Grace Lee Boggs and Julia Putnam in front of teachers, staff, students and family at the first Grace Lee Boggs day celebration at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. Grace Lee Boggs turned 99 that day.
Love and Struggle is a film in progress about a school in urban Detroit using a placed based curriculum. The school is inspired by the work of activist philosophers Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs, who were mentors of the school Principal, Julia Putnam. From interviewing elderly neighbors, to researching the abandoned houses on their block, to following the life cycle of a puddle in a pothole, children are encouraged to ask questions about their daily experiences, think critically, and try their hand at solutions to the problems in the world around them. The school's mission: "To nurture creative, critical thinkers who contribute to the wellbeing of their community."
Grace Lee Boggs has said, "I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't live in Detroit". She saw Detroit as fertile ground for revolution, reinvention, a place to become, as she put it "solutionaries". Julia, the Boggs School principal, has made this the core of her daily work. Struggle isn't something to avoid, but something to welcome as part of a life worth living. The students at the Boggs School don't look past the tensions, contrast, and inequities in their life; instead they embrace them, question them, interact with them; a huge part of their curriculum every day is thinking about how to engage with and consciously be a part of community.
The feature film is in production. The following videos and photos were made to accompany a radio series for Michigan Radio by Zak Rosen, and will be part of the feature project.
This year something has changed. Julia Putnam feels like she's really become "a grown-up". Here, she reflects upon her first year as the principal of a new charter elementary school on the east side of Detroit, Michigan. The school is named after her mentor, Grace Lee Boggs, who she met when she was sixteen years old. Julia is now 38 and Grace is 99. We meet Julia, Grace, the students at The James and Grace Lee Boggs School and learn about their path "in love and struggle". For more on the Boggs school please visit: boggsschool.org
First day of school. Father and daughter.
Chris and Ariel are students at The James and Grace Lee Boggs School. They're best friends.
Grace Lee Boggs addresses the first class of students at the first year celebration of Grace Lee Boggs day at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School.
Whitney Walker is the Secretary at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit, MI. Her daughter Zoe attends the school. Whitney is also a poet. Here she reads a poem she wrote about her transformative experience working at the school.
A tender moment with Grace Lee Boggs on her name day at the Boggs School.
Bentley is a student in the kindergarten class at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School; a new charter school on Detroit's east side.
Grace Lee Boggs smiles at a Boggs school student on her name day.
The students and staff at The James and Grace Lee Boggs School take a walking field trip to The Heidelberg Project, and meet the artist, Tyree Guyton.
The Oral History Club at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School is a small, dedicated group of grade school students who stay after school to interview members of their community- most of whom have a relationship to the building they now call their school. The neighborhood that the Boggs school calls home is one that has faced a lot of challenges in recent years and its history, and inhabitants are rapidly disappearing. These conversations serve as a learning experience for the students, a preservation of history via anecdotal stories of the people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades, and, ultimately as a community building experience: brining the kids and elder members of their community closer together. Featured in the video are interviewees: Art "Red" Tabb, Tyree Guyton, Hali Giessler. Students include: Na'Kyah Ngozi Marie Adjuman, Lucia Putnam, Maya Nicole Wheeler, Jacob Michael Wheeler, Rene' McLemore. Special Thanks to: H. T. Ewald Foundation, Greg Katcher, Pewabic Pottery, Yoga’s 1000 Petal Lotus, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Avalon Bakery, The Red Hook, Bill Wanderwill, Bree Dominick, Atticus Keesling, Sindbad’s, Sister Pie, Detroit Vegan Soul, Seva, Marianne Feldman, Mama Hanifa Adjuman, Rebecca Wheeler, Joe Reilly.
Made for an event celebrating the Oral History Club's first semester at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit, Michigan.