During my first quarter here at K I had the opportunity to take an Introduction to Society and Culture course with visiting Professor Matt Birkhold. It was an incredible class! The majority of what we read came from James and Grace Lee Boggs and we discussed at great lengths how race, gender and capitalism all intertwine. It opened my eyes to many of the problems that exist in society today, but instead of just complaining about those problems, my class took an initiative to fix them. A couple of other passionate students and I thought it would be a great idea to go beyond our classroom and create a means for other people to also be involved in what we had learned. Thus, the seminar “Rethinking Revolution” was created, which we would use as a platform to educate others (both on campus and in the community) about how we define true revolution.
We rallied a total of about 25 people to become a part of Rethinking Revolution, and after weeks of discussion, we all decided that it would be extremely helpful if we could start applying what we had been talking about and actually see progress taking place somewhere. Matt suggested that we visit Detroit because there are a lot of really cool things happening there.
First, we went to see Gloria Lowe, a woman who started an organization called We Want Green 2, which provides veterans who have PTSD with the opportunity to build sustainable houses as a way to help them heal their anxiety – it was very moving.
We then went to go meet with Grace Lee Boggs at the Boggs Center, which was truly a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. To see a woman at 96 years old still alive and kicking with such strong hope for humanity was so inspiring and it was something I will cherish for years to come. It was unreal to be able to meet with her and see the results of what she has dedicated her whole life to.
After that, we went to see a local business initiative called Freedom Freedom whose motto is “Grow a garden, grow a community.” It was really cool to see what urban farming can do to a community.
Lastly, we went to a place called Urban Network, where a man named Yusef Shakur started his own bookstore/café in an effort to “put the neighbor back in hood.”
Seeing all of these projects in Detroit has made me extremely hopeful that a positive change can happen, and because of that, I’m excited to see what our group will do to better our campus and the Kalamazoo community. Only time will tell!