Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« Begging His Pardon | Main | Bill Moyers Reads... »

When One Becomes Two...

Both Andy Stern and Grace Lee Boggs agree that when active, informed citizens band together with common cause, they can make a world of change:


I always listen to Margaret Mead who says never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has...

...We have seen incredible acts of courage and heroism by very small groups of people like in the civil rights movement...but we don't want small answers anymore. We don't want small changes.


I believe that we are at the point now, in the United States, where a movement is beginning to emerge... the present moment, is demanding that instead of just complaining about these things, instead of just protesting about these things, we begin to look for, and hope for, another way of living. I see the signs in the various small groups that are emerging all over the place to try and regain our humanity in very practical ways.

In your community, do you see signs of a grassroots revolution emerging?

We invite you to tell your stories about groups that you've joined or witnessed in your local communities that speak to this notion of informed citizens effecting change, one small seed at a time.

Photos: Robin Holland


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/189

Comments

In response to your request for Student Loan stories, the following.

Student loan # 1: Decided to go back to art school because people advised that I needed an MFA, if I wanted to support myself by teaching art. Needed to finish Bachelors first. Found out I needed more credits, some repeated, even though I already had 3 years credits toward a Bachelors. $5000.
Student Loan #2: Stuck financially in a small town in Northern California. Figured if I started an M.A. degree program there, I could transfer credits to another school in the system for MFA, use cash to get there. Became a father while in program. $20,000.
Student Loan #3: Got to MFA program, larger town, more expensive. Got degree. $20,000.
Got one parttime teaching job. Ended.
Took whatever jobs were available. Loans in deferral. Finally had to pay them. Now owe $47,000. Pay interest mostly payment of $360/month. I am 58 years old. Note to art student hopefuls: Do not take out student loans for degrees at the end of which there will be no job.


Mr Moyers, I took out a student loan-twice in the 1980's, which amounted to $3,000. Years passed. I consolidated my loan from a bank to the department of education. Made reduced payments. Stayed out of default. Long story-short. 2009-I now owe $20,000-mostly interest. Is there any help out of this situation? I am 58 years old. I will be paying this loan for the rest of my life.

dear mr. moyer i have a problem that i'm sure is not unique to me but frustrating to all that have or currently going thru the same nightmare. my wages were attached in 1986 for a student loan that i owned. when someone attaches your wages you never forget that. I paid $75.00 per month for 10yrs on a student loan of $7500.00. Now about three years ago some company that this loan was sold to says i still owe this loan. I went back to my employer for the records of the wage attachment put they claim it no longer exists. so i found an old pay stub that shows the wage attachment and sent a copy to the company making the claim and they refused to honor it as proof of what i was saying. they have taken my income tax return for the past three years. i need some assistance with this issue. i am unale to hire a lawyer so where do i turn. what do i do? can you help or advise me to where to go.

I was so invigorated by Ms. Boggs' incredible story. Just a few days after seeing her interview, I attended a training session by DART on how to leverage people power to prompt officials to respond to injustices. Since DART organizations develop their networks via local congregations (Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, etc), there was quite a discussion about the difference between mercy work (which religious institutions work very hard at doing) and doing justice. Being able to help drive a person to work is different than addressing the need for a better transportation system. Personally, I was so frustrated by the work I did tutoring people who could not read because it felt as though it was a drop in the bucket. Trying to fix the problem that our at-risk children are not taught using tools that are proven to work gives me a sense that we may actually be able to make a difference. At the end of the training session, several videos were shown where injustices were righted -- access to drug treatment in prison, access to local emergency care, etc. It's exciting to know that it can be done!

Mr. Moyers, thank you for inviting Ms. Boggs to your show and for having such a fabulous conversation with her. It continues to stay with me.

Wow! Grace Lee Boggs. It's okay that you're not a good housekeeper...I've never been so inspired to do something to change my community and my life. Thank you Grace and Thank you Bill Moyers for that wonderful interview with her. You're Amazing, Grace.

I really enjoyed Andy and Grace, one of your best. I worry that my mind won't be so alert as I continue to age. She was amazing. He was an inspiration. I don't know how much activism is occurring because I have had to pull in my own activity a bit due to illness in my family. I hope, pray, beseech the universe to give this country some assistance somehow. It's the way I felt during Viet Nam, somewhat hopeless. And all during that time we were fasting, marching, working for civil rights, working with students, who finally got active when Kent State happened. Thanks for what you are doing.

I really enjoyed Andy and Grace, one of your best. I worry that my mind won't be so alert as I continue to age. She was amazing. He was an inspiration. I don't know how much activism is occurring because I have had to pull in my own activity a bit due to illness in my family. I hope, pray, beseech the universe to give this country some assistance somehow. It's the way I felt during Viet Nam, somewhat hopeless. And all during that time we were fasting, marching, working for civil rights, working with students, who finally got active when Kent State happened. Thanks for what you are doing.

Thank you for the Grace Boggs interview.
There is much good work to be done. Child care, elder care, gardens,
infrastructure, caring for our rivers and forests and air. We are in a
crisis of want, not because we lack resources, but rather because we have
become a culture of Waste. And of course, war is the greatest waste of all.

GNP measures how fast we convert natural resources to landfills.

Why is it more acceptable to bomb cities and rebuild them to bomb them
again, than to expend resources to mend the roofs of the homes in our
cities?

There is no lack of good Work. There is a lack on governmental levels to do
the work that enriches the lives of the people, rather than the
corporations.

We must declare that Waste is the greatest sin, and war the greatest Waste
of all. Waste is a theft from our children and future generations.

War is obsolete. It does not work. It does not get us what we want or
need.

We must declare a new Bill of Rights for all People. We must proclaim that
all people have a right to the fruits of their labor, and no person has a
right to steal or use the labor of another human being for profit. To allow
the strong to take from the weak ensures a world of elites and slaves.

We must declare a Bill of Rights for all People to access to clean water,
good food, clean air and security. We must declare the resources of the
Earth as the commons that supports all life.

Exploitation of People and the Environment are two faces of the same
Pathology.

During your interview with Andy Stern you laughed and joked about how at least the job of a reporter could not be outsourced.

You were wrong. No one is safe.

I lost my job and watched as thousands of other high tech engineers lost our "safe" jobs overseas. With my career shot, I returned to school to start over studying journalism believing it was safe. Then I learned of the large numbers of reporting and production jobs moving overseas. I am no longer a journalism student.

I lived through the outsourcing process once and I won't do it again. I can tell you with complete certainty that if you want to be report on activities in America, or work for an
American paper, you better enjoy living in India. It's coming, it's real, it's happening now and it's going to hurt.

Here are some examples:

Calif. Web Site Outsources Reporting
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, May 10, 2007
(05-10) 21:08 PDT Pasadena, Calif. (AP) --
The job posting was a head-scratcher: "We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA."

Reuters to outsource Wall St news to India
Financial News (Feb 10, 2004): pNA. Reuters, the financial information group, is to take the trend of outsourcing jobs to India one stage further.The company, which is implementing a massive cost-cutting programme, is to trial the reporting of Western business news from a base in Bangalore.

What the legal journals are reporting this week
Allen & Overy; Lawweek.(Features).
London TimesFull Text :COPYRIGHT 2003 The Times
Byline: Linda Tsang
Up to 50 support staff at Allen & Overy could face redundancy after the firm's decision to outsource its document production department to India. The firm's operational services head, Steven Chemikeeff, said the move would give A&O a "seven-figure annual saving". (Law Society Gazette)

Two companies report outsourcing newspaper jobs
MediaBuyerPlanner.com and Editor and Publisher reported Monday that MediaNews Group Inc. has eliminated jobs in its East Bay newspapers, in several locations. The cuts were reportedly necessitated by a steep decline in the housing market in the Bay Area,...East Bay. Jobs were eliminated in the Contra Costa advertising production department, and its work will be outsourced to Express-KCS, a U.S. company with operations in India.

I apologize for the missing links - sources from an college online database, no link available.

I follow and respect your reporting but realize what happened here. You took for granted something almost everyone takes for granted, that their job is "safe." Until we as a nation realize that we need to place our people first and our companies second, no one will ever be safe. Outsourcing jobs and insourcing cheap labor helps the bottom line and the upper class. The rest of us just continue to lose until we remember that Democracy, not capitalism, governs and looks after the people of this country.

I was so inspired by the interview with Grace Boggs. I have been fighting against the Federal Highway Department and the Ohio Department of Transportation who wish to spend more than a billion dollars on a highway that divides the city of Cleveland from our most important asset -- Lake Erie and speed traffic that travels through the city en route to other locations. The effort is driving business out of an already shrunken city that is swirling in poverty. I have been fighting the plan to raze a modernist building for a new expensive County Administrative complex which is not needed. And I have been arguing that we need to allow citizen participation in our stormwater management issues by instituting softpath techniques like downspout disconnections. Today, watching this interview and reading the article in the Metrotimes, I am renewed. Though many people say that I am “all over the place”, I have never seen these efforts as disconnected. Cleveland like Detroit has suffered in the post industrial economy. There are signs of hope, but government is stubborn and cannot see potential in anything accept large development opportunities. Still, while they negotiate for Medical Marts and Convention Centers to line the pockets of the already filthy rich who fund their re-election campaigns, we meet to discuss phyto remediation options for the empty lots in the city that are riddled with lead and mercury, to redevelop abandoned buildings and reinvigorate neighborhoods. This story was an inspiration. I am encouraged to go on connecting the dots, to continue to drive the agenda that we live in and must seek a design for living from our ecosystem. Nature shows us the way on all levels -- neighborhood, metro area, regionally and as a watershed. A building is not different from a stream or a neighborhood or a region. We must crawl out of hiding assess what remains, what assets can be retained, restored, returned to their former uses and benefits. An associate many years ago suggested when faced with a huge problem to surmount, “Start where you are.” I can see that Grace has been doing just that – she, like Lily Yeh in Philadelphia, is an inspiring figure who makes it possible for us to continue to face the challenges everyday no matter how huge the obstacle of government and the corporate giants who would suck the life from our communities. Margaret Meade was right! I can see the vision of a green city on a blue lake emerging. And I can see that it will take the rest of my lifetime and longer to achieve this vision. Thank you!

What a wonderful interview with Grace Lee Boggs. If you read her autobiography: "Living For Change", you will note one of her greatest assets is just that: willingness to be open to change. It seems to me that is where the dialogue starts - the recognition that change always starts out small. I belong to a small non-profit housing corporation in Detroit. Our goal is change, one block at a time, by rehabbing abandoned houses and selling them to low-income persons, by having people in the neighborhood share their concerns and their visions with us. I see the promise that it brings. I also see the value of working with young people, especially city kids, helping them on their journey. My godson plays baseball for a City school. His coach is a police officer who coaches because he has the belief that young men need mentors and role models. (He says he would rather chase kids around the bases than chase them through the neighborhood trying to put handcuffs on them)
He has a profound effect on his players, one at a time.

So, I agree, that a beloved community can happen anywhere and is happening all over with people who recognize that we are the stewards of this earth, that we all breathe the same air, that we are all related by our humanity. That understanding can begin to break down the three evils: racism, consumerism and militarism. In a beloved community, we don't gather together because we have a common enemy, we gather together because we have a common humanity that transcends racial, religious, ethnic and geographical boundaries. We are not intimidated by fear but motivated by love for all persons (particularly those who appear to be our enemies).And, finally, I would say, Grace was very humble in not discussing her community involvement in Detroit: Detroiters for Environmental Justice, Detroit Summer, a program for young people created by Grace and her husband, Jimmy Boggs; her community art projects: elementary children painting murals on their school buildings and young people painting murals on community buildings; Save our Sons and Daughters: work to prevent young people killing each other, and so on.

I hope there will be a part two.

Should Libby serve time? No.

Libby was Cheney's right-hand man. Cheney and Libby were leaning hard on the CIA to manufacture intelligence to indicate Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Valerie Plame was the agent in charge of 22 agents who were interviewing Iraqi scientists and others to find WMD. She was an honest agent and refused to make up lies for the administration. As we all now know, the WMD was a lie as were all of the lies the Bush administration told to get us into Iraq and persue the most disastrous foreign policy in U.S. history.
Outing an undercover agent during war, is treason and a capital offense. The outing of Plame was treason by Libby.

Should Libby serve time? No. He should be hanged for treason.

Bill Moyers is without a doubt the most valuable journalist we have in this country today. Thank you for caring so much and thanks to PBS for carrying the "Journal". If human cloning ever becomes a practice, Moyers should be the first duplicate made.

I am glad that somebody is going to take Sallie Mae on. Bravo!
I got a student loan from this "organization" and it was considered student financial help.So far they have took from me $30 000.00 and only 9000.00 went toward the principal of the loan, rest of the money; 21000.00 "covered the interest". Embarrassing.

Andy Stern is such an inspiration and what he is doing is extremely necessary. I have lived outside the US for 30 years and each time I visit my (formerly) wonderful USA I see a third world country (compared to most of Europe). It is time that the 50's values of employer and employee respect (and reasonable income disparity not the outrageous differences of today!) are reinstated through Mr Stern's good work.
The disgusting way most workers are abused must be halted. So many people have to work at two or three jobs just to survive. I am actually surprised that Americans have been so patient with the system. Also I was unaware of the student loan problem - absolutely outrageous. In Europe governments recognise that it is necessary to invest in higher education through loans (UK following US) or grants which pay substantially towards the cost. If the US is to remain an economic force (not so sure it can continue) then it should invest in its people.

I live in central Massachusetts and just joined a group that hopefully will be a big seed of change. We met through meet-up.com and are all supporters of Presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul. What's really interesting about our group is that many of us came from other, small seed of change groups and the Ron Paul campaign is bringing us together.

I'm a founding member of a group called Central Massachusetts 9/11 Truth Alliance (www.centralmass911truth.org). We don't believe the 9/11 Commission Report and are calling for a new and independent investigation of what happened on 9/11/01. We meet at the library in Worcester, MA and show films
monthly to educate people about what happened on 9/11. Films like Loose Change, 9/11 Mysteries and 9/11 Press for Truth. We also pass out copies of these films on dvd's and join with other 9/11 truth groups in the area to promote larger events. Recently a similar group that meets just north of us had William Rodreguiz come to speak about what he witnessed on that day. He was a janitor in the World Trade Center towers and had the only key available for the stairwells in the buildings. He relates the information that bombs exploded in the basement of the tower even before the airplane struck it.

We also helped the Boston 9/11 Truth group carry out a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party in which we dressed in period clothing and threw crates filled with 9/11 Commission Reports into the Boston Harbor. The event got us some coverage in the Boston Globe and on the local nightly news.

In our campaign to get more members we attended local peace rallies to try and recruit peace activists to our cause. When you have the Bush Administration telling us that it's all about the war on terror and you don't believe what the government is telling you about the original terror event, you have to hope that peace activists might be interested in what you have to say. So some members of our group came from other peace oriented groups.

Our focus was originally just about 9/11 but as we met and learned more, we found that there were other lies being perpetuated by the mass media and government that we wanted to expose. We found a film produced by Aaron Russo called America: Freedom to Fascism and showed that film as well. That film is about the tax honesty movement. They believe that there is no written law passed by congress that requires the average American to pay income taxes on money earned for labor. This film introduced me to Ron Paul and his principled stand for the constitution.

So now I'm a member of two small groups and through the Ron Paul campaign was able to connect to other small groups in the area involved with the tax honesty and patriot movement. It is so powerful to see that people with different axes to grind and all kinds of political backgrounds are rallying behind Ron Paul because what we are really rallying behind is truth, the rule of law, and the constitution. This is what Ron Paul has consistently supported and why we are all convinced that he brings great hope for America at a time when we all feel so hopeless.

Lots of us really appreciate Bill Moyers work on the secret government and election fraud. All these issues tie back to the basic problem, that the rule of law and our constitution simply no longer seem to matter much any more in this country. We are hoping that a congressman who has earned the name "Dr. No" because of his principled stand on defending the constitution can bring about some revolutionary change.

We really enjoyed your program on the 15th with Grace Boggs, a witness to living with intention and awareness of those around you, and Andy Stern and his SEIU and his story and journey, both were so encouraging to my wife and I. The tunnel can get dark and it is so encouraging to see light shining in the tunnel. Each day is a new day and there are new possibilities each day. Thank your so much for your program and YOUR witness to tht truth.

Grace Lee Boggs...The Bill Moyers Journal thank you for having this wonderful Lady to express her lifetime ability to direct us in creating a whole new system within...World politics and local is increasingly fragmenting...its in all media subject matter to hype the differences in all of us...salutations Gary Alan Brumley

Dear Bill forgive me for taking space on your blog. promise this is my last note on student loan issue.

Dear anonymous,
you wrote:
"I would still be in debt for my entire life"

please try to think positive.

you do not know what is around the corner for you.

May be you should write a little book about your experience and sell it to the young students.

If you continue worrying like this you will jeopardize your most important asset: YOUR HEALTH

best wishes

I have investigated and dismissed the option of student loan consolidation. The trouble is that I would still be in debt for my entire life, even though I would pay much more with loan consolidation than with wage garnishment. Student loan income sensitive payments are bigger than what collection agencies are allowed to garnish from wages. Since my income sensitive payments would not even keep up with interest, this payment plan would continue for 25 years instead of the usual 20 years. Then after 25 years, I would owe the IRS income tax for the "forgiven" amount.

I will be 75-years-old in 25 years. I really should be trying to provide for my own retirement rather than devoting all my blood, sweat and tears to making some corporate profiteers rich!

I am convinced that the only solution is legislative change.

_Dear Bill, thank you again for another informative interview.

----
to the anonymous @ 02:50 AM

You are not alone. I worked 3 part time jobs (with minimum wage pay) and attended a university in the US. My income was not enough to pay my tuition, I could barely pay the rent, phone, and food. Therefore I had to borrow to pay my tuition.

Try to find out if you can transfer (consolidate) your loan to direct loan.

https://www.dlssonline.com/borrower/BorrowerWelcomePage.jsp

At least my interest rate has stayed around 8% after I finally got rid of Salie Mae.

As of now my balance is $115,076.12 and if I continue making the same payment of 600 to 700 dollars a month, I will be paying $249,253.18 until it is paid off! : (

The other disturbing experience with Salie Mae was that they transferred my student loans 3 times (to make money) before I got rid of them. Therefore, my credit report ends up being 3 times longer as the same loan is repeated 3 times!

Hope this helps you feel a bit better knowing that you are not alone.
With best regards


There are signs of grassroots revolution emerging, there are also signs of a top down change as well. Paul Hawken in "Blessed Unrest" lists some of the many worldwide organisations working for change. Personally, I see this time as the flowering of the seeds from the 60's.. its very exciting and I hope that the flowers bloom before the "poisons" kill.

Andy Stern and Bill Moyers talked about approaching Sallie Mae, the giant student loan corporation, regarding its plans to become a private equity firm and merge with other student loan lenders. The threat of this private merger being able to command higher interest rates for student loans was discussed.

I sincerely hope that people like me are not left out of this dialog. I took out student loans in the late 1980s and early 1990s for what, I was later devastated to discover, was a non-viable career. The original $100,000 in student loans have grown to over $250,000 from interest, penalties, and fees. This is in spite of my having repaid approximately 1/2 of the original loan amount. Under current laws, there is no way I will ever get out of debt.

This overwhelming debt burden has had profound effects on many aspects of my life. I have never been able to buy a house. I must permit credit checks when I try to rent an apartment or apply for a job. If I married, I would destroy my spouse's credit.

I have heard about the remedy of student loan consolidation with an income sensitive payment plan. Under this arrangement, given my current and expected income, I would never even keep up with the interest. After 25 years of repayment, I would owe income tax on the "forgiven" amount.

From talking to former classmates and surfing the internet, I've been finding out that there is a large class of people like me.

I am frequently criticized when I tell people about my debt problem. The most common criticisms are: "I don't feel sorry for you. No one put a gun to your head and made you sign for those loans." and "I am working hard and paying off my debts. Why should you get any special treatment?"

It is true that no one forced me to borrow student loans. However, my intentions were honorable. I really thought that I would be successful, pay the money back and get on with my life. One must remember: What is the point of student loans? Are they intended to help people get an education, improve their lives and thereby improve society? Or is the purpose of student loans to make a few people very wealthy?

I respect people who work hard and who are able to pay back their debts. I, and others in my situation, have also worked very hard, but due to numerous reasons, have become buried in unmanageable debt. I believe that we deserve respect too.

Here in Houston, TX, there are many grassroots movements that support the conviction that change is on the way big time. Just lately I can remember "Houston Janitors" support campaign, Lots of love (people cleaning up city lots in at risk communities), Save the Center (our center for the mentally redarded almost closed down, but due to the participation of people and media, the greed of the city was exposed and now the center is on it's way to purchase the land) the increase in numbers of participants at the local freecycle and craigslists websites..all of these indications that people do care about their communities, about the injustices that are going on around us, we are getting fed up with our drug of choice (consumerism). we do want a more integrated society (against racism), really desiring and engaging in change. In regards to the triplets: racism, consumerism and militarism, perhaps another reason why we do not have the type of necessary broad thinking that Grace has, is due to the compartmentalized culture/thinking that we find in America. I think we can all elect various triplets and their evil cousins. I agree more dialog needs to happens, in order to expose the evil and inform this young generation of "creative commons" to engage in changing our lives and communities. It has to start local. How else? If I do not live out truth in my house, how I can live this out in the community, city, state etc?

In regard to your comments on the lawyers the white house has hired to defend Libby, wouldn't it be interesting to know how many of them were graduates of Liberty University?

Andy Stern is a impressive person . I was not aware of the union he has started and I look forward to reading his book and following his progress. Ms Boggs is also quite impressive. Her life seems to have just flowed insync with the changing times. Her book as well will be a well worthwhile read.
I am in awe of both these valuable persons.

Post a comment

THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

THE MOYERS BLOG
A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

Your Comments

Podcasts

THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

Click to subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe with another reader

Get the vodcast (help)

For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ