Universidad Sin Fronteras
@African World Festival
August 17, 2014
Our Water, Our Culture: Detroit Water Forum was a full day partnership for popular education, media analysis, entertainment justice, and community building. Universidad Sin Fronteras Detroit Campus partnered with the 32nd Annual African World Festival and the People Water Board Community Action/ Education Committee.
First was a film screening. We showed “an extended trailer for “The Water Front,” then “Detroit Water Shutoffs” a moving film created earlier in 2014, followed by “Blue Gold.” This series of films highlighted local voice and leadership. It showed the antecedents of the current struggle in the Highland Park Emergency Management and Privatization struggle. We ended by placing the water struggle in an international and economic context so people could see the Detroit struggle is not an isolated incident.
Second was The Water Hour, a concert at the Next Generation stage featuring performances from Intellect, King Kold, Raiz Up, Young Educators Alliance, and Will See. Over 100 people listened to the music and poetry which spoke directly and creatively to the water struggle and decolonization.
The final event of the program was a popular education session where participants exchanged knowledge and contributed to collective understanding about the water shutoffs, their context in Detroit and shared personal and organizational visions for action.
What do you know about the shutoffs/ What does the shutoffs mean to you?
Creating Channels to access our humanity
People having to move out after water shutoff
How to expand our base
Build schools so that we can bring the info to the hood
Rural life getting water from well
Indigenous life honoring water as a common
Worked at polls on Election Day; people still didn’t know about Emergency Management
Human Rights calls for a new type of society. Need to make it more than just a phrase
Crisis has been created for the city of Detroit
Going Back into History:
White flight, Deindustrialization
Immigrant coming from Philippines: colonized by Spanish and Americas
Thinking we can control our way into the future
Knowing the water and plants is going to become more crucial as time goes on
Remembering knowledge of what is immediate around us
Water feels and has memory. H2O structure can respond to humanity and consciousness. Water memory can exceed supercomputers. Water is used as memory holding to spy on us. Place love and respect into the water.
Our water is filled with chemicals, drugs. Our water is a reflection of our humanity. What can we do to heal our water?
Working with hotline, working at water station. How we can connect with issues of people dealing with water being shutoff
Blue line in front of house represents houses cut off.
We have to do a lot more in community. This is the first try of that.
People are in shame because they can’t afford it. This is familiar so people don’t see the big deal. People who are paying their water bill who think people need to just pay up.
Feeling anxiety: people who still have sewage in their homes and don’t have water clean it.
Feeling anxiety: how to we get this knowledge out into neighborhoods
Barbershop talk of intentionally flooding sewage into our homes McNamara Oakland County “Blankets and corn”
How do you keep going? What choice do you have? Once I stop I will die.
From perspective of someone who works with Welfare Rights:
Met a woman raising 8 kids who lived without water from December to July
2 flushes of toilet per day
What are your next Steps?
Currently 17-20 THOUSAND people in Detroit without water
Aug 22: Interfaith Prayer Service connecting with Freedom Fridays
Aug 23: Chicago Water Workers Union caravan to Detroti
Aug 25: Moratorium Ends, 1500 shutoffs per week starts back up
Sept 12: retreat for water activsits (MI Welfare Rights, Peoples Water Board)
- Looking ahead for 6 months
Sept 27 weekend: Del Ray mural unveiling. Bringing together Indigenous, Women, EJ, Del Ray communities
Visions and Plans
Spiritual Space with Elders
Getting to know your Neighbords
Media Making (Raiz Up)
Classroom/ School/ University Instruction
School for young activists (Michigan Council for Human Rights)
PWB Community Education
Need more people to help w hotline
Connecting with suburban people without water; offering Water Affordability Plan as framework/ option
Continue Operating St. Peters Water Station several days/ week
Create information to connect EMF/ Bankrupcy/ water struggle
Talking about Direct Action
More work with Religious Leaders
North End Community BBQ (w/ National Lawyers Guild)
- Know Your Rights
- Direct Action Trainings
- Neighborhood Demands