Grace Lee Boggs was a deep thinker who turned problems and concepts upside down in her mind to see them from a new perspective. She knew that cities are fictions, stories that we tell ourselves about the land we live on. The thing about stories is that they can change. Revolution, which is essentially movement or change, is always happening. We might think of revolution as being a single moment in the history of a country, something quick that alters the political landscape, but Graces’ view of revolution was more expansive. She saw beyond the “r” at the beginning of the word and knew that making real, lasting change takes time – lifetimes even. Evolution was not just random genetic mutations and natural selection to her. It was a cultural process. Grace thought about the evolution of human beings to humankind through evolution and revolution. That’s why she asked us to “put the neighbor back in the ‘hood”.
In cities, we can unearth old stories to honor the original inhabitants of the land. We have an opportunity to flip the idea of cities from places of overcrowding to places of spaciousness, reflection, and possibility. We can turn the tables on pre-conceived ideas of land ownership and use. We don’t have to accept the script that has been written. Just by being good neighbors, caring for and respecting those around us, we can undo some harm. When, as individuals, we have more capacity, it allows our consciousness to expand until we realize the whole world is our neighborhood.
Grace would frequently ask us “What time is it on the clock of the world?” at those community dinners I used to attend in the early 2000’s. She mostly received perplexed expressions at the time, but her query has been resonating more lately. These past few years, the clock has seemed to spin unpredictably. The disasters we have experienced have brought out the worst of humanity. During our times of crisis, people were quick to blame and scapegoat each other. Disaster capitalists swooped in with their “free” market ideas, using other people’s suffering to privatize everything and make more money. Yet, we also saw some of the best aspects of humanity. Folks looked around and found solutions like mutual aid. They searched inside themselves and asked how they could help, and they did. From small acts of service to eviction moratoriums, great ideas have moved mountains. We mostly didn’t hear about it on the news. But when went looking for it, sure enough, just like Grace predicted, change came from the bottom up, moving and shaking and fiercely demanding attention. Our evolution is always ongoing, but there have been some remarkable shifts in awareness that can’t be undone. More now than ever, it’s time to evolve to another stage of humanity and bring a generous momentum toward humankind.
Printed by Ocelot print shop.