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"I consider my life story as part of the worldwide struggle for freedom. As a Black from South USA and a Black auto production worker in Detroit, my experience has proved to me that history is the record of the fight of all oppressed people in everything they have thought and done to try to get human freedom in this world. I’m looking forward to that new world, and I firmly believe it is within reach, because so many others all over the world are reaching so hard with me." – Charles Denby, “Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal”

--Tom Stephens 01:03, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

From: Thomas Stephens <> Subject: Mayor Bing's Open Letter To: Date: Sunday, August 30, 2009, 9:42 AM

Mayor Dave Bing is to be commended for his call to redefine leadership. However, one wonders what, if anything, he actually plans to do (beyond cutting the city budget) to effectively lead and address Detroit 's crisis.

Detroit has been the poster child victim of adverse global political economic trends for decades: corporate globalization, off-shoring, deindustrialization, union-busting, institutionalized racism and a litany of other corporate abuses. With the global economic crash of September 2008, D etroit has become Ground Zero for an incredibly profound global social, economic and ecological crisis around the quality of working peoples’ lives.

Even more than all of this, which is truly saying something, no one in power or in charge (prominently including Mayor Bing) seems to have a clue what to do about any of it, beyond repeating the same tired clichés and futile “business friendly” bromides that brought us to this disaster. The bulk of our corporate and political best and brightest simply promote themselves, and try not to get caught up in what passes for “scandal.” The real scandal goes on all around us in our accelerating socio-economic, political and environmental health crisis, deeply rooted in our governing institutions and the ways we get our daily bread, live our daily lives, and empower our official leaders. New leadership for sustainability and quality of life, yes. Continuing the long-established policies of favoring corporate welfare over that of ordinary Detroiters, absolutely not.

Detroit 's crisis is much broader and deeper than Mayor Bing's open letter admits. The environment is literally melting, raining, and threatening an apocalypse, unless we change everything about the way we generate, distribute and use energy – in other words, everything we do - right now. Facing inseparably connected crises of our economy and our ecology will take much more than finger-pointing rhetoric, municipal budget-cutting, and hiding behind retread appointees from previous, corrupt administrations. So far, unfortunately this has been the limit of Dave Bing's mayoral "leadership."

Detroiters are already feeling the pain. We know we will feel more, much more than Mayor Bing and his inner ring of appointees, most of whom have long held great influence in the city throughout the period of narrow-minded and short-sighted "leadership" that led to this debacle. We demand more from the Mayor than blaming other leaders and gutting services we depend on to save our city from catastrophe.

On the subject of redefining leadership, the second US Social Forum is coming to Detroit , June 22-26, 2010. Tens of thousands of activists and awakening people will come here to witness the spectacular ruins of the Rust Belt, and the stirrings of its transformation thru struggle into the Heart of America’s North Coast in the new millennium of freedom and justice.

The US Social Forum (USSF) offers an open space and a process for creating movement convergence and coordination across many struggles, sectors, regions, and rich diversity. The USSF lifts up the voices and demands of working people and youth at the grassroots in building for fundamental transformation in the 21st century. The US Social Forum develops and models structures and processes for inclusion, participation, self-organization, collaboration, and collective reflection. The Social Forum process seeks to create movement infrastructure, capacity, and resources. The USSF process can be a space to communicate and educate, organize and mobilize within the broader society, and with partners in the Global South, toward another United States and another world, deepening shared political practice and strategy to make it a reality. Now that's a new kind of leadership.

The new, redefined leadership is coming from the grass roots. If Dave Bing wants to be a successful mayor and help resolve Detroit 's crisis, he should learn this lesson immediately. The budget has to be cut, but those cuts shouldn't target the most vulnerable. And the mayor should be listening to more voices than those who led us into this in the first place.

Tom Stephens 4595 Hereford Detroit --Tom Stephens 13:48, 30 August 2009 (UTC)