New Work advocates for work that is meaningful, for the worker and the society, beyond a paycheck. New Culture calls for a community based on love and respect, beyond money, greed, violence, and competition. Think of Karl Marx for New Work and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the Beloved Community for New Culture. Think of the visionary Frithjof Bergmann for both—more about him later. And consider Detroit and other stressed cities as seedbeds of the New Era.
…after the enslaving subordination of individuals under the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished, after labor has become not merely a means to live but has become itself the primary necessity of life, after the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of cooperative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be fully left behind and society inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love—which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies—is the solution to the race problem.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
All around the world, the future of work, the transition to new forms of work, the absence of work, and the lack of the right training for work have become the most burning issues.
Please scroll down for photos, and then writing.
At a planning session, organizers of New Work New Culture:
At a party held at the Boggs Center celebrating the New Work New Culture conference:
Excerpts from my journal
October 18, 2014, Saturday, home in Cambridge
Phil’s sister Liz Downey is in Detroit [October 2014] for a conference about work connected with the Boggs Center and wrote me:
[My brother] passed along your email and I’ve been meaning to write you for awhile.
I’m attending the new work, new culture conference in detroit this weekend and I’ve you to thank!
I was reading up on israel palestine some months ago and stumbled upon your website. after delving into your writing and photos I came across your mentioning of grace boggs.
I quickly got ahold of her book, watched her documentary and then reached out to the boggs school.
I spoke with rich feldman over the phone and he convinced me that I should make a solid attempt at attending the conference.
so I’m going! and I couldn’t be more excited to hear people speak and be surrounded by genuine individuals who are interested in the same things.
I just wanted to reach out and thank you.
and any advice on what to see or do in the area would be great!
I did reply with suggestions.
November 13, 2014, Thursday, Detroit, Karen’s house
Last evening, something of a surprise and a minor coup, I attended a planning meeting following up from the New Work, New Culture conference related to the Boggs Center held last October. Liz had written me.
Me to Liz:
providential that you should write. thanks so much for your report. i plan to attend a conference follow up meeting tonight and meet some of the organizers, probably also hear their assessment. assuming this is ok with you i might pass along some of your comments. they plan a celebration which i hope to attend, if before i leave on nov 24.
i can understand what you write about finding a jumping off pt, esp where you are on the west coast. locating one’s passion is hard for most of us. it took me decades and some false beginnings—never wasted—before i found what i think is my true entry pt to activism and art. patience and counsel both helped me. a recently read book that helped me in broad terms is active hope by joanna macy. i recommend it, esp the exercises, all of which i did….
At the Jenin Freedom Theater event last week at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn I’d met a man with a bushy white beard wearing an Arab-looking cap, along with his French wife or partner or friend, who told me about a meeting this Wednesday at which Frithjof Bergmann, the founder of the New Work movement, would speak. After writing Rich Feldman who, being in Chicago, knew nothing about it but who posted the question to a list, I discovered where and when and what—and best of all, how to get there without biking or using public transport: Kim lives 4 blocks from me and drove me both ways. She, like others in this community, have been receptive, responsive, caring, and generous, enfleshing the principle of Beloved Community.
As we drove she laid out some of the thinking of the post Grace Lee Boggs plans for the Boggs Center succession or transition—primarily continuing the team approach they’ve used for decades, Grace herself an inspiration and icon, but not the only driver. Utilizing the network of other similar organizations that have formed over the years can broaden this collaboration. One aspect might be the group evolving from the conference that met last night.
They worked on administrative details like membership, funding, and program, deciding to present two programs in the near future, one a recap of Bergman’s thinking in a series of seminars or lectures (see the links below for this thinking), the other a celebration of the conference with a strong expression of gratitude. Both would serve to recruit membership.
I felt privileged to attend this meeting and photograph it even if the meeting itself—and the photos—might not be earth-shaking. Little by little, I am an infiltrator, I worm thru the political and social infrastructure of the Seeds of the New Detroit Miracle.
Arriving a few minutes early at the site in East Detroit, Red Door Digital, I spoke with Ulysses and Blair about racism in the city, how, if the leadership were more mixed, racism might not be so rampant. Blair told us about his project to portray the history of Black Panthers in Detroit. Soon he will go to Chicago to attend an honoring of Fred Hampton and will work on his project, if I understood him properly. I do not hesitate to engage with people of color, drawing on my “Struggles Against Racism” photo collective days working closely with people like Reggie Lewis, Lou Jones, and Don West, fellow photographers in the struggle.
November 15, 2014, Saturday, Detroit, Karen’s house
New Work New Culture is highly relevant to me and many I know. A good proportion of us, S particularly, is trapped in modest paying (or low), relatively meaningless jobs, unable to find a solution. S does interior design, reasonably close to her heart and talents; K writes and coordinates social media, and does some photography, all reasonably close to heart and talent. But neither job fully, deeply, passionately, satisfies their deepest centers. They wish for more. Thus, New Work, a changed perspective about meaning in work—and the role of work in society—and better yet—since I’m sure this insight is widely known—a network, slowly emerging, that might support the quest to follow one’s bliss. Thus Liz’s advocacy for a support mechanism in the form of at least a functional website.
I am graced by my position in life. Perhaps I am unrecognized to the extent I might wish (I withered during Corine Vermeulen’s presentation at the Detroit Institute of Art, but rallied eventually), not shown, not financially remunerated as I’d like, but alive, working, free. Not a bad station in life; not ideal, but manageable. I do not usually lose sleep over my position.
November 18, 2014, Tuesday, Detroit, Karen’s house
Kim invited me to the New Work celebration tomorrow, offering a ride since she lives only 4 blocks from me. I accepted and told her about the Reverend Pinckney talk and rally which apparently she did not know about. She agreed to attend and drive me. She also invited me to a string of events on Thursday, but I plan to work with Karen on the house and then drive to Ann Arbor.
She is tall, nearly my height, black, maybe in her 60s, a retired physical education teacher I believe. She is now very active with New Work, having understood the importance of political activism relatively late in her life. She is close to the Boggs Center.
November 20, 2014, Thursday, Detroit, Karen’s house
A big celebration last night at the Boggs Center to honor and thank the organizers of the October New Work New Culture conference. About 20 people eventually showed up, some only for food (delicious Mideast food from Harmony Gardens in Midtown), including Blair Evans who I’d like to meet more privately, Sophia and her son Nils from the UK, Bart who runs a school program featuring hands on learning, Rich Feldman who I’ve known since attending one of his tours during summer 2010, Frithjof praising my photography, Jamal who explained why he refused permission to photograph him at the Red Door Digital meeting, and others.
A fine time to build those connections, such as with Bart, for later photography. And to dig a little deeper into the culture of New Culture itself, who people are, what the mission is, why bother.
I can imagine working more closely with Bart. He bases his pedagogy on the apprentice model, orients the education to employment, works with high school students within the public school system. He promised to send me information.
As we arrived during the snowy afternoon a man with a snow shovel asked if we wanted the sidewalk cleared. Perfect timing. How much? Kim inquired. You set the price, anything fair, I’ll trust you, he answered.
I recall that during one of my most dire moments Y suggested I turn myself into a neighborhood snow shoveler. This fellow might be a former teacher out of work, or construction worker, or even a photographer who couldn’t make his trade and passion pay.
Kim drove me both ways, thru the snow. We arrived early and set up, me on coffee. And cleaned up, me on the broom.
To thank her I gave her a recent photo from Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick Massachusetts, the long view of tree, pond, man sitting on a bench. (I’d give another from this set to Colin, boy on boardwalk at Broadmoor.) She phoned after dropping me off, thanked me and asked me to tell her about the photo. She then confided that she loves trees. (How did I know? Good guess.)
November 22, 2014, Saturday, Ann Arbor Michigan, Remley’s house
I dreamt I met with a group of investigators or testers. I was to speak on the theme of variations or choices (not clear which in my memory). The investigators included triplets, 3 adult men looking exactly alike. I expounded on the New Work New Culture theme until they stopped me and told me, you’re speaking to the wrong theme! I felt this dream was good preparation for my actual discourses on the subject (as I’d given in brief form earlier to my Ann Arbor friends, Anne and Fred Remley)
TO BE CONTINUED
AlterNet Covers NWNC 2014 Conference (Is New Work an Economic Theory?) by Mark Linsenmayer
Can New Economic Model Save Detroit From Financial Collapse? by Terrell Jermaine Starr