A Learning Journey in Detroit: A Brave New World Recreating Itself As Beloved Community
October 25-28, 2012
led by Margaret Wheatley in partnership with The Boggs Center of Detroit
and timed with the publication of Margaret’s new book
So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World
To register or for questions concerning this journey please contact in Detroit: Diane Reeder at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about the co-hosts, we encourage you to visit:
www.margaretwheatley.com or www.boggscenter.org
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.
Allies for Change provides anti-oppression education, training, and resources for individuals and organizations committed to social change. Believing that justice work is deeply spiritual work, our programs invite participants to sharpen their tools for structural change while enlarging their capacities for compassion, hope, and joy.
By Grace Lee Boggs
April 14th, 2013
Since the 1990s Dr. Martin Luther King‘s birthday in mid-January has been a national holiday.
But for me April will always be MLK’s month because it is not only “the cruelest month,” (as T.S.Eliot put it in his 1922 poem The Wasteland). It is also one of the most challenging.
April is the month of the Crucifixion. But it is also the month of the Resurrection.
MLK was killed in April 1968. A year earlier, in his April 1967 “Time to Break the Silence” speech, he called his own country, the United States, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” and shook the world with a new dream.
In his August 1963 March on Washington speech, MLK had only dreamed of black and white children holding hands. But in April 1967 he dreamed of a “Radical Revolution of Values, “not only against racism but against materialism and militarism, and of Beloved Communities based on persons and relationships instead of things.
In Detroit over the last few decades, MLK’s dream of beloved communities has been becoming more than a dream. As our city has been devastated by deindustrialization, neighbors have begun to look out for one another, to care for abandoned houses, to exchange services (time-banking).
The imposition of Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr by Michigan Governor Snyder has provided the opportunity and incentive for these neighborhood groups to begin viewing themselves as units of grassroots self-government.
In his recent book Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention, Detroit Free Press columnist John Gallagher calls this new assuming of responsibility Hyperlocalism, A new model for services:
“One way we can improve municipal governance is to break off pieces of municipal government and send those tasks either ‘upstream’ (as in the regional transportation authorities that operate city-and-suburban transit systems in many metro areas) or ‘downstream’ to neighborhood-level groups that can handle them better. And perhaps no downstream group shows the way better than University Circle Inc.
“The district takes its name not only from the universities that call it home but also from a traffic circle in the heart of it all. Located four miles east of downtown Cleveland, University Circle grew from the late 19th-century onward from a small settlement into a world-class assemblage of education, health care and arts institutions.
“A dense concentration of Eds and Meds and Arts like this proves a boon to almost any city that enjoys it; look no farther than Detroit’s Midtown district to see how anchors employ thousands of smart, well-paid professionals who like to eat, shop, live and play in a walkable urban environment. University Circle Inc. itself grew from a philanthropic effort in 1950 into a quest to knit together the 34 different institutions in the district through better urban planning. That led to adoption in the late ’50s of the University Circle Master Plan, which, in broad terms, envisioned enhancing the parks and other public spaces while developing available land with a prudent eye toward the overall good of the district.
“This master plan set a goal to ‘establish a central organization to administer the plan and give it some real authority.’ That recommendation gave birth to the University Circle Development Foundation, which quickly formed a land bank to buy and hold available land until one or another institution needed it for expansion.
“Other services soon followed: police, parking, shuttle buses, architectural design review, landscaping of common areas. In 1970, the UCDF was reorganized as University Circle Inc. and charged by its directors to explore stronger relationships with surrounding neighborhoods, some of which were among the poorest in Ohio. By the 1970s, UCI was helping to found schools for Cleveland schoolchildren; by the ’90s, it was morphing from a passive holder for the district’s excess land to a promoter, developer and catalyst for historic renovation and construction of commercial and residential properties.
“To me, the most striking illustration of how groups like UCI operate as what I might call ‘quasi-municipal entities’ came the day Chris Ronayne drove me around the district during a late 2011 visit. As Ronayne pointed out, the streets we drove on — the responsibility for which still rests with Cleveland’s city government — showed the most wear and tear, the pavement pitted, chipped or potholed in places, while everything else — maintained by UCI and its crews — presented a neat, trim, even immaculate appearance.
“Curb to curb on the streets, the realm of the underfunded municipal government, the urban environment might look rutted or uneven; but UCI, under contract with the city, kept everything else looking like a postcard image. ‘Why? Because if we didn’t do it, nobody would do it. That’s the truth in this town,’ Ronayne said.
“That’s the truth in so many towns. Perhaps the time has come to stop looking at groups like UCI as a backstop for weak or nonexistent city services and more as a model for a new way of governing urban places. These hyper-local, government-like bodies might be combined with regional entities — some of which may not even exist yet — to provide flexible, efficient delivery of services.
“The new construct is less federal-state-local and more neighborhood-regional-global. infrastructure…”
By Professor Marilyn Zimmerman and Barbara L. Jones
During the week after President Obama’s historic re-election, Wayne State University’s Urbanology: Art as Activism class visited Grace Lee Boggs at the Boggs Center.
Our class, taught by Zimmerman and offered in the Department of Art and Art History, has been using Grace’s book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century in lieu of a standard textbook. We have conscientiously gone through the Study Circle Guide for TNAR to explore how art can become an organizing force to create the beloved community in Detroit.
After we introduced ourselves, Grace asked “Are you excited about the election results?” When we all raised our hands, she asked us what we were going to say to our families regarding the election at Thanksgiving gatherings.
At this point several people described the discomfort and silence that political discussion usually creates in holiday gatherings when family members and friends are so anxious to get along that they avoid discussing politics.
Our dialogue with Grace included discussing the de-industrialization of Detroit and how many people viewed the loss of factories and manufacturing as the demise of the city.
Grace gave the group critical nuggets to ponder, process and put into action regarding our responsibilities as artists/activists in the community when she said. “De-industrialization is not the end of everything but the opportunity to begin something new. Detroit’s vacant lots have provided the place and the space to bring the country back into the city and to create a whole new way of living and working together as a self-reliant community.”
From Grace’s book and our visit with her, our class learned that the role of the artist is not to bring light to light but to bring it to darkness. It is to seize opportunities to go outside one’s comfort zones and boundaries and move into uncomfortable spaces not to confront but to stretch people.
As Grace put it: “A revolution begins not with critical mass but with critical connections. What is important is shifting the conversation from the election to what we can do for our communities as agents of change. We are revolutionary solutionaries. We are actually a privileged generation with the ability to create a completely new society and to solve the problems of our planet.”
Myrtle Thompson from Feedom Freedom Growers joined the discussion and shared her experiences as a “revolutionary solutionary” who is creating an urban community garden. She is a spiritual warrior; one who sees herself breaking down the stereotypes and myths behind Detroit’s present urban reality.
WSU student Todd Davis, said, “The Art as Activism class at Wayne State and reading Grace’s book have changed my life. I’m inspired to push hard to find the next paradigm in how we look at urban art as a catalyst for change. What I see are groups of like-minded people talking amongst themselves. What I feel needs to be done is breaking down the stereotypes and myths behind Detroit’s present urban reality. I think there is beauty in Grace and the urban farmers. I think there also is empathy, humanity and common ground to be found in stories that transcend the dividing lines of race and space and change the paradigm.”
Towards the end of the conversation we agreed that there are benefits from an increased dialogue with the neighborhoods that artists wish to serve and with long term activists like Myrtle Thompson. It is important to clarify and support their work and to have continuing feedback, to make critical challenges and calls to action to artists, especially as they increasingly move into social practices.
The class concluded, “To be an agent of change is to be the trailblazer in the transition of change and to constantly confront the upheaval of opposition one may receive pertaining to the process. We are inspired by Grace’s story. We have garnered that being passionate regarding the changes that you want to see and/or be, you must stay focused, be open to listening to those with not only similar but differing views and opinions, Grace was extremely inspiring to our class as we learned that persistence, passion and patience are key to becoming a revolutionary.”
-Proposed for State Board Approval May 10, 2011-
Michigan State Board of Education
Hosts Public Forums on Education
Join elected Michigan State Board of Education members at one of several regional education forums. The forums are an opportunity for education stakeholders to meet with State Board of Education members, discuss current education conditions, reform and budget proposals, and the future direction of education in Michigan.
Forum Dates and Locations
Monday, May 23, 4-6 pm: Grand Rapids Community College, Devos Campus
415 Fulton Street, Grand Rapids
Wednesday, May 25, 4-6 pm: Macomb Community College – Center Campus
Professional Development Center, University Center
44575 Garfield Rd, Clinton Township.
Thursday, May 26, 4-6 pm: Ann Arbor, University of Michigan League
Hussey Room, 911 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor
Tuesday June 7, 4-6 pm: Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant
Voigtman Family Seminar Room – Room 413
CMU College of Education and Human Services Building
Open to Public
Events are open to the public. Participants are invited to make written or oral comments.
For more information
For more information on the forums please contact:
John Austin, State Board of Education President, email@example.com
Marilyn Schneider, State Board Executive, firstname.lastname@example.org
State Board of Education
The State Board of Education is the state-wide elected body charged by Michigan’s Constitution to provide leadership and supervision over all education, determine K-12
We are parents, educators, community members, and residents of Detroit who are developing a model for creating transformative educational experiences in Detroit’s Eastside.’ Visit our website to hear our story, learn our guiding principles, experience our vision, learn about our process, and make a donation.
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.
“A traditional curriculum predicated on contemporary ways of thinking about people and the planet offers little guidance for the kinds of challenges and uncertainties that are coming to characterize our everyday lives.”
The Catherine Ferguson Academy is a Detroit public high school for pregnant teens and teenage mothers. Paul Weertz, the agriscience teacher at the academy, has developed a small farming program at the school, complete with chickens, bees, rabbits, goats,a cow and a barn constructed by the students. This innovative program has helped foster important life skills for young parents and enhanced an sense of connectedness and purpose among students.
Centro Obrero/Latino Worker Center opened its doors on May Day (May 1). We occupy the space formerly known as Casa de Unidad, at 1920 Scotten St., in Southwest Detroit. The Center will initially be run by a couple of staff and lots of volunteers. It is meant to provide a space for workers to come to learn about their rights at work, to learn English if necessary and desired, and to read and discuss issues relevant to the world in which we live. It is a place for us to hold meetings about things happening in the workplace, understanding health and safety issues, wage and hour issues, as well as the overall rights and responsibilities of employees, employers, and all members of the community.
Based in Detroit, Co-Lab Creative is an interdisciplinary group formed to initiate creative, educational projects that address social inequity and ecological distress. Our projects emphasize community involvement and involve Detroit youth at a variety of ages. Current projects include schoolyard gardening and grassroots product design. The goal is to create beautiful, well-crafted, quality designs and places that express respect for humanity and the natural environment.
About The Program: Dads from Day One (DFD1) is a program for fathers and their newborn child(ren). DFD1 partners with the community in Wayne County to help dads become involved with their child(ren) at birth. A strong bond between dad and his child will support the healthy growth and development of that child. As a father, it will be the most important relationship of your life. Call 313-629-3234 to make a difference in your child’s life.
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.
I am writing to invite you to another discussion gathering, hosted by The Boggs Educational Center and held at Victory Outreach Church.
The theme this time will be “Dreams for our Children.” As we continue to work towards a new idea of education, it is important, we think, to hold always in our minds the vision we are striving toward. It is not enough to be against the policies being shoved our way that do not seem to take into account the needs of our communities. We must be thinking of what we are for, what it is that we want to create.
With that in mind, we have an exciting idea for our conversation. While we are talking, local artists will be making our visions come alive on a wall of paper in the room, creating a live-action mural that illustrates the dreams we have for our children! This is something we can share going forward, giving a concrete idea to anyone who will listen what it is that we are planning for the future of Detroit.
Please come share your dreams with us. Help us to answer the question: What is it that we see when we picture the ideal education for our children?
We hope to see you there and we hope you come with at least two other people. The vision won’t be complete without your voice!
The Boggs Educational Center Team
(Julia Putnam, Frank Donner, Nate Walker, Amanda Rosman, and Al DeFreece)
2nd Community Conversation: What are our Dreams for our Children?
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Victory Outreach Church
3839 Wabash St.
Refreshments and Childcare Provided
Please RSVP to email@example.com
Education Meeting ￼ ￼
(In Spanish with English Translation)
Take Advantage of this opportunity to come out and be informed of your educational system!
Come out and join us! Know your rights!
When: May 17, 2011
Time: Doors open at 5:00pm. Meeting from 5:30pm-7:00pm
Location: Benett Elementary School
2111 Mulane St, Detroit 48209
What is going on with Detroit Public Schools and school closures!?
For any questions or concerns please contact Maria Salinas at 313-384-2173 (cell) or 313-914-5315 (office number)
Fireweed Universe-City is a grassroots, not-for-profit movement to transform a devastated, burned-out Detroit city neighborhood into a sustainable, eco-friendly, intentional community that will be the grounds for urban farming, residential and creative space for artists, healers, musicians, and like-minded, forward-thinking, progressive individuals, families, small businesses, and the surrounding community already in place.
Tyree Williams has been selected as 1 of 4 high school students in the Country to debate at the Smithsonian Institute in DC for Policy Debate the week of April 17th, and of course his super proud mom, Tawana Petty who attends nearly everything, wants to be there front and center. However, due to recent car expenses, health expenses, etc., she cannot afford the trip to support him.
Please help Tawana to go support her son in Washington, DC.
The Marygrove College Institute for Detroit Studies presents a Defining Detroit event:
Henry Ford and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black Detroit
Lecture, Discussion, Booksigning featuring: Beth Tompkins Bates
Weds, October 17, 2012 at 7:30pm
Main Dining Room, Madame Cadillac Building
Marygrove College, 8425 W. McNichols at Wyoming, Detroit, MI
Free and Open to the Public
For more info, call 313-927-1291
The Hush House offers leadership training, programs for homeless and low income families, space for community meetings and operates a community black world history museum.
——HELP SPREAD THE WORD——
4:00PM @ the Douglas Academy for Young Men
2001 W. Warren St. Detroit
Tuesday MAY 3rd Demonstrate Your Support
Pregnancy is a leading cause of teenage dropouts in the United States.For over twenty years, The Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, Michigan has acted as an educational and community center for pregnant and parenting teen mothers, and their children in the Detroit area. Catherine Ferguson Academy will be one of 18 schools to close or become a charter unless we speak up and show up in numbers. CFA provides services like WIC, healthcare, and early education from birth through pre-K. Without this support, most high school aged mothers do not graduate. In addition to being a successful school, CFA is an anchor to the community of young mothers.
” These girls are working too hard to get their education, they shouldn’t have to worry about their school closing. Future generations depend on the success of these women. ”
Support Pregnant Teen Mothers By:
Show up in Numbers to the final decision meeting on Tuesday May 3rd
4:00PM @ the Douglas Academy for Young Men
2001 W. Warren St. Detroit
Tuesday MAY 3rd Demonstrate your support
( ::: wear a pillow under your shirt as a visual demonstration if you’re not already pregnant ::: ) Gentlemen, you too!
Catherine Ferguson was a freed slave who founded a “Sabbath School” where freed black slaves and other working poor learned to read and write, cared for orphaned children, and provided childcare allowing women to work again. She was described to have responded to “the needs of the poor in an era which the poor were notably neglected”.
Be aware that the same day CFA is up for its presentation, 2 alternative schools, the school for the deaf, AND a school that serves students with cognitive impairment and autism are also on the chopping block and defending their right to exist. We cannot give up on the students who have refused to give up themselves. CFA is a success story and represents a different vision for education.
Note: (Nationally 70% of young women who get pregnant leave school, the alternative school students have been expelled from other schools but continue to attend the ones Bobb wants to close…)
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.
Marygrove College supports ALL these values and work. Recently we have moved in the direction of Urban Leadership as a working vision at Marygrove. Part of this mission involves partnering with the community on priority issues such as safety, youth, capacity building and so on. We have an urban garden on campus. Moreover, our Master’s in Social Justice program incorporates a praticum and project that specifically embraces “Another Detriot is possible.”
The mission of the program is three-fold: 1) To increase awareness about the impact of violence and educate the public on ways to reduce the incidents among at-risk youth, 2) To discuss with youth means for conflict resolution and the importance of making wise decisions, and 3) To increase the awareness about the abilities of persons with disabilities.
Project Education is a forum for anyone who is committed to education. We hope the postings found on this page will help you rethink the purpose and potential of education inside and outside of educational institutions. We are concerned citizens, educators, students and parents.
By Shea Howell
February 24th, 2013
Last week the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel was buzzing. Progressive teachers, professors, students, artists, organizers, and philosophers from around the country came to Detroit to reimagine education.
The talk was of teaching, learning, playing, assessing, laughing, writing, thinking, singing, developing whole people for a new time, citizenship, democracy, creating critical connections, and embracing crisis as opportunity.
The group came in response to a challenge made in 2010 by the Boggs Center. In the introduction to the conference they say, “that transformative education rooted in social justice is not only necessary, but possible.” Inspired by the words of Grace Lee Boggs, “We undertook the challenge of moving the meeting to engage in place-based, social justice-oriented education. And what better location than Detroit, one of America’s most storied cities, uncritically viewed as a struggling wasteland to give up on, a place where some say another future is possible, a land of post-industrial transformation.”
More than a meeting to just talk, the gathering featured active participation as groups worked with eleven community-based learning sites. The purpose of these collaborative activities was so participants would engage with “people working tirelessly to transform communities and education for the twenty-first century.” By working closely with community groups, the conference hoped to “embrace Grace’s notion that we need to invent ways to prepare young people to be ‘solutionaries’ who are able and willing to participate in wide ranging cultural and economic evolution.”
Conference goers found themselves at Allied Media Project, the Boggs Educational Center, Center For Applied Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Arts and Humanities, Catherine Ferguson Academy, Church of the Messiah, Detroit Community Schools, Earthworks, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Hope District, and Nsoroma Institute. As one participant reflected about the power of these engagements, they were able to see education “where every child was welcomed for the gifts that they bring.”
The gathering was the 39th annual meeting of the North Dakota Study Group, a network of students, researchers, and teachers who have led the fight against mindless standardize testing and the diminishment of public education. Their numbers included Deborah Meier, a MacArthur genius grant winner who founded East Park Secondary School in East Harlem and the Mission Hill School in Boston; Jay Featherstone, emeritus professor of education at MSU; Jonathan Carlisle, a high school student from Marion, Alabama, Scott Nine, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America; John Lockhart, co-chair of the gathering and an assistant professor of education at Pacific University; Cara McCarthy, 4th grade teacher from Dorchester, MA; and Dr. Vincent Harding, close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King and founder of the Veterans of Hope.
The conference opened with a bus tour of the city that emphasized the transformation we are experiencing from the industrial age to a new, more human, sustainable, and ecological future.
Detroiters provided panel discussions about this moment in our city. Scott Kurashige, Professor of history at University of Michigan and member of the Boggs Center, described the dangers we face as the right wing politicians and corporate interests scheme to disenfranchise our city and convert public assets to private wealth. At the same time, he said, people are not only resisting these assaults, but building new, alternative ways of living. This was reinforced by Charity Hicks, who described the “resilience and brilliance” of Detroiters making a way out of no way, creating new forms of education and new systems to produce food as they grow community.
Diane Nucera of the Allied Media Project said, “We believe Media-based community organizing is a process of speaking and listening as a community in order to investigate the problems that shape our realities, imagine other realities and then work together to make them real.” Our theory of change, she said is to “CREATE, CONNECT, TRANSFORM.”
Across the country people are creating, connecting and transforming. They recognize that another Detroit is emerging. Unseen by the corporate elite, these transformations are creating a better future for all of us.
You can see highlights of the conference on twitter at #ndsgdetroit.
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.
During the Civil Rights decade-the 1960s-Reverend Cleage became increasingly Afro-centric in his thought. He changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman and then developed an Afro centric version of Christianity, so he renamed his church, The Shrine of the Black Madonna. He contended that Christ and many of his disciples were African in origin and suggested that Europeans had captured and twisted Christianity to assist in their enslaving Africans. He argued strongly for African American control of their own fate.
—HELP SPREAD THE WORD—
Pregnancy is a leading cause of teenage dropouts in the United States.
For over twenty years, The Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit,
Michigan has acted as an educational and community center for pregnant
and parenting teen mothers, and their children in the Detroit area.
Catherine Ferguson Academy will be one of 18 schools to close or
become a charter unless we speak up and show up in numbers. CFA
provides services like WIC, healthcare, and early education from birth
through pre-K. Without this support, most high school aged mothers do
not graduate. In addition to being a successful school, CFA is an
anchor to the community of young mothers.
” These girls are working too hard to get their education, they
shouldn’t have to worry about their school closing. Future generations
depend on the success of these women. ”
Support Pregnant Teen Mothers By:
Show up in Numbers to the final decision meeting on Tuesday May 3rd
4:00PM @ the Douglas Academy for Young Men
2001 W. Warren St. Detroit
Tuesday MAY 3rd Demonstrate your support
( ::: wear a pillow under your shirt as a visual demonstration if
you’re not already pregnant ::: ) Gentlemen, you too!
Catherine Ferguson was a freed slave who founded a “Sabbath School”
where freed black slaves and other working poor learned to read and
write, cared for orphaned children, and provided childcare allowing
women to work again. She was described to have responded to “the
needs of the poor in an era which the poor were notably neglected”.
Charter School Timbuktu Academy Adds 9th Grade to its K-8 Program
Biomedical and Communications Technology
How would you like for your child to know who they are? How would you like your child to be at a school that puts their arms around their hearts and minds? A school that provides foreign languages, and classes that prepare students to get up to 30 college credit hours in high school? How would you like a school that prepares your child for tomorrow today, with an African-centered instructional team, with a 10:1 student teacher ratio and where all teachers understand the importance of our history to our childrens’ confidence? A school that will give your child the skills to get a job in biomedical technology or digital media when they graduate, and where teachers know and use the latest research on how the young mind develops?
Timbuktu Academy of Science and Technology invites you to give your child a school-home today that will prepare them to reshape their world tomorrow. Come to your open house and get a free backpack on Thursday, September 1st, from one to six p.m. at 10800 East Canfield Street in Detroit. Call them at 313 823 6000 for more information, and visit Timbuktu at:
By Marcia Lee
March 31st, 2013
For the past four years Forbes magazine has ranked Detroit as the most violent city in the nation. Some might argue that this is because we are a city without much financial capital and/or because there are too many guns on the street. Although there is truth in both these statements , I believe, as my colleague Henry McClendon likes to say, “The problem is not that we have a violence problem in Detroit; it’s that we have a relationship problem.”
There was a time when we did not go to the police to solve problems in our communities. Instead we would gather with the people in our communities, with our cousins and elders. Together we would solve conflicts in our communities.
There was a time when the focus was on listening to what people said had happened and working with the people who had been impacted to resolve the problem instead of forced separation and punishment. There was a time when elders guided younger generations and younger generations worked with elders to maintain the community.
Now is a good time to work not only to resolve conflicts after they occur, but to create spaces for healthy relationships that will mean fewer conflicts. Now is a good time to recall older practices, to build relationships with our neighbors, and to rediscover creative and community-guided solutions. Now is a time to share our stories and learn from each others’ wisdom.
This is the focus of restorative justice: working with people in our/their own communities to bring healing to the people who have been harmed by violence and conflict. We work on healing wounds and holding people accountable for their actions.
In line with this vision and in response to horrible violence, the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center and Corktown Restorative Justice Network were born.
Over the past couple of years small groups have been meeting to envision how to work together to create peace zones in our city. We now have an office in the Hive Space at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
We host trainings on Introduction to Peacemaking Circles and a Speakers Series on alternating months. The office is currently open on Tuesdays if people want to drop in to talk through a conflict or set up an appointment. With the Corktown group, our focus is on supporting people who live in Corktown, but we are also happy to work with people or organizations in other areas to support them in resolving conflicts.
On April 27th, from 9am-4pm , we will be hosting a gathering for Restorative Justice practitioners to come together to learn from each other and create a vision of how to make Detroit into the Restorative Justice City in the United States. Grace Lee Boggs will begin the day for us by sharing her vision.
If you have questions about the Restorative Justice work happening in Detroit or want to become involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can make this vision come to life, one relationship at a time.
As an independent Catholic institution of higher education, the University of Detroit Mercy supports a mission focused on teaching and learning. However, another important facet of UDM’s mission is service to others. Both the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, which guide the University, have emphasized community service as a vital aspect in the education and development of students. Through a comprehensive curriculum, students are challenged to develop their social, leadership and service responsibilities. UDM continually reaffirms this commitment to service as students, faculty and staff initiate and participate in community outreach activities to benefit Detroit area residents.
Virginia Eubanks’ 2012 Book Tour
Monday, October 22, 2012 at 5pm
4201 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI
For more info.: 313-832-1155
Or visit www.digitaldeadend.com
By Shea Howell
March 31st, 2013
As Kevyn Orr assumes civil powers in Detroit, the mainstream media has launched a campaign to tell us all how glad we should be that such a fine person now has charge of everything. They have shared a “glimpse” of his personal life, detailed facts about his career, and generously overlooked embarrassing tax questions or potential conflicts of interest. They have assured us that he wants to extend “a sincere olive branch and an opportunity for us to work together.”
They have also taken a curious turn in their arguments for why we should all welcome the loss of our democratic rights. It seems we will now have safe streets, with the street lights Stephen Henderson has so longed for back on, and wonderful city services.
In one of the most curious guest editorials I have ever read, former city council woman Shelia Cockrel argued that “Voting is a fundamental right, of course, but isn’t the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of equal importance?” Professor John Patrick Leary offers a critical analysis of this position concluding, “Cockrel’s retail approach to democracy is also a misunderstanding of how rights work: in a truly democratic society, it’s not life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, best two out of three, but all of them, together, of equal importance. You can’t lose one without degrading the others. To rationalize otherwise means that this sort of liberalism is really as bankrupt as the city is about to be.”
This idea of swapping democracy for city services is revealing both for the shallowness of the understanding of fundamental rights and for what is dropped out of the justification for the EFM. The financial rationale is no longer being advanced. Rather it appears as a given background statement of fact labeled “the budget crisis” or “financial emergency.” This is usually followed by the oft -repeated figures of a $327 million deficit and long term debt of $14 billion.
The fact that many analysts question the financial justification for the appointment of an EFM is overlooked.
No one disputes that Detroit, like other cities around the globe, faces serious structural challenges. But many of us do dispute that this crisis constitutes an emergency justifying the loss of local, democratic, self -determination. Tom Barrow recently noted, “Detroit has not missed a single bond payment, interest payment, or payroll.”
Shifting the argument from finances to city services allows those who support the EFM to obscure the State’s role in creating this financial crisis. It is important to remember that since 1998 Detroit’s annual revenue sharing has plunged 46 percent to $181.6 million projected for the current fiscal year from $333.9 million.
Further, it obscures the role of Wall Street bankers. A recent article in Businessweek reported, “The only winners in the financial crisis that brought Detroit to the brink of state takeover are Wall Street bankers who reaped more than $474 million from a city too poor to keep street lights working.”
It also deflects attention away from the shifting mood in Lansing, where republican lawmakers are talking about releasing money to Detroit. Republican representatives John Walsh, Jase Bolger and Randy Richardville are reported open to financial support for the city.
This new openness in Lansing, as well as the philanthropic and law enforcement collaboratives announced by the Mayor, underscore the central element of this takeover.
It is not about improving the quality of life for Detroiters. It is about power and control. The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness will not come from an EFM whose job is to privatize our city. It depends on what we can create in our own communities.
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.
By Grace Lee Boggs
February 24th, 2013
In my last column I called attention to the solutionary/revolutionary role that women play when one society is coming to an end and a new one is emerging because women’s work of raising and caring for home and family is ongoing. It never stops and it doesn’t count the hours.
This is what is happening in India today, according to an article by Frances Moore Lappe who spoke with members of the Deccan Development Society network of 5,000 women farmers in 70 Indian villages who are ending hunger by growing organic, diverse food crops, at the same time creating new lives of courage, dignity, and inclusion.
When Lappe asked them what it was like 20 years ago, they replied:
“We were so poor that in the rainy season our hut floors would turn to mud and we had to pile up branches to sleep on. We were always hungry. We depended on government ration cards. Sometimes the big landowner would pay us for a job with some grains and that would be the only food for our children. We were so poor we had only one sari—not even a second one to change into when we bathe.
“My husband was a gambler, he was not ever here. I lived on sorghum and broken rice. Our life was dictated by bigger people. We had to suffer, even if they beat us. It was a dark time.”
“Then we started meeting, talking. Every week now, at nine in the evening our sanghams [groups of women] come together and make decisions together. We tell each other our problems. If someone was abused, all of us go together to confront him. And now if there is a conflict in our village, they call on us. Through the sanghams, we’ve reclaimed the land. We don’t use any chemicals. We grow as many as 25 crops on an acre or two.”
The movement has grown exponentially because the women film their activities to spread the word to a largely illiterate population.
Word & World is a school, a celebration, a movement. Through week-long gatherings, each rooted in a different city, this “moveable institute” seeks to provide education, training, and capacity-building for Christian disciples dedicated to the work of social transformation.
Words of Peace Michigan is a non-profit group of volunteers who promote education on the topic of personal peace and fulfillment. Our activities and events feature the message of Prem Rawat, known widely as Maharaji.