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RE-imagining Work at Detroit 2012

By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to The Michigan Citizen

RE-Imagining Work is an essential part of RE-Imagining Revolution. That’s why Detroit 2012 provided exciting opportunities July 1-15 for participants to re-imagine Work.

– Every morning participants could put on work gloves and go to one of Detroit’s ongoing community sites (e.g. Feedom Freedom Growers, Hope District, Heidelberg Project, D-Town Farm) to garden, do construction work, tear down an abandoned house or build a sewer.

– One Sunday afternoon, at the Church of the Messiah, participants observed teenage members of the Ypsilanti group DEDICATED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE working together joyfully and cooperatively because they were doing work they had chosen for themselves.

– They held mind-blowing conversations with the German philosopher Fritzhof Bergmann. He challenged them to recognize that the declining Job System is only a few hundred years old and also very dehumanizing and deskilling. It locks us into a machine and reduces our productive activity to what can be done by a robot. He emphasized the difference between a Job and Work, which is as huge as that between the limp of a Chinese woman whose feet have been bound since childhood and the running of an Olympic gold medalist.

So, the demise of Jobs is not the end of the world, especially since a new mode of production is now available. Bergmann explained how the new Informational technology enables local communities to produce for their own needs instead of purchasing these in the marketplace.

With this technology we can manufacture everything we need with the same ease with which community gardeners now produce their own food, writers publish their own books and filmmakers produce their own films.

In small workshops, on every block, in every community, we can produce clothes, shoes, musical instruments, electricity, microwave ovens, motorcycles, bikes.

We will no longer need large capital investments to create value-adding manufacturing in Detroit or any city. We will no longer be dependent on big box stores like Walmart.

In the process we will not only be producing products but new vibrant self-reliant local cultures.

Bergmann has been helping communities in Africa and Asia use Hi-Tech to build water-free toilets, their own houses and their own electricity.

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