Thursday, November 17, 2011

This is What a Leader Looks Like

Say what you will about former Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago (1989-2011) and his strong-arm tactics, but you’ve got to admit that the man has vision and an ability to execute it.

This short, stocky, never-say-die, Irish Catholic grew up on the Southside of Chicago and learned the means and meaning of public service from his tough-guy father, Mayor Richard J. Daley (1955-76).  He is one whiz-bang leader and his 22-year tenure—the longest of any of the city’s mayors—proves it.

Dubbed in 2005 as one of the “Nation’s Top Urban Executives” by Time magazine, Daley has improved Chicago’s schools, revitalized the downtown, reduced crime, diversified the economy and helped the city become one of the most environmentally-friendly cities in the world.  He has earned an international reputation as an innovator in urban development, fiscal policy and government stewardship and many of his forward-looking policies have been emulated in cities around the globe.

These days he is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy; a member of the International Advisory Board for the Russian Direct Investment Fund; and a senior adviser to JP Morgan Chase, where he chairs the new "Global Cities Initiative" that helps cities to identify and leverage their greatest economic development resources.  He also co-chairs the U.S. State Department's "100,000 Strong Initiative Advisory Committee" that supports the U.S. government's efforts to send American students to study in China.

He spoke to 2,000 people at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan held this week at Lake Michigan College in Benton Township, which is ironically located just next door to Benton Harbor, the first city in the state to be taken over by an emergency financial manager.  (EFMs are governor-appointed bosses who have absolute power in order to fix a local government or school district that is experiencing severe financial difficulty.)

Daley wooed his mostly conservative audience as he described the strategies behind his achievements.  He is no policy wonk but instead a smart, straight talking, future-oriented thinker.  Someone even asked him to consider running for president.  After his speech I heard one man say to another that Daley “didn’t sound like a Democrat.”

Actually, Daley appears to be a hybrid of the country’s two major political parties.  What distinguishes him is that he is a man who loves his city and aggressively looked for ways to make it a beautiful and good place to live as well as an economically viable place to do business.  He quickly recognized he couldn't depend on the federal government or anyone else to knock on his door to help.  So he reached out to both the public and private sectors as well as to officials in the suburbs and surrounding cities to form various coalitions that “focus on what unites us.”  Some people have characterized him as a model 21st century leader.

“Cities and regions must develop a vision and work relentlessly to achieve it,” he said.  “That way we can leverage our influence nationally and globally.”

He pointed out that working separately in “silos” is no longer effective because the competition is too stiff.  Pitting one city against another works against each other's interests.  He is especially keen on regional collaboration and declared the Great Lakes region as “one of the most dynamic regions in America.” 

For example, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio produce more products than Canada, Italy and Spain combined, he said. 

Even the Chinese are impressed with the economic diversity of the Midwest—especially in agriculture, water and manufacturing—and they see Chicago as a gateway.

This may all seem counter-intuitive as people still insist on calling this region “the Rust Belt” due to its decimated industrial base.  Daley quoted Economist magazine which indicated in 1981 that Chicago was a “backwater” that had become “economically invalid” and was “losing its industry without a replacement.” 

However, the economy has returned and it is “buzzing with life,” he said.  “We wrote a different ending.”

Likewise, Daley pointed out that the decisions and investments cities make today will determine what the region will look like 25 years from now. 

“We must not be afraid of the future,” he said.

Among those decisions is an investment in infrastructure, which is old and outdated.  However, financing such multi-billion dollar projects will require public-private partnerships that pool their resources.  He illustrated this strategy with the lease of the Chicago Skyway that was worth nearly $2 billion and used to repay the city’s debts. 

Secondly, he said citizens have a moral and legal responsibility to educate every child. 

“Education promises a strong economic future for them, which is the essence of the future of America.”

In 1995 Daley asked the state legislature for responsibility over the Chicago Public Schools despite his political advisers’ warnings that it would be a career-ender:  the Democrats would trash him to protect the teachers’ union and the Republicans would claim that government couldn’t manage the schools. 

Under the “Modern Schools Across Chicago” program, he renovated 19 schools and constructed 48 new schools, which were financed with city redevelopment funds from Tax Increment Financing districts--and no state or federal funds.

Q&A session
He also encouraged the revisions of basic programs in reading, writing and math as well as the creation of charter schools, military academies and math/science academies.  To prepare children for future job opportunities, he instituted language programs in Arabic, Chinese and Russian.  Likewise, he changed the “culture of education” by emphasizing technology and building 50 libraries.

Inherent in this strategy of providing quality education is the idea that “talented people make other talented people around them.”  He aimed to make Chicago a mecca for talent so that citizens could deal with its many urban problems as well as to make a place for itself in the global economy.

Seeing to it that people have jobs is the clarion call for today’s economic woes and Daley stressed that to repair the economy, communities must also consider the assets they have.  Water is the chief asset of the Great Lakes region and protecting it is essential both in attracting people to the area and in using it to economic advantage.

“You have to understand the complexity and the interconnectedness of the whole system,” he said, pointing out that the Great Lakes involves hundreds of cities, several states, Canada and that it affects the nation as a whole. 

Water is also crucial to agriculture, one thing the Chinese readily recognize--and don't have in abundance, he said. 

“Cities and regions can lead the way by being green,” he said, even though he admitted that the environmental challenges facing cities are overwhelming as urbanization grows toward 70 to 80 percent worldwide. 

“There are huge economic and social problems and we have to get something from each city, meet with them, learn from each other, and come back with ideas.”

For example, in 2003 Daley co-founded with Toronto’s Mayor David Miller the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which is a coalition of U.S. and Canadian mayors that advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  By integrating their environmental, economic and social agendas, local governments are helping to sustain a resource that represents approximately 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater supply, provides drinking water for 40 million people, and is the foundation upon which a strong regional economy is based. 

Everybody benefits,” he said, “cities, townships, counties, regions.”

In 1997 Daley was also involved in gathering 273 mayors in the Chicago area to form the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and tackle such critical issues as economic development, school funding and tax reform, workforce readiness, energy reliability and security, air quality, funding for transportation and other infrastructure, housing, and emergency preparedness.  In this way they were able to speak with a unified voice to the legislative chambers of Springfield and Washington.

Daley urged caucus members to follow three major tenents: 
  • If we don’t work together, we will slowly die on the vine. 
  • No one gets all the rewards; rather, everyone gets a piece of the pie. 
  • By using the linkages you have, you don’t have to start a project from scratch all over again. 
“We know that the metropolitan areas that work together will be the ones that succeed in the global economy of the 21st Century,” said Daley.  “We need to look at America differently, otherwise we will look to the past, which is not relevant to the global economy of today and the future.”

Mayor Daley poses with members of the audience
In helping to secure that future, Chicago leads the way in protecting the environment with green roofs, a public transit system that offers efficient alternatives to driving, a bicycling program with more than 165 miles of bike-ways, and energy efficiency programs to help Chicagoans save thousands of dollars.

To make these strides he gathered 230 suburbs with the city as well as representatives from business, higher education and advocacy groups to write and execute the Chicago Climate Action Plan

Dozens of experts and a nationally recognized research adviser committee also took part in discussions as did leading scientists who described various scenarios for Chicago’s climate future and ways these would impact life in the city.

“We didn’t blame anyone,” he said.  “We all worked together to solve the problem.”

As mayor, Daley has changed the conversation in the city and put it on a new path towards economic growth and a high quality of life.  What has driven him in this quest is his commitment to public service.

Politicians should act more like “public servants” rather than “ideological warriors,” he said.  He worked with Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama to help his city—something he learned from his father who supported all the presidents regardless of party and who respected the office of the presidency. 

Likewise, Daley conducted himself as mayor of all Chicagoans regardless of whether they were Democrats or voted for him.  He also appealed to President George W. Bush for money in numerous rebuilding projects and received more federal dollars from him than any other president.

Everyone wants President Obama to be FDR, he said.  At the same time they try to dilute the power of the presidency.  Everyone is caught up in this and they seem willing to give more power to the bureaucracy, which makes for a less effective president. 

Government regulations are another sore spot for Daley, especially when it comes to environmental regulations.  He admitted the Industrial Revolution created a great deal of pollution.  At the same time it put people to work who also became a part of the middle class. 

Regulations are needed but what we really need is an energy policy, he said. 

Like most politicians, and Daley surely is one, his tenure was not without controversy.  There were patronage issues, privatization deals that fell through, the takeover of a lake shore airport, a parking meter rate hike once it was in the hands of a private company and a $655 million debt.  On the social front he tried to heal race relations but tore down "the projects" where many poor African Americans lived.  He was outspoken for his support of gun control and same-sex marriage; he opposed the war in Iraq. 
He doesn’t appear apologetic or remorseful for these things but rather confident that his achievements will have lasting effect and inspire other cities to move forward toward their own futures.  

“We in the United States have got to get back to believing in ourselves,” he said.  “We can create an America that is better than the last century.” 

It strikes me that this is the kind of leadership and spirit we need in our politicians. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Iraqi Health Now Scores Another Win

Haider Al Al Saedy, founder of Iraqi Health Now

Iraqi Health Now

About 100 people attended a fundraiser for Iraqi Health Now on Monday night at Zooroona's Middle Eastern Restaurant to collect $2,700.

This is the latest effort by Iraqi Health Now to raise money to buy food from Iraqi farmers in order to provide village families in southern Basra area near Gazaiza.  Haider will go there this winter.
Kathy Murphy, emcee for the event, congratulates Margaret.

Margaret Morris Al-Oboudi, a long-time peace activist in Kalamazoo, was honored for her work with the Iraqi people for some 20 years after she moved to Baghdad with her husband and two children in 1953. She was also honored also for all that she has taught the people of Kalamazoo about the culture and beauty of Iraq. While in Baghdad she taught make-up at the Fine Arts Institute and worked with her husband, Jassim Al-Oboudi, on his TV and theatre productions there.  Jassim later became dean of the College of Fine Arts at Baghdad University.  Margaret also participated in groups that helped preserve and showcase Iraq's archeological heritage.  The couple raised eight children, six of them born in Iraq.


Rahim AlHaj, an Iraqi oud player and composer who is a featured artist with this year’s Michigan Festival of Sacred Music taking place November 10-21.  Rahim performs music that combines the Iraqi maqams of traditional Arab music with contemporary styling and influences.
The Story of Iraqi Health Now
Twenty-five years of war has left 24 million Iraqi citizens with extreme poverty, 4 million refugees (half of them under 18), hundreds of thousands of dead, millions more wounded, a corrupt government that doesn't work—and tiny brown flakes of depleted uranium floating in the air.

Since the 1991 Gulf War, the cancer rate in Iraq has increased by ten and birth defects by five.  The increase is believed to be caused by depleted uranium, which American and British troops have used in this eight-year war.

Enter Haider Al Saedy, an Iraqi immigrant from a small village near Basra in southeastern Iraq where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers converge and empty into the Persian Gulf.  He left his country in 1991 because of Saddam Hussein’s brutal policies and lived for five years in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia before he settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he eventually became a U.S. citizen. 

In 2006, Haider returned to his hometown for the first time.  What he saw was a complete breakdown of the city's infrastructure where there was little electricity or clean water.  The streets were full of garbage, and raw sewage seeped into the water supply.  The privatized water treatment facilities were staffed by unqualified and untrained employees.  Most diseases, like diarrhea, are preventable with clean water but women must walk long distances to get it.  Dirt settles at the bottom of most water bottles.

Haider visited his nephew, Dr. Dhurgam, a medical doctor, who told him that the hospitals lack supplies like gauze, blood bags and urine sacks.  They re-use syringes and had no antibiotics.  But what doctors needed most were cancer medicines. 

In the province of Basra alone, the cancer rate rose by 242 percent while leukemia among children under 15 rose 100 percent during 1976 to 1999, according to a study at the College of Medicine at Basra University.  Children living in the area were falling ill with cancer at the rate of 10.1 per 100,000.  In districts where depleted uranium had been the most concentrated, the rate rose to 13.2 per 100,000.

Haider also visited the nearby marshes, whose annual floods had created a resource-rich ecosystem in a 6,000-year-old civilization area known as the Fertile Crescent—presumed to be the Garden of Eden as referenced in the Bible.  However, instead of finding a thriving agricultural paradise, he discovered that thousands of people had died and lost their homes and jobs after Saddam partially drained the marshes from 9,000 square kilometers down to 760 as payback against the Shiite Muslims who had opposed him.

The people escaped to the marshes for safety, but their refuge was short-lived.  In 1991, Saddam rained down more bombs and 30,000 Shiites fled the marshes and went to Iran to join 650,000 other Iraqi refugees.  Thousands of others died.  Then Saddam took out his anger on the 250,000 Marsh Arabs who lived there and attacked them with bombs, napalm and indiscriminate slaughter.  The 65,000 who couldn't flee were sent to camps away from their homes. 

The people in the marshes lack many of their basic needs, said Haider, and 32 percent have little access to clean water, which breeds water-born diseases.  They have no money, schools or power sources where they live so they must transport themselves by boat to other villages.  Their whole way of life as a traditional water culture has been shattered.

Since the American invasion, 40 percent of the marshes were re-flooded but drought has been shrinking them once again and the water remains very salty.  The rest of the area is now a salt-encrusted desert.

"Mammals and fish that existed only in the marshlands are now considered extinct," said a 2003 United National Environment Programme (UNEP) study. "Coastal fisheries in the northern Gulf, dependent on the marshlands for spawning grounds, have experienced a sharp decline." Global biodiversity has also been ruined stretching from Siberia to South Africa because the marshes served as a way station and breeding ground for migratory birds. 

To make matters worse, Haider's brother, a hydro-engineer, said that Syria, Iran and Turkey have constructed dams on the rivers bordering Iraq.  In this way they trade their water for Iraq's oil. 

Along the desert roads are trashed landscapes with scattered “villages” of refugees living in tents.  Many of them have escaped from the ravaged cities of the north.  They cook their meals over charcoal fires. 

Haider with Bella, Maia and Kathy
Haider felt profound emotional heartbreak over these sights and stories.

When he returned to the United States, he was determined to do something.  He gathered a few peace activist friends—Kathy Murphy, Maia Storm and Helen Salan—and together they formed Iraqi Health Now.

In December 2006, they sent a cardboard box full of syringes and gauze to his nephew, Dr. Dhurgam, by U.S. mail; it took two months to get there.

Then Haider and his friends began to think bigger and enlisted the help of activists with the Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War (KNOW).  In March 2008, they sent a 20-foot container to Basra with over 100 walkers, 50 sets of crutches, 15 wheelchairs, dried food, toys, soccer balls, toiletries and over-the-counter medicines.  

Iraqi Health Now also became a project of Healing the Children Michigan/Ohio.

Haider in Iraq with the Hydraid bio-sand water filter
  In May 2009, they sent a 40-foot container full of medical equipment and supplies, clothes, food, and 120 Hydraid bio-sand water purifiers from Clean Water for the World, a Kalamazoo-based organization that sends simple, adaptable 35-pound water purification systems “to communities without access to clean drinking water.”

Surgical kits were donated by Borgess Medical Center and a local physician arranged for a supply of medicines. 

What the Iraqi people want most is for the American people to care about them and understand their suffering, said Haider.  So Bill Murphy, Kathy’s brother, volunteered to go with Haider to deliver the container and to document the people’s plight on film.  The finished product is now available in three parts on YouTube (see below).  

The highly emotional film shows the Iraqis’ expressions of gratitude as supplies are distributed and the water systems set up.  One mother of a severely deformed boy cries over her son’s good fortune of getting a wheel chair.  An old man excitedly tries out his new crutches.  The film also features the many local people from Haider’s American home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who have contributed to this amazing project.

In July 2010 Iraqi Health Now sent another container with many donated and purchased supplies including shoes and socks for children and Igloo water containers to keep drinking water cool.  Last January they sent electrical generators for the families to share to keep food cool and to run fans.

Iraqi Health Now has sent 3,500 pounds of medicines and medical supplies to Iraq.  And, all of the donations go directly to the Iraqi people living in villages and the marshes near Basra.  There are no overhead costs or paid employees since the organization is a totally voluntary operation. 

However, corruption in the port cities is making it more and more difficult to bring containers of supplies to Iraq.  Haider is now contacting local farmers and buying food from them to distribute to people in the Basra area.  Last February 60 families were given a month’s supply of food.  Women helped him distribute the food door-to-door. 

Haider said the families were very grateful for the food.  He knows what it’s like to go hungry.  During his time in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia he hadn’t had anything to eat for a long time.  When he was given a fried tomato with bread he said it was one of the best things he ever had. 

The strength of Iraqi Health Now is the personal contact Haider makes through his family and friends in Iraq.  In this way supplies go directly to the people who need them.  This is especially critical now since many NGOs and charitable organizations left Iraq a couple years ago due to the lack of safety in the country. 

Iraqi Health Now has allowed Haider to make many new friends both in Kalamazoo and in Basra.  It has also been able to bring together two communities half a world apart through aid, hope and smiles.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Taking on the Behemoth Food & Farm Bill

Not a lot of people know much about the Food & Farm Bill, which normally comes up for congressional review and reauthorization every five years.  And yet, it is the primary piece of legislation that determines our nation’s food and agricultural policies from production to distribution at an annual budget of $57 billion or $284 billion over five years (2008 figures). 

In this new era where citizens have shed their complacency or fear to take on the monolithic structures of government and corporate power, a small group of Kalamazoo food activists and professionals have decided to begin studying and understanding the Food & Farm Bill so that they can talk to and influence policymakers, two of whom will play a key role in this year’s appropriations. 

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which has jurisdiction over agriculture programs, nutrition programs, and rural development.   

Rep. Fred Upton of the Sixth District (southwestern Michigan), is a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, a.k.a. the Super Committee, which is charged with issuing a formal recommendation on how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The coalition also wants to build a healthier, more food-secure Kalamazoo County by determining what local food-oriented groups have in common and how they can share their resources.

Their first meeting was held on Thursday, November 10 at the Kalamazoo Public Library.

Chris Dilley, People's Food Co-Op
“We want to start a conversation about the Food & Farm Bill regarding its funding, farming and access policies,” said Chris Dilley, general manager of the People’s Food Co-Op and one of six initiators of the coalition.

"It is one of the areas to be reviewed by the Super Committee to expedite the legislative process a little differently," he said.  "It normally takes two to three years to write and appropriate each five-year Food & Farm Bill."

Nearly all of the money under the current 2008 Food & Farm Bill was to be spent on four areas:  nutrition (67%), farm commodity support (15%), conservation (9%), and crop insurance (8%), according to last December’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

“Of the $284 billion in projected total five-year net outlays for programs under the farm bill—including revenue and cost-offset provisions in the bill—about $189 billion was expected to support the cost of food stamps and certain other nutrition assistance programs, $42 billion was expected to support commodity crops, $24 billion was expected to support mandatory conservation programs, and $22 billion was expected to crop insurance,” said the CRS report.

“Several programs are at risk of being cut off in the Super Committee’s deliberations,” said Donna McClurkan, a coalition representative of the Michigan Farmers Market Association.  “Nutrition is the biggest chunk and it includes SNAP benefits (food stamps) for poor people.  However, access to food is an issue for all people.  Conservation is another where we’ll likely see cuts.”

The Food & Farm Bill also determines what food is served in school cafeterias and the level of support farmers receive for sustainable and organic farming, a big issue for the coalition. 

McClurkan added that the Food & Farm Bill first appeared during the 1930’s Depression to protect farmers, pricing and land but that it has morphed into providing compensation for commodity crop producers. 

The 684-page document is very unwieldy to handle so she referred people to two sources that help explain it:

A video with Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, who discusses how massive subsides are paid to industrial farmers and how citizen groups can help advocate and improve this important legislation.

The group is guided by principles in the Michigan Good Food Charter, which has 226 statewide signatories of organizations and individuals who seek to provide a food system that is healthy, green, fair and affordable to all.

“Michigan is well-poised to influence food and farm policy in this country,” said McClurkan.  “It has a rich and diverse agricultural heritage.”

Michigan grows over 150 different crops, second only to California.  It has a first-class land grant university, greenhouses, good soil, fresh water, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and small farmers.

“This is energy we can rally around,” she said.

After a brief overview of the coalition’s mission and purpose, participants were divided into four groups to talk briefly about major aspects of the Food & Farm Bill:  (1) Food System Infrastructure, (2) Local Foods in Institutions, (3) Farms- Resources-Environment-Conservation, (4) Food Access and Vulnerable People.

At the wrap-up it was decided to broaden community participation, plan some public activities and invite local political officials to its discussions.

Other leaders of the coalition included Paul Stermer of Fair Food Matters, Phyllis Hepp of Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Ken Dahlberg of the Michigan Land Trust, Mike Rowe of Bronson Hospital.

Among the 45 participants attending were farmers, college students, food advocates, dietitians, food service professionals, MSU Extension and health care providers.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Climate Change Is Real--And We Can Do Something About It

Peter Sinclair at Kalamazoo Nature Center, Nov. 9
Here we are in the middle of what could be a catastrophe for all life on earth, and there is debate over whether climate change is a hoax or not.

Peter Sinclair, an award winning graphic artist, illustrator, animator and long-time environmentalist, decided to do something about it.  He approached climate scientists from NASA, the U.S. military, the U.S. Geological Survey, Scripps Research Institute and the like to help him understand the issue so that he could inform the public. 

Through the use of video clips, charts, graphs and short articles, he shares what he has learned on his blog, Climate Crocks. He also features the “Climate Denial Crock of the Week.”.

“There is a very organized, well-funded counter-attack by fossil fuel companies and extremist think tanks in the United States who have modeled their campaign to keep people in the dark,” he said.

Some of these same people worked for the tobacco industry to cover up health information about the effects of smoking.

“They are providing crunchy, little nuggets of disinformation that is put together by marketers,” he said.  “This allows media pundits like Rush Limbaugh to discuss the topic in 15 seconds while it takes climate scientists 90 minutes.”

During his two-hour talk last night at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, he held the rapt attention of 80 local environmentalists by graphically showing the effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) on the natural cycles of the earth.  His information is based on scientists’ measurements by satellites, submarines and on-the-ground observations. 

“The earth is in an energy imbalance,” he said.  “There is not as much GHG going out as there is coming in.”

Add that to the earth’s wobble (a 22,000-year cycle), tilt change (from 22-24.5 degrees in a 43,000-year cycle) and its egg-shaped orbit around the sun, and you get the melting of glaciers that have been forming over the past 3 million years. 

This melting is not caused by the sun but rather by a shrinkage of the polar ice caps.  Through remote sensing, scientists have determined that “perennial ice,” the thick ice sheet lying in the center of the northern pole, is disappearing in an “Arctic death spiral.”  The most dramatic effects took place in 2007. 

The U.S. Navy as well as Exxon, Mobil and Shell are looking at the same data and they are already planning for the time when a whole ocean will open up around the northern pole sometime between 2030 and 2040.  The Russians are also preparing a major pathway for shipping traffic that would be comparable to the Suez Canal. 

Admiral David Titley, chief oceanographer for the U.S. Navy and a former skeptic of climate change, is now telling his superiors that the ice melt is “a huge issue” where sea level could rise 3 to 6 feet in the 21st century.  This is essential information for the Navy, whose 57 worldwide bases have been built at sea level. 

Ice sheets have collapsed in the past and they usually take several centuries.  The concern with today’s melting is that if momentum takes hold together with GHG, the seas can rise as much as 200 feet, said Sinclair.

Many people confuse the cold winter they experience in their area with what’s going on in the rest of the world, he said.  For example, last December when temperatures were uncharacteristically low in the East Coast, temperatures in Greenland, Hudson Bay and the Arctic were 15 to 20 percent warmer than normal. 

More intense and extreme weather events like blizzards, floods, drought and hurricanes are also occurring, he said.  This summer’s average temperature and rainfall in Texas (87 degrees with 2 inches of rain) was more severe than it was during the 1934 Dust Bowl (84 degrees with 3 inches of rain). 

Sinclair spends his summers at Lake Superior where he has seen changes in the lake’s temperature.  While he could only spend 10 minutes in the water 35 years ago, he is now able to stay in for hours.  Scientists measure the lake to be 4 degrees warmer since 1980 with summer coming two weeks earlier.

Methane bursts released in melting tundra areas are also occurring as microbes break down organic debris, he said.  A “runaway effect” once started, can warm up the earth more than human emissions.

“If this happens, then, we are completely out of control,” said Sinclair who noted that Secretary of Energy and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu fully understands the radioactive properties of GHS.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Katey Walter Anthony takes us onto a frozen lake in Fairbanks, AK to demonstrate why methane gas has "exploded" onto the climate change scene.

NASA has also pulled together 29,000 sets of physical and biological on-the-ground observable data that shows a 90 percent change in a direction consistent with global warming.

“These things are what the planet itself is telling us in thousands of ways,” said Sinclair.

However, as grim as the situation is, Sinclair remains optimistic that something can be done about climate change.

“Michigan is one of the key places on earth where we can turn this around,” he said.  “It can become the spear point of a major industrial revolution more impacting than the computer revolution.” 

Millions of young people prepared for green technology jobs could make a huge difference on our world in the same way future scientists and engineers were inspired by President Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon by 1970, he said, pointing out that the average age of the NASA control room was 26. 

“We need that kind of national mission now!” said Sinclair who contends that green technology can help the planet and be an incentive for companies to make money simultaneously. 

However, many people fear that any change from our current fossil fuel economy will mean that we will have to live in caves, candlelight and be without cars.  Many detractors and non-believers in climate change play on that fear, too.  Here, too, the reality differs from the rhetoric.

“Climate change is real and the most urgent environmental issue our society faces,” said Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical. 

Another development, “solar shingles,” can be put on the roofs of new “zero-energy houses.” They use 70 percent less energy than today’s houses—and then generate enough energy to be sold to other users.  These shingles are made in Saginaw and they have attracted other solar fabrication companies to move into Michigan.

Upgrading the insulation of old houses is another option, and although the cost is still high, it is declining precipitously.  Part of the reason why is that some companies like Sungevity are adopting a “solar leasing model” where panels are installed for free, the homeowner rents them and the unused energy goes back into the grid to be used by the utility company.

Actually, the price of solar energy has fallen 5 percent every year since 1970 while the cost of electricity has risen by 5 percent every year in the same period, according to Andrew Birch, CEO of Sungevity on the company website.

Sinclair called solar technology a definite paradigm shift where we can generate more energy than we use. This is possible because it takes 15 terawatts to supply the earth’s power needs for one year while the sun provides 6,000 times more energy (8,600 terawatts) every day—for free, according to Sungevity.  Today, there are 1 million solar roofs operating in America and there is a lot of potential for growth.

Example of a living building
While Sinclair admitted that the zero-energy house is not the total answer to our climate change problems, green buildings are the direction we need to go.  For more than a decade, Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) has been the standard to which green builders aspired. Now, a new standard has emerged called the "living building."  It generates all of its own energy with renewable non-toxic resources, captures and treats all of its water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty. 

The Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn has a “living roof” where several varieties of sebum (a mossy-looking plant) are trained to grow up the factory’s sides to keep the factory warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 

This came about when Ford called in acclaimed "eco" architect Bill McDonough in 2004 to help with the redesign of their Rouge plant in Dearborn where the F150 pick-up truck is made.  As a result, the factory now has one of the biggest green roofs in the world.  

The video below features Roger Gaudette of Ford Land who talks about the idea behind the factory and gives viewers a look at the roof.

Wind turbines provide yet another energy-producing alternative and Michigan once again is well-positioned to take advantage of this technology.  Pigeon (in the Thumb area) is a leader in generating wind power while hundreds of turbines are going up in Gratiot County (south of Mt. Pleasant) with plans for more in Montcalm County (east of Gratiot County). 

Sinclair said that there is enormous potential for the Great Lakes region to equal the wind generation of the Great Plains, often dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of wind.”  The East Coast alone has enough wind to power the whole country.

However, skeptics ask what happens when the wind stops blowing.

“This is a non-problem,” said Sinclair who explained that every energy source is intermittent and that they are designed to store energy for those down times.  The same thing can happen with wind. 

He added that Michigan has excellent geology for underground caverns where energy may be stored. 

Community colleges, including Kalamazoo Valley Community College, have created educational training programs for wind energy technicians.  They can make $22 to $33 per hour, which comes out to $40,000 to $60,000 per year. 

The need for people who can build, design and transport windmills will also emerge. 

“This is good for Michigan and it could create 30,000+ new jobs—if we want them,” said Sinclair.  “The window is now open but it can close.  Right now, we are dithering.”

The audience expressed some concern that wind turbines will attract and kill birds.  According to the National Academy of Science about 35,000 birds have been killed with 25 percent of them at one site in California constructed in the 1980s because of improper siting.  Now, sponsors of any turbine project must file an environmental impact statement.  Sinclair added that urban life and house cats kill hundreds of millions of birds.

The real threat of GHG is that all species are in danger because of climate change, said Sinclair.  Within the next 200 years species loss is estimated at 20 to 70 percent of all living things on earth now. 

“We human beings are creating impacts the planet hasn’t seen since 65 million years ago when an asteroid killed the dinosaurs.”  

Sinclair also demurred over the use of biofuels because converting corn to ethanol is more a political issue for presidential primaries in Iowa than a practical solution to our energy needs.  

He reported, however, that certain biofuel applications have been used on commercial and military jets.  The Green Hornet, an F/A-18 Super Hornet, is fueled with a 50/50 mixture of biofuel made from camelina oil.  It was showcased on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.  Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced plans to make jet fuel from industrial waste. 

While Sinclair focuses on green technology he said there are some non-technological things people can do to help save the planet. 

“Buying local food at the farmers market is one of the most powerful things you can do,” said Sinclair.  “What you eat is impactful on the system--and it has more impact than the car.” 

He also pointed out that we need to see cities as “living systems” rather than just subdivisions. 

“People feel a loss of culture and communication but don’t know it.”  Living neighborhoods are what people want and they are seeing their property values go up as a result, he said. 

Finally, Sinclair emphasized that not everyone has to do all the things he suggests but that there will come a time, a tipping point, when our cities will change for the better.

“And, that’s starting to happen,” he said. 
Sinclair’s talk was sponsored by the Kalamazoo Environmental Council, a coalition of the area’s environmental organizations including:  Asylum Lake Preservation Association, Audubon Society of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo nature Center, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, League of Women Voters of the Kalamazoo Area, Wild Ones, Natural Landscapers-Kalamazoo Area, Kalamazoo River Protection Association, Sierra Club-Southwest Michigan Group, Students for a Sustainable Earth.   

Addendum: The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes

This is a compelling video of Severn Suzuki of Vancouver speaking for the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a group of 12 and 13-year-olds trying to tell adults that they must change their ways.  "I have no hidden agenda," she said.  "I am fighting for my future." 

In 1992 at age 12, she and Michelle Quigg, Vanessa Suttil, and Morgan Geisler raised money to journey 5,000 to attend the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and gave this address to the UN Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED).

Since her 1992 appearance, the Canadian environmental activist, speaker, television host and author has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility.

Cullis-Suzuki was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Her mother is writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis. Her father, geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, is a third-generation Japanese Canadian. While attending Lord Tennyson Elementary School in French Immersion, at age 9, she founded the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues. In 1992, at age 12, Cullis-Suzuki raised money with members of ECO to attend the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Along with group members , Cullis-Suzuki presented environmental issues from a youth perspective at the summit, where she was applauded for a speech to the delegates. The video has since become a viral hit with over 7 million views. In 1993, Severn was honoured in the United Nations Environment Programme's Global 500 Roll of Honour. In 1993, Doubleday published her book Tell the World (ISBN 0-385-25422-9), a 32-page book of environmental steps for families.

Friday, November 4, 2011

West Michigan Citizens Demand Senator Stabenow's Support for Fair Farm Rules

Citizens from southwest Michigan gathered in Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids on Thursday afternoon to rally in support of Michigan's small farmers.  The rally, organized by Food & Water Watch, was a push for Senator Debbie Stabenow to take a public stand on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), also know as the Fair Farm Rules.  

The rules prevent meatpackers from favoring large producers, like factory farms, which put small independent producers at an economic disadvantage.  The rules were released in June 201, but have yet to be finalized or implemented. 

"As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Stabenow has the opportunity to stand up for small livestock farmers, consumers and the environment by supporting these Fair Farm Rules," said Jane Wiedenbeck, field organizer with Food & Water Watch.  "Unfortunately, she has yet to take a stand on the issue, so we are asking her to get off the sidelines and publicly support Michigan's small farmers."

Nationally, nearly 27,000 independent family farms have been driven out of business over the past five years, and the ones that have survived, are being squeezed by a market that favors big agribusinesses.  The GIPSA Rules would help to reverse this trend, and level the playing field for small and mid-sized farms.

"We're here to urge Senator Stabenow to look at the issue of the Fair Farm Rules that the USDA has developed, which were mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill," said Cynthia Price, chair of the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council.  "We're asking for her support in the final adoption and implementation of those rules."

Over 4,500 signed postcards have been collected from communities across Michigan urging Senator Stabenow to take a stand and support the Fair Farm Rules.  Following the rally, the postcards were hand-delivered to Senator Stabenow's West Michigan office.  The petition delivery is a small part of a larger campaign across the state to build community and organizational support for the GIPSA Rules.

"Family farmers today cannot compete with the overwhelming size and lobbying power of large-scale meat providers," said Andrea Villarreall, an English teacher and activist from Kalamazoo.  "Without the GIPSA Rules, I can't be sure that farms like Otto's Chicken will be at the market every Saturday providing me with hormone-free chicken.  What we need right now is for Senator Stabenow to do the right thing and take a strong stance in support of the GIPSA Rules."

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable.  So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Hope for the 100 Percent

This article appeared in Huffington Post and Energy Bulletin on Friday, November 4. 
It also appeared as a viewpoint article in the Kalamazoo Gazette on Wednesday, November 9.

Many Baby Boomers have been recently saying how glad they are to be at the end of their lives and careers rather than at the beginning.  Who could possibly muster hope in the face of the declining job market, an assault on the middle class, environmental degradation, financial ruination, dismemberment of public services and the high cost of education?

And yet, after hearing Van Jones speak Wednesday night at Kalamazoo College, I wished I were 20 again.

Jones is an environmental advocate, civil rights activist, and attorney.  He is a co-founder of three non-profit organizations and author of Green Collar Economy.  In March 2009 Jones was appointed by President Barack Obama to the newly created position of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation but became “embroiled in a controversy” over his past political activities and resigned six months later.

“You have an extraordinary opportunity to write history in today’s highly unusual situation,” said Jones to more than 400 students.  “In just six weeks, you have totally transformed what’s possible in this country.”

He was referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has proliferated to 900 U.S. cities and spread from London to Sydney as a protest against corporate greed and income inequality. 

“Your generation is bigger than the Baby Boomers, more diverse, more technologically savvy, ecologically aware and communitarian in values,” said Jones.  “Your enthusiasm made history in 2008 [with the election of Barak Obama], then you sat down in 2010 and made history [with the GOP takeover of Congress and state governorships] and then got up again in 2011 [with Occupy Wall Street].  Whatever you do, you make history—and now you have a choice to restore the nation.”

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this youthful generation?

Yet, Jones has been attacked for promoting green jobs because it makes money for Al Gore (who was already rich), and for being a militant racist, radical Marxist, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and GOP bad-mouth (according to Glen Beck). 

Such name calling is a tactic used by people who would rather ignore our world’s predicaments.  They pooh-pooh climate change, want to drill for more oil and natural gas, mine more coal, minimize regulations, reduce taxes, blame immigrants and gays for our problems and cut public services.

Jones, however, is clearly focused on the future and he has an impressively long list of accomplishments to prove it, including TIME Magazine’s recognition of him in 2009 as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

“Everything good for the environment is a job,” Jones said.  “People could be put back to work by building a green economy with solar panels, wind turbines and retrofitting homes.” 

So far, 2.4 million green jobs have been created including 100,000 in the solar industry and 100,000 in wind with three million more if Congress passed the President’s jobs bill, according to the Brookings Institution.

Finding energy sources should be of particular concern since fossil fuels are too limited in supply and too dirty to burn for our health and the earth’s.  This fact is not only accepted by environmental “hawks” but by the U.S. military, which is the “biggest driver of green energy,” said Jones. 

A September report of the Pew Charitable Trusts explains how and why the Pentagon is reducing its use and reliance on fossil fuels.  “From Barracks to Battlefield:  Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces” states that DoD clean energy investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion, and are projected to eclipse $10 billion annually by 2030.

The Pentagon also assumes climate change is integral to every scenario of its planning process, said Jones, because it is seen as a dangerous “threat multiplier,” which means that if left unchecked, global warming could lead to resource wars, environmental refugees and failed states in Asia, Africa and the Middle East—places where American troops are stationed today. 

“We can’t drill and burn our way to prosperity but we can invest and invent [in a green economy],” said Jones who called on the audience to be enterprising entrepreneurs, use smart technology to its best advantage, and re-invent the American Dream.

That’s pretty smart thinking—especially for a reputed communist—because it taps the can-do spirit of America and gives us something to work on together just like it did when we defeated Hitler, layed down an Interstate highway system and blasted off to the moon. 

Jones considers addressing today’s problems as a “moral challenge,” akin to the movements for peace, justice and human dignity led by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mandela.  Today, we not only m must deal with these things but with the very survival of our planet.  So we need the wisdom of all people, he said, and that includes the wealthiest one percent with the 99 percent. 

The infighting and high-stakes lobbying practices gripping Congress are not helping the country.  Some people even believe representative democracy is over.  However, now is the time for Americans to put our nation back on track ourselves.  As 96-year-old Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs says:  “We are the leaders we have been waiting for.”

The young get this and the rest of us—no matter what our age—can follow their lead by “occupying hope” that we can take on the challenges of our world and work enthusiastically toward the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Re-imagining Work in the Motor City

This article appeared in the Huffington Post on November 8 and Common Dreams on November 10.

Richard Feldman addresses participants at the Reimagining Work conference held at the Focus: Hope facility in Detroit
It was a serendipitous weekend of soul-searching, collaboration, information sharing, and problem solving as activists “occupied” Detroit, one of the world’s most de-industrialized cities, to re-imagine “work” and ways it can reinvigorate local communities.

Over 300 participants from around the country converged on the Focus: Hope facility October 28-30 to address our nation’s accelerating decline of the jobs-based industrial economy where over 14 million Americans are unemployed and another 9.3 million hold “involuntary part-time” jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

“We never anticipated Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring when we planned this conference,” said Richard Feldman, from the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.  “Nevertheless, we are here to show the world that Detroit is the place where we can imagine what the 21st century can look like.”

Activists in Detroit have been preparing for change long before this year’s revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests in the Middle East, Europe and Occupy Wall Street.  Neighborhood leaders were among the first to promote urban gardens, and they started re-visioning the concept of “work” two decades ago when it became obvious that globalization was taking a toll on jobs. 

“Something is happening to the world and we see it right here in Detroit,” said Grace Lee Boggs, long-time activist, teacher and philosopher.  She, with her Chrysler autoworker spouse, James Boggs (now deceased), had been looking at a post-industrial future back in the 1980s as automation replaced workers in the auto plants. 

“What was created 200 years ago [during the Industrial Revolution] is coming to an end,” said the 96-year-old author of The Next American Revolution.  “All over the planet people are pursuing alternatives to the economics of greed, over-consumption and destruction of the eco-system.  It is our birthright to create something new.”

The conference included an impressive line-up of guest speakers including Ms. Boggs; Vandana Shiva, environmental activist and author from India; Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism; and Frithjof Bergmann, founder of the Center for New Work and a philosophy professor emeritus of the University of Michigan.

However, much time was provided for community leaders to share what they were already doing and for participants to dialogue about what they could do to transform our economic and community relationships.

Throughout the conference participants distinguished “work” from “jobs.”  Basically, work is about one’s calling in life and contributions to the community while jobs are more about the specific tasks people perform for an organization. 

Mama Sandra Simmons with the conference banner
People moved from the farm to the city to take “jobs,” said Ms. Boggs.  They went from making clothes and growing food to buying clothes and buying food.  Humans changed from producers to consumers.  The models and ideals of work became factory oriented.

“We have to see work as going beyond jobs,” said Mama Sandra Simmons, whose opening remarks set the tone for the meetings.  “We have to have faith that it is not what we see that we believe but that we find that place of becoming and being where we are more than we were before.”

 This theme of re-defining our humanity was widely accepted as the prerequisite for “work.”  “Jobs” have a dehumanizing effect as people fill interchangeable slots in a big machine.  In today’s global economy workers can be easily replaced with those willing to work for lower wages.  So, transformation to any new system of “work” must begin with one’s own personal discernment about identity and purpose in this life.
“Observe what’s happening around you,” said Mama Simmons.  “Too often we come to a place to fix things when it’s us that need the fixing.  We say:  ‘I want to give something but don’t know how to do it, don’t know what to give, don’t know who you are or what you have to bring.’”   

Former autoworker Gloria Lowe illustrated this point by describing her relationship with veterans with PTSD in her home rehabilitation work, We Want Green Too!  The project helps create work for neighborhood craftsmen.

However, before the work began, she invited the veterans to share their pain with each other.

“My compassion, giving, sharing and loving transformed them,” she said.  “These guys who were spiritually destroyed were then able to stand up tall physically because someone cared about them.”

Then, they were able to use their construction skills to rehab homes because they wanted to “give back” to the community they now felt a part of.
Gloria Lowe illustrates the connection between transforming human beings and transforming communities

Participants and speakers emphasized that building relationships with one another also creates supportive and transformative communities as evidenced by the urban gardens movement.

“Growing food is a revolutionary act of love for oneself and others,” said Myrtle Curtis who with her husband, Wayne, founded the Feed'om Freedom Growers community garden on an empty lot in their Detroit neighborhood.  “My job was killing my spirit until I decided my work was to become a farmer in the city.” 

Patrick Crouch, manager of Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit, talked about his work as something he loved doing even though it was hard and sometimes taxed his body. 

“But hard work is its own reward,” he said.  “I get vitamin D, physical exercise, conversation with others, a spiritual connection with my hands in the soil, and I know where my food comes from.”

Another conference theme focused on preparing youth with 21st century skills.

Yvette Murrell of Detroit uses art, music, theatre and yoga to provide youth with a place for healing and leadership in order to address urban ills like racism, poverty, drugs and imprisonment.  She also teaches high school students how to become “conflict reconcilers” as an alternative to the schools’ punitive suspension system and its reliance on the criminal justice system.

Sweetwater Organics of Milwaukee offers youth an aquaponics program, a cross-disciplinary approach of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.  Aquaponics is a system where fish and plants are grown together for harvest.

Sweetwater started out working with four schools and in six months attracted 35 schools and four universities as it led students to design an “urban village” that aims to feed itself, said Emmanuel Pratt, executive director of Sweetwater Organics.  Today, there are 100 schools between Chicago and Milwaukee involved in this project. 

Pratt, who is also director of Chicago State University’s Aquaponics Center, is currently converting a 20,000 square foot warehouse at the university into a living laboratory for aquaponics and urban agriculture. 

“We need to change the perception of how we see our communities and cities,” he said referring to the Midwest’s lost industries and neighborhood blight.  “Aquaponics provides the chance to envision new 21st century neighborhoods and cities transformed from the Rust Belt to the Fresh Coast.”

To do that, Sweetwater is currently raising 40,000-50,000 tilapia and thousands of pounds of lettuce, watercress and basil.  Pratt, an architect and urban planner, said that aquaponics can play a key role in urban agriculture by feeding growing populations, while saving the environment through increased water efficiency and smarter land use.

Participants prepare for the Future Economy workshop

Participants were anxious to interact with one another and conference planners provided them many opportunities, including a two-hour future economy workshop where they divided themselves into four groups (artists/media workers, entrepreneurs, educators, community organizers) to discuss what each group imagines as its work, what help each group needs and what each group can offer the other groups. 

 For example, artists/media workers know how to work independently, tell stories and express emotion.  Educators know how to teach skills and knowledge.  Entrepreneurs know how to bring a product to market and make money while community organizers know how to transform spaces, expose truths and work with the media. 

This workshop illustrated how collaboration can take place among diverse groups of people who don’t ordinarily talk with each other.  It also showed how work can take on new configurations when grassroots people focus on community needs and relationships rather than to allow the leaders at the top of a hierarchical organization to decide what must be accomplished and how it will be evaluated.

As exuberant and philosophical as participants were, some expressed concern that discussion about money as a means of re-generating a new economy was often omitted. 

“Making money doesn’t have to be evil,” said Mike Wimberley, founder of the Hope District on the Eastside.  He also rehabilitates local housing and commercial properties through Friends of Detroit and Tri-County, a nonprofit organization that his mother, Lily Wimberley, founded in 1994.

“We need to re-populate our city and put down roots so that people have houses, education, health care,” he said.  “That takes money and we have to figure out how people here can make it.”

Other participants mentioned that money should be put back into the community.  For example, most people who make their living in Detroit don’t reside there, and many major institutions don’t make many of their purchases from local businesses.  Being mindful and diligent in re-investing money into the community is a way of bringing back the city and helping local businesses succeed. 

In another discussion, participants acknowledged that relying on political and economic leaders to lead was a fruitless endeavor because they have forgotten the people they are supposed to represent.  A “we have to do it ourselves” attitude permeated the conference in a recognition that representative democracy is in serious decline.  Besides, they said, societal change usually occurs at the grassroots level—and rigid social class distinctions and hierarchies have no place in the new economy we are envisioning.

“A gardener isn’t better or worse than a doctor,” said one man. 

Shaun Nethercott, founder and executive director of the Matrix Theatre, expressed the same sentiments from another point of view.

“In Platonic idealism, which is completely infused in European economic, political and social structures, ‘the idea’ has more value than ‘the practice,’ the mind is more important than the body, the planner is more important than the maker.  This is why an architect makes more money than a carpenter, why a doctor has higher status than a nurse, why CEOs have more value than anyone working in his company.  It is why we value humans more than animals, and animals more than plants.” 

Treating people as human beings is essential, especially those who have been disenfranchised by losing their jobs, their homes, their health or their status through some form of discrimination.

“As a city, we have unique things to teach,” said Shea Howell, one of the conference organizers.  “[As a global center of industrialization] Detroit was in the front line of dehumanization and we have a lot of experience behind us to respond.”

The “Reimagining Work” conference was launched by the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, in partnership with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Allied Media Conference, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Putting the Neighbor Back in the ‘Hood, Damon Keith for Civil Rights and Focus: Hope.

See other articles pertaining to the conference:

Grace Lee Boggs Opens Reimagining Work Conference in Detroit


Vandana Shiva Address Detroit Reimagining Work Conference


Detroit Reimagining Work Conference -- Guest Speakers