OF THE DEEPEST SOURCES OF OUR MOVEMENTS AND IDEAS.  DON’T MISS IT!

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Thinking for Ourselves

Hand Washing

Shea Howell

The fragility of modern life was underscored this week. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been rapid. This weekend the death toll passed 300, with the first person outside of China dying of the disease. Authorities are reassuring people that there is no immediate risk to public health in the US. The New York Times reported “While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) gave a sober picture of what we are facing. They explained, “This is a very serious public health situation, and CDC and the Federal Government has and will continue to take aggressive action to protect the public.” As of January 31, they reported:

Every day this week China has reported additional cases. Today’s numbers are a 26% increase since yesterday.  Over the course of the last week, there have been nearly 7,000 new cases reported. This tells us the virus is continuing to spread rapidly throughout China. The reported deaths have continued to rise as well, and additional locations outside China have continued to report cases. There has been an increasing number of reports of person-to-person spread. And now most recently, a report from the new England journal of medicine of asymptomatic spread. While we still don’t have the full picture and we can’t predict how this situation will play out in the U.S., the current situation, the current scenario is a cause for concern.

This concern led to the first quarantine of over 50 years affecting people who are traveling from Wuhan to the US. “While we understand this action may seem drastic, our goal today, tomorrow, and always continues to be the safety of the American public.”

The primary tool to employ against this virus is good old fashioned hand washing. In exploring the global spread of the virus, The Times explained, “To avoid any viral illness, experts advise washing your hands frequently and avoiding your office or school when you’re sick.”

Earlier in the week, Elizabeth Rosenthal who worked as an emergency room physician and New York Times Correspondent during the SARS outbreak in China in 2002 and 2003, wrote about how she and her children got through that crisis with minimal disruption to their daily lives. She explained, “My main takeaways from that experience for ordinary people on the ground: 1) Wash your hands frequently. 2) Don’t go to the office when you are sick. Don’t send your kids to school or day care when they are ill, either.”

Her children attended public school every day during the outbreak. She reported, “The teacher led the kids in frequent hand washing throughout the day at classroom sinks, while singing a prolonged “hand washing song” to ensure they did more than a cursory pass under the faucet with water only.

As a result of this emphasis on hand washing she “observed something of a public health miracle: Not only did no child get SARS, but it seemed no student was sick with anything at all for months on end. No stomach bugs. No common colds. Attendance was more or less perfect.”

Rosenthal concludes, “The best first-line defenses against SARS or the new coronavirus or most any virus at all are the ones that Grandma and common sense taught us, after all.”

And along with Grandma and common sense, the number one strategy advocated by the Center for Disease Control, is hand washing.

The harsh reality in Detroit is that far too many people cannot engage in this simple strategy. They cannot wash their hands. They are victims of an inhuman system of water shut-offs that puts them and everyone else at risk.

If Mayor Duggan cannot be swayed by concern for basic human rights, compassion for children or human decency, perhaps he will notice that he is intentionally fostering circumstances that violate our most common understandings of what we all need to do. This week is another reminder of why we need to stop all water shut-offs and ensure that everyone in our city has access to clean, safe water. We need a water affordability plan now.

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This piece is written in honor of every person who, for reasons of the sediment of generational pain or the violence of targeting and/or random accidents, have died before we got the chance to find out if they were elders or just old. There’s a reason why people vote more conservatively as they get older. The ones who survive are disproportionately the ones who have been most protected. We are missing whole sections of our people.  If you know their names, whisper or shout them now. Actively miss them. If you don’t know their names, remember them anyway. Miss them still. It’s that space, that emptiness behind your back, where someone should have been who looks like you, who experienced things that you might have learned from, who loved and fought their generation’s version of the same loves and fights as you do. KEEP READING

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Detroit: Twenty Minutes Apart

A Musical Conversation about Neighborhood, Race & Friendship by Kresge Award Winner Robert Jones and Folk Hall of Famer Matt Watroba
On Thursday, February 20, 7 pm, at the Center for Detroit Arts & Culture Theater at Marygrove, the veteran Detroit musicians Robert Jones and Matt Watroba will present this multi-media production with music and storytelling.  

The event is free and open to the public.
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The Huntington Woods Peace, Citizenship, and Education Project is organizing a campaign to persuade a public broadcasting station, either Detroit Public Television, WDET Public Radio, or Michigan Public Radio to air Democracy Now! (“DN!”).  DN! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted mainly by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

On DN! a diversity of voices provide a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events, not often found on mainstream US media. These include independent journalists, grassroots leaders, artists and academics, African Americans, women, Hispanics, Asians, and activists in areas such as labor, immigration, the environmental, LBGTQI rights, disability rights, and peace and justice politics. Getting DN! on the air in the Detroit Metropolitan area would be a great public service to our community.

DN’s reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues.  In more than two decades of fearless independent reporting, its groundbreaking coverage of critical global events have included the following.

1999: The DN! team covered the World Trade Organization’s meeting in Seattle, broadcasting an eight-day special titled The Battle of Seattle which documented the action in the streets and the explosion of anti-corporate globalization activism onto the world stage.

2003: With the U.S. mainstream press parroting Bush administration claims of Iraqi WMD’s and  involvement in 9/11, DN! provided world-wide daily reporting with experts challenging these assertions. DN! also covered the massive global protests against the invasion of Iraq, largely ignored by  U.S. media.

2004: Amy Goodman was the only reporter on the plane with ousted Haitian President Jean-Bernard Aristide as he defied the U.S. government and attempted to return to Haiti from forced exile in Africa.

2005: DN! provided extensive Hurricane Katrina coverage, from the Ninth Ward to the crises at the Superdome and convention center, exposing the government’s inadequate response.

2004-2020: DN! has covered climate change continuously for more than ten years, from the 2009 United Nations Conference of the Parties, through the 400,000-person People’s Climate March in New York City in 2014 and the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, to the unsuccessful 2018 Madrid Climate summit and this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, focusing on the inspirational work of 16 year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

2011: DN! provided on-the-ground  coverage of the Arab Spring, with correspondents on location in Egypt and Libya. DN!’s incisive live reports from Tahrir Square reverberated globally, breaking through the Egyptian government’s electronic media shutdown.

2011: DN! extensively covered Occupy Wall  Street, from its inception to the dramatic standoffs between protesters and police.

2016: DN! was one of the few media outlets to cover the protest encampment at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. DN! reported on the indigenous peoples’ unprecedented resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, engaging  the world’s attention.

Today: DN! has continuously covered the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without ignoring Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights, as the corporate media usually does. In 2018 DN! covered the Gazans’ Great March of Return where approximately 200 peaceful Palestinian demonstrators were killed by Israeli snipers.

Today: While the mainstream media obsessed over “Russiagate” and “Irangate,” DN! also covered grass roots anti-government protests in Lebanon, Chile, France, Bolivia, Haiti, and Hong Kong

These many accomplishments and others explain the rapid expansion of DN!’s reach:  One of public broadcasting’s fastest growing programs, DN! now broadcasts through more than 1,400 non-commercial TV and radio stations in the US and around the world including nearly 100 public television and public radio channels and over 300 community and college radio stations.

While DN! airs in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon and elsewhere in Michigan, it is nearly absent in southeast Michigan. (It can be seen via several expensive cable providers in just a handful of communities, not including Detroit.) When Amy Goodman’s staff requested Detroit Public TV to consider adding DN! to its schedule several years ago, they were rejected. In the current grass-roots campaign, we are mounting a grass-roots campaign of public pressure to bring change to the priorities of our public broadcasting stations.

Detroiters deserve to see and hear DN!, one of the world’s leading U.S independent daily news broadcasts.  Many prominent peace and justice organizations and individuals) have joined the campaign, including the Boggs Center, and the list grows daily.

If you are interested in joining or assisting with this campaign, please go to don-dn@googlegroups.com.