CRISIS OF THE MASS KILLINGS Grace Lee Boggs, “Beyond Civility,” MLK Day 2011


In his 1967 call for a radical revolution of values against the giant
triplets of racism, materialism and militarism, King said, “a nation that
spends more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is
approaching spiritual death.” In recent years our spiritual death has
resulted in mass physical deaths all over the world and at home, e.g. at
Oklahoma City, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, the
Immigration Center in Binghamton, N.Y. Each of these could have been the
wakeup call that this one can become.

We don’t have to limit ourselves to grieving or to calling for civility. We
are not just bystanders. We are citizens responsible for the safety of
ourselves and our fellow citizens in these very destabilizing times.

The time has come for each of us to be involved in creating what MLK called
a new concept of global citizenship, based on each one of us accepting the
responsibility for the safety of all of us,

This includes instituting more gun regulations and more mental health
awareness and facilities at the local level, instead of leaving it to
Washington, D.C.

It includes many more of us risking arrest by initiating or joining
non-violent demonstrations.

It requires more of us recognizing that the Old American Dream is dead and
accepting the responsibility for beginning to create, from the ground up,
in our neighborhoods, our cities, and our country, a New American Dream,
based on caring for each other in beloved communities, living more simply
in order that others can simply live, ending our wars and military
occupations around the world.

All of us, and not only borderline individuals, need this New American
Dream. And until the whole world knows that we are creating it in our
country, there will be no homeland security for any of us.

The crisis of the Tucson killings is not only a danger but an opportunity
for each and all of us to make this great leap forward in our and the
world’s humanity.

We must seize the time!!

From Grace Lee Boggs, “Beyond Civility,” MLK Day 2011

Riverwise Magazine’s First Birthday! Sunday March 11, 2018

 Riverwise Magazine’s first birthday!

Join us this Sunday (Mar 11) from 5-9PM  at Craft Work (8047 Agnes St, Detroit) to celebrate Riverwise Magazine’s first birthday! We will be enjoying food, drinks, music, dancing (if you like), and limitless, soul-stirring fun! It’s free.99, but it’s our birthday party so donations are welcome!

Buy a poster copy of Riverwise Magazine cover art!

We are selling select copies of Riverwise Magazine’s cover art from this past year of publication in poster form. These are $20 and will be available only while they last! If you want to purchase in advance, visit our Eventbrite page and RSVP with a donation and you’ll have one set aside!

The Why and How of Visionary Organizing By Grace Lee Boggs Sept 29 – Oct 6 2012

The Why and How of Visionary Organizing By Grace Lee Boggs Sept 29 – Oct 6 2012

“At this time on the clock of the {R}evolution, movement activists need to discuss and struggle around different forms of Organizing. Jimmy’s Boggs were in the plant and the community. From his experiences as an organizer he had learned that human beings are individuals and not just masses or members of a class or race.

For example, as he used to say. “ Some workers organized the union; others had to be whipped into it. “

In “Going where we’ve never gone before” and “Building Community: An Idea whose time has come, ” Jimmy recognized that while many, perhaps most people have been demoralized or immobilized by our disintegrating communities, there are also some who want to or are already trying to rebuild our communities.

That is what a Visionary Organizer does. S/he devises methods of Self-Selection through which visionaries can identify themselves and join with others.

That is why in the early 1990s, we created Detroit Summer, a multicultural intergenerational program to Rebuild, Redefine and Respirit Detroit from the ground up to bring together individuals who wanted to or were already doing this..

Only a few dozen people became involved in Detroit Summer but these few were individuals with the energy and the drive themselves to do something positive. Given the opportunity to work with others on different programs these natural leaders not only developed themselves and each other. They also inspired and developed us. Moreover, most of them became lifelong activists and leaders in the city of Detroit.

That is how Visionary Organizing works. It is a method for identifying and helping leaders to develop, a process of Self-Selection and Self-Development . Movement organizers can help that process along but it has to be Self-Initiated.

Those movement organizers who do not understand or engage in this process are likely to begin acting like politicians, trying to impress or attract victims of the system by providing them with the needs and services denied them by the system.”


Living by the Clock of the World: Grace Lee Boggs’ Call for Visionary Organizing By:  Matthew Birkhold Date Published:   April 17, 2012

“In contrast to rebellions, revolutions create new societies because they begin with “projecting the notion of a more human human being” whose development has been limited by structural conditions.  Revolutions are not significant simply because they involve seizing state power but because they create societies more conducive to human development. A revolution is not for the purpose of resolving past injustice.  Rather, “the only justification for revolution is that it advances the evolution of man/woman.” Understanding revolution as “a phase in the long evolutionary process of man/woman,” that “initiates a new plateau, a new threshold on which human beings can develop,” the Boggses saw revolution as a period when human beings rapidly advanced. “
“We are at the point of a cultural revolution in ourselves and in our institutions that is as far-reaching as the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture 11,000 years ago, and from agriculture to industry a few hundred years ago. How do we reimagine education? How do we reimagine community? How do we reimagine family? How do we reimagine sexual identity? How do we reimagine everything in the light of a change that is so far reaching and is our responsibility to make? We have to think beyond capitalist categories. We can’t expect them to make it. We have to do the reimagining ourselves.” GLB
How Do “We Reimagine?
We reimagine by combining activism with philosophy. We have to do what I call visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition. That’s why it’s so wonderful to be here today—that we dare to talk about revolution in such fundamental terms.”



Boggs Center Living For Change News February 27th, 2018

Boggs Center Living For Change News

February 27th, 2017

grace and jimmy

The Why and How of Visionary Organizing By Grace Lee Boggs   Sept 29 – Oct 6 2012

“At this time on the clock of the {R}evolution, movement activists need to discuss and struggle around different forms of Organizing. Jimmy’s Boggs were in the plant and the community. From his experiences as an organizer he had learned that human beings are individuals and not just masses or members of a class or race.

For example, as he used to say. “Some workers organized the union; others had to be whipped into it.“

In “Going where we’ve never gone before” and “Building Community: An Idea whose time has come, ” Jimmy recognized that while many, perhaps most people have been demoralized or immobilized by our disintegrating communities, there are also some who want to or are already trying to rebuild our communities.

That is what a Visionary Organizer does. S/he devises methods of Self-Selection through which visionaries can identify themselves and join with others.



Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Violent Times

This week the students, teachers and support staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will resume classes. They will find ways to move forward in a place infused with memories of violence, fear and pain. And they will continue to show a deep commitment to organizing people against school shootings. They are planning a March on Washington “to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.” Schools and communities around the country are planning walkouts and marches in solidarity.

As I have been thinking about the passion, persistence and potential of these young people to raise fundamental questions about our country, I happened on an article about Freedom Summer, 1964.  Most of the article reflected the experiences of Thomas Foner and a letter he wrote home, chronicling the violence he experienced in a single day while organizing for voter registration. He wrote:
“Two COFO volunteers were jailed on a trumped up rape charge. Forty M-1 rifles and a thousand rounds of ammunition were stolen from the local National Guard armory. As I write this letter, a Negro church is burning down the street; the fire department is nowhere to be found. Two other volunteers have just been arrested. Last night a Negro freedom worker was shot by white hoodlums. He was taken to the white University Hospital and was released about an hour later with the slug still in his head. Also last night Reverend Smith’s house was shot into about 1:30 AM by white men. The Negro guards fired back as the men got into a city truck.”
Violence is nothing new in America. Yet this moment is an opportunity to move beyond the surface symptoms of the disease that grips our country. Long before Charles Whitman climbed to the observation deck at the University of Texas to kill 17 people in 1966, before Columbine in 1999, Red Lake in 2005, Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Umpqua Community College in 2015, and now Parkland, and the hundreds of other shootings in schools and out that rarely make the news, violence gripped our country.

Violence is at the core of our founding. It is essential to the continuation of our way of life. Beginning with the first killing of an indigenous person by Columbus and his men to the shot fired tomorrow in Syria, throughout our long and troubled history, the willingness to destroy others for private gain has marked us. This willingness has been not only to destroy people, but to deny the very humanity of those we kill, thus denying and distorting our own.

The bravery of the students at Parkland, like the young people of the Movement for Black Lives, and #MeToo invite us all to look honestly and deeply at who we have been, who we have become, and who we want to be. Young white men picking up guns and killing children in schools are not the problem. They are the symptom of a country shaped by the violence of racism, materialism, and militarism. Until we transform these values, violence in all its forms will continue.
march for our lives

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Womens Day Flyer 2018-1

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News February 12th & 19th 2018

February 19th, 2017
grace and jimmy

“As an organizer, I was taught to recruit people into the movement and to support them to stay involved. But I wasn’t taught how to repair relationships or to prevent harm. Many of us aren’t taught these skills.”



Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Thanks to Jackson

This week a group of us from the Boggs Center attended the North Dakota Study Group’s (NDSG) 46th annual gathering. The NDSG is a loose collective of progressive educators, artists, activists, authors, teachers and students who “come together annually to engage in an ongoing seminar on democratic possibilities in the U.S. and world education.” Its members have persistently and consistently pressed for deepening democratic theory and practice in education and in our communities.

This year we gathered in Jackson Mississippi and will do so again next year. The decision to go to Jackson was deliberate. It marked a commitment to our collective journey to eradicate white supremacy.  We understand white supremacy  is destroying our children and distorting our humanity. We turned consciously to Jackson to draw on its strength, wisdom, and rich history of struggle as we face forces that are intent on destroying our children’s minds, hearts, and spirits.

What could we learn from those who struggled over centuries for full humanity and the possibilities of controlling their own lives. What do learn in a place steeped in violence and tragedy as well as triumph? How will these lessons help us move our country forward? What do we need to do individually, collectively in this moment?

In his opening letter to the gathering Albert Sykes, Executive director of IDEA and co-chair of the gathering challenged the nearly 150 participants. He said this would not be a typical gathering. He explained, “Beloved communities do not just appear; they have to be built. We are asking you to commit to building one. Jackson will not be easy. The history will not be diluted to ease the conscience of the guilty; the work will not be diverted to comfort the fragile and the urgency of this work will not be tempered. As time and the country changes, we much challenge ourselves to change as well. We ask in love and have faith that participants will be receptive to much needed growth.”

Mr. Sykes explained, “Mississippi’s history is not limited to a single person or story. We will be greeted, introduced to and addressed by various individuals who have made life-changing contributions for the greater good for all. We will explore the confederate flag and other symbols of hate; explore the mechanisms by which racism is carried out and explore the places, where many sacrifices have been made in Mississippi. Our conversations this year are designed to be both hard and healing. There is no intent to shame, silence, ridicule, disrespect, or demolish any person who participates with us.” Mr. Sykes and the other volunteer organizes did their very best to provide this opportunity for all us.  All too often many of us fell short of meeting his expectations of us and our own. But often too, we found our way to courageous conversations, deep insights, and the capacity to continue to challenge ourselves and one another.

I was deeply and unexpectedly moved by this experience. Approaching the home of Medgar Evers I found it difficult to step onto the driveway. This is the place where he was shot, where his blood flowed as he crawled to the door to reach his wife and children. I know that blood is still in the dust rising as we walked. My tears of gratitude and sorrow now mix with those of countless others there.

Mr. Sykes gave us this charge, “We invite you to open your heart and mind, to lock your arms and hands in order for us to walk into a reckoning and walk out together on the other side of a renewal.”

This is our hope not just for the gathering, but for our country. We have much work to do.  Mayor Chokewe Antar Lumumba called us to believe that “Together we will make (Jackson) a symbol of unity, prosperity and progression.”  In the process, we have the opportunity to change our people and our country as we change the places that hold our lives.
“We must make a preemptive strike to replace the job system with a life system.”



Will Makers Change Everything?


February 12th, 2017

Documenting Puerto Rico from the Ground Up

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
The Year with Betsy Devos

Betsy DeVos has completed her first year as the head of the Department of Education. Some have argued that she has been ineffective in carrying out her right wing agenda. Some take comfort in her foolish public statements; arguing for guns in school in case a bear wanders in, comparing schools to taxicabs and food trucks, and claiming Margaret Thatcher as her idol.

But Devos is not naïve. She has a relentless political agenda that she has been advancing in Michigan, in states around the country, and now on a national scale. Given the fact that the federal government only contributes about 10 percent of the cost of running schools, her impact will not be on visible issues of funding. Rather she is subtly changing the foundations of education through shifting priorities within the Department of Education and stripping away federal protections of all kinds. She is accomplishing this through sophisticated and subtle changes that are largely happening outside of public scrutiny.

First consider the case of vouchers, a funding mechanism designed to provide families with public funds to subsidize placing their children in private schools. These have long been sought by DeVos as part of the right wing agenda of shifting public money to mostly white, right wing Christian schools. Vouchers have been resisted at state and local levels, including here in Michigan. They violate fundamental concepts of the separation of church and state. They are a central strategy in undermining public education.

Now, with barely a public comment, the new republican tax bill passed last December gives parents the ability to use college saving plans for private k-12 schooling. It allows $10,000 tax free withdrawals every year per child. As a recent article in the Atlantic explained, “This new provision effectively operates the same way a voucher program would, but without the name: While vouchers distribute funds directly to parents to pay for private school, the new law uses the tax code to facilitate private-school attendance.”

The National Education Association estimates that over the next 10 years, this provision will take $150 billion from state and local revenues for schools.

DeVos has slipped in legislation to promote and finance her dream of “schools of choice” without having to debate or defend the idea. She simply provided enabling taxing mechanisms.

As the #MeToo movement brings welcome attention to widespread sexual violence in our culture, DeVos eliminated protections on college campuses for victims of sexual assault. Echoing Trumps recent tweets, she has stressed concern for the men being victimized by false accusations. She has increased support and counseling for them. She has also eliminated guidance aimed at protecting people based on gender identity.

She has sided with banks and business over student interests. She has made it more difficult for students who have been defrauded by for profit schools to seek loan forgiveness. She has appointed Carlos Nuniz to be General Counsel for the department. He is most famous for having argued that his home state of Florida should not participate in legal action against Trump University for fraud.

Sometime this week her latest nominee, Kenneth Marcus, will likely be confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. He is well known for “threatening academic freedom generally, as well our civil rights as women, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.”

DeVos is not ineffective. She is patient, persistent and deadly. She has no respect for students, teachers, or education. She is dedicated to schools of choice as an essential element of a broader right wing strategy to protect power and privilege by undermining democracy.

All of us who care about the importance of education need to look beyond her rhetoric. More importantly, we need to create places and where our children can grow in their unique capacities for creativity, critical thinking, and social responsibility.
“The stories of women in the Subcontinent are often neglected and they are often relegated to the background – the doting wife, the supportive sister or the encouraging daughter. Our history is the tale of his story, not her story.”
In the USA privatization practices contribute to increased water bills and jeopardize water quality, endangering one of residents’ most basic needs. We can gain some perspective on the consequences of water privatization by looking to a glaring overseas example: In Lebanon, mismanagement of infrastructure has provided ample opportunity for privatization to proliferate. In both cases, the pursuit of privatization comes from cash-strapped places prioritizing cost-cutting over resource conservation and quality.”