Communities Across US Stand with Those Impacted by Sandy

November 7, 2012

To add your organization’s name to this statement, email

We, community-based organizations and movements across the U.S. who are working for a Just Transition out of the climate crisis, stand in solidarity with the communities hit by Superstorm Sandy. We mourn for the lives lost in Haiti, Cuba, Canada, New York, New Jersey and all areas impacted by the storm. And we are inspired by the many expressions of solidarity as people work to care for one another under extremely challenging conditions.*
NYSE shut down by Sandy. Photo credit: AP

While millions were impacted, we know that people of color and low-income communities bear the brunt of extreme weather events as they often reside in unprotected areas stripped of wetlands and other protective natural barriers, and/or are contaminated by storm surges through toxic industry sites. In Haiti, when Hurricane Sandy hit, hundreds of thousands had only the shelter of makeshift tents since the January 2010 earthquake destroyed existing housing.

As we learn the full extent of damage from this huge storm, we are struck by the need for our communities and movements to prepare for rapidly changing conditions.

From Haiti, Ricot Jean-Pierre, Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA) tells us, “the damage from hurricane demonstrated how the environment in Haiti has been destroyed by neoliberal policies that disproportionally affect the poorest of the poor. Now, it is only through SOLIDARITY with one another and engagement with all sectors–popular movements, women’s movements, peasant movements, youth movements–that we will transform our environment, protect life, and preserve our right to sovereignty in the places where we live.”

There will be many more shocks—acute moments of disruption such as extreme weather events—and slides—incremental disruptions such as sea level rise that play out over longer timeframes in devastating ways, if we are not prepared. The question is, how can we prepare to harness these shocks and slides to win the shifts we need in favor of people and the planet?

For decades, scientists have been warning those in governance about the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and about the potential impacts from climate change on different regions. But the politicians have been both silent and stuck.

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, James Hansen at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York blamed climate change for excessive drought, based on six decades of measurements, not computer models: “Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

“Communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis have never been silent about the solutions that will save our planet and our soul as a society,” says Cecil Corbin-Mark of WE ACT for Environmental Justice in West Harlem. “We have advocated for bus rapid transit, affordable safe housing and resilient communities, green jobs through public investment, and policies that cut and eliminate carbon.”

Yet the failure to take climate change seriously has hampered our ability to effectively respond to these predictable shocks.

The post-Sandy activity on the ground has already exposed the incompetence of governments to respond effectively – particularly to needs in working class communities – and, in its place, grassroots , community-based efforts are springing up to provide basic needs and resources to communities in true acts of resilience.
CAAAV providing food and water to Chinatown &
Lower East Side residents. Photo credit: CAAAV

Says Helena Wong of CAAAV, “Today, we showed that the power of community can hold us together even through the toughest of times and it was done with lots of love, laughter, and hard work. Today, it was clear that even if City leaders do not acknowledge the work that we have done, we know we reached the people who needed it.”

An October 2012 comprehensive survey found that some states and cities around the country are beginning to draw up plans, but they’re nowhere near sufficient. “Most adaptation actions to date appear to be incremental changes,” the survey says, “not the transformational changes that may be needed in certain cases to adapt to significant changes in climate.”

While elites have been silent or stuck, grassroots forces in New York and New Jersey have been loud and clear on the path for real solutions:
  • WeACT in West Harlem has been fighting for bus-rapid transit for public sector jobs, healthy communities, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Right to the City and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance groups like CAAAV, Picture the Homeless, Make the Road, and many more work to end displacement and economic inequity—both of which are integrally connected to climate change.
  • The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance‘s  Waterfront Justice Project - NYC’s first citywide community resiliency campaign - has continued working to protect NYC communities from the compounded burden of toxic inundation when storm surges like Hurricane Sandy hit.

Here are a few key facts about the factors that created this Superstorm Sandy:
– 2012 broke all records for melting of Arctic sea ice
– Sea levels in the Northeast U.S. are rising 3-4 times faster than the global average; they are already 9-10” higher than in 1900.
– Higher sea levels mean far greater flooding impacts in low-lying urban areas.
You can see how a combination of rising sea levels, tides, and storms could affect different parts of the United States with this helpful GIS mapping tool from Climate Central.
– Melting Arctic ice also creates negative pressure in the jet stream, forcing large cold air fronts to move south
– Temperatures in the Northeast are 5 degrees warmerthan usual. Warmer air holds more moisture which means more rainfall.
– Warmer ocean temperatures add more energy to storms.

The efforts of these grassroots and indigenous groups are charting a path to new economies defined by public transit, zero waste, community housing, food sovereignty, wetlands restoration, clean community-owned power, and local self-governance. These efforts foster community resilience – critical to weathering the shocks and slides ahead.

The key to surviving these events and rebuilding thereafter relies on the creation and implementation of community-led solutions that value the lives of people and the health of the environment.  This means transitioning out of an economy that makes some populations and communities vulnerable at the expense of others and toward an economy that works for people and the planet.

The days, weeks, and months ahead will be full of decision-making about how to invest precious resources in the reconstruction of communities. The voices of those working for root cause solutions must be heard! Community-led solutions will break the silence and move us toward a just transition.

* The organizations circulating this statement are working together to develop a Just Transition Campaign to create public sector jobs for zero waste, food sovereignty, local clean energy, public transit, and healthy communities. We welcome other organizational sign-ons by emailing

Just Transition Campaign Organizations:
Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), Boston, MA
The Alliance for Greater New York (ALIGN), NY, NY
Alliance for Appalachia
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), California
Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC), Black Mesa, Arizona
Communites for a Better Environment (CBE), California
Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (CEED), Minneapolis, MN
Community to Community, Bellingham, WA
Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), Washington DC
Energy Justice Network (EJN), Philadelphia, PA
East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), Detroit, MI
Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)
Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), Burlington, VT
Grassroots Intl, Boston, MA
Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
Institute for Policy Studies Sustainable Energy & Economy Network (IPS-SEEN), Washington DC
Just Transition Alliance (JTA)
Jobs with Justice
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), London, KY
Labor Community Strategy Center (LCSC), Los Angeles, CA
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Chicago, IL
Movement Generation (MG), Oakland, CA
Movement Strategy Center (MSC), Oakland, CA
NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NY-EJA), NY, NY
People Organized to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER), San Francisco, CA
People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), San Francisco, CA
Rising Tide North America
Right to the City Alliance
Ruckus Society
Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Albequerque, NM
Southwest Workers Union (SWU), San Antonio, TX
US Food Sovereignty Alliance
Vermont Worker Center, Vermont


With the help of over 100 volunteers, CAAAV is distributing supplies directly to residents of high rise buildings who are still without power, checking on elderly residents, and helping people reconnect. Please send donations directly to them or other grassroots providing direct support:

Call for Entries

October 23, 2012

Green Screen Youth Film Festival

Deadline: November 2nd for 2012 

Entries are being accepted through November 2nd for the sixth-annual Green Screen Youth Environmental Film Festival sponsored by East Michigan Environmental Action Council. The 2012 Green Screen will be held inside the D. Blair Theater at the Cass Corridor Commons on Saturday, November 10, 2012. The event will be preceded by a special Green Room gathering, panel discussion on youth media and refreshments.

First prize:  $200 and the opportunity to work with a local filmmaker and local artists to create a unique video project!!

Films may be up to 5 minutes in length. Film must be about an environmental issue facing your community, city or county. Topics may include but not limited to environmental health, alternative energy, healthy food choices, recycling, climate change, stream and wetland protection,or trash/recycling. Film must be suitable and appropriate for an audience of all ages.

Films may be live action, animation, claymation, still photography or any combination. Films may be PSA’s, commericals, documentary, performance, talk show, music video, or poetry.

Entry must be playready on a DVD (if you have formatting questions, other  call the EMEAC office in advance and we’ll help you out). Entry must be labeled with film, title, filmmaker's name, e-mail and phone number.

These films may be used as educational tools for future environmental education presentations.

Participants must fill out and return an application form.

Final film submissions must be received at the address below by November 2nd, 2012, 5:00 PM.

c/o Green Screen Contest, 
4605 Cass Avenue, 
Detroit, MI 48201.

e-mail Lottie for an application or call 313.354.4469.

Join us for Green Screen 2012!

Join us for Green Screen IV!

In 2007 East Michigan Environmental Action Council hosted its first ever Green Screen Youth Environmental Film Festival.  Green Screen is a celebration of youth voice and emerging environmentalism.  The short films were created entirely by young activists and aspiring young activists, and span environmental and social consciousness.  Since 2007, the festival has grown each year to include more youth media art and a wider range of topics that young people feel are most critical to the improvement of the areas in which we live, play, learn and work.

This year promises to be even more amazing than before with the addition of a youth panel discussion on how to make media and local food taste fest.  

Submit a Video

We are still inviting video submissions created by young people.  So if you are a youth and have a video that you made about an environmental issue facing your community, city, nation or world, click here to learn how to submit it .

Be a Sponsor

We would like to invite YOU to sponsor for this year's Green Screen IV.  Consider donating  $100 - $200.  If an event sponsorship is not possible this year for you or your organization, please consider a sponsoring a youth film for $50. All sponsorships will help to defray the cost for the actual event and go towards next year's youth film programming.  

As a sponsor, you will demonstrate your support for the education, health and well-being of Michigan youth.  Sponsors will be prominently recognized both at the event and on EMEAC's website.

Sponsorships can also easily be done on-line by clicking DONATE  and indicating this is for Green Screen Sponsorship in the “designation” box. 

We ask that you let us now by November 2, 2012 if you will be able to participate as a sponsor. Please contact Kim Sherobbi at 313-478-7610 with any questions. 

Thank you for your consideration and continued partnership! 

Commons Partners

October 19, 2012

Detroit Grassroots Cultural Arts Center

The DGCAC will serve as a The DGCAC will serve as a multicultural visual, performing and literary arts center that provides access to information, equipment, services, and programming to members of the community.  Activities are designed to educate and encourage grassroots activism while creating a community space that supports diverse progressive arts for Metro Detroit residents of all ages and backgrounds.

East Michigan Environmental Action Council

Fender Bender is an inclusive bicycle building and mechanic training organization with focus on creating a safe and nurturing space for women, trans and genderqueer people to learn bicycle repair skills not only as a means of transportation but also as a tool to address relevant social issues.  

Media Arts Cooperative

The East Michigan Environmental Action Council in partnership with the Detroit Media Economy Collaborative have formed a cooperative that will train multimedia educators and producers, provide budget friendly studio space to Detroit based artists as well as host and co-create a multimedia arts cooperative. Once prospective cooperative members demonstrate proficiency and have a solid plan for success, EMEAC will support the development of a revenue generating cooperative that specializes in the development of fine art and multimedia products.

People’s Kitchen Detroit emerged from the work of Detroit Evolution, which helped to create a space where community members shared tools, techniques, information and inspiration to create sustainable lifestyles and practices. Founded by Angela and Gregg Newsom, the People’s Kitchen Detroit (formerly Detroit Evolution), believes that having safe, healthy and affordable food options, so the community itself can be healthy, is a basic human right. Its vision is to create a safe, healing space in which Detroiters can reconnect with their community, the earth and themselves, and to learn how to step down from the high stress, destructive and unsustainable nature of the standard American lifestyle.  

What are the CCC?

The Cass Corridor Commons

EMEAC is committed to cultivating a shared space called The Commons.  The Commons is intended to serve as a multi-use non-profit and green space in which educational activities, community efforts and business endeavors are created and carried out. Our vision is to transform the Unitarian Universalist office space – that was donated to EMEAC in 2011 – into a multi-use office space and community hub that embodies principles of shared space, environmental justice and social justice principles.  We intend to use the space in the following ways:
  1. Office space for East Michigan Environmental Action Council and several grassroots organizations with which EMEAC collaborates.
  2. Space for entrepreneurial ventures by grassroots collaborative partners.
  3. Community space for grassroots activities and events.

The idea of the Commons emerged from the United States Social Forum held in Detroit, MI in June 2010.  Several organizations that played an important role in the planning and implementation of the USSF – including the East Michigan Environmental Action Council [EMEAC], Detroit Women of Color Film Festival, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network [DBCFSN], Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization [MWRO] – continued meeting after the USSF to discuss its impact on and legacy to Detroit.  A common theme of these ongoing conversations involved the many ways that Detroit residents were inspired to get involved in revitalizing and uplifting Detroit communities.

After many discussions with one another and feedback from USSF attendees, as well as observations and critical analyses of the outsider-led Detroit revitalization initiatives (which systematically deny input by grassroots people and organizations), recommendations to positively impact the city of Detroit and its residents were identified.  One recommendation was to create and support a commons, or a publicly owned/held shared space; especially timely given the determined effort to gentrify various neighborhoods in Detroit, thereby displacing people and businesses/organizations that have served them for years. In the meantime an opportunity opened to submit a proposal to the Unitarian Universalist Church to assume ownership of its 3-building complex.  EMEAC prepared a proposal that was accepted in June 2011.  Since then we have been working to develop the concept and practice of a Commons.

We consider the creation of the Commons to be an important contribution to community advocacy and movement building in the city of Detroit, particularly as it is located in the heart of rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  Though still in the early stages of development, Commons members are furthering its development by creating values and principles, as well as processes for shared decision-making, care for the building, making repairs and renovations, offering programs and engaging the community...among other things. We look forward to fully realizing what we consider to be a powerful alternative to an economy in crisis. 

Digital Justice Principles

Digital Justice Principles

  • Digital justice ensures that all members of our community have equal access to media and technology, as producers as well as consumers.
  • Digital justice provides multiple layers of communications infrastructure in order to ensure that every member of the community has access to life-saving emergency information.
  • Digital justice values all different languages, dialects and forms of communication.

  • Digital justice prioritizes the participation of people who have been traditionally excluded from and attacked by media and technology.
  • Digital justice advances our ability to tell our own stories, as individuals and as communities.
  • Digital justice values non-digital forms of communication and fosters knowledge-sharing across generations.
  • Digital justice demystifies technology to the point where we can not only use it, but create our own technologies and participate in the decisions that will shape communications infrastructure.

Common ownership
  • Digital justice fuels the creation of knowledge, tools and technologies that are free and shared openly with the public.
  • Digital justice promotes diverse business models for the control and distribution of information, including: cooperative business models and municipal ownership.

Healthy communities
  • Digital justice provides spaces through which people can investigate community problems, generate solutions, create media and organize together.
  • Digital justice promotes alternative energy, recycling and salvaging technology, and using technology to promote environmental solutions.
  • Digital justice advances community-based economic development by expanding technology access for small businesses, independent artists and other entrepreneurs.
  • Digital justice integrates media and technology into education in order to transform teaching and learning, to value multiple learning styles and to expand the process of learning beyond the classroom and across the lifespan.

Food Sovereignty Principles

Food Sovereignty Principles
from La Via Campesina (

1. Food: A Basic Human Right  

Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.  

2. Agrarian Reform  

A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.  

3. Protecting Natural Resources  

Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agrochemicals. 

4. Reorganizing Food Trade  

Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.  

5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger  

Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.  

6. Social Peace  

Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.  

7. Democratic control  

Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision making on food and rural issues.  

Environmental Justice Principles

Principles of Environmental Justice

Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24-27, 1991, in Washington DC, drafted and adopted 17 principles of Environmental Justice. Since then,The Principles have served as a defining document for the growing grassroots movement for environmental justice.


WE, THE PEOPLE OF COLOR, gathered together at this multinational People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, to begin to build a national and international movement of all peoples of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, do hereby re-establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of our Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world and our roles in healing ourselves; to ensure environmental justice; to promote economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally safe livelihoods; and, to secure our political, economic and cultural liberation that has been denied for over 500 years of colonization and oppression, resulting in the poisoning of our communities and land and the genocide of our peoples, do affirm and adopt these Principles of Environmental Justice:

1) Environmental Justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction.

2) Environmental Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.

3) Environmental Justice mandates the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things.

4) Environmental Justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing that threaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food.

5) Environmental Justice affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples.

6) Environmental Justice demands the cessation of the production of all toxins, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials, and that all past and current producers be held strictly accountable to the people for detoxification and the containment at the point of production.

7) Environmental Justice demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation.

8) Environmental Justice affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment. It also affirms the right of those who work at home to be free from environmental hazards.

9) Environmental Justice protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages as well as quality health care.

10) Environmental Justice considers governmental acts of environmental injustice a violation of international law, the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on Genocide.

11) Environmental Justice must recognize a special legal and natural relationship of Native Peoples to the U.S. government through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming sovereignty and self-determination.

12) Environmental Justice affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature, honoring the cultural integrity of all our communities, and provided fair access for all to the full range of resources.

13) Environmental Justice calls for the strict enforcement of principles of informed consent, and a halt to the testing of experimental reproductive and medical procedures and vaccinations on people of color.

14) Environmental Justice opposes the destructive operations of multi-national corporations.

15) Environmental Justice opposes military occupation, repression and exploitation of lands, peoples and cultures, and other life forms.

16) Environmental Justice calls for the education of present and future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based on our experience and an appreciation of our diverse cultural perspectives.

17) Environmental Justice requires that we, as individuals, make personal and consumer choices to consume as little of Mother Earth's resources and to produce as little waste as possible; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles to ensure the health of the natural world for present and future generations.

The Proceedings to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit are available from the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, 475 Riverside Dr. Suite 1950, New York, NY 10115.

EMEAC among four organizations chosen as public policy fellows in national EAT4HEALTH program

August 23, 2012

Charity Hicks
WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation announced today the naming of four community-based activists from Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas as the foundation’s first Everybody at the Table for Health fellows.

Our goal is to bring about better food and farm policy by supporting community-based leaders who will help bridge the gap between grass-roots community organizing and national advocacy,” says Kolu Zigbi, Noyes Foundation director of sustainable agriculture and food systems, and creator of the fellowship program, also known as EAT4Health. “Ultimately, we hope EAT4Health will lead to enactment of federal food and farm policies that support environmental, economic and food justice for all.”
Beginning in September, each fellow will work with a national advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. and his or her sponsoring community-based organization to design a work plan and project that builds and leverages the power of grass-roots leadership and the national organization’s expertise. The fellowships are for three years.
The fellows and their community-based organizations are:
  • Nelson Carrasquillo, general coordinator of the Farmworkers Support Committee, also known as El Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores, Glassboro, New Jersey.
  • Charity Hicks, Food Justice Task Force Program coordinator, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Detroit.
  • Diana Lopez, coordinator of environmental justice, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Dana Parfait, member of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, which is part of the Coastal Communities Collaborative, Houma, Louisiana.
The fellows will work together to develop skills, talk with and learn from policy experts, share experiences, explore areas of common interest and plan collaborative campaigns,” explains Zigbi. 

Although the first four Everybody at the Table for Health fellows are diverse in terms of where they live, race and ethnicity, and the community-based organizations they represent, they share a long-term commitment to social justice, a sustainable environment and healthier food options in their communities.

Meet the 2012 Everybody at the Table Health fellows:\\

Charity Hicks is coordinator of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce, a collaborative of 12 community-based groups formed in 2009 including The East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC). EMEAC’s mission is to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve, and value its land, air and water. The task force brings together local growers, social and environmental justice organizations, schools, churches, food educators, restaurants and caterers, restaurant suppliers, the City of Detroit, community activists and residents to promote a justice-centered food system, explains Hicks. The Detroit native and environmentalist is a member of the Detroit Grocery Store Coalition Steering Committee, Detroit Food Policy Council and the People’s Water Board Detroit.

One of the most critical food policy issues for Detroiters is a lack of access in city neighborhoods to quality, fresh produce that is nutritionally dense,” says Hicks, a master gardener and founding member and secretary of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, one of the city’s largest agricultural groups. “Good soil and sound agricultural practices are at the root of all resilient, vibrant food systems. We need to have both,” she says.

Hicks previously worked as a clinical research associate and project coordinator of a National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal study on health disparities at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Nelson Carrasquillo is general coordinator of the Farmworkers Support Committee, headquartered in Grassboro, New Jersey. Two thousand member families who work in farm fields and packinghouses in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania govern the nonprofit organization. The Farmworkers Support Committee also is known as CATA, for El Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores.

Most U.S. food policies are designed to facilitate access to cheap labor,” says Carrasquillo, who joined the Farmworkers Support Committee in 1992. Previously he coordinated organizing in the National Ecumenical Movement in his native Puerto Rico, where he worked with fishing and small agricultural communities, farm workers, and communities with environmental problems.

In addition to engaging Farmworkers Support Committee members in local agricultural programs, Carrasquillo is active in the Agricultural Justice Project, which develops standards for the fair and just treatment of people working in organic and sustainable agriculture. The Agricultural Justice Project’s domestic social justice certification initiative and its Food Justice Certified label allow family-scale farms to distinguish their products from industrialized organic products.

Carrasquillo co-chairs Urban Rural Mission USA and its Global Partners Working Group. He is a member of the New Jersey Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration and says immigration reform is the most critical issue for Farmworkers Support Committee members. He believes the Everybody at the Table for Health fellowship will help him make the necessary connections to advocate effectively on food policy issues at the national level.

Diana Lopez is coordinator of environmental justice at the Southwest Workers Union in San Antonio, Texas. The Southwest Workers Union, with 3,500 members, works to reframe public policy to protect the community and include the voices of local residents. It has led successful strategic campaigns targeting wages, environmental clean-up, economic revitalization, health care and energy policy.
Lopez, a part-time agricultural and ethno-botany student at Palo Alto College, began working with the Southwest Workers Union as a high school intern. It was while conducting a health study in neighborhoods near two of San Antonio’s six military bases that she made the connection between birth defects, cancer and other health problems associated with pollution from military installations.

The experience of working with other environmental justice organizers helped me figure out my role in the community and made me aware of the systemic barriers that are causing problems,” says Lopez, who helped establish the Southwest Workers Union’s Roots of Change gardening cooperative.

Too often industry comes ahead of the health needs of the community,” Lopez says. “Also people need access to fresh, organic food.” She looks forward to working with the other fellows to establish policies that promote vibrant food economies and healthy community infrastructures.

I have worked a lot with Detroit and am impressed with the urban farming model it is developing. I also would like work together with the other fellows to push through national policy and to teach others in my community about policy development.”

Lopez was recognized with the 2009 Brower Youth Award from Earth Island Institute and the Urban Renewal Award for her community organizing and for promoting food sovereignty, premised on the belief that people have the right to decide what to eat and that food should be healthy and accessible to everyone in the community. Lopez sits on the Energy Action Coalition, South by Southwest Experiment, and Youth for Climate Justice coordinating committees. She also is a member of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio and the Green Spaces Alliance.

Dana Parfait is a member of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, which is part of the Coastal Communities Collaborative, headquartered in Houma, Louisiana. The four Native American communities and one African American community that make up the collaborative work together to preserve and protect Southeast Louisiana.

The collaborative focuses on involving citizens in oversight of oil and gas industry activities, preservation of wetlands, and food sovereignty and security issues, including restoration of traditional medicinal plants. The communities share ethno-botanical knowledge, build and maintain test gardens, and work together to protect and restore vital natural resources.

Parfait, an accountant and tribal researcher, serves on the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees Tribal Community Disaster Council. She has worked on emergency preparedness and policy issues related to tribal disaster recovery since 2005. Parfait focuses on education, coastal erosion, the loss of healing plants and the inability to grow crops due to the changing environment. Recently, she worked with the Natural Resource Conservation Service on restoration of native plants, gardening and food cultivation.

EMEAC announces policy positions on ballot initiatives

On the Ballot
There are several initiatives that voters will see on the ballot this November.  Below is a brief description of each, along with a statement on implications for justice and EMEAC’s position.
Emergency Manager Referendum
The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, also called Public Act 4, would expand powers for emergency managers (EMs) and the ability of the Governor to appoint them.  Specifically, it defines the conditions under which a formal review of the finances of Detroit will occur and the powers of the committee performing such a review.
Central Issues: There are several concerns we have about PA-4.  They include:
1.      The end of democracy:  PA-4 removes the rights of citizens from electing public officials at the local level.
2.      Punishes victims of economic downturn:  PA-4 lays blame for economic problems squarely on the shoulders of communities hit hard in the economic crisis. Detroit has been hit hard by deindustrialization, factory closures and the elimination of ancillary jobs.  While we recognize that some elected officials have made poor or questionable decisions, this doesn’t justify completely taking away the voting rights of an entire population.
3.      No accountability:  The EM can do what he or she wants without any input by or consideration of members of the affected communities.  Essentially, there is no accountability to the public as the EM would not have to answer to anyone but the Governor.
4.      Accelerated privatization:  The EM can break any and all contracts, including those with workers. Further, she/he can privatize any and all services it chooses.  This makes communities needing services more vulnerable to the profit interests of companies.  And where profit drives decision-making, human life is not considered as valuable.
EMEAC is opposed to PA4.
Other Statewide Proposals Qualified to Appear on November 6
Other measures that are expected to be on November’s ballot include proposed constitutional amendments: Michigan’s Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard and the Michigan Home Health Care Amendment.  The justice implications and EMEAC’s position are presented below.
Clean Energy: This amendment would require utilities to obtain at least 25% of their electricity from clean renewable energy sources.  This amendment will: 1) Require 25% of Michigan’s energy to come from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025. 2) Limit rate increases from the proposal to 1% a year and no more than $1.25 a month for the average household. 3) Provide incentives to use Michigan equipment and businesses and hire Michigan workers. The thoughts, questions and concerns that come up for us include.
We like that it requires utility companies to increase their use of renewable energy.  The acquisition and use of nonrenewable sources have wreaked havoc on the earth, air, and water; diminished the quality of life for many human, animal and plant populations; and contributed to global warming and climate change.  It is clear that something must be done and soon. BUT we are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough to define what is and what is not considered clean renewable energy.  This causes concern as some have gone as far as to consider incinerators and hydrofracking as renewable energy sources.  We disagree. Also, the amendment does not require a reduction in the use of nonrenewable sources, only an increase in the use of renewable ones. 
We also like that it attempts to prevent price gouging by limiting the ability of utility companies to charge considerably higher prices for electricity from renewable resources than current ones. Further, we like that this amendment promotes the creation of clean jobs. One question we have about job promotion is who will benefit? We would like to see people in affected communities benefit from employment opportunities.
In sum, EMEAC supports Michigan’s Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard and will monitor its implementation should it be passed. (The full text of the proposal can be found at
Home Health Care:  This amendment would establish the Michigan Quality Home Council, which would oversee a registry that connects hope care recipients with pre-screened home care providers; require hope care providers on the registry to undergo background checks; give home care providers access to job training; save taxpayer dollars in avoided nursing home costs.  It also stipulates that providers shall have limited collective bargaining rights.  
EMEAC is concerned with health and healing justice.  As such we are in support of the creation of safeguards for people receiving services (background checks on providers), as well as those providing them (collective bargaining rights).  However we are uncertain about the implications and potential for abuse of this amendment.  

EMEAC's first summer youth jobs program leaves lasting impression on Commons Space

Will Copeland addresses summer jobs youth during orientation
DETROIT – EMEAC's first Summer Youth Jobs Program came to a close on August 17 with a special luncheon in the D. Blair Theater of the Cass Corridor Commons to commemorate the work of the 12 young Detroiters who participated in the program. Jade Odoms, Janeen Reeves, Kassandra Wilborn, Shea King, Oaliyah Snell, Lonnie Hurst, Charmaine Adams, Shayla Woodard, Kieris Barkley and Zahra LeSane all participated and gave presentations on their work during the six-week program. 

“It was a great experience to have some new members,” EMEAC Youth Program Coordinator Will Copeland said. “This is our first time of doing anything in the context of a job, but one thing that was very impressive about these youth right here is that they would always do what they said they were going to do and they would always be there early. They would be there before everybody and they would be ready to go.”

The Sumer Jobs Program was co-sponsored with Reverend Jerome L. Warfield's of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church professional development program. The age range of participants was from 14-24 with youth making $8 per hour for 20 hours a week. The program ran from July 9 through August 17.
The dozen youth worked within three different areas of EMEAC programing with King, Wilborn, Snell and Woodward working with the 5 Elements Gallery and the Heru Organization in the D. Blair Theater group. Hurst, Barkley and Adams worked with EMEAC's youth group, the Young Educators Alliance (YEA) while Odoms and Reeves worked with EMEAC's Media and Communications program ReMedia. 

Reeves and Odoms with film maker Pam Sporn
Each group took turns giving presentations on their work and progress over the course of the program. Accomplishments included conducting community interviews around gentrification, renovation of McCollester Hall, renovations of the D Blair Theater, painting of the YEA logo in the ReMedia Lab, facilitating popular education workshops, videography training, audio engineering training, social networking for community organizing training and participation in regular EMEAC programming. 

“Especially when the forces were combined, these young people were very impressive,” Copeland said. “We went to a couple of community events. I said come early and they would roll up here five to seven young people deep. 

Wilborn, Snell, Matthew Cross, Bryce Smalls and Woodard
“I don't think they realize the positive impression that they made on the adults. Many of the adults had never seen anything like that before. They have so many positive attributes to make an impact on Detroit or where ever they go. It's rare to see young people with that kind of dedication. They may take it for granted but what they created from the mix of YEA and the summer jobs program was very special.”

Likewise, EMEAC's Building Manager Kim Sherrobi expressed her appreciation for the enhancements to McCollester Hall, the D Blair Theater and the ReMedia Lab made by the summer jobs program youth. 

“I've already had several people say they want to rent spaces in the building now because they came in and saw the changes these young people helped make. This is something they should always feel a part of because they've made a difference. They may not realize it but the work they've did over these past few weeks has really made a difference here at the Commons.”

YEA explores gentrification in Detroit during youth-led conversation in July

DETROIT – Over 60 Detroit residents gathered in McCollester Hall of the Cass Corridor Commons on July 12 for a special youth-led community conversation on the subject of gentrification. The conversation was hosted and facilitated by members of EMEAC's youth advocacy program, the Young Educators Alliance (YEA), which is a part of EMEAC's policy program StandUp!SpeakOut (SUSO)!

“It is a powerful experience for adults to be led in an important community conversation by teens and young adults,” said EMEAC Youth Coordinator Will Copeland. “Sometimes it forces people to ask 'Why aren't we talking about this more?' which is good for the resilience of the community. YEA is going to continue to raise awareness about gentrification through the rest of 2012. I hope that it goes beyond this because the struggle for community self-determination is a long term struggle.”

YEA Teamers Roger Boyd, Noelle Frye and Rayven Roberts

Copeland, YEA Team Leader Siwatu Salama Ra and YEA Team members: Noelle Frye, Rayven Roberts, Roger Boyd and Anthony Grimmett began the discussion by each relaying their thoughts and experiences on the gentrification process taking place currently in the city. The group then opened up the discussion to those in attendance. 

“It was interesting for YEA to share their perspectives as a youth environmental justice group about the different experiences that are common in Mid-Town itself,” said Ra. “That ties directly into gentrification and that's the whole reason of us doing this gentrification work period. YEA has been witnessing different things and they are able to say, 'That is not right but that is not uncommon.' We want to do something about it.”

Community members shared a range of perspectives and opinions such as Andrew Newton of Peoples Kitchen Detroit's in depth historical perspective as a bi-racial youth growing up in the city while witnessing the current changes, to Mt. Elliott Makerspace's Jeff Sturges who identified as a gentrifier working out of the Church of the Messiah on Detroit's East Side and Ms. Rekiba Brown of Occupy Detroit who spoke of biases against community residents in land use policies in the city.

“There was a good mix of people in the room,” Ra said. “You had people coming out and saying, 'Hey, I might be known as a gentrifier. Then you had people from the community who were saying they've been affected by gentrification and people moving into the city. 

“It was a good for people to come together on both sides of the ball park to come together and talk about how they felt about how the city was changing and who will be affected by these changes and who will have access to these new things and who will not.

“It was also interesting hearing about the history. It was interesting hearing people say, 'My family came from the south. We migrated here and the reason why we came was because we weren't wanted down there. Now we come here and it seems history is repeating itself.”

The July conversation on gentrification was the third YEA has been involved with. Ra represented EMEAC during a December gentrification conversation sponsored by Model D. Copeland, Roberts, and former EMEAC Associate Director Ahmina Maxey took part in a gentrification discussion earlier this year at the Hush House Museum of Black History with Hush House founder Charles Simmons and Zone 8 activist Yusef Shakur. 

Although gentrification is a difficult subject to engage in public discourse, YEA Team members plan to continue to explore the topic and advocate for community voice. 

“Gentrification is such a touchy subject. It's like talking about religion,” Ra said. “It was interesting too see people step out of their comfort zone, which was a challenge. YEA had to step up and bring this to the space because few of our community leaders or allies were available, and they did it.”
Copeland agreed and said YEA plans similar events going forward by going into neighborhoods and gathering more perspectives from native Detroiters. 

“In the fall we will raise the question 'How is gentrification an environmental injustice?' YEA participated in the Building Movement conference which looked at land use in the city of Detroit, absentee and out-of-state landowners, and mapping for community power. (EMEAC Executive Director) Diana (Copeland) is very passionate about challenging slumlords so this is something we can incorporate in our work. We can draw connections between the residential land grabs taking place in the neighborhoods and the gentrification taking place in the business and entertainment districts.

“Lastly YEA is working with ReMedia to make a media project on gentrification. We have completed some interviews with community members and are compiling other footage. This project has a lot of potential to create a bold, new statement that is very appropriate for our times.”