Writings

Independence Day, 2008 Grace Lee Boggs

LIVING FOR CHANGE
Independence Day,  2008
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, July 13-19, 2008

“There is nothing like the threat of execution to focus the human
mind.” (G.K. Chesterton, author of the Father Brown mysteries).

In 2008,  our “threat of execution” is taking the form of high gas
prices, floods in Iowa, wildfires in California, the cyclone in Burma
(Myanamur) and earthquake in southwest China, melting icecaps, rising
seas and a sinking economy.

That is why, decades from now, if the human race survives,  this
year’s Fourth of July may be remembered as the one when holiday
celebrations went beyond beer and barbecuing to include stories of the
steps that we and others are taking and can take to change the way we
are living to stop global warming.

This year we realized that we are the masters of our fate and the
captains of our souls.  Instead of viewing ourselves as subjects who
can’t stop driving SUVs, we began viewing ourselves as citizens with
the right and responsibility to care for our planet and our posterity.

Decades from now, as our grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather
in backyards with friends, families and neighbors to celebrate their
Independence Day, I can imagine them toasting each other as Sons and
Daughters of the Second American Revolution. Once upon a time, they’ll
be toasting and boasting, it was our grandparents and
great-grandparents who began biking or taking the bus to work. It was
our grandparents and great-grandparents who urged others to do the same
instead of just griping. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents
who brought  about a historic decline in the number of  floods,
hurricanes, droughts and wildfires by changing their own gas-guzzling
way of life. It was our grandparents and great-grandparents who
organized the  demonstrations which persuaded city governments to
create one or two carfree days every month and provide completely free
public transportation to discourage people from driving cars.

I have little patience with the prophets of Doom and Gloom.  I know as
well as they do that our whole climate is changing, that water
shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather
events, etc. threaten a breakdown in infrastructures and democratic
processes.

But doomsayers breed and deepen despair. They apparently believe that
the only way to avoid total collapse is by changing the whole system
with one stroke –  as if human beings were like a school of fish who
all change direction at the same time or as if changing the whole
system was as simple as rubbing out some misspelled words on a
blackboard.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who, alarmed by rising food
costs, last year’s spinach and this year’s tomato crisis,  are taking
small steps that can become big ones.  They are choosing of their own
free will to eat locally, to become locavores. This year there has been

a giant leap in the number of grow-it-yourselfers. These days  the
urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the
United States.

The huge changes now necessary to avert a planetary catastrophe will
probably come about from an accumulation or culmination of such small
changes,  through a combination of Necessity (being kicked from behind)   and Freedom (choosing to do the right thing).

It was not because of abstract idealism that Detroit’s “Gardening
Angels”  sparked the  urban agricultural movement that is pointing a
direction for 21st century cities.  The sight of all these vacant lots
(in the wake of de-industrialization) inspired these elders who had
been raised in the south to plant community gardens.  These gardens,
they thought, would not only grow food.  They would give young people
raised in the city a sense of process.

As columnist Ellen Goodman put it in a recent article, gardening
“doesn’t have the marching sound of John Philip Sousa. It doesn’t have
the patriotic salience of a flag. But in dicey times, the idea of
growing just a bit of your own food carries the real flavor of July
Fourth. It smacks a lot of independence.”

Boggs Center – July 3rd, 2017 – Living For Change News letter

Jimmy and Grace  

We are the Children of Martin and Malcolm…

We are the children of Martin and Malcolm,           Black, brown, red and white, Our birthright is to be creators of history, Our Right, Our Duty           

To shake the world with          

A new dream!

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Living for Change News
July 3rd, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Commonplace Cruelty
Shea Howell

Much of the media coverage this week focused on Donald Trump’s feud with journalists. In what can only be characterized as a scathing editorial, the New York Times described Trumps behavior as coarse, vengeful, embarrassing, nasty, creepy, denigrating, awkward, vulgar and repugnant.

These same descriptions apply to his attacks on immigrants. The recent Supreme Court decision to uphold part of the executive travel ban has allowed the administration to aggressively target people for exclusion. Freed from judicial oversight, the White House renewed senseless travel restrictions and its attacks on Muslims and people from Arabic countries.

While the Supreme Court will review the case in the fall, it restored much of the original executive intent to limit immigration. The administration moving quickly with renewed aggressiveness.

“It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, adding that the government’s new ban on entry “does not comport with the Supreme Court’s order, is arbitrary and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose.”

The punitive, vengeful and nasty nature of this effort by the administration was underscored by other actions taken by House Republicans at Trump’s urging. In the midst of the crisis on health care and tweets about journalists, GOP forces found time to crack down on undocumented people and those who support them.

The House introduced two separate bills that, while certain to meet resistance in the Senate and across the country, demonstrate the level of cruelty now commonplace in the GOP. The first bill is an effort to increase prison sentences for people who re-enter the country without proper documentation. The second renews attacks on sanctuary cities and promises to cut federal funds. The Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, made a rare appearance at the Capitol to make a special assault on cities that declare concern for all the people who call them home. In an effort to obscure reality, Kelly said these new anti-sanctuary laws would prevent local officials from prioritizing “criminals over public and law enforcement officer safety.”

Named “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” the bill expands the amount of money a city could lose if it does not cooperate with federal immigration officials and it would also prevent people from filing lawsuits against federal authorities who detain immigrants. Even without these laws, the administration has been targeting people for deportation.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 people in metro-Detroit were rounded up and processed for deportation. Most were Chaldean. Most have lived peacefully and lawfully here for many years, building full lives after escaping persecution in Iraq. As Christians they have long been a targeted minority there. Almost all of them had committed minor violations of the law, and paid for them. Now grandparents, brothers, sons and husbands are being characterized as hardened criminals and given what could well amount to death sentences if they are sent to Iraq.

Immigration officials invaded homes and workplaces arresting people without notice or any sense of due process. People were transported out of state, leaving families with little understanding of what is happening to them.

This ugliness is just beginning. Our mayor needs to do much more to support all of the people in our city. Our faith communities, schools, universities and civic organizations have a responsibility to extend sanctuary to all who seek it.

At a moment when those in authority are clearly coarse, vengeful, embarrassing, nasty, creepy, denigrating, awkward, vulgar and repugnant, we the people have to develop ways to protect, support and care for one another. It was never more obvious that what is legal is not the same thing as what is right.


Bill Wyle-Kellerman’s last sermon

Death Has No Dominion

WATCH IT HERE


writing a poem for kellermann again again: 
you would think we were married

Jim Perkinson 
(written upon Rev. Kellerman’s retirement from St. Peters Church)

there is a man
who is really a tree
sitting at a table
which is really a city
looking into a rectangular-shaped
crystal ball called
william stringfellow
(this is a postmodern legend;
things get weird names
and strange shapes)
the man grins, searches through
the tipped over stack of books
on his floor which is really the
entrance ramp to the belle isle bridge
follows the words from book to book
straight across the strait until he
get interdicted by the last book
which is actually not a book at all, but the
case file folder of his homrich 9 trial
puts his hearing aid in so he can hear
the voices floating up off the pages better
which are really not voices but red admiral
butterflies that seek to perch in the mustache
hairs over his lip which are really tree leaves
dangling over the flowing river (except he
doesn’t know it—he thinks he’s really
a human). the butterflies land and the water
suddenly roils with sturgeon coming to the surface
to check out the red and black kaleidoscope
flickering above the ceiling of their world
which, if you asked the man, he would assure you
is just the reflection of the dark dirt under his nails
from weeding his backyard garden mirrored in the side of his glass of cabernet sauvignon as he tips the
trader joe’s elixir into the little knot-hole that appears under the leaves of one of the branches to water the stiff old roots gnarling their way into the summer-hardened soil which he thinks is a basketball court he will one day once again float over like a quicksilver otter finding openings between the rocks of legs of what he imagines are prosecutors trying to keep him from scoring points with the box of jurors presiding at the half-court line.he is confused.

thinking he has just won a minor skirmish in a global war about faucet flows in poor houses but actually he is a willow tree on an island seducing the river to climb his veins and come out his bark
as shoots to feed the deer and give the cicadas something to keen about and they do, in sharp trilling cadences all over socially mediated screens of lightning flashes that he thinks are just i-phone and android pulses rather than songs to the moon about the prognosis of the sun’s growing fever, and little cricket cheers that at least the possums under the porch and blossoms on the iris don’t yet have to abandon this world of rising floods of education vouchers and shutoff notices and lead leeches and incinerator belches that he, like some don quixote in front of a decrepit windmill, lumps together in a single perception as a foul wind-machine monster called an emergency manager (or otherwise named
“mayor” or “governor”).   

anyway, this strange crystal ball vision of a fellow-ship of stringy possibilities that is really the rest of us causes him to sit back and muse not realizing he is actually slumped forward and snoring into his own bared belly button (it is hot out so he has his t-shirt pulled up) which receives his breath as if it were the brief flight of a swallow seeking shelter in a nest hidden in slender grasses waving on a hill of well-fed dreams and he dreams, drooling a little bit onto his own knees (you ask how i know this
—probably i am projecting)

but he dreams with his naked toes curled around the pages of all of his past writings gathered at his feet

under the table like the growing horde of grandkids who also love to go on treasure hunts there, and the words climb his legs like tendrils of vine circling the trunk he really is, finding purchase for their little bright fruits in all the crevices of the bark which do
not lessen as they ascend and then at a certain altitude those words suddenly conceive themselves birds of multiple kinds, flying off in maelstroms of delight in liberation, careening in virtuoso
inebriation of insight, finches of laughter flitting like snorts from the limb of his nose, prayer cardinals of ritual regally clutching the top edge of his ear, bluejays screeching when an orange-headed
dust-storm of toxins suddenly threatens the national horizon, woodpeckers of conviction trying to wake the head, a tiny hummingbird of harry potter inspiration riding the rhythm of sonority coming from the flap of the mouth, topped off by crows of augury vigiling for apocalypse in the spreading savannah on the crown . . .

—a man, as a tree, dozing
in the sun, bearing fruit, giving truth wings,
and hosting waters of repose for the desperate, rooted at the strait, bending the gale, enduring the leaf-blight and the ice fall and the locust swarm of gentrifying, bleach-featured “saviors,” and
marathon truck grit and quicken loan buzz saws and marauding snipes from the towers of finance
(not to mention jail cells)

—a tree, who thinks he is a man, giving life, like mustard become cedar, to every manner of little one
and creature needing shelter.

may he blaze with color in this new autumnal season as it rises with kisses and augury in its touch.


WHAT WE’RE READING

Ruminations on Rust

Adrienne Marie Brown

art21

IMG_2287
(By Ash Arder)

I am, and have long been, an anticapitalist: for me, the built structures being swallowed up by nature and rust were beautiful promises, indicative that this moment of bottomless consumption was not eternal, that everything humans make, even oppressive structures that deny nature, is temporary.— when I moved to Detroit, I was enthralled by its ruins, even though I now point and laugh at White urban explorers drawn here for the same reasons. I think the finding of a spiritual home by Black folks is different from the privileged spelunking by White folks, and that’s what my first impressions of Detroit held solid beautiful Blackness; obvious survival. I thought, “I can grow here; my Blackness will be held here.”

— I preferred Detroit’s train station, with all the windows blown out, to any other building I’d seen in this country, dressed as it was in the graffiti of brave artists, proof that someone had transgressed the fences and risked the darkness and stood there unseen, leaving traces of themselves in the surface of the city.

KEEP READING

The Worst is Yet To Come

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

July 15, 2017 – IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE!- IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE! Edit Link

July 15, 2017 – IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE!- IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE!

July  2017 in Upcoming Events. Leave a Comment

July15 2017 flyer

IT’S TIME TO BREAK OUR SILENCE!

An open invite to friends & neighbors of Macomb County

WHAT KIND OF WORLD AND COMMUNITY CAN WE ENVISION TOGETHER?

JULY 15 from 2 – 4PM at Grace Episcopal Church (115 S. Main Street, Mt. Clemens 48043)

~ Sponsored by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership ~

“We have a great

opportunity to

create beloved,

caring

communities…But

first, we must break

our silence and

have safe, serious

conversations

about our history

and how we got to

this point.”

CONTACT US AT:

vickymazzola@gmail.com

(586) 531-7576

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – June 26, 2017

Jimmy and Grace

Grace Lee Boggs 102th Birthday. Grace our comrade, mentor and friend past away October 5, 2015.  Grace and Jimmys legacy continues.  

“People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.” GLB

Living for Change News
June 26th, 2017
The Revolution Starts With Us

Scott Kurashige’s presentation to the Allied Media Conference Opening Ceremony (Detroit: June 16, 2017)

BILL MOYERS: Let me take you back to that terrible summer of 1967, when Detroit erupted into that awful riot out there.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I ask you to think about your calling it a riot. We in Detroit called it the rebellion because we understood that there was a righteousness about the young people rising up against both the police, which they considered an occupation army, and against what they sensed had become their expendability because of high-tech. That what black people had been valued for, for hundreds of years, only for their labor, was now being taken away from them.

And what we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it’s the protest by a people against injustice, because of unrighteous situation, but it’s not enough. You have to go beyond rebellion. And it was amazing, a turning point in my life, because until that time, I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution. And it forced us to begin thinking, what does a revolution mean? How does it relate to evolution?  

(Edited transcript from Bill Moyers Journal: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06152007/watch3.html)

It is truly a wonderful honor to be with you. I know that half of you are Warriors fans. Having lived in the Midwest for 14 years, I have to admit that I’m part of the other half that’s just happy to see Dan Gilbert lose.

I want us to reflect on why have we all come together, right here in this historic theater, on Woodward Avenue, just steps away from the QLine, the sparkling new electric railway that can whoosh by at up to 35 percent the speed of a municipal bus.

Why are we here today in this city, where the 1 percent class has developed a new formula called “emergency management” to combine political disenfranchisement with racism and economic dispossession?

Here, in this country, where we are sinking deeper into a constitutional crisis with each and every tweet?

And here at this moment in time—50 years after the urban rebellions against rampant police brutality, persistent racial discrimination, entrenched segregation, and structural poverty in Detroit and dozens of other cities; and 50 years after the global rebellions against white supremacist colonialism? That rupture a half-century ago marked the beginning of the end of the capitalist system.

We are here because we have been awakened to the truth about the city, the nation, the world, and the times we live in.  

The truth is that we have a short window of opportunity to respond to mounting catastrophes on an epic scale.

The truth is that there is no such thing as equality under capitalism.

The truth is that this system is not salvageable because it was not built on sustainable principles. It was never intended to integrate all of us who comprise the wretched of the earth—that was the underlying truth of the rebellions.

At first the rebellions raised expectations. In 1973, Detroit elected Coleman A. Young, the city’s first black mayor. His triumph was a symbol of pride, promise and, what’s that word I’m looking for… HOPE. In response, he was called “divisive,” “racist,” and “socialist.” White Democrats flocked to the suburbs and became Republicans. Any of this sound familiar?

2016 proved, once again, the ultimate validity of the great American melting pot theory: those on the bottom get burned and the scum rises to the top.

And so our generations now grasp the crucial political lesson our elders learned. Every revolution must overcome the counter-revolution. There are reactionaries in this country who want to tear down mainstream politics, economics, science, media, and environmentalism. Their ultimate goal is to create a new system worse than capitalism.

So we must vote, but that’s just a start.

We must resist—from Stonewall to Standing Rock, from Ferguson to Flint, from Palestine and Puerto Rico. Everywhere oppression rears its ugly head, we must resist, but we can’t stop there..

The revolution starts with us. Our revolution is a two-sided transformation of our selves and our structures because there’s a direct connection between consumerism and militarism, domestic violence and police brutality, ableism and homelessness, transphobia and access to health care, individualism and opportunism.

We can witness the revolution starting right here because the collapse of the industrial economy and end of liberal reform has challenged Detroiters to build the foundations of a whole new culture and a radically new social order, one exemplified by:

  • Freedom Schools that empower youth (in partnership with their teachers and elders) to think critically, solve problems collectively, and build community.
  • Urban farms that promote food sovereignty, valuing land and harvests as social goods rather than commodities.
  • A model of community safety that works to end police brutality, but recognizes, as Grace taught us, that the only way to survive is by taking care of one another.
  • A new model of work, moving beyond the demand for jobs that serve corporate overlords to creating cooperative forms of ownership and production for self-reliance and ecological sustainability.

And in the D, the crisis of representative democracy is a challenge to build participatory democracy: we the people must understand and reshape the laws, the budgets, the social policies and institutions that will define our destiny. That is our mission. And that’s why I’m so excited to be right here with you—the beloved community of the AMC.


farmers


Thinking for Ourselves

Puerto Rico and Detroit
Shea HowellThis year the Allied Media Conference offered a space for gatherings prior to the opening session. I participated in the Puerto Rico/Detroit Solidarity exchange.  The purpose of the gathering was to give people an opportunity to learn together about our mutual experiences as targets of financial attacks under the guise of bankruptcies. We hoped that by talking together we would be able to “imagine new pathways toward the liberation of our communities and build relationships that we will need to continue working together.”

Peter Hammer of the Damon Keith Center for Social Justice opened the conversation by raising the questions of how to change the narratives about the bankruptcy process and the development of our communities. He asked, “How do we challenge the belief systems underlying the entire conversation?” He especially identified the morality play embedded in concepts of debt. Debtors, he explained, are “cast as blameworthy and somehow deserving of punishment.”  Thus the creation of debt is a mechanism of social control.

Whether in Detroit or Puerto Rico, the debt intentionally created by refusals of elites to invest in social goods forces governments to borrow to meet basic responsibilities. This created debt burden justifies the demands to cut services, privatize public assets, limit democratic decisions, and attack pensions. Historic structures of racism and decisions to shrink governments, lower taxes and protect power for a wealthy few form a logic of fiscal austerity that has been evolving since the 1980’s under leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  Built over decades, Hammer said, “There is no easy way out,” but,  “We must think in the long term and talk about public good, public action and radical transformation.” We are not alone in this effort, as globally people have been developing forms of resistance and push back. In the discussion of this presentation people identified solutions beyond colonialism and capitalism.

Activists from Puerto Rico and their diaspora shared efforts at resistance that are rarely reported. Yasim Hernandez invoked images of water, migration, and connectivity. She explained that as an island nation the people of Puerto Rico have an understanding of themselves as a migrant/divided people “embodying fluidity and culture as resistance and a survival weapon.”  She shared the work of “decolonial love” that begins with “self-work first” so that “we will become ungovernable, like water.”

Tara Rodriguez Besosa shared her experiences in the food sovereignty and agricultural movement explaining that decentralizing agriculture and emphasizing local food production are “at the root of a political reframing” and new social reconfiguration of the island. Resisting efforts by the Department of Agriculture and seed producers like Monsanto to centralize and control food production; agricultural activists are making land for food and natural diversity priorities.

Melanie Perez shared the role of students and professors at the university who were engaging in public demonstrations and strikes to resist cuts to education. She talked about the increased efforts by authorities to crackdown on dissent and the bravery of students to stand up against this.

As people shared these experiences it was clear to all of us that we have much to learn as we create new stories of liberation. Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People summed up the Detroit experience saying, “They created the bankruptcy to give a death blow to organized labor and then to take control of the largest water system in the whole world. It is a psychological warfare.” She concluded, “This transformational moment is yours. Every generation has to confront the tyranny of their day. This is yours.”  

It is a moment for all of us who care about justice. If we put our faith in one another, in our capacities to care and create, we can create a better future.


PATHOLOGY OF DISPLACEMENT: THE INTERSECTION OF FOOD JUSTICE AND CULTURE

Shane Bernardo

In new Food Justice Voices issue Pathology of Displacement: The Intersection of Food Justice and Culture, storyteller, healing practitioner and food justice organizer Shane Bernardo tells his story about how displacement has affected his ancestors and family within the Philippine diaspora, and how he is working to reclaim ancestral subsistence practices that connect him to land, food and his roots. In this piece Shane breaks down what was lost due to colonialism and how we can fight to get it back to truly achieve a real “food justice” movement.


pedal


WHAT WE’RE READING

Wage Love to End Debt’s Stranglehood

Sarah Van Gelder

YES! 

Debt is an age-old means of shaming and controlling poor people. The practice is so commonplace, we hardly notice it.For many, going into debt is the only way to get an education, buy a home, or survive a medical emergency. Shaking off that debt can be impossible for those living on low-wage and insecure jobs, and those targeted by predatory lending. Still, many accept the story that debt is their fault.

image_14At this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan, residents of the city and those of Puerto Rico gathered to compare notes on how debt and default have affected their regions. (Photo: Ara Howrani via Allied Media Projects / Flickr)
Citizens of cities and even countries are shamed for their debt, and blame is used by those instituting emergency management to justify loss of self-rule, privatization of public services, and extraction of community wealth.At this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan, residents of the city and those of Puerto Rico gathered to compare notes on how debt and default have affected their regions. Both have experienced economic hardship, both are predominantly made up of people of color, and both are seeing debt used as an excuse for the selling off their common assets and to undermine their rights to self-governance.In Detroit, the loss of industrial jobs to low-wage regions, coupled with federally subsidized white flight has left the city with the costs of operating urban services that benefit the entire region without the tax base needed to pay for them.The 2008 financial crisis hit the city—and its African American families in particular—especially hard. Residents had been targeted for subprime mortgages, which accounted for 68 percent of all the city’s mortgages in 2005, compared to 24 percent nationwide, reported the the Detroit News. Today, more than three quarters of foreclosed homes financed through subprime lenders are in poor condition or tax foreclosed.

KEEP READING

FREEDOM SCHOOL 3

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

River Wise – Saturday, June 24, 2017 at the Feedom Freedom – Community Conversation

 In the interest of expanding the traditional role of a community publication,
Riverwise magazine is continuing its series of ‘community conversations’ in various
neighborhoods throughout the city. We hope to support the wide range of visionary activism
taking place in Detroit by providing not only the story content, but a forum for further
engagement through careful dialogue.
Our next gathering will take place Saturday, June 24, 2017 at the Feedom Freedom
urban garden from 1-3pm. The emphasis that Feedom Freedom has placed on community
empowerment provides a suitable setting in which to discuss the past, present and future of
Riverwise magazine and the people that support it. Feedom Freedom’s motto, “Grow a garden,
grow a community,” falls right in line with the mission of Riverwise magazine to grow the
community by telling our own stories with our own voices.
Feedom Freedom is located at 866 Manistique, Detroit, Michigan, 48215. For more
information, call 313-247-4771.
With the recent publication of our second edition, the Riverwise Collective urges our
readers to join us to discuss the potential to expand our political consciousness and social
responsibility through storytelling. Please join us to reflect on the direction of the magazine,
story ideas for upcoming issues and a viable future based on evolving ideas.
In love and struggle,
Eric T. Campbell
Project Manager
Riverwise Magazine