By Drew Philip
April 11, 2017
Excerpt: “What I’d learned from those eight years was that there were still 700,000 people living in Detroit, with their own ideas about what it should become. There was a community already here, not a grotesque one that needed changing as I had been told, but a powerful and innovative one I wanted to assimilate into.
I had inadvertently stepped into a real community, one tied together with memory and friendships, history, shared experience and relationships, and it was facing a new threat, one arguably greater than all the fires and crime of the past decades: the auction I had purchased my house in still ran each year, now live via the internet, and it wasn’t just abandoned houses they were selling.”
Transcription and commentary by Mike Doan
How do we build a new future? How central to this work are love and power?
“Love is the answer.” “All you need is love.” “Love trumps hate.” Hopelessly naïve?
– Love (noun): A sentimental feeling. An intimate, personal, private state of mind. The dullest of the weapons of the weak.
Or, can love become “a material force for change,” as Jimmy used to say?
“Power is the enemy.” “Change the world without taking power.” “Power corrupts, absolutely.” Hopelessly naïve?
– Power (noun): A repressive, abusive force. The essence of domination and oppression. What they’ve got over us, or we’ve got over them—and we’d rather do without.
Or, is there also power with, the power we build and share together, as Grace used to say?
What, after all, is power? And what’s love got to do with it?
By Shea Howell
April 3, 2017
The Reverend Dr. William Barber II marked the beginning of activities reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s call for a radical revolution in values in “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” On Sunday morning, April 2, Dr. Barber spoke at Riverside Church in New York City from the same pulpit where Dr. King stood to speak to Clergy and Laity Concerned.
Dr. Barber is no stranger to struggle. Pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina he has become a leading voice in the Forward Together Moral Movement that carried out weekly protests against the repressive in actions of the North Carolina Assembly. Just last month he was in Flint helping to bring attention to the lack of progress by state officials in addressing the water crisis there.
Drawing on Dr. King’s theme that there comes a time when silence is a betrayal to all we value and love, Dr. Barber pressed that today “Silence is no longer an option.” “We must challenge what is going on now,” he said, with the understanding that while the situation is “dire,” it is “not new.” Rather, “Trumpism is as America as apple pie,” and “every stride toward freedom is met with the same backlash.” This is the “call and response of American history” where every “season of racial progress” has been met with a “response of the progress of racism.” If we understand this history we should know that “we cannot afford the luxury of pretending Trump is an historical aberration.” He is “merely a symptom.”
By Shea Howell
March 27, 2017
World Water Day passed without a word from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Soon it will be three years since he got control of the Water Department and he has done almost nothing with this power. His direction has failed Detroiters and he is failing the future. His lack of leadership is stunning.
In July of 2014 when he was given control of the Water Department, Mayor Duggan said he welcomed “the responsibility for dealing with the Water Department issues.” He promised a plan to deal with the shut offs, to provide support for people unable to pay their bills and to improve services. None of this has happened. He has utterly failed to advocate for water as a human right and failed to address concerns for water as a public trust.
Instead, water shutoffs continue with one failed payment support scheme after another. The Mayor stubbornly refuses to make the Water Affordability Plan passed over a decade ago by the City Council a reality. Instead, he continues policies that enrich a private corporation, giving it what seems to be a blank check to go around the city shutting people off. The Homrich Wrecking Company has expanded its original $5.6 million dollar contract for water shut offs to $12.7 million as of last fall. That is as much as the City of Flint paid Detroit for its entire water usage prior to its own man made crisis.