Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dreaming a Garden in Detroit (#21)

One of the things that has brought me to Detroit so many times was my work with Nobuko Miyamoto and Great Leap.  In my 8 years that I worked with Great Leap, one of my highlights was the many times I got to travel to Detroit to get to know Grace Lee Boggs, who I've mentioned in this blog many times, and inspired by Grace's commitment to community building through murals, gardens, the arts, and by making small individual changes that help transform and build communities from the ground up.  

Tony & I spent several summers with Detroit Summer, hauling hay, painting buildings, making connections.  So when Nob dreamed up the "I Dream a Garden" obon song and dance, we leapt into action.  8 years ago, we created a Harvest Circle Dance in celebration of the life of master gardener  Gerald Hairston, and a true gardening angel, with hundreds on a small corner at Genesis Church in Eastern Detroit, blocks away from thousands of vacant lots and empty houses, and just down the street from the Boggs Center, where Grace lives.  You can read about it on the old KuidaOsumi website here.  There's a few other articles on that URL I had written about my travels to Detroit and my experiences with gardening and activism.

Fast forward to 2010.  We were able to bring Maiya for the US Social Forum, and to be part of the re-create the "I Dream a Garden," as part of the USSF.  Nobuko was invited by Genesis HOPE, a nonprofit organization based out of Genesis Church that is working with youth on the East side of Detroit.  Also, our friend Ashley Kyber, who we had worked with back in 2002, also came back to add to the beauty and physicality of the "I Dream a Garden" project.

Genesis HOPE girls in their Sesame Street moment
 Tula & Maiya in matching Hello Kitty jinbei
 Nobuko with her son Kamau, 4 grandchildren, Tula & Maiya 
We'll call this Nobuko & the Grandkids Band 
since she took one look at the girls in their outfits and 
gave them a drum and tambourine to join along.
 The Griot stage built by Ashley's team (in white dress with baby on back)
 Grace Lee Boggs, Detroit's finest Griot at 95 years young
 Nobuko leading the Harvest Dance 
Native American Friendship Dance, part of the "I Dream a Garden" dance
And finally, here's a little video clip of the Sistahfriends.
It sums up our trip and the cuteness in a nutshell.

So, stay tuned for one last installment of our trip to Detroit.  And maybe a few more videos if I can get it together.  NaBloPoMo#21

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