Eco Media Justice Track at AMC 2011 provides good food and feelings

July 17, 2011

AMC 2011 goers enjoy the Field to Ford dinner at
Spaulding Court

 The Eco Media Justice Track at the 2011 Allied Media Conference featuring an Environmental Justice Tour by the Detroit Sierra Club and a Field to Fork Dinner was another big success in its second year. The track began with on the second day of the AMC with a filled-to-capacity Environmental Justice Tour and a Field to Fork Dinner at Spaulding Court featuring the Green Guerillas out of Ithica, New York.
This is my 5th year of involvement with the Allied Media Conference and have been amazed and pleased by its growth each year,” said EMEAC Associate Director Lottie Spady. “Not only was it the type of media organizing that is represented, but the holistic approach to justice work that is increasing its presence each year. This was the second year that the AMC featured an Eco-Justice Media Track and the first which specifically focused on food justice.”
The Sierra Club’s EJ Tour drew so many people that a significant number had to be turned away as a 50 passenger bus and two 15 passenger vans could not accommodate all the people wishing to attend the tour. The Sierra Club’s Rhonda Anderson, Spady and EMEAC Stand Up Speak Out Youth Leader Siwatu Salama-Ra each guided AMC attendees on the tour which visited the Detroit Incinerator, the condemned Michigan Central Train Station, the incomplete Ambassador Bridge and the industrial corridor of Southwest Detroit, which is home to several environmentally hazardous industries such as the Marathon Oil tarsands refinery, Great Lakes Steel, Severstal Steel, the Detroit Salt Mines, the Detorit Waste Water Treatment Plant and others.
Rhonda Anderson of Detroit Sierra Club's EJ Office speaks
to tour goers in Southwest Detroit  neighborhood
During the tour the buses stopped at a residential neighborhood particularly hard hit by pollution in the area before returning to AMC to close the tour with a healing circle conducted by the Sierra Club’s Michelle Martinez.
I thought the tour went very well,” said Anderson. “I regret we weren’t able to include all the areas we wanted to go to but the places we did visit were very poignant and impressionable on the participants.
“I think the opportunity to get off the bus and discuss what we were seeing was really good too. I also thin the healing circle to end it was excellent. After seeing so many negative things in the fight for environmental justice in Detroit people need something to lift their spirits and Michelle did a great job.”
The second day of the Eco-Media Justice Track saw approximately 50 people travel over to Spaulding Court where they enjoyed a tour of Brother Nature Farms by Greg Willerer before sitting down to a wholesome vegetarian dinner prepared by Chef Whitewater of New Mexico and Angela Newsome of the Peoples Kitchen of Detroit. During dinner attendees were treated to music powered by the Green Guerillas bio-diesel bus and an open mic poetry session.
Angela Newsom of People's Kitchen prepares dinner at
the AMC 2011 Field to Fork dinner
“I do think we are on to something with the Field to Fork Dinner and Open Lens/Mic Night though,” Spady said. “This year, in addition to the environmental justice tour that kicks off the Eco-Justice Media track, we had a youth food justice dinner at Spaulding Court featuring an interactive cooking demonstration by Chef Whitewater of Red Mesa Cuisine and Angela Newsom of the People's Kitchen Detroit.
“We saw firsthand where our food comes from with the tour of Brother Nature’s Farm then closed with a teen open mic with poetry and song. I am still hearing rave review of this event and the only challenges with it I see in the future will be how to accommodate the growing number of interested participants.”
Looking forward, Spady says EMEAC’s ReMedia program which she also directs is very much looking forward to future installments of the Eco-Media Justice track at future AMC’s.
“There were plenty of challenges in that we are national committee working largely via conference call to pull all of the details together,” she said. “There are always lessons to be learned around how to plan and prepare more effectively so things run smoothly, and ways to make it a more substantial yet enjoyable event for the youth.  
Leslie Jones of the Green Guerillas gives a tour of the GG's
bio-diesel, solar-powered mobile media lab. 
“I feel like we are really working to include the principles of environmental justice in the AMC and will continue to look for ways to challenge ourselves in this area. We are also mindful of how our activities can leave resources in the community that last beyond the conference. Next year we anticipate activities such as a composting toilet build and we hope to move the AMC into more of a zero-waste event.”
Leslie Jones of the Green Guerillas said she was also glad to see interest in the Eco-Media track grow so much in only its second year. Jones says that stretching the experience beyond the walls of the base of the AMC at Wayne State and moving out into the community could be a major reason why attendees are showing so much interest. 
"This is the second year that Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective both attended the AMC and worked with EMEAC to coordinate the eco-justice track," Jones said. "We subtitled the track Survival & Sustainability this year because we are steadily encouraging everyone to connect the dots between environmental justice, social justice, and all the other movements in between that challenge the status quo by promoting people over profits, relationships over isolation, and health over
"We experienced a growing interest in our track this year, receiving positive feedback from both the eco-justice tour of Detroit and the teen farm-to-fork dinner open mic/lens field trip. With the support of AMC, we were able to offer conference participants a unique opportunity to go beyond the four walls of Wayne State and connect with the local community in real time on real issues with real talk."
Jones added that the Green Guerillas and ReMedia look forward to the challenge of breaking new ground at AMC 2012. 
"We definitely want to continue to grow hands-on opportunities for participants to connect to eco-justice principles in their own lives," she said. "One of the things we are looking forward to for AMC2012 is a compost toilet community build to benefit Brother Nature's Farm (so he can host dinners like ours) and D-Town Farm (so they can save on porta-potty rental fees). This year we focused on food justice to promote the radical notion that we are what we eat. Additionally, our dinner was a zero-waste event. We did not even have a trash bag on hand! Next year, we want to take the conversation even further to raise awareness around resource use and waste. If we need to better understand where our food comes from, then we certainly need to be more cognizant of our waste stream. You cannot have one without the other. Connecting the dots, balancing the issues, moving past comfortable conversations, shifting our consciousness... AMC2012, here we come!"