March 20, 2012

Grace Lee Boggs On "Becoming Detroit"

Here's a powerful way to spend an hour.  Tune into "Becoming Detroit", a recent episode of Krista Tippet's On Being podcast.  Krista's interviews with civic rights legend Grace Lee Boggs and others who are reinventing Detroit are inspiring.  They also get to the heart of why it's so important for funders to think big about small grants and invest in everyday people who are re-discovering, re-imaging and re-spiriting their communities - without using the awkward, often de-humanizing language that we use in philanthropy.

I've been thinking about language alot recently - reminded again recently about the limitations of the language that we're using to describe grassroots grantmaking.   I find it discouraging that the language that is most easily digestible by philanthropy is about professionalized solutions delivered by organizations and not about people. It was thus so refreshing to listen to the conversations shared in this podcast - so refreshing that I jotted down some of the phrases that caught my attention.

You have to make a way out of "no way".
Activism is often more about rights when we need to be talking about advancing humanity.
There's something about people who are doing something for themselves - creating the world anew.
People have been seduced by size - by the idea of the mass media.  They haven't realized that by creating solutions to everyday problems, they are creating movements.
The disintegration of neighborhood and community makes it difficult for us to know how to care for each other; we are now relearning how to do that.
What does it mean to be a human being?  In America, you can't be successful unless you can consume or produce - but you still have value as a human being.
It's not just a warm and fuzzy garden; its about people becoming part of an ecological system.
Progress comes about via something new or rediscovering something old - and reinventing what you discover for today's world. 
It's important for change-agents to know the difference between "necessary" and "possible"; it's possibility that demands the most of us.
Detroit as the City of Hope - where people are creating hope for themselves.
Our right and our duty is to shape the world with a new dream, and to rebuild, redefine and respirit our city.

Check it out, and join me in working on this gnarly problem of language by sharing what this sparked for you or another resource that you have spotted that brings humanity into the center of the discussion about big thinking on small grants. 

1 comment:

  1. I, too, enjoyed this broadcast which I heard on WDET. Thank you for calling attention to the many nuanced insights of Grace Lee Boggs.