Community Media Screenings

February 4, 2011

Community screening of “13 in the Hole” documentary April 25 at Redford Branch Library

April 6, 2012 Leave a Comment
Watch the Trailer
DETROIT – A special community screening of the documentary “13 in the Hole: A Story of Detroit's 48217” will take place on April 25 from 5:30 pm to 7:45 pm at the Redford Branch Library located at 21200 Grand River. The documentary takes a look at how residents on the blocks intersecting Pleasant and Leibold Streets were affected over a two-year period by Marathon Oil's daily shipping of over 3,000,000 gallons of waste water from its newly expanded tar sands oil refining facility, through the public water main running under Pleasant Street and to Detroit's Waste Water Treatment facility.
The documentary focuses on an area of 48217 called “The Hole” where 13 residents who were left behind following Marathon's 2009 buyout of the nearby Liddesdale block – making way for expansion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant's Combined Sewerage Overflow facility – continued to suffer from toxic gases identical to the ones used in the tar sands refinery process suddenly emanating from their basements. Caught directly between Marathon's new tar sands refinery and the city's new CSO, two of the 13 residents – Regina Smith and Adrienne Crawford – tell their stories about growing up in The Hole only to find themselves ignored and under siege when they joined other community members in protesting being literally poisoned in their own homes.
Mrs. Regina Smith resident of The Hole
“Some of the most important messages of the documentary are the clear connections that are made,” said Dr. Angela Allen, who worked on the project as part of the Detroit Future Media Workshops along side Dr. Conja Wright, Rhonda Anderson of the Detroit Seirra Club's Environmental Justice Office and EMEAC's ReMedia Program Coordinator Patrick Geans-Ali. “First, no one should underestimate the experience of a community resident and investment in community residents should be the first focus of any sustainable revitalization plan, including the advocacy and mobilization of residents in nearby communities.
“Second, that the knowledge that just one EPA regional staff person can have that impacts the ability of a neighborhood to gain justice. Third, all politics are local. What the conversations are here will be the same that will take place in Wiliston, North Dakota, in communities engaging fracking and other environmental justice impact policies shared by city, state, and federal engagement.”
With most authorities ignoring their initial complaints, residents of The Hole turned to the Sierra Club's Anderson and 48217 community activists like Theresa Landrum, Dr. Delores Leonard and Vincent Martin among others for support. The citizen-led movement eventually had to enlist the services of the environmental watchdog group Global Community Monitoring to prove their claims and win some measure of support from local media and political leaders. Even with that, Marathon has yet to reach an agreement to resettle many of the remaining residents of The Hole.
Detroit's 48217 zip code sits along the city's industrial corridor and was found to be the most polluted area in the state of Michigan and the third most polluted by a University of Michigan study. Residents suffer from disproportionately high levels of a complete range of health problems as a result. The documentary takes a look at one acute crisis situation as a means of bringing greater awareness to the environmental health hazards facing all of Southwest Detroit – if not the city as a whole.
“The most important part of working on the documentary for me was two-fold: one, listening to fellow activists and learning from them to be a part of putting this very important and timely story together,” said Dr. Allen. “Second, building the story from the perspective of the individual residents and connecting it to the larger local, domestic and international context is key. That's been my goal over 17 years of community development work, and it was fulfilling and rewarding to be a part of this project because there is so much more to be done.”
The documentary, which is still very much a work in progress, was produced as part of the inaugural Detroit Future Media workshops. The producers are hoping to get community feedback in hopes of making the project as historically accurate and socially responsible as possible.
“What I'm most looking forward to about the upcoming community screenings is the response from neighborhood residents who may be facing similar environmental and business relationship issues within their neighborhoods,” Dr. Allen said. “I think this is a great time to weave together stories across Detroit neighborhoods so business owners (corporate and small business) as well as city policy makers get a strong and clear picture from residents that the story of just a few residents in one neighborhood is representative of the disinvestment of an entire major metropolitian city. Investing in even just a few residents means investing in the quality of life of an entire major metropolitian city. It's about time community respect was honored.”

Youth Food Justice Taskforce launches at North End Garden

December 1, 2011 Leave a Comment
Ms. Sheila Johnson, Anthony Grimmett, Roger Boy
and EugeneMoore talk with community members
at the launch of the Youth Food Justice Taskforce
DETROIT -- The Detroit Youth Food Justice Taskforce officially launched on November 6 with a special work day event at the Moore Community Garden in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. Youth Food Justice Taskforce members were joined by the garden’s founder, Eugene Moore, other community members  and youth from the Five Elements Gallery in hopes of revitalizing a neglected community resource. 

“Of course we are just getting started,” said North End resident and co-founder of the Youth Food Justice Taskforce Anthony Grimmett.  “This is a time for learning before we actually go out and start making moves in terms of food justice. I’m really excited to get out and to do as much as I possibly can.”

Grimmett, EMEAC Volunteer of the Quarter Roger Boyd and DeRaina Stinson are spearheading EMEAC’s foray into developing youth leadership in the city’s food justice work. All three are on EMEAC’s Young Educators Alliance (YEA) Team and will be working on upcoming events like the YEA Team’s Feed One/Teach One event focusing on organizing a community response to the recently enacted public assistance cut offs. The group has also worked to put together a series of Family Dinner Night events with local schools like Palmer Park Academy and Nsoroma Institute. 

Eugene Moore of the Moore Community Garden
“They are really eager to take the lead and getting other young people to be a part of this organization,” said Sanaa Nia-Joy of EMEAC’s Greener Schools Program. “EMEAC is building up the foundation for the youth food justice taskforce. Once we have the foundational principles together and start deconstructing the Farm Bill, we’ll focus on developing a logo and trying to establish an online presence. Then, I think we will get more people in.”

During the launch the group worked on building a catch basin for the garden, putting the produce to bed for the winter and preparing the soil for the spring growing season. Their plan is to once again turn the garden into a valuable community resource by increasing the productivity of the garden and enlisting community members toparticipate in it’s upkeep. 

If all goes well, the group envisions the garden being a source of fresh produce for the local food pantry, The Storehouse of Hope. 

“The key thing was we focused on becoming more rooted to the Earth in that space where the garden is located,” Sanaa said. “We’ve put work into the community garden. We’ve put in a water catchment system, which is almost completed. We’ve put the garden to bed and we hope to expand the garden next spring to supply vegetables for the Storehouse of Hope. It’s just a few blocks from the garden.

Sanaa Nia Joy YFJTF EMEAC liason
“It went really well. I feel like it’s still in the process of jelling. We had the two young men that started this off with EMEAC and then the (Five Elements Gallery) came in with a couple of other youth. Our plan is to get the flyer out by December – especially to the Detroit Future Youth members that may be interested in participating. There were a lot of bright ideas that came out of the meeting with myself, Anthony and Roger. They are both artistic and they plan on creating somethings  for the Youth Food Justice Taskforce as an earned income strategy.”

“Maybe that’s something they can set up as a cooperative. They’ll have the pride of making money from something they would have created that takes food justice from an adult perspective to a youth perspective. That could really let them put their mark on it which is really what youth leadership development is about. We want to create an environment where young people can thrive by using their gifts and talents in a way that furthers the mission.”

Food Justice Taskforce debuts ‘Cook Eat Talk’ documentary and zine

August 18, 2011 Leave a Comment

DETROIT – Over 60 community members turned out to the historic Eastern Market on August 17 for the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce’s community screening of the “Cook Eat Talk” documentary and Cook Zine. Both the documentary and the brochure chronicle the work of the DFJT during the first-year planning phase of their work and leading up to a series of community engagement sessions aimed at addressing food security, sovereignty and justice issues in the future.
“I was very pleased with the number of folks that turned out – old faces and new,” said DFJT Administrator and EMEAC Associate Director Lottie Spady. “That really reflects the relationship building we’ve been doing over the past year and beyond.”
The screening was held at Shed No. 5 at Eastern Market. Community members enjoyed special food and beverages provided by DFJT Member, Peoples Kitchen Detroit. Peoples Kitchen also distributed copies of the latest Cook Eat Talk zine – version 3.0. The zine serves as a companion piece to the documentary and not only tells the story of the Food Justice Taskforce in words and stills from the documentary but also includes health conscious recipes from the community members and lists the 10 principles of food sovereignty.
“We wanted to share the story of the Food Justice Task Force and lift up some of the strategies that we’ve learned along the way,” said DFJT Coordinator Gregg Newsome of the Peoples Kitchen. “Cook Eat Talk is a community gathering facilitated and supported by Food Justice Task Force partners. Theses gatherings share a new strategy for mindful, respectful and mutually beneficial community engagement.
“For me, the emergent, non-prescribed format, was quite significant. I think that this was facilitated by our decision to embrace and celebrate each community’s invisible capital and honor their specific interests and self-identified needs.  Rather than entering communities with a cookie cutter program, Cook Eat Talk offers menus, choices and has a flexibility that communities and families need in order to establish a healthy relationship with food.”
Overall, DFJT members said they were pleased with the feedback from community members that attended the screening and look forward to the next phase of their work.
“I think they were received extremely well as seen by the number of peole that purchased zines,” Spady said. “We really wanted to make the zine assessable to everyone,
Some of the input that I got from the people that saw the documentary said that it brought the work to life better than a written report ever could. So, I was really pleased with how things went overall.
“Based on the community’s input gathered at each Cook Eat Talk session, the taskforce will be expanding into a network of community food justice hubs that will work on behalf of each community. We’re looking forward to that process and providing training and support to each of the local communities.”