Youth Food Justice Taskforce to kickoff Food Justice Fridays at CCC

February 29, 2012

Youth FJTF Coordinator Anthony Grimmett with Policy Link
DETROIT – The Detroit Youth Food Justice Taskforce will be hosting their first Food Justice Friday Community Dinner on March 2 beginning at 6 pm at the Cass Corridor Commons. The Youth FJTF will be joined at the community dinner by Peoples Kitchen Detroit who will cater the event and join with community members in attendance to discuss food justice issues in the city.

“The initial idea was to create a high energy, youth-centric, art-filled environment in which youth can learn about Food Justice and be inspired to become active in creating a movement and\or just share what they know with their peers,” said EMEAC's Sanaa Nia Joy. “The main goal of the event is to share information on Food Justice with the community, and to use art and media in an interactive way that transforms attitudes, thought and action in hopes that people, especially young people,will be more mindful of what they eat and possibly even demand healthier food thereby bringing change to a skewed food system.”

Youth from programs at EarthWorks, Greening of Detroit, Feedom Freedom and other food/growing based organizations have been invited as members of the Youth Food Justice Task Force. The plan is to have similar type forums at various organizations' space as a monthly event. Youth from any organization or individuals brought by their parent are welcome. Event planners expect about 50 people to attend.

Angela Newsom
The Youth Food Justice Task Force was created by the Detroit Food Justice Task Force, of which People's Community Kitchen is a member. The idea of a sharing a meal as a way to build community is a tactic used successfully by the Food Justice Task Force last year. Angela Newsom of People's Community Kitchen will work with the Youth FJTF to prepare and serve a meal to the community for the event.

“As a member of the Cass Corridor Commons and Detroit Food Justice Task Force, People's Kitchen Detroit is inspired and encouraged by youth participation in this event,” said PKD's Angela Newsom. “They are really leading the event and making it their own. For there to be sustainable, life-altering change in the city with regard to food access and affordability, the young people are vital to making that happen.”

Members of the Youth FJTF will also be traveling to Oakland, California March 7-10 for the SOUL National Youth Organizing Training Institute. The INSTITUTE 2012 is a 3-day national training for young organizers, young member leaders, and youth organizers from across the country.

Participants will come together to build their skills, exchange lessons learned, and strategize to fight to win justice for our communities. They'll develop a solid and systematic orientation to the fundamentals of organizing, including base-building, campaign strategy, and leadership development. Rooted in current youth struggles, the INSTITUTE will provide a unique space for emerging leaders to engage with the challenges and opportunities of the current moment, to advance our organizations and to build a stronger movement.

“Because it's Oakland, it's kind of like Detroit. They do a lot of work around environmental justice and they are real die-hard about it,” said Youth FJTF Coordinator Anthony Grimmett. “That's something I'm definitely looking forward to and meeting new people and some of the projects they are working on. For us, it's about development, so I'm definitely looking forward to getting some ideas that we can bring back to Detroit to share. For our report-back, I'm definitely looking for things that I can draw. I'm going to bring my artistic eye as well. We'll be looking for some different concepts as well.”

YEA joins DWEJ to present at High School Social Justice Forum in Windsor

Siwatu-Salama Ra gives presentation on campaign building
WINDSOR, Canada – EMEAC's Young Educators Alliance (YEA) Team joined with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) to give a series of workshop presentations at the Sixth Annual High School Social Justice Forum held at the University of Windsor on February 21 in Windsor, Canada.

YEA attended the Social Justice Forum at the invitation of DWEJ's Charles Stokes and were accompanied on the trip by EMEAC Associate Director Ahmina Maxey and DWEJ, Chief Executive Officer Guy Williams. YEA Team members making the trip were Siwatu-Salama Ra, Rayven Roberts, Sabrin Salam, Anthony Grimmett, Roger Boyd, Noelle Frye, Paris Smith, Elayne Elliot and Malik Harris.

YEA Team Members during panel discussion
“There was a request for youth to attend and elaborate on environmental justice inside the city of detroit from a young person's point of view,” said Siwatu, who is EMEAC's Stand Up Speak Out (SUSO) Program Youth Leader. “Charles Stokes was already aware of the Feed1 Teach1 event that YEA kicked off in mid-December along with checking out EMEAC's website and was impressed of what YEA is doing and asked that YEA facilitate a workshop and panel at the Forum. This was an opportunity for YEA to go international and we were all very appreciative of the invitation.”

Roger Boyd documents the trip
The Forum was filled with approximately 300 excited Canadian high school students. There were 16 workshops held during the event and every student was assigned to two of the16 workshops. Some of the workshops were on: Criminalization of Migrants vs. the right of freedom of movement, Hip Hop, prison and the many facets of racism in the justice system, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer community and the environmental justice workshop presented by the Detroit delegation
During the EJ101 workshop, Williams introduced the space with EJ 101. He was then followed by Siwatu who facilitated a workshop on "How to create an organizing campaign.

Maxey then introduced the YEA team and conducted the youth panel discussion with questions like; “How has being involved in the EJ movement and apart of YEA changed you or help you grow?”
“It was actually really fun,” said Grimmett who like many of his fellow YEA Team members was making his first trip across the border to Canada. “When we broke into groups, that's when YEA along with Guy Williams of DWEJ did a presentation in the workshops that we were in. He basically introduced us and said, 'I'm here with EMEAC and some partners.

“Siwatu got up and did her workshop on campaign building. That actually went really well. I was kind of nervous at first, but seeing her go in so calm, let me know it was going to be all right. We then introduced ourselves and we did our panel discussion. They asked us questions and we answered them.
They asked us about our growth and about being in YEA.”

After a break for lunch, the Detroit delegation engaged in another round of workshops and presentations with the next set of students. Out of the experience, team members welcomed the opportunity to share their work and network with young people and activists on the Canadian side of the border.

“There was a lady on campus who was involved with their on campus community gardens. She introduced herself to us because I had mentioned doing food justice work and how environmental justice plays into what we do,” said Grimmett who also has a lead role on EMEAC's Youth Food Justice Taskforce. “We talked about some of our achievements like the Cass Park clean up, working with ReMedia, the North End Garden and Feed1 Teach1. We exchanged cards so we could link up later and work together around food justice. It's just networking and maybe we can get together to do some work through social networking.”
“It definitely was a good experience being around another crowd and having to speak in front of them. It was a majority white environment and we were the center of attention. At the end of the day, they were going to come out with some useful and positive information.”

The YEA team also did live tweeting via their Twitter accounts at the event. If you would like to follow the tweets from the forum go to or search for the Twitter hash tags #Sjforum2012 or #detroitfuture.

“Shout outs to YEA and how appreciative Canada was for them participating,” Siwatu said. “YEA now has enhanced identification and can visit again. I'm glad we attended the forum. The most rewarding thing to me was that YEA has made it International and was able to reach out to young people across border.

“It was rewarding to know that we were the first American people to attend their Forum. Acknowledging us in front of the whole conference was uplifting! There were many connections that were made to further the conversation and working together is always rewarding. YEA got another opportunity at enhancing their speaking skills and creating their signature YEA workshops. This was definitely a reward in action and just stay tuned for YEA's next steps.”

Reminders of the risks of nuclear power come from past/present, near/far

This is the latest in a series of columns discussing the Environmental Justice Principles drafted and adopted by delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held Oct. 24-27, 1991. This week, we’re continuing our discussion of EJ Principle number four: 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.

Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Newport, Michigan

As we come up on the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan, reports are still emerging about the way the Japanese government kept critical information from their own public in the wake of one of the worst nuclear catastrophe's the world has ever seen. Likewise with three nuclear sites in the state of Michigan, we should also keep in mind other reminders about the potentially grave risks inherent to nuclear facilities closer to home. 

On the March 11 anniversary of the Fukushima melt down, there will be a special screening of the anti-nuclear film “Into Enternity” at the Unity Church of Livonia beginning at 7:30 p.m. The film will focus on the environmental delimas surrounding disposal of nuclear waste materials, and give an update the proposed Fermi 3 nuclear plant, the world's largest Fukushima styled reactor. 

There are currently three nuclear power facilities in the state: Cook in Bridgman, Palisades in South Haven and Fermi in Newport – just 40 miles south of Detroit. All three power plants are located in southern Michigan along the shores of the Great Lakes, and provide 27 percent of the state's energy.
As we all saw last year with Fukushima, all nuclear plants have to be located near large bodies of water because water plays a key role in both the production and containment of nuclear energy. Michigan's location in the heart of the Great Lakes region means the old NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) game of environmental injustice is one Metro Detroiters should not lose sight of. Just ask the residents of another of the world's great cities, Tokyo. 

Of course, Detroit's nuclear safety concerns are helped by the fact that the region doesn't sit on one of the world's most active seismic regions like Japan, but any one who knows the history of the nuclear industry in Michigan can tell you that's no invitation to sleep on the issue. On October 5, 1966 the Fermi 1 reactor suffered a partial meltdown caused by a blockage in one of its spigots. The blockage caused an insufficient amount of coolant to enter and the problem went unnoticed by plant operators until some of the plants fuel rods reached 700 degrees causing them to melt. 

Thankfully the plants alarms kicked in to prevent a complete meltdown but the incident should serve as a reminder that vigilance is always warranted when it comes to nuclear power. Fermi 1, named for nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, who worked on the development of the world's first atomic bomb and later became a pioneer of nuclear energy, was eventually shutdown in 1972. 

Its successor, Fermi 2, came online in 1988, and despite a brush with a tornado in 2010 that caused damage to the facility, it remains online. That incident should be kept in mind however, as warmer winters and the subsequent increased tornado activity could be the biggest natural threat to nuclear facilities in many parts of the country. 

The Fermi plant is owned by DTE Energy and maintained by the Detroit Edison Company. DTE filed an application to build a third reactor, Fermi 3, at a cost of $10 billion in 2008, but have been thwarted so far by the efforts of local citizens on the basis that it would threaten Lake Erie. Somehow, I'm betting that we've not heard the end of this story. 

Meanwhile on the western side of the state's southern shoreline there have been even more recent developments. Earlier this month, the Palisades nuclear power plant received a downgrade of its facility from federal regulators as a Valentines Day present. The heartfelt gift put Palisades in the company of only two other plants in the country. 

According to an Associated Press report by their environmental writer John Flesher, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assigns the more than 100 nuclear reactors in the U.S. to one of five categories based on their safety performance. Most are in the top-performing group. Palisades was bumped to the No. 2 category last month and now will join two others in the third category.”

There's only one other reactor in the country with a lower rating: the Brown's Ferry unit in Athens, Georgia. It stands alone with that distinction. 

There were two violations that led to the downgrade at Palisades. One was on Sept. 25 of last year when an electrical fault caused by plant workers led to the reactor and half of the control room indicators to shut down. According to NRC report, this triggered safety systems that actual plant conditions did not justify. Agency investigators went on to described the incident as having “substantial safety significance.”

The other violation was the failure of a water pump that cools safety equipment. The pumps failure resulted from cracking of one of the couplings that hold together rods in the cooling system. The same failure had happened in 2009, and the commission said an inspection showed the plant hadn’t done enough to prevent a recurrence. The NRC has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for February 29 in South Haven. 

So as we gear up to remember what happened in Japan over a year ago, let's remember to keep our eyes and ears open here at home.

EMEAC’s Stand Up! Speak Out! Program having Mom-2-Mom Fundraiser & Bake Sale March 24 at CCC

DETROIT -- A Mom-2-Mom Charity Sale & Bake Sale will be held March 24 from 9:30 am to 12:30 p.m. in Mid-town Detroit's Cass Corridor Commons – the new home of East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) at 4605 Cass Avenue, inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

This re-sale is a fun event where families can make money, save money, re-use and recycle the items they’ve already spent hard-earned dollars on. It’s win, win win!” said EMEAC Policy Coordinator Alisha Deen-Steinder.

A Mom-2-Mom sale is like a large flea-market or indoor garage-sale where anyone can sell gently used children’s & teen items from their home. Shoppers pay only a $1 entrance fee and can browse through hundreds of used items at garage-sale prices. There will be 30-35 tables with children’s items. Clothes sizes will be from infant all the way up to teen. Large items like strollers and kid’s bicycles are also welcome.  Delicious baked goods and coffee will be available also.  Proceeds go to support EMEAC's Stand Up Speak Out (SUSO) programming.

We are also going to have the Young Educators Alliance. Some of them are going to be selling their items, so teens are definitely welcome,” said EMEAC SUSO Youth Coordinator William Copeland. “Right now we get a lot of funding from grant sources, which are great, but we want to start doing more independent fundraisers to help support our Young Educators Alliance, our in school programs and for the policy work that we do.”

It costs $20 to rent a table to sell items. Anyone interested is encouraged to beat the crowd and arrive early for the $2 Early-Bird special from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Beginning at 9:30, the doors officially open at the $1 entrance fee.

The Mom2Mom Sale concept has taken off in churches and schools every Saturday morning all around the Detroit-Metro area, but very few such sales have been located in Detroit. This is a great way for to keep money in the community.

Full-priced children’s clothes, shoes, toys, games can cost a fortune, and it’s nice to have a one-stop place to get cheap, quality used clothing for my family.” A Royal Oak mother of two said.

Contact Alisha Deen-Steindler at 248-269-3662 or to reserve a $20 table.

Who do the proceeds of the sale go to?

Stand Up! Speak Out!

Stand Up! Speak Out! (SUSO) is the advocacy arm of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.  SUSO programs and activities advocate for environmental justice in Southeast Michigan through legislative policy initiatives while encouraging community involvement through youth and adult education and training.

SUSO is also home to the Young Educators Alliance a small group of young adults (aged 14-24) who come together to identify issues in their environment and work collectively on solutions, using their creativity and personal insight.  YEA advocates for healthy environments in Detroit in a way that fosters leadership and holistic development.  Young people learn to identify injustices, place them in a historical context, and propose alternatives that involve community input, community organizing, and/or advocacy. The program aims to build a “pipeline for community activism” in which young people come to see themselves as community activists and learn to network and engage with existing communities of activists.  SUSO also partners with EMEAC’s ReMedia and Greener Schools programs to conduct environmental education classes and trainings in Detroit schools for students in grades 6-12.

EMEAC Supports State-Level Anti-Idling Legislation

DETROIT -- EMEAC sent in a letter of support for Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood’s statewide Anti-Idling Legislation, SB 819 & SB 820.

Detroit was instrumental in laying the groundwork for anti-idling policy in the state. The City of Detroit was one of only three cities in Michigan to already have local laws on the books regarding anti-idling.

The EMEAC Policy Team worked very hard to get an Anti-Idling ordinance at the city level passed in Detroit (2010) and continues to make sure that the ordinance is enforced. After being involved in discussions around these bills at the City of Detroit Anti-Idling Workgroup, the Policy Team felt supporting the statewide initiative was the next logical step. To date, twenty states have enacted similar anti-idling legislation.

We have been working with Hopgood's staff to incorporate Detroit-specific issues and to make sure the bill is similar to our citywide ordinance.” Said Policy Coordinator, Alisha Deen-Steindler. For the most part, EMEAC’s suggested amendments and concerns were all taken into consideration and reflected in the latest draft of the bill.

What the Bill Would Do:

SB 819 & 820, introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D) on November 10, 2011, would prohibit heavy diesel trucks (over 8,500 pounds) from idling more than five minutes within a one hour period, or 15 minutes for loaded buses (or 30 minutes for ones waiting to unload), with certain exceptions for emergency, health and safety, inspection, maintenance and other necessary purposes. Drivers and truck owners are subject to fines of up to $500. The fine revenue would go to local governments. Also, SB 820 spells out how the measure could be enforced by local volunteer “parking officers”.

Enacting a statewide idling policy will improve air quality and make for a cleaner environment by reducing emissions, will help businesses cut costs associated with wasted fuel and unnecessary engine wear and tear, and will improve government efficiency by creating a streamlined regulatory structure,” said Senator Hopgood.

5E/Heru celebrate building reopening by hosting January DFY gathering

Tanesha Fashion performs "It's Me"
DETROIT – The 5 Elements Gallery and the Heru Organization were joined by the rest of the Detroit Future Youth (DFY) groups in celebrating the reopening of their non-profit visual art and hip-hop culture gallery on January 28 in Detroit's historic Corktown District. Approximately 70 community members from the 12 DFY member organizations and their supporters turned out for the event which featured workshops centered around 5E/Heru's seven power principles, performing arts, hip hop fashion exhibits and a special meal prepared by local family-owned caterer Sunflower Mama.
“We now have our building back to do our programming in a consistent space,” said 5E's Piper Carter. “We had been like nomads bringing our technology and learning into various environments, which was great as far as exposure for ourselves and our youth. Now we will have a space they can call their own, and they are very excited about helping take care of the building as well as continuing the workshops and field trips.”
DJ Sicari Ware turns over the wheels of steele to 5E Youth
The 5E Gallery was founded by Detroit Disc Jockey Sicari Ware in 2008 as a creative outlet for the city's art and music communities. Its mission is to increase public awareness and appreciation of Detroit's contemporary visual arts and music communities through exhibitions and educational programs. 5E and The Heru work collaboratively to support and mentor young up-and-coming local artists.
The groups believe that contemporary art and Hip Hop transcend international boundaries and involve all forms of visual expression, including painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, illustrated books, photography, architecture, design, film and video. They also embrace new art forms, which reflect and explore the artistic issues of today, but are yet to be developed or understood.
“It was awesome to see the 5 Elements Gallery space open again,” said DFY Coordinator Alia-Harvey Quinn. “5 Elements Gallery has been a partner on the deepest level, before the Detroit Future work even formally began. As a member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, 5 Elements Gallery helped create the vision for this work. It has been an honor to support them and the work they do with young people.”
DFY Youth discuss principles during a breakout session
Following an opening reception catered by Akila Muhammad's Sunflower Mama's Vegan Catering featuring locally grown organic food, the gathering broke out into workshops to discuss each of the groups' seven power principles. Those principles are: cultivating self knowledge and awareness, recognizing self as the beginning of community, deliberately practicing positive and productive expressions, respecting organic learning and all intelligence, positively creating reality to empower others, nurturingly inspiring accountability, and growing substantial infrastructure to help the community flourish.
The gathering then reconvened to creatively share their reflections on the principles. The innovative ways of presenting those reflections ranged from call-and-response, to skits, to improvised rhyme saying. That was followed by a presentation on collaborative economics by Detroit Future's Jaun Martinez, who is also a member of the Beehive Collective. Cooperative economics is one of the core principles shared by DFY, 5E and The Heru. As part of the DFY Collective the groups have been partnering to develop cooperative economic models developed by area youth.
“It was informative, interactive, completely in line with our principles as well as the principles of the Detroit Future Collective,” said Carter. “It was fun for all.”
The fun didn't stop there as the event was highlighted by a non-stop fashion show accompanied by DJ Sicari's music with 5E/Heru artists King Kold, Taneesha Fashion, Bryce Anderson-Smalls and Kadiri “Sirius” Dobey taking the mic. King Kold performed “Let 'em Know.” Young Teneesha stole the show with her performance of “It's Me,” and Bryce and Kadiri brought down the house with a new version of their food justice anthem “Bootleg Food.”
5E member struts his stuff during fashion show
“As far as 5E/Heru we are structuring our programming more,” Carter said. “We will have slightly more formal skill learning with regard to media creation, software, principle building, media literacy, constructing messages, building issue based campaigns, refining media skills, critiquing our work, researching facts, etc. Our way is more organic and we will continue with this organic style of facilitating as well as include a consistent time for structured learning activities.”
The January gathering marked a milestone in the progress of the DFY Network. Coordinators said they are looking forward to deepening the work of the network for the remainder of the programs funding cycle.
“One of the overarching goals of Detroit Future Youth is to facilitate deepened relationships among the partners,” Harvey-Quinn said. “We do this largely through gatherings, which are hosted on a rotating basis by one of the partnering organizations and attended by all the other organizations. I think this gathering proved that relationships are deepening.
“It was great to see youth from different organizations, backgrounds, neighborhoods, and ethnicities dancing and having fun together. And for Detroit Future Youth, working to deepen relationships is not just about creating feel-good-moments; we work to deepen relationships to increase our capacity and sustainability. At the end of this 16 month funding period, because of the time spent together, these groups should be comfortable attending each others workshops, sharing curriculum, partnering, asking for support and offering support. Facilitating deepened relationships means that our work will continue even if funding is unavailable.”
For more information on the groups involved in this event visit:,, or or Sunflower Mama at

Whole Note Healing Collective a work in progress at CCC

Photo by Metal Mountain Arts
DETROIT -- The Whole Note Healing Collective is a cooperative community space organized by activists, healers, health practitioners and health and healing justice organizers. The collective includes leaders and advocates in Yoga, Reiki, Acudetox (Ear Acupuncture), Eco-psychology, Massage, Full Spectrum Reproductive Services, Belly Dance, Conflict Resolution and more. All members of this diverse group have multiple skills, offered as gifts to the community at large and are leaders in their own right.

Whole Note is a work in progress (and always will be). Currently, they are doing extensive research on health & healing initiatives around the country and gathering information on principles, guidelines, and operating procedures. All recommendations are welcome. In the meantime, Whole Note is working on designating space at the Cass Corridor Community Commons (C3) and offering select services.

Services available

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that a "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

Reiki was rediscovered by a Japanese man, Dr. Mikai Usui. Its history is ancient and the concepts are present in several cultures.

While individual treatments will always be available, Whole Note will also be offering group Reiki healing in a shared, community space. Reiki Thursdays will be a collective healing space because we are inspired to heal together. Reiki Thursdays will be offered in one large room with individual treatment areas set-up for separate treatments. Stay tuned for more information.
Individual or group Reiki treatments can be scheduled by emailing:
Healing Belly Dance

Belly Dance classes are offered on Monday, Friday and Saturday. They are taught with a focus on empowering women (and others) to connect with their brightest self. Basic Belly Dance techniques are taught by using North African rhythms and encourage participants to accept their bodies just as they are. Belly Dance is for every woman's/person’s body.
For more information, contact Sanaa at 313.478.3920.

Update and Upcoming

The Good Vibrations Wellness Fair and Fundraiser has been postponed until April. Plans are underway for a city-wide fast and holistic health fair fundraiser. As details for this event and others become available, they will be posted in Whole Note’s calendar: