Signs of hope continue to sprout in Detroit. For many of us working on the revitalization of Detroit, 2012 may prove to be the year when the tide finally shifts towards a rebirth of our great city. Some consider this a bottoming out after over a decade of massive manufacturing job losses to the tune of 200,000 jobs lost since the year 2000 and eye-opening population loss.
For many in Detroit, it doesn’t seem like the situation can get much worse. We are far removed from Detroit’s heyday when it was considered a bustling leader in organized labor and fair wages for workers.
Those of us still in Detroit have become a battle-tested and resilient bunch, and the skills that we have acquired through so much chaos and uncertainty could prove useful to the rest of the country, a country entrenched in a long-term recession and high unemployment rates.
Consciousness of large scale economic and environmental problems came to national attention last year as the Occupy Wall Street movement swept the nation. Time magazine even named The Protestor the 2011 Person of the Year.
Those same problems are under a microscope here in Detroit, where we started feeling the financial fallout many years before other parts of the country. In Detroit, it has been the norm to have corporations turn their backs on the people and the government ill-equipped and unwilling to respond to the massive problems plaguing the area.
2012 shouldn’t just be the year of large protests. We need a system change. As we’ve been saying here at Global Exchange, “Our 2012 resolution is global revolution!” We need new rules, skills and frameworks to take our movement to the next level. Together, 2012 can be the year that we truly change the rules to create a world that champions people power not corporate power. What better place to put these words into action than in Detroit? This is where the economic fallout started, and this will be the place where the strategies for a new world can be tested.
At Global Exchange we’re helping to transition Detroit into a beacon of community organizing power. Over the past two years our summer Green Economy Leadership Training program has been working in the Highland Park community and has trained over 50 people in intensive skills trainings and projects that are helping move a new vision of Detroit’s economy forward.
We have worked side by side with community members to assemble urban farms and 4-seasons greenhouses, weatherize homes and develop community solar projects and create K-12 education programs that are transitioning Detroit to a self-reliant, post-industrial future. In 2012, we are continuing to build a new economy in Detroit, reaching one person at a time and working deeply within our community.
As we develop the skills for the new economy we also need to look towards putting the political power truly back in the hands of the people. Detroit has been the victim of corporate greed for too long. Communities like Detroit can benefit in a huge way by establishing community rights of their own. Our Community Rights Program is organizing across the country and around the world to pass revolutionary laws that strip corporate protections and assert the rights of communities to decide for themselves what happens where they live, and at the same time to recognize the rights of nature.
Apply to Green Economy Leadership Training: Be on the look out for an announcement to apply to our Green Economy Leadership Training in the next month. The application will be online, along with program information;
Attend Speaking Event: If you are in Michigan, I’ll be speaking this Thursday, 1/19, at Michigan State University in the Erikson Kiva @ 7:30 p.m. The topic is “Urban Green Strategies – How Detroit is Leading the 21st Century Sustainability Revolution?” Rsvp here.