By Grace Lee Boggs
March 3rd, 2013
In his February 12 State of the Union address, President Obama referred, almost in passing, to the potential in 3D printing to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.
The following week, on February 21, the Home section of the New York Times featured a fascinating article about “A Factory on your Kitchen Counter.”
In this period of double digit joblessness, I hope that these two references to a new mode of digital production will encourage every concerned citizen to begin exploring how to implement it in our workplaces and communities.
Implementing digital production in our communities at this time on the clock of the world can be as profound and far-reaching as the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture 11,000 years ago and from agriculture industry four hundred years ago.
In his best-selling book, The Third Wave Alvin Toffler views a digital mode of production as the basis of a “prosumer economy” because it makes possible local production in small, medium and large quantities as needed.
A prosumer economy provides a local, consumer/community-initiated and consumer/community-controlled alternative to the globalized production which in the last few decades has been impoverishing and devastating our communities and cities while expanding and enriching corporations like Walmart.
To begin our understanding and exploration of digital production we need to distinguish between “additive“ and “subtractive” manufacturing. Wikipedia explains the distinction:
“Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a 3 dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.” It differs from today’s manufacturing process which is mostly subtractive, i.e. relies on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling.
Additive production is known as Digital Fabrication because it turns data into things.
In his article “How to make almost everything” in the Nov.-Dec. 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Neil Gershenfeld defines Digital Fabrication as “the ability to turn data into things and things into data.” He writes:
“A new digital revolution is coming, this time in fabrication. It draws on the same insights that led to the earlier digitizations of communication and computation, but now what is being programmed is the physical world rather than the virtual one. Digital fabrication will allow individuals to design and produce tangible objects on demand, wherever and whenever they need them. Widespread access to these technologies will challenge traditional models of business, aid, and education….. Many years of research remain to complete this vision, but the revolution is already well under way.”
Frithjof Bergmann, University of Michigan Emeritus Professor, New Work theorist and community catalyst, has been helping rural African women to manufacture dry compost toilets and to build homes in one day by using digital fabrication.
In Detroit Blair Evans is engaging young people in digital fabrication with Incite Focus. One of Evans’ uncles was the late Rev. Albert Cleage aka Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, founder of the Shrine of the Black Madonna and of the Black Christian Nationalist Movement/BCN.
Avalon Bakery’s vision is to have a socially conscious, environmentally responsible business in the neighborhood that will help revitalize the city. Originally, the bakery was planning to sell only to restaurants in hopes of being more successful. However, the word quickly spread of the incredible breads and pastries, persuading the owners to sell their famous baked goods to the general public.
By Shea Howell
April 14th, 2013
This week the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) firmed up the foundation of his operation. After reinstating the pay of elected city council members, the EFM announced they were welcome to meet, but he has the final say. All decisions are his alone. A few days later, a consulting firm recommended that the City Council be reduced to part time and cut its staff.
The consulting firm of Conway Mackenzie of Birmingham was paid $4.2 million dollars for its recommendation that would reduce the counsel staff from 115 to 37 and “save” the city $7.4 million in expenses. We the citizens are no doubt to assume that a part time council with virtually no staff will be effective in answering our concerns about lighting, public safety and general civic business. After all, citizens have been assured that the EFM will make sure city services improve.
This is absurd. The point of all of this was for the EFM to provide some political cover for difficult decisions and some protection from the federal lawsuit pointing out the unconstitutionality of this whole scheme. But the EFM also wanted to make clear he is the one paying the bills, so he is in charge. The real bottom line is that the Governor and his cronies control the assets and revenues of the City of Detroit.
In this moment, the decision by the Sierra Club of Michigan, Detroit Chapter, to release its State of the Environment Report is welcome. It is a well-researched, thoughtful document, raising important questions about ecological justice and environmental policies. At a press conference in front of the Detroit Works Project (Detroit Future City)
Executive Director Rhonda Anderson said simply, “We have in the City of Detroit, in the area of 48217 (ZIP Code), River Rouge and Ecorse, the most polluted areas in the state of Michigan.”
As significant as the data in the report is, the context given by the Sierra Club for conducting it is crucial. The Sierra Club raises the question of public integrity. It is offering a clear standard of accountability on the part of non-profit organizations in our city.
In the opening paragraph of the report they acknowledge that Detroit Works (DWP) asked the Sierra Club to collaborate on an Environmental Report. After becoming engaged in the process, the Sierra Club determined three important things. First, they believed that the DWP lacked “genuine community direction and protections.” Second that their “membership includes individuals and organizations that perpetuate environmental injustices,” and, third, the DWP was faced with a significant “conflict of interest.”
While applauding the blue and green emphasis within the Strategic Framework, the Sierra Club pinpoints the core decision of the DWP, to channel resources to some “target areas of the city while neglecting others remains intact and fundamentally contradicts the principles of environmental justice.”
They also conclude that DWP plan “offers nothing toward alleviating existing environmental justice hazards” and that the “continued push of privatization of public lands and resources with respect to land use, air and water quality is also not addressed and remains a concern.”
The clear, forceful introduction of these principles into public debate is essential. The report calls for “Complete and transparent independence from any entities significantly contributing to environmental hazards in the city” and argues that this “is critical if local environmental groups intend to advocate on behalf of the general public.”
The Sierra Club’s bold, clear action is part of the growing effort by Detroiters to not only carve out a new political space, but to clarify the values and responsibilities of all those who claim to speak on behalf of the people.
In our quest for humane responses to gentrification, foreclosures, school closures, joblessness, emergency managers, transportation cuts, and police brutality, people are working diligently every day to re-imagine everything from democracy to public safety, education and work. This year, as we commemorate the 50th Anniversaries of Malcolm X’s Message to the Grassroots at the historic King Solomon Church, Dr. King’s march on Woodward in Detroit before over 100,000 people and James Boggs’ epic release of The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, we invite the world to join us as we come together again this summer to build on the abundant soul growth that we experienced in Detroit last July.
Hello to our Guests…
Chef Giles and David Theriault are asking you to please help support restaurants
in and around Detroit. As co-owners of a new restaurant in the city of Detroit,
we can tell you the challenges in these economic times are many.
Our city needs more options for your dining pleasure. Too many restaurants have
closed over the past two to three years.
One way you can help is to participate in local news annual “BEST OF” issues…
We have included the link to the METROTIMES “BEST OF” annual on-line voting.
Please vote by this THURSDAY, March 31st. 20 total votes are required for any
one vote to count.
As many of you know, the Sunday Dinner Company is 25% restaurant and 75%
people… we call it a “socially conscious enterprise”…
We believe it is necessary to “promote from within” the city if we are going to
re-vitalize and rise to the potential that we believe Detroit is, has always
been, and will forever be…
If you choose to cast your supporting votes for the Sunday Dinner Company
Restaurant, we suggest the following 4 in the Best Dining category. This will
help focus votes to a larger total number.
Best new restaurant,
Best soul food in Detroit,
best new Barbecue,
best all around buffet,
best completed renovation project – (our late 1800s US Post Office Building –
don’t tear them down, show everyone the treasures they truly are! )
best overlooked local story – (our employees – Goodwill Industries -Flip the
Script program and our at risk youth development program… your purchase of
lunch or dinner helps support changing these lives..)
Whichever business you choose, please support Detroit and take 5 minutes to go
to this link and vote…
Thank you in advance for your support
Chef Eric Giles and Dave Theriault, co-owners
The Sunday Dinner Company Restaurant
“Helping to rebuild Detroit – one plate at a time!”313-877-9255
By Grace Lee Boggs
March 17th, 2013
Detroit’s international Women’s Day Celebration on Saturday, March 9, at the UAW-GM Center was more moving and revealing than any of the many IWD celebrations in which I have participated over the years.
Co-hosted by the UAW Women’s Department and the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, the celebration brought together hundreds of women from many different walks of life and generations.
The theme was LISTEN TO WOMEN FOR A CHANGE!
Besides short talks by UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada and myself, it featured a series of workshops which demonstrated that women are the ones needed to give leadership on the many critical issues now facing everyone in our city and country:
-Taking Back Our Households
-Creating Peace Circles: From War Zones to Peace Zones
-Making a Splash at the Ballot Box
-What’s Love got to do with it? (HIV)
-Seeing Past Hell and onto Hope
Workshop leaders included Andre A Jackson, Julia Putnam, Conja Wright, Bonnie Smith, Deb Kozol, Stephanie Purvis, Wanda Latham, Rev. Sandra Simmons.
In all the workshops it became clear that women are effective leaders because we/they have ways of communicating, caring, and compromising that are specially needed at this time on the clock of the world.
The celebration concluded with a multi-generational conversation.
The IWD organizers will be meeting Wednesday, March 20, 5 p.m. at Solidarity House , 8000 E. Jefferson, Detroit 48214.
By Grace Lee Boggs
April 7th, 2014
The Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership (BCNCL) has issued a new edition of Revolution in the 21st Century (65pp. $5.00).
It was originally published in 2010.
The contents of the 2010 edition were:
Changing Concepts of Revolution
Rediscovering the American Past
Naming the Enemy
Toward a Self-Governing America
Re-affirming Self-Evident Truths
Neighborhood Peace Pledge
Neighborhood Peace Codes
Two new articles have been added to the 2013 edition.
Re-Imagining Work: Another Production is Possible by Richard Feldman
New Work & New Culture by Barbara Stachowski
As the American revolution continues to gain momentum, BCNCL is hosting an increasing number of movement groups from different parts of the country.
For example, a few weeks ago we enjoyed a visit from Movement Generation, a Justice and Ecology group rom the Bay area which is traveling to different cities in order to establish connections between local movement organizations.
In New England they will spend time with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in the Roxbury-Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston.
MG’s members are mostly people of color. Carla Maria Perez, a founder, is a community organizer of Native/Latin American heritage who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1999 with a BS in Conservation & Resource Studies with an emphasis on Environmental Racism.
We are hearing from university professors from around the country that their students want to become more involved. A number of professors include both The Next American Revolution and Living for Change in their syllabus.
Professors from local universities who feel the need of their students to connect their studies to the struggle developing in Detroit are also bringing their classes to the Boggs Center.
ROC-United is a national restaurant workers’ organization that engages in six programs: 1) developing new restaurant worker organizing projects; 2) providing training and technical assistance to restaurant worker organizing projects; 3) conducting national research on the restaurant industry: 4) engaging in national policy work to improve working conditions for restaurant workers; 5) coordinating national campaigns of restaurant workers; and 6) convening restaurant workers across the country.
Click here to download the flyer: The 8th Annual Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit Conference
October 19 – 21, 2012
Connect, Collaborate and Celebrate!
Speakers and workshops on sustainability and eco-justice movements.
“Growing Resilient Communities”Marygrove College 8425 McNichols Rd. Detroit, MI 48221
Learn more and register at: www.GLBD.org
The Hub of Detroit is a non-profit, full-service retail bike shop. Funds raised by The Hub support our free youth and adult education program, Back Alley Bikes.
At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.
By Shea Howell
April 7th, 2013
Governor Snyder has stepped up his campaign to convince people that the appointment of an Emergency Financial Manager in Detroit is a good thing. He has released a series of You Tube clips including comments by former City Council member Sheila Cockrel, various “young professionals,” and Rev. Jerome Warfield, Chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. All echo the same theme that city services from lighting to police protection are in disarray. As Rev. Warfield claims Detroit is “beyond a crossroads.”
The mainstream media uncritically picks up the theme, finding Detroiters who will speak in support of the manager, or diminish those who oppose his appointment. Most recently Rochelle Riley, of the Detroit Free Press, talked about city wide district elections and quoted extensively from Bishop Edgar Vann, pastor of Second Ebenezer Church. Vann says: “The anti-EFM people are going to be running their own slate of candidates,” he said. “So with all the attention media are giving them, all you have to do is get a bullhorn and stand on a box. You don’t want (the ballot) full of bottom-feeders and somebody who’s a block club president who maybe can’t even read and write.”
Such forcefully crude sentiments are critical to Snyder’s efforts to lull people into acceptance of the Emergency Financial Manager. He is hoping to link discontent with services to the idea that the EFM will improve life in the city. He is hoping we will forget only 5% of the city voted for him and 82% voted against an EFM.
Nowhere in the state has an Emergency Financial Manager improved city services or made the streets safe. Flint, enduring an emergency manager for years, now has the highest murder rate in the nation. Benton Harbor, stripped of public assets by Joe Harris, its former EFM, ranks among the top Michigan cities in violent crimes. Pontiac has outsourced vital police and fire protection. Highland Park gave up streetlights all together. Flint is considering charging people for the water used to put out fires. The idea that by cutting budgets, public services will improve flies in the face of all logic and common sense. Spending less on city services will not get us more, no matter how many police cars are donated to the city.
This notion of spending less to get more comes from the right wing republican philosophy that all public services would be “better” if they were run by private enterprises. Schools, police, fire, blight reduction, prisons, road maintenance and sanitation services are all thought to be better run though the magic of the market place.
Our experience across the state now proves otherwise. Privatized public responsibilities lead to poor services. Public goods are sacrificed for private profits. We have watched schools close as class sizes increase, seen fire trucks replaced with pick up trucks, and found deals made behind closed doors to benefit those entrusted with unlimited authority.
There is another philosophic tradition in our country we can draw upon. This second week of Occupation in Detroit coincides with the 46th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Time to Break the Silence” speech delivered April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. In this speech Dr. King not only spoke against the war in Vietnam, but called for a radical revolution in values against the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism. He called upon all of us to find the ways toward the creation of beloved community as the only alternative to the violence threatens all of us.
His call, to deepen our ties to one another, to care more deeply and consciously for the most vulnerable among us, to assume responsibilities for developing a future based on the protection of people rather than the pursuit of things, marks the real crossroads we face today.