Since State of the Re:Union is all about topics featuring people and communities turning broken realities into new beginnings, we thought it befitting to highlight this storyline. If it has a familiarity to it, it might be that the talented producer, Mr. Zak Rosen, spent some time with us at SOTRU as a radio producer. Even though his physical presence is elsewhere, his character still permeates the creative air that we breathe.
Now working independently, Zak is producing Work in Progress, a story about a Detroit auto worker who found herself crippled after suffering severe nerve damage from a traumatic head injury she received while on the job. The 50-year-old Gloria Lowe had to re-learn everything, from how to speak, to how to brush her teeth. She literally had to start completely over with just learning how to exist in life and how to be in the world. Doctors informed her that she would never maintain a job again. However, as the human spirit often does, she defied their life sentence and got back to work after two and a half years of recovery. This woman of fortitude did not return back to the auto plant, but rather became one of the leaders of a new movement that is taking shape in Detroit, Michigan. Block by block, the city’s residents are taking back communities that have been written off for some time.
Lowe started an organization, We Want Green, Too, that is dedicated to training Detroiters in how to reclaim their community. Now Through teaching people how to rebuild the homes that will create neighborhoods, Lowe believes that eventually this can revive her beloved city. She has firsthand knowledge of what it is to come back from a devastating blow. Now, without a whole lot of outside help she is at the she is at the leading edge of a movement that’s taking a stand for Detroit, a kind of DIY urban policy.
Work in Progress tells the story of how Gloria Lowe and a small army of dry-wallers, community gardeners, bakers, philosophers and other true-believers are working small miracles all over Detroit. This didactic narrative introduces us to some characters who follow Lowe’s lead in accepting the challenge in reinventing who they are. One such person is Edward Collins, a shift manager at Detroit’s On The Rise Bakery, which offers a culinary arts training program for Detroiters
reclaiming lives derailed by unemployment, crime and substance abuse. Another player on the stage is Grace Lee Boggs, a 96-year-old philosopher and political activist who has taken a part in almost every major social justice movement over the past 70 years. She still lives and works in Detroit and takes no exception when it comes to participating in this movement. It keeps her young.
While this story has a unique beginning, its ending is starting to find its place in a trending world. SOTRU loves to hear the stories that make up a community of doers dedicated to making change happen through taking the first step of faith. Everyone loves the stories that invoke the spirit of the Phoenix. We’d love to hear about yours. If you or someone you know have shared in a similar story or experience, we would love to learn about it.
You can watch or find out more about Rosen’s Work in Progress or the We Want Green, Too organization by clicking here.