In the presence of genius: Grace Lee Boggs

By: Patrick Barry of LISC/Chicago’s blog

[check out other news and commentary about community development at LISC/Chicago’s blog,, and the New Communities Program website at]

I hang out with a lot of very smart people but tonight was different. Tonight I was in the presence of genius.

After spending the day with other community development practitioners at a LISC Learning Forum in Detroit, including a tour and workshop in the Morningside and East English Village neighborhoods, we were treated to a remarkable dinner presentation by 93-year-old civic activist Grace Lee Boggs.

She surprised us over and over again. First, this daughter of Chinese immigrants with a Ph.D. in philosophy, who later married African-American labor activist James Boggs, well, first she introduced an 11-minute rap video by the Detroit artist Invincible, a young woman whose words burn deeply as she spits them out against a backdrop of apocalyptic post-industrial Detroit. “Selective memory, convenient amnesia,” she chants, and a whole lot more.Continue reading

…On Growing Green Beans

By: Barbara Stachowski

[…On Growing Green Beans was featured on Detroit Today, a public radio show on WDET.]

Gardens can teach us many wonderful things. How do I know? My grandfather taught me so!

I grew up in a wonderfully extended Polish Catholic family in the Detroit suburb of Warren. My father recently reflected how, as a little boy in the 1940’s, he and his family would travel by streetcar and bus from their Detroit home on Davison and Charest to tend my grandparents’ garden on Ryan Road.Continue reading