LIVING FOR CHANGE
Debriefing the 2nd USSF
by Grace Lee Boggs
Wednesday evening, July 14, Detroiters met at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership to "debrief" the 2nd USSF. It was one of many similar discussions taking place all over our city.
At this meeting we were both thrilled and humbled that our city has become for growing numbers of Americans, a place where people are making a way out of no way and where a new vision is emerging for the country we love at a time when the U.S. empire is in obvious decline,
We realized that this raises a multitude of new and more challenging questions for us.
People wanted to discuss:
- What's next? Where do we go from here?
- What will a cultural revolution look like in Detroit? What is revolutionary culture?
- What kind of leaders do we need to become?
- How do we deepen relationships with other Detroiters? Go beyond the "usual suspects" to reach more "regular" folks in the community?
- How does the USSF energy reach elected officials?
- How do we create regional/national relationships? (A few people from L.A. and Chicago were present).
- What kind of practical work do we engage in while keeping the grand vision in mind?
- What does it mean to say " Detroit is the Chiapas of North America"?
- Whar role do Art and Culture play in imagining a new Detroit?
To discuss these questions we broke up into small groups. Their reports told us that:
- We need to redefine Practical to be as grand as the spirit and dreams of the USSF.
- Individuals who were never involved returned to work saying they were "transformed."
- We need to be clearer about why this time is "Movement' time? How does it differ from previous movements in our country?
- The USSF was intergenerational.
- Artists are important in imagining the future.
- We need to distinguish between Social Service and Transformational organizing.
- People loved the incinerator march with its creative and focussed approach,
- bringing the USSF beyond downtown.
- The Local is important in a period of dying Empire.
- We need to root ourselves deeper in the community and local work.
- Find local ways to act, like taking money out of banks and putting them in local credit unions or local community banks-
- The 2nd USSF was more advanced than 1st USSF: Historic first of UAW and Disability Justice participation; Boggs Wallerstein dialogue was historic.
- Importance of public space, the Commons, land policy, squatters, converting old schools,
- Generosity of Detroiters; the Love of Detroit.
- The spirituality workshops and the Ambassador from Boliva who talked about the rights of Mother Earth-
The meeting was a Sharing/Listening experience. No activities were planned. Everyone was grateful for the tremendous work that had been done by the planning committee and the anchor groups. Some folks were very interested in the continuation plans that will emerge from the anchor groups in September.
Essentially people at the meeting wanted to explore "How will we re-imagine and actually assume ressponsibility for rebuilding our city and region as a city and region of hope. "
As someone put it. "The USSF was like placing lightning in a bottle for five days.
It expanded, inspired, challenged us to become the new kinds of leaders needed for the period ahead."
My sense from the meeting is that we now need community organizing that is radically, i.e. historically, different from the "Alinsky" protest organizing of the past.
More on that next week.
My USSF Conversation with Immanuel Wallerstein can be read at
Detroit City of Hope - www.dcoh.org