What inspires you to work for change?
My number one inspiration right now is not an organization or a person or an event, it’s the city of Detroit. I first went there a couple of years ago to do organizational development, and later for direct action trainings with Detroit Summer, which was founded by Grace Lee Boggs and her partner Jimmy Boggs. Their key lesson is, ‘Transform yourself to transform the world. It’s time to grow our soul’s capacity to deal with the world we’re living in.’
The tangible solutions that are now coming out of Detroit blow my mind. It’s not just young folks getting excited about these ideas and trying to implement revolutions. It’s the 30- to 50-year-old black men coming out of prison or unemployed, gardening and farming. It’s not about getting a job and being a cog in someone else’s system. It’s about liberated work, where you are playing a useful role in your community.
Watching “The Greening of Cuba” reminds me of Detroit. Detroit has
had an economic crisis for decades. The auto companies have divested,
now it’s this urban rural city. Detroit’s population is less than half
what it was. Out of necessity, people have had to start community
gardens and urban farming. Music and food are being used to organize
people. Potlucks provide a communal place to talk about issues and eat
Detroit has the highest statistics in terms of crime, unemployment, and
drop out rates. Those are the symptoms of an unhealthy society. Those
negative aspects can create a real darkness and depression. But that
darkness can be the womb from which our new societies are born, where
we can create the world we want to see.