”Children are Solutionaries” School Opens in Detroit by Grace Lee Boggs


”Children are Solutionaries” School Opens in Detroit

by Grace Lee Boggs

 solutionaryThe morning of September 3 I participated in the opening ceremony of the new Boggs charter school at 4141 Mitchell on the east side of Detroit

It was a heart-warming affair, full of the love, sense of continuity and commitment to place that goes into the building of families and community.

It’s all coming together. Twenty years ago we founded Detroit Summer, a multicultural intergenerational program to involve young Detroiters in rebuilding, redefining and respiriting our city with the same commitment and imagination with which SNCC activists were rebuilding, redefining and respiriting the Jim Crow South.

16 year old Julia Pointer was our first volunteer. Today Julia ,

wife of Peter Putnam, mother of William and Lucy, is a co-founder and the principal of the new school where the children are viewed, first and foremost as “Solutionaries,,”

Folk singer Joe Reilly led us in a sing-a-long about the friendliness of trees and animals.

From my wheelchair I showed the little ones a picture of myself nearly a hundred years ago when I was their size.

Julia explains the paradigm shift in philosophy that has gone into the new school:

“We’ve been growing our economy and this is where it’s gotten us. These vacant lots, these abandoned houses. It’s like, well industry is not working here and I can make more money someplace else so I ship it out and all the jobs are gone. And people can’t afford these houses so they leave them.

“But what happens if we grow our souls here? What would it look like then? I want to prepare kids to ask those questions because that’s what’s going to create the future, asking those questions. Not thinking that we have the answer and then telling kids what they should be doing.”

The Boggs School sits on a quiet residential street in a building that’s more than 100 years old. Just across the street is a well maintained white bungalow with a perfectly mowed lawn. And, as is the case with a lot of streets in Detroit, there are several vacant lots here.

The idea of place is a big one for the founders of the Boggs School. The neighborhood where the school sits is going to be a big part of the school. It’s called place-based education and it’s a model that’s already being practiced in small pockets around country. There’s a K-8 school in Boston called Mission Hill which has become a kind of model/sister school to Boggs.

“I want a kid to graduate from our school and be able to look around and be like, I’ve been in this neighborhood forever, I know exactly what businesses will work. I know exactly what the needs are in this community.”


At http://boggsschool.org/ you can find the names of the scores of community volunteers who spent hot summer days sprucing up the building and classrooms.; also the members of the Board of Trustees, and the interns.