Boggs Center Living For Change News – February 5, 2018

February 5th, 2017
grace and jimmy
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James Boggs, “The American Revolution:

Putting Politics in Command” 1970

The urgent, crying need of the American people is to undergo a fundamental transformation from the individualists and materialists they are today into a new breed of socially and politically conscious and responsible human beings. Instead of being concerned only with their own material advancement and satisfied with the political decisions of the military-industrial-complex as long as these expand production and consumption, the American people must be dragged, pulled, and pushed into situations where they are compelled to make socially responsible decisions—until the energy, skill, and the will to make such decisions have become second nature.

 

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970


 amanda

Restorative justice city: One woman’s quest to create a more just Detroit


Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Environmental Protections

Members of the Michigan State Legislature have learned nothing from the poisoning of Flint. This week the legislature is considering handing over the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to corporate polluters by passing three new bills currently under consideration. Together these bills are an environmental disaster that would put all of us at greater risk.

HB652 would give private industry the power to veto any new state environmental rules by creating a new committee with a majority of members representing big business.

HB653 establishes a governor appointed panel with the power to overturn decisions by the DEQ denying permits on environmental grounds. Given that 99.5% of requests are approved by the MDEQ, it is hard to imagine what real difference this would make, except to further undermine the opportunity for citizen action.

HB654 sets up another governor appointed committee to provide advice on scientific matters as a counter to DEQ judgments. Given the current republican attacks on education and science, the quality of such advice is likely to represent the worst thinking in our country.

Taken together these bills diminish the opportunity for direct citizen influence, strengthen executive authority over environmental matters, and ensure that the highest bar set for our state is that set by the Federal Government which is rapidly lowering national standards and practices.

The motivation for this dangerous legislation seems to be some legislators who think business development is unfairly constrained by environmental concerns.

Senator Tom Casperson is the lead sponsor of the bill and a right wing republican from Escanaba. In a recent radio interview he explained the goal of the legislation saying, “Well, I think [the bills are] necessary …We’ve tried different approaches to, what I would call, put some reasonable standards in place, and we keep running into roadblocks and problems within the department, and so we’re trying to come up with something that levels the playing field.”

These “roadblocks and problems” are the concerns raised by environmentalists and people who actually bear the brunt of dangerous environmental decisions, from polluted air and water to increased cancer and brain damage.

Yet, as Casperson explained in a jumble of metaphors that gives a frightening clue to the non-thinking behind this legislation, “I would argue that some of the critics that are coming from the environmental groups, have no dog in the fight whatsoever. They have no skin in this game at all, as far as financial or anything else. So, they seem to be included in all these processes, they seem to be included in the end game as far as what the standards will be…. Just because an environmental group says it has to be done in a certain way, that’s not necessarily true either.”

This legislation is especially dangerous today. Federal environmental protections are rapidly unraveling. Scott Pruitt, whose main support comes from the fossil fuel industry, has been busy dismantling the EPA. Over this past year Pruitt has scaled back enforcement activities, refused to ban brain damaging pesticides, taken steps to remove protections on drinking water, weakened protections from toxic chemicals and is proposing to eliminate programs designed to protect our children from lead paint.

At a moment when all of us need to protect our earth and create new ways of living that are not only sustainable but regenerative, the Michigan Legislature is abdicating its responsibility to provide for the common good. This lack of leadership at the state and federal levels means that we must find new ways to protect our communities.


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SUBSCRIBE to the new podcast hosted by sisters adrienne marie and Autumn Brown as they learn from the apocalypse with grace, rigor and curiosity.


Kim Sherobbi’s Birwood Street home doesn’t look like a community space from the outside. But step into her house on Detroit’s northwest side, and you find yourself in a place that’s more meeting center than private residence.

A table of pamphlets greets visitors at the entry. The dining room area is an open meeting space with chairs arranged around the perimeter and her living room is half furnished to make room for potluck dinners for visitors.

Welcome to Birwood House, Sherobbi’s home and non-profit neighborhood community house since 2016. Sherobbi says her work to nurture a caring community is an extension of her mother’s work in the same house as Birwood Block Club secretary in the 1960s. KEEP READING


propose

View American Revolutionary GraceLee PBS

Home

American Revolutionary

Grace Lee Boggs, 99, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times.

More about: American Revolutionary

Boggs Center News – December 26th, 2017

Living for Change News
graceandjimmylfcheading with border
December 26th, 2017


“Men don’t need to show our manhood, we need to show our humanity” — James Boggs, 1990


 

Together We Make a Family
A disabled, biracial, (and totally normal) American family

WATCH


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.

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

You can contribute directly at our website
www.boggscenter.org

or mail a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, MI 48214.


Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
In Quest of Peace

For many of us this is the season to turn toward family and friends. It is a sacred time, calling for reflection and affirmation of our deepest longings for peace on earth. Rarely has such a hope been so far from our daily reality. We are living in a moment when relationships among people are marked with causal violence and intentional brutalities. Since 2001 we have been a people at war. It has been the backdrop of the lives of an entire generation who have never known a time without active US military interventions.

Recently, Nick Turse documented the increased use of Special Operation forces under the current administration. He notes, “On any given day, 8000 special operations from a command numbering roughly 70,000—are deployed in approximately 80 countries.” In 2017 troops were deployed “to 149 nations.”

The reach of these forces influences every part of our globe. As a report from TomDispatch explained, these troops are in “about 75% of the nations on the planet.” Under President Obama, and now Trump, this is an increase “of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House.”

General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some chilling views on what this global reach means. He said, “We operate and fight in every corner of the world.” He went on, “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key integrating and enabling capabilities to support their campaigns and operations.” 

Over the last two decades we have drifted from the doctrine introduced by George W. Bush of “preemptive war” to the acceptance of perpetual war. Anywhere we choose. We have become the most dangerous predator on the planet. We have allowed military solutions to become normal.

The idea that military force can create security is a false and deadly way to think. Rather, we need to acknowledge that we are a people without restraint, promoting violence and disruption across the globe.

Willful blindness to such violence corrodes our souls. Often carried out by bombs, drones, missiles and a few men and women, the use of massive force has become ordinary. We are barely stirred by even the dropping of the largest mega bomb on earth, the Mother of All Bombs. Talk of nuclear destruction is tossed out in tweets.

This is perhaps the gift that Trump has given us. He has made our hypocrisies transparent. While the United States has always depended on violence and destruction to secure its wealth, we have often hidden that ugliness behind aspirations of becoming something better.  But in the age of Trump, we can no longer pretend. We see daily the cruelty and violence that support our ways of living.

We can no longer evade the reality of who we have become as a nation. Nor can we evade how much force and violence shape not only our relationships around the globe but our public spaces at home and our most intimate relationships.

As we turn to each other this season, the questions before us require the courage to re-imagine what it means to create peace in our lives and on the earth that sustains us.  Finding our ways to peace and respectful relationships has never been more urgent.


DC2ChurchFlyer

Round the corner on Grand River Avenue onto Vinewood Street on Detroit’s West Side and you’ll encounter a building covered in mirrors. The eye-catching Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum is a striking, immersive introduction to African material culture.”
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(Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum renovation rendering by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

Look for the new edition of Riverwise is out in your favorite stores and community spaces!
RIVERWISE

 


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Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
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Boggs Center News December 19th, 2017

Living for Change News
Jimmy and Grace

Grace Lee Boggs, “I Must Love the Questions Themselves” 1985

Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable. At the same time we must love the questions themselves, first, because every time we act on our convictions, we create new contradictions or new questions; and secondly, because we have no models for revolutionary social change in a country as technologically advanced and politically backwards as ours.

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December 19th, 2017


Jimmy No Way


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.

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

You can contribute directly at our website
www.boggscenter.org

or mail a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, MI 48214.


 

Thinking for Ourselves

Shea Howell
Business and Democracy

The undermining of democracy is accelerating in Michigan. A new frame is emerging from our business owners and their publicists. They are claiming business, supported by public money, is better for people than political decision-making.

The efforts by Dan Gilbert and Bedrock to use public money for their latest projects illustrate this dangerous shift. Major news media is celebrating Gilbert’s plans for the former Hudson’s Department Store. Gilbert is promising a million square foot development that will include 400 apartment units, the tallest building in Michigan, and a large complex of with retail markets and exhibition spaces.  laiming it will be a “city within a city” the space will offer a maker’s space for children, a market hall for encouraging new ideas, art, music, dance, and Ted Talks.

Behind all of this media hype are some troubling realities. First, an initial $250 million in tax money, collectable by Gilbert, thanks to the Michigan Legislature, supports the project. The right wing legislature has put into place a legal framework to allow corporations to collect income and property taxes in designated redevelopment areas. This initial public support for Gilbert’s projects is expected to balloon to $618 million over the next few years, including money that should go to public schools.

The developments, part of more than a dozen scheduled over the next year, are not governed by any substantial community benefit agreements. In fact the community is being told to be quiet, stop interrupting progress, and be glad you are getting some jobs, maybe.

The Detroit Free Press columnist John Gallagher, who considers himself liberal, uncritically embraces the development. He notes in passing that it will have a “big public assembly space.” What kind of “public space” exactly is he envisioning? Gilbert, who has both a large private security force and state of the art surveillance technologies positioned throughout his emerging fortressed area, has not exactly encouraged robust public discussion. Gallagher’s thinking about democracy appears to extend to offering suggestions of names for the new building. The point of his short article is to invite readers to send suggestions to him so he can pass them along to Gilbert.

Gallagher does say we “need to figure out what to do to ensure that Detroit’s recovery creates opportunity for all.” Opportunity, of course, is not the same thing as justice, and is a long way from sustainable, equitable development. His solution for opportunity is to give more tax breaks, this time for historic preservation.

A much more meaningful solution would be a real community benefits agreement. Last year Gilbert and his pals did every thing they could to sabotage a community led initiative. Many of those who fought for this substantial agreement gathered outside the fake ground breaking event to challenge this use of public money for private gain.

Predictably, instead of engaging seriously with the questions being raised by the group, Gilbert’s media mouthpieces resorted to name calling in an effort to delegitimize thoughtful discussion.

On the other side of the spectrum the Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes offered the view that business is better than democracy. Howes argued that Detroiters need to “embrace” business, because “commerce is often more likely to improve lives and build communities—not politics.”

This kind of framing is dangerous to all who care about democracy and justice. The idea that business interests, not public values, should be our only consideration has justified the genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement of millions of Africans for generations, and the continued assault on land and people everywhere.

Gilbert responded to the demonstrators saying, “I don’t think they understand” and “I think they should do their homework.”  It is Gilbert and his cronies who don’t understand history and who should do some homework. If the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, they are on the wrong side, and playing a disastrous game.


DC2ChurchFlyer

Shifting the Language: From Ally to Co-liberator
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

If you are a black person or another person of color, I am asking you to participate in ushering in a new narrative. I am asking you to relinquish your pursuit of white people as privileged beings. If you are a white person, I am asking you to relinquish the narrative that you live a privileged existence.

For those of you who made it through that first paragraph, we are well on our way towards visioning a more humane society. A society that allows everyone to show up in the conversation with their full humanity.

Discarding the narrative of privilege is not an invitation to ignore the brutality that black people and other people of color endure under the system of white supremacy. It’s an invitation to contribute to a dialogue that moves us beyond the false dichotomy of hierarchy we have been unintentionally fostering through our anti-racism organizing. It is an invitation to recognize the more connected to our humanity we become, the less we will tolerate the dehumanization of others.

I have participated in dozens of mixed-race discussions around racism that left me feeling even more dehumanized than I felt before the discussion began. I have witnessed testimony after testimony from white allies giving their white privilege testament under the auspice of acceptance by black people and other people of color into the anti-racism organizing circle. Not only did I leave feeling dehumanized, but I felt dehumanized for the white people who I believed came to the events either seeking their humanity, or in pursuit of some measure of transformation.

It’s complicated, I know. But, what has capitulating to the shrinking of blacks and other people of color as the underprivileged and white people as privileged actually done for the struggle against racism, or the dismantling of the system of white supremacy? I am personally exhausted by what has begun to feel like scripted performances by all parties.

At one of the recent gatherings I spoke at, a woman who identified herself as white stood up to counter my challenge towards the white privilege narrative. She described the ability to let her son walk “safely” two doors down from their home as a privilege. I was grateful that she provided her analysis of privilege, as it provided an opportunity for a deeper dialogue. A dialogue that moves beyond the misconception that there is some sort of magic bubble that protects you from the suffering in society if you just move far enough into the suburbs. One that removes the misconception that there is no suffering in the suburbs. A dialogue that challenges white people to take a deeper look at the impact racism and living up to the backwards standards of white supremacy, has on them. A dialogue that interrogates the sort of survival that encourages you to disconnect from the “others” of the world in order to have the perception you are moving up in it.

My assessment is that the ways in which we have been identifying privilege are very limited in scope. The privilege narrative does not take into consideration the rich history and culture that has been historically and actively practiced in black, brown and indigenous communities. A culture that is consistently borrowed by the mainstream while the people whose culture it belongs to are hated by that very same mainstream. The privilege narrative negates the perseverance and stick-to-itiveness that black people and other people of color have demonstrated to the world through some of the most inhumane conditions inflicted upon us. The privilege narrative invisibilizes the ingenuity, artistry, creativity and “make a way out of no way,” resilience that blacks and other people of color have employed in order to survive in a society that till this day has failed to recognize us as fully human. But, even with all the social ills inflicted upon us, we are not underprivileged. I’m not claiming that existence any longer.

That fact that black, brown and indigenous humanity has been subjected to the interpretation of a society that suffers from the detriment of white supremacy is an even greater reason not to succumb to that analysis. Enough is enough. We have known the brilliance of black people and other people of color for long enough. There is no reason to keep pleading with anyone to recognize us as human.

What is imperative now is that we stand together in our power to shift the language and the narrative, and encourage those co-liberators who are serious about struggling against racism and dismantling the system of white supremacy, to shift their language and analysis as well.
We will not rid the world of all the ‘isms that plague us by shrinking to them. None of us will.

I’ll end with a quote from a powerful Ancestor, Fred Hampton.

Black people need some peace. White people need some peace and we’re gonna have to struggle religiously to bring about some peace because the people we’re asking for peace, they are a bunch of meglamaniac war mongers! And we got to struggle with them to make ’em understand what peace means!

It’s time we moved onward and upward, together!


What We’re Reading

Comedian Jenny Yang on Grace Lee Boggs


What We’re Watching

For more than 30 years, Judith Heumann has been involved on the international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of disabled people.

 

Meet the People building Their Own Internet

Published on Nov 16, 2017

When it comes to the internet, our connections are generally controlled by telecom companies. But a group of people in Detroit is trying to change that. Motherboard met with the members of the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII), a group that is building their own wireless networks from the ground up in order to provide affordable and high-speed internet to prevent the creation of a digital class system.

Check out CNET’s channel for more: http://bit.ly/2gpeXdr

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Published on Nov 16, 2017

When it comes to the internet, our connections are generally controlled by telecom companies. But a group of people in Detroit is trying to change that. Motherboard met with the members of the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII), a group that is building their own wireless networks from the ground up in order to provide affordable and high-speed internet to prevent the creation of a digital class system.

Check out CNET’s channel for more: http://bit.ly/2gpeXdr

Subscribe to MOTHERBOARD: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-To-MOTHERBOARD

Follow MOTHERBOARD
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/motherboardtv
Twitter: http://twitter.com/motherboard
Tumblr: http://motherboardtv.tumblr.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/motherboardtv
More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo