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Preserve the Rights of Non-Profits who Protest For-Profit Corporations in Michigan!

Though I’ve benefitted from it, I’m also critical of university practices and policies around community “engagement” in Detroit. That said, this legislation seems an attempt to block existing and potential relationships between grassroots organizations that are actually doing vital and vibrant work and the resources of supposedly “public” institutions. Please share and speak up. Respect. ~Gregg

Volunteers Needed!  Help with Phone-Banking to Preserve the Rights of Non-Profits who Protest For-Profit Corporations in Michigan! Proposed legislation would prohibit these non-profits from collaborating with publicly funded universities.
What: Phone Banking to Protect Academic Freedom & Non-Profits’ Rights to Protest
Where: Detroit and Ann Arbor (Specific sites in both cities TBD)
Day/Time: Tuesday, May 15th, 12:30 pm – 5 pm (2 hours shifts with 30 minute training)
3 shifts to choose from:
12:30 – 2:30 pm
2 pm – 4 pm
3 pm – 5 pm
Why: The Michigan House of Representatives has adopted language in the higher-education appropriations bill which would prohibit public universities in Michigan from collaborating with any non-profit “workers center” whose documented activities include protest, demonstration, or organization against a Michigan business. Since there no generally accepted definition of a “workers center” exists, this language could potentially restrict a broad scope of civil rights, community-based, environmental, and other grassroots and non-profit organizations.
What’s the urgency?The Senate did not include this language in their version of the higher-ed bill, so as we move into Conference Committee, there is a good chance for this language to be eliminated. We expect the Conference Committee will meet on May 16thor shortly afterwards. It is critical to mobilize support before then.
We need 20 volunteers consistently phone banking throughout the afternoon of May 15th.
Please indicate what shift and time you are available ASAP by emailing: rocmichigan@yahoo.com
Any questions?Call Minsu at ROC-Michigan at (734) 355-1164
What kinds of organizations could be impacted?
An environmental organization protesting an incinerator spewing toxic waste into the atmosphere would be prohibited from working with public health students in a summer research program
A civil rights organization protesting a major corporation that discriminates in its hiring practices would be prohibited from working with a university’s civil rights institute
A church protesting a liquor store that sells cigarettes to minors would be prohibited from working with business school students to develop a business plan for a store that they would open and operate in their neighborhood
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May 9, 2012   No Comments

THIS WEEK! FOOD JUSTICE FRIDAY!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Each month this event is held on the first Friday at the
Cass Corridor Commons
4605 Cass, Detroit, MI 48201 near Forest Street

6-8pm
(youth will gather early to help prepare the food)

This month’s theme honors Cinco de Mayo and will feature Sacramento Knoxx and other artists from Southwest Detroit.

FREE FOOD!  Healthy, Locally sourced food by Peoples Kitchen Detroit
Donations are welcomed!


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May 1, 2012   No Comments

Liberating our tables: Changing how we eat to change what we eat

Published in the Michigan Citizen
• Sun, Apr 29, 2012

By Gregg Newsom

This is the latest in a series of columns discussing the Environmental Justice Principles drafted and adopted by delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held Oct. 24-27, 1991.

Last week, our co-columnist Patrick Geans Ali kicked off our discussion of Environmental Justice principle No. 7, which “demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation.” Patrick offered up a discussion of participation in relation to the draconian political attack on community power through emergency management and the economic/geographic engineering of the Detroit Works Project. This week, as we shift our focus to this Environmental Justice principle and how it relates to food, like Patrick, I can’t imagine a better time to look at this principle.

While recognizing that I often get distracted by many issues, which is easy to do in Detroit, I try to keep food as my central focus, as many elders have advised. I perceive that food connects us all to each other and to the earth and through deepening our relationship and awareness of the food system, which reflects the entire cycle of life, I believe we can heal, reconnect and rebuild our relationships. What I perceive as large-scale corporate oppression informs my efforts in co-creating smaller, more intimate ways of doing things. While we’ve seen proof of the reconnecting/healing potential of neighborhoods through some community gardens and agricultural efforts, what I look toward is how a certain level of community participation and awareness can support a reawakening of direct democracy, one that shifts power into the hands of people.

Recently, local activists and leaders Ron Scott and Yusef Bunchy Shakur penned “Detroit’s Declaration of Peace, Hope and Love,” which wisely conveys that at “this time in Detroit’s history … Detroit needs a ‘people first’ mentality.” As I perceive it, this declaration serves as a call to not only our humanity, but to come together to support and establish liberated peace zones where communities can build power in the face of emergency management, consent agreement and corporate domination.

While it is vital we gather together in larger numbers, I humbly offer, with food at the center, that we consider the tables and benches where we gather to eat — as a family, with friends or alone — as liberated spaces as well. I’m trying to view and promote our kitchen tables and wherever we gather as spaces to practice relearning how to treat each other with respect and how to participate in community.

Can power really shift through how we eat food? I’m beginning to understand that how we eat is as important as what we eat. My relationship with food is filtered through a number of privileges, so my family and I have choices when it comes to what we eat. I also recognize there is a large population of Detroiters who, like many people around the world, have little or no choice when it comes to what they are eating. I certainly do not want to dismiss access to safe and culturally relevant food as a principle in itself but I suggest we connect more to “how” we eat, whatever it is that finds its way to our table or into our hands.

No matter what we are eating — whether we’ve made it from scratch or picked it up at the corner store — through chewing and swallowing, we are connecting to and participating with something outside of ourselves. That may sound a bit cosmic, but eating is, in reality, a very intimate act, one that many traditionally share with family, close friends and community. There has been a great deal of effort to consumerize how we eat. From the TV dinners of the 1950s to the “grab and go” food sticks peddled through gas stations today, I’ve witnessed what I consider to be a blatant attempt to dilute the power of participation at its root by resetting the family table around the television and inspiring us to consider eating food as something that should be multitasked while on the run.

I want to again lift up the importance of breaking bread together as a means of “resetting” the table and reconnecting with the personal power required for participation in decision-making, needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation. I don’t want to present this as an easy task, but I’ve taken to heart that, even though we appear to be programmed for pathology though media dependence, there is something instinctual and cross-cultural about getting together to enjoy food and talk. Getting together, cooking, eating and communicating are skills that we, whether privileged or not, have been divested of. In order for us to move closer to a meaningful manifestation of this EJ principal, we need to take back how we eat so we can reestablish power over what we eat.

Gregg Newsom is the communications coordinator for the Detroit Food Justice Task Force. Visit www.detroitfoodjustice.com.

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April 29, 2012   No Comments