Remember we are not separated by lines drawn on maps. This has never been the case and never will be the case.  What affects some affects all. This was a common theme that stood out throughout the weekend of workshops.  If you need more information to draw these connections you can check out the Our World Our Community Page.

The excitement of opening day outside Cobo Hall.

Some of what was taking place in the main lobby of Cobo Hall during the Forum.

Feel Free to Copy and Distribute these Images and Ideas

This is Cobo Hall where part of the Forum took place

Opening Ceremony being blessed and welcomed by the First Nation Dancers and Drummers

transportation on the city buses.....the 16 Dexter.

Detroit holds the hard truths and colorful beauty of our country at large.  Cruzing down Cass Street on the Dexter Bus one can’t help but be shocked at the shattered buildings that stand as a reminder of a war that has raged here, a war that continues to spread its icy grip throughout the country.  True Detroit has never been invaded by another nation, except for Anthony Wayne, or bombed from the sky and that’s because the enemy is within as all good traitors are.  Staring through the old tinted glass on the 16 line flags of these villains still fly over the city.  Chevy, Buick, Ford, GM, all of whom stand guilty of this destruction.  All of whom continue these practices of deceit, greed, and gluttony at our expense while proclaiming allegiance. We thought we needed them.  We trusted them.  We appointed them leadership positions to help the community achieve our goals of prosperity and happiness and they betrayed us.  They continue to betray us with endless commercial propaganda that pumps through the air waves into the suburbs claiming that nothing is wrong while the rust slowly creeps closer to home.

The bus hiss to a stop.  “Morning,” a harm voice proclaims through the open doors.  The warm wet summer air floats in and with it a reflection that over powers the destruction. Grass spreading out in empty lots growing up from strong roots that spring forth new blades of hope even though it has been denied for years a place to exist.   It glows in the early sun rays bouncing its beauty off all the surfaces until it almost becomes unbearable. The grass shows the way that the future is not lost even though we have been betrayed by our fellow neighbors.  Behold the living green.  Not like green backs with their weathered dead and dying ghosts, but a living pulsing green.  Because we may have been betrayed by one of our own but once again mother nature extends her hands, like those of the ancestors of this land did once before, to show us the way.  With the early robins song she reminds us that our future is dependent on correcting our mistakes and making better decisions.  Don’t feel defeated for the war rages on, but rather return to the strategy table that mother nature lays at our feet and rebuild the community in that light.

A look out the window at Detroit streets.........

King Solomons Church....note the fall out shelter symbol.

Detroit Streets....conquering the gray.

The Blooming possibility that is growing from the rubble...

Here are notes from three workshops…. Other info will be continuously added

Feel free to ask question about what you read and we will try to relate to you what we learned….

Relocalization and the Role of the Rust Belt

Organization in Detroit bought a vacant lot for $1: Made a community center.

Toledo Grows: Bought lots around the city for $40-50 a piece & turned them into gardens.

Ypsilanti- Thomason Garden: goats, ducks, chicken, geese… grow all their food on 1/10 acre.

Presenter is a sociologist studying community identity… what makes some people want to provide for others and some not.

Often asked, ‘why not grow in Cali? Michigan is so cold, no?’ ….photo of winter collards growing through snow.

Michigan Young Farmers Coalition (MYFC)

started as google listserv with information on gardening.

the energy gathered & led to a DIY retreat & skype conferences.

MYFC goals: education & learning, physical presence, research & reporting, advocacy, support & networking, outreach, economic viability.

economic viability is necessary for building in marginalized communities.

physical presence is a necessity for education, learning, support and reporting.

Pontiac, MI is 20 square miles. Former GM town. Food desert. Food comes from 10 miles away where there is a Kroger (in Birmingham?)

One of the MYF kid’s mama is a social worker? & was checking out Haven Shelter’s facility. Haven is safe space for women & children which serves 15000 people a year in Oakland County. Sleeps 40-60 a night. Serves 3 meals a day. Provides advocacy & counseling. Mama saw that the kitchen was primarily stocked with canned food and food that was un sale able…. expired or damaged… and linked her son with them.

MYF met with them and formed committees: fundraising, PR….

Guidelines: create a green haven, bounty of veggies, safe place, stay on budget.

As students they have access to university resources for soil testing & a heated greenhouse for their first sprouts. In their planning they included a $10/hour 20hr/week job for a person who lived nearby. They wanted to teach someone with no gardening experience how to care for this garden.

They built 18 4’x40′ beds in the main plot with 2′ paths between. Donors could sponsor a bed for $40. They decorated the garden with art made by the kids at Haven Shelter.

They trained a person living a couple blocks away… Taught him gardening practices & remedies for problems that might arise.Took him on tours to other gardens & to Whole Foods to show “what bad produce looks like”

First transplants: alliums, brassicas, legumes, beets. (Ordered onion sets from seed company)

Total lot: 1/5 acre took 50 lbs of compost. Drip tape irrigation.

The beets were full grown by June 11. Two more crops will come out before winter.

Growing Hope … Downtown Ypsi Farmers Market

urban microfarm as demonstration space in downtown Ypsi

30×96′ hoophouse, 1 acre farm, food forest, tool lending library, seed bank, finished compost & soil storage.

Farmers market only sells stuff from Michigan.

benefits of city farming: project exposure

benefits of country farming: less regulation, sovereignty

1935: 137million farmers

Last census: 2 million farmers (less than 1% of the population)

Average age of the US farmer: 65.

Average age of Michigan farmer: 57.

Farming is the worst monetary return for labor. Don’t do it for the money, do it for the ethic and the love of farming.

Networking is the only way to make it possible & sustainable.

Transition Ypsilanti: link between urban farming and sustainability.

Transition Town: collaborating with neighbors to creatively, proactively address global issues, specifically peak oil and climate change. Committing to these community-generated solutions.

Transition towns began in Ireland where students suggested that as their final project they would ask their community to come up with ways to combat and approach issues. The students presented the ideas to the town hall and the community committed to the ideas.

There are 72 transition towns in the US.

By unleashing the creative genius of our collective, we can more effectively embrace our move to a lower energy future.

The Giving Garden at Eastern Michigan University

Guiding principles:  sustainability, organic agriculture, community & place, education, interrelatedness.

Mission: empowers individuals & communities to grow through gardening.

Vision: access to fresh food, education, community support, inspiration to make positive changes in their local communities & food systems.”

….this is how to combat brain drain.

More biodiverse = more resilient

Fifth Grade Teacher of Science & Social Studies in Ann Arbor, MI

last year started school compost program. Recruited 10 kids to help develop the program and came up with games and skits to educate the student body. The city (which had started their compost program the year before) provided compost bags. She (teacher) and the kids help with pickup. At lunch the 10 kids help take bags out & interested 4th graders fill in when they’re unable/absent, learning & getting excited about the program for next year when they’ll take over.

Mosaic project. Made “350” mosaic…. 350 ppm carbon is sustainable, now we’re at 390ppm. They did a fundraiser for earth day and had enough money to adopt/sponsor an owl at a local wild animal refuge & have other wild animals visit the school.

Fishing for micro-invertebrates in a DIY stream in a classroom.

Sustainable Thanksgiving: Seeing how kids approach/respond to community. Learning what is local/native/sustainable/whole food.

Out of 75 families who brought food, only 1 thing was processed.

Winter survival: went to a farm in the boondocks & found winterized kale, brussel sprouts, sage, rosemary.

Climate Change Club: learned about Antarctica. Went to UMichigan & talked to scientists who had been there. Shared ideas about climate change.

Lynching Then & Now: The Roots of Racism & the Death Penalty in America

Hosted by Pat Foley & Mark Clements, Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Mark Clements was Jesse Jackson’s Paperboy. At 16, he didn’t understand racism. He was walking in his neighborhood & taken in to area 3, violent crimes & accused of setting an arson fire which killed 4 people. Repeatedly, the cops told him he committed the crime. He witnessed cops drinking alchohol. Witnessed cops beating up a Black man in his 40s. Mark was put in a closet in handcuffs. At the time, John Burge was torturing African American & Latino men. Men were tortured in their intestines & genitals & raped with cattle prods. Some men were beaten with telephone books. All these ‘techniques’ left no marks, or marks which one wouldn’t be inclined to show. In Mark’s case the pig would squeeze his balls & make him recite what they wanted him to say about the fire; “I am guilty of…”

The public defender never investigated the case & they decided that Mr. Clements was ‘retarded.’ He spent 25 years in prison until someone noticed that his case was never investigated. Once the neighborhood was asked, officials were told exactly who and how the crime as committed. A motorcycle gang called the Munsters had set the fire. The fingerprints that supposedly were Mark’s were actually the prints of a cop. A knife was used as evidence but it had no blood on it and the coroner reported that no one was stabbed.

After Mark, 174 men came forward as survivors of torture. Many (all?) by the hands of John Burge. It is tough to get 10 Black men at a death penalty rally but a team of white folks is easy to find. Bernadine Dorhn came to Mark to ask him about his case & to initiate investigation.

Kids have lost faith, trust & confidence in their parents, why listen to anyone else? Civil rights was successful because the father was in the household. At 13, a child can get sent away (to prison) forever. The public has been sold the idea that rehab isn’t worth it.

Kevin Cooper – on the phone from San Quentin?

In 2004 Kevin Cooper was granted a stay of execution hours before he was murdered.

In 2007 a court of appeals upheld the death sentence.

Only surviving victim said to police that his family & friend were murdered by 3 white or Mexican men.

Three weapons were used, multiple people were implicated but persecutors charge that Kevin acted alone.

A woman brought in bloody overalls to cops & the cops put destroyed them before the trial without testing.

The sheriff who allegedly found Kevin’s blood at the crime scene admitted narcotic use & fired for stealing five pounds of heroin.

q: How do you maintain dignity in these times?

a: Frederick Douglass said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” …”I refuse to let these people break me because I know how hard it is to be repaired.

From the Chicago Campaign to End the Death Penalty &

Campaign to Jail Jon Burge

Burge’s methods of torture: suffocation, simulated Russian roulette, cattle prods

Lots of folks are still in jail from confessions obtained by torture.

Lynching & death sentence: 80% in the south.

Troy Davis has spent 19 years on death row. The international movement has kept him alive.

Rodney Reed is on death row in Texas. His crime seems to be having a relationship with a white woman married to a cop.

Stanley Howard in Illinois.

Ida B. Wells devoted life to end lynching. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light  of truth on them.”

Reform: end juvenile sentencing of life without parole, mental healthcare not incarceration, reconcile the disparity between sentencing of crack & cocaine violations.

Why hasnt the person who runs the mines in WV where workers were killed not been prosecuted?

We have the tools to forecast crime: lack of childcare, lack of healthcare, inadequate parenting, inadequate schools, lack of community & community centers, shitty foods, no role models, no resources, no family structure, no feelings of belonging, no resources or access to resources.

Law is an invention of the strong to mold the will of the weak.

[my notes dont really match this story so well, so i write what i’ve read instead]

Emmett Till grew til 14 years old in Illinois & was sent to Mississippi to work for the summer. He was dared to flirt with the white woman who owned the general store with her white husband. When the husband found out that he had either whistled, asked her for a date, or said “Bye, baby” he & his half brother decided to ‘teach him a lesson.’

They came to Emmett’s uncle’s house & asked for the boy.They told the the uncle, “don’t tell anyone…” Emmett was found in a river with a 70-lb cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire, beaten with an eye gouged out.

Emmett’s mama demanded an open casket to show the terrible things that had been done. 50,000 folks came to see. Emmett’s uncle named the folks who had come to the house.

Another young Black worker came forward with evidence that the couple hadn’t acted alone. An 18-year old boy came forward as another witness to the crime.

The all white, all male jury acquitted both defendants in 67 minutes. One juror said “if we hadn’t stopped to drink pop, it wouldn’t have taken us so long.”

This happened before Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat. It was a key step up to the civil rights movement.

[back to notes]

The courage brought attention to the case and the problem of lynching. Emmett’s mama said “A get months ago I was living in Chicago… I heard there was some brutality in the south. I heard about it but it was over there & I didn’t do anything. Then Emmett went to Mississippi and now I know that whenever anything like this happens anywhere it happens to all of us.”

Biggest problem concerning racism in the US is that Black folks lack education about racism. (This workshop’s participants were of many backgrounds but majority white.)

In Illinois there is a moratorium on the death penalty. We should look at how im/migration & death penalty movement can come together.

Book William Lynch how to keep people enslaved & keep Black folks in fear.

We are educated to remain in our positions until we die.

Stanley Howard on the phone.

47 years old. 27 years on death row.

Arrested on November 2, 1984. Arrested for armed robbery of police officers. Tortured by police to confess & sign confession.

Suffocated, beaten (kicking and punching).. they knocked him out & he woke up to more beatings. Asked to sign confession… when he said no, they unhandcuffed him, took out their guns & told him to run. He didn’t run & signed the confession.

The primary witness is a woman who said he looks like the shooter. Witnesses say this woman was arguing with 2 men outside an apartment building for a while and she was talking with the shooter for a while after the shot. In prison, Stanley met many other men who were tortured. 20+ survivors of torture are still on death row in Illinois.

International Law and Gaza

War Crimes Accountability and Solidarity

National Lawyers Guild

Findings from Trip to Gaza

towns leveled except for buildings used for lookouts to shoot people

white phosphorous used over gaza city: on the ground if you kick it, it burns again. chemical: survivors of white phosphorous are released from hospital, come back days later with more severe burns.

NLG found Israeli violations of international law:

-deliberately targeted civilian homes

-routinely launched attacks where civilians were hurt in excess of possible military advantage

-unnecessary suffering – white phosphorus

-indiscriminate weapons on densely populated areas: hospitals, schools, UN

-used Palestinians as human shields, forced to work for IDF

-denied medical treatment and materials

-prevented food from entering and destroyed systems of agriculture.

NLG recommended:

-UN establish commission of inquiry to conduct independent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law.

Human Rights Commission launched the Goldstone Mission & the report had a huge impact.

-US support this investigation.

Goldstone Report conclusions:

Operation wasn’t isolated, fits into a continuum of deliberate disproportionate attacks to humiliate, punish, & terrorize to defeat the population & make Gaza dependent on Israeli government.

On Israeli’s reasoning that they are responding to rocket attacks:

From June – November 2008, there was a ‘lull’ in rockets from Hamas and IDF in a cease fire sponsored by Egypt.

November 4, Israel brought tanks, bulldozers, infantry into Gaza & Hamas fired some rockets.

December 27, Israel attacked, killing over 200 Palestinians & wounding over 1000 on the first day.

In the war? attack? 1400 Palestinians are killed. 13 Israelis.

Goldstone Report concluded: prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in Palestinian Territories that warrants action.


1948 – Israel created.

1967 – Military occupation of Gaza

2005 – Withdrawal of troops, dismantling of settlements. Palestine is left without government & no governance of air & waterways. (Israel may have withdrawn troops to avoid damage/harm when they attacked the area)

2006 – Hamas/Islamic Party – US & EU imposed sanctions

2007- Israel imposes blockade “to reduce Palestinians support of Hamas and cause government to fall”

US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation

made of 345 organizations. Bush policy: send 30 billion to Israel in aid.

The US enables Israeli violence. The US is responsible. Israel is not allowed to use US weapons unless in very rare circumstances. Blackhawk? helicopters were used to attack floatillas, not for self defense, not on Israeli land.

Goldstone to civil society: pressure your government to use UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION. This was used to allow the Brits to arrest Pinochet.