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

August 23, 2012 0 comments

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 www.mienergymijobs.com/proposal.aspx.)
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.”


AMC 2012 Eco-Media Justice Track another success thanks to EMEAC partners


AMC 2012 EJ Tour of Eco-Media Justice Track
DETROIT – Components of EMEAC and key partner organizations came together to put on another highly successful Eco-Media Justice Track during the final three days of the 2012 Allied Media Conference held June 28 through July 1. EMEAC's ReMedia program and Youth Food Justice Taskforce teamed with two members of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce: Peoples Kitchen Detroit and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network for the three components of this year's Eco-Media Justice Track consisting of an Environmental Justice Tour of Detroit, a Farm to Fork Dinner with the Youth Food Justice Taskforce and a Live Raw Food Cooking Demonstration by DBCFSN.

Dr. Delores Leonard leads EJ Tour
“All three events went off without a hitch and attendance was at capacity all three days,” said EMEAC ReMedia Program Coordinator, Patrick Geans-Ali. “The EJ Tour went extremely well thanks to the help of Dr. Delores Leonard and the Sierra Club's Rhonda Anderson. The Young Educators Alliance Team also stepped up once again. The Youth Food Justice Taskforce took the Field to Fork Dinner to a new level between PKD's food and the open mic session. Then on Sunday, Kadiri and DBCFSN came through with a wonderful live raw food demonstration. I'm really thankful for all their efforts.”

As it has for each year, the Eco Media Justice Track began with the environmental justice tour of Detroit sponsored by the Detroit Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Office. Dr. Delores Leonard stepped in for the Sierra Club's Rhonda Anderson who coordinated the tour but was unable to lead the tour in order to facilitate another AMC workshop. With YEA members Siwatu Salama Ra, Rayven Roberts and Elaine Elliot on board as tour guides, the city-sized tour bus filled to capacity took participants by several environmentally hazardous facilities while offering commentary. 

PKD's Angela Newsom prepares food during Farm to Fork Dinner
Tour stops included the Detroit Incinerator, the abandoned Detroit Train Station, the incomplete Ambassador Bridge and the city's industrial corridor in Southwest Detroit which includes Marathon Oil's tarsands refinery, Sevestal Steel, U.S. Steele, the Detroit Salt Mines and the city's waste water treatment plant among others. 


On Saturday evening, the Youth Food Justice Taskforce teamed with Peoples Kitchen Detroit to once again put together a Farm to Fork dinner featuring organic healthy food, special presentations by EMEAC Executive Director Diana Copeland and Communications Coordinator Victoria Goff followed by an open mic poetry session. 

Anthony Grimmett performs during open mic session
The event blended in with the regular evening meals prepared by PKD during the 2012 AMC.

“The AMC dinner was over shadowed by the people who came for the regular night's meal,” said Nia Joy. “The program that had been prepared was not nearly as effective as it might be if the people in attendance felt like listening. The young people who were taking the lead were a bit disheartened when the people refused to listen.”

Mama Nesi and Aba Ifeoma at Live Raw Food Cooking demo
The Live Raw Food Cooking Demonstration took place Sunday morning at D-Town Farms, which is operated by DBCFSN. Mama Nesi of Paradise Natural Foods performed the demonstrations. Her dishes included a kale salad with ginger, agave nectar, pineapple, flaxeed and spirulina. An almost raw pizza was also served.

“Not only did I find the food delicious but Mama Nesi also gave some very insightful health tips to go along with it,” Geans-Ali said. “I'd like to thank Baba Malik Yakini, Ife Kilamanjaro and the folks at D-Town for setting everything up and being such wonderful hosts.

“Afterwards the AMC participants got to go on a tour of the farm with Mama Aba Ifeoma to see the bees and Kadiri was also on hand to explain how the farm handles composting. It was a nice wrap to the weekend and the AMC.”

Almost raw pizza
With regular track coordinators in EMEAC Associate Director Lottie Spady (sabbatical) and Leslie Jones of the Green Guerillas of Ithica New York unable to participate, the 2012 Eco Media Justice Track still managed to draw capacity attendance from AMC participants while still sharing a wealth of environmental, media and food justice perspectives in Detroit.

Sanaa Nia Joy leads healing circle to close EJ Tour
“It was certainly a challenge but things came off smoothly in the end,” said Geans-Ali. “I'd like to thank Dr. Leonard, Rhonda Anderson, Roger Boyd, Anthony Grimmett, Sanaa Nia Joy, Angela Newsom, Kadiri Senefer and DBCFSN for all stepping up to make this year's track a success. 

“With the main organizers stepping back, everyone who worked on making this year's track happen was truly appreciated. Because of their flexibility and willingness to contribute, it really made all the difference. I attended all three parts of the track and AMC participants seemed very pleased with what they took away from each part. That's a real credit to people who came together behind the scenes.”


Detroit Future Youth Connecting Grassroots Missions and Media Technology for Community Development

Photo courtesy of Shane Bernardo
It's hardly a new phenomena to see youth and media come together to make key contributions in almost every social justice movement of the modern era. With today's ever-evolving advances in multi-media technology, youth with access to these technologies are often ahead of the learning curve. But even among those, the question remains: How is the technology being used?

Like any tool, the internet is subject to the aims or aimlessness of the user. To help connect the positive aims of the myriad of grassroots youth-based community organizations in Detroit with the potential of these technologies to shape a better world, the Detroit Future Youth (DFY) program has been busy doing ground-breaking work among their 12 member organizations.

These 12 groups come together at least twice each month with the goal of bettering their communities at ground levels. They represent diverse elements of the city to work toward the common goal of building a youth-based movement that trains and educates current and future generations on how to use the internet to connect the latest digital media technologies to various social justice missions.
"Simply signing parents up for the internet was not enough," said DFY Coordinator Alia Harvey-Quinn.
Sure that may lead to more young Detroiters signing on to Twitter and Facebook, but perhaps an increase in the usage of porn sites and watching violent videos on YouTube as well. Access alone does not impact the development of the youth of Detroit. We want to leave young Detroiters with concrete skills because ultimately, too much unproductive internet time could perhaps be more developmentally destructive than constructive. We didn't want those outcomes for DFY programs.
Whether it's traditional social justice and cultural education youth programs like the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Rosa Parks Youth Program, Detroit Asian Youth (DAY) Project, Detroit Summer, Ruth Ellis Center, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and Detroit Impact; or more media, arts and economic development programs such such as 5 Elements Gallery & Heru's the Business Program, Vanguard CDC's F.A.M.E. Program, Real Media and Young Nation and Inside Southwest; to more environmental and food justice focused groups like the East Michigan Environmental Action Council's Young Educators Alliance and Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Earthworks Urban Farm Stand Program; each DFY member organization shares a commitment to social justice organizing through media creation and broadband adoption.

"Since we do more policy based environmental justice by looking at how environmental issues and policy impact people first, it's important that we not just act on collecting information," said 20-year old Siwatu Salama-Ra, Youth Team Leadership Coordinator for EMEAC's Policy Program Stand Up! Speak Out! "We use the internet to do research and we also need to make sure we have correct data and statistics to see what bills are in process and what's new in the cyber world."

Like EMEAC, the other 11 DFY programs have an established a presence on popular social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. They are able to then link their various social networking activities back to either the DFY website or their individual programmatic websites, which ultimately creates an online community of like-minded youth leaders and organizers discussing important community issues.

As useful as social networking and websites can be for outreach and program development, Henry Walker says the Ruth Ellis Center -- an outreach program for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth -- has found even more ways creative ways to make use of digital media and the internet in their program.

"(Utilizing video and other multimedia technology) is a great part of it," Walker said. "What we are able to do is not only help youth out that might identify as LGBTQ, but also to be able to help out educators and other professionals. They often see the videos that we create and post online as a valuable resource that they can use too."

Walker added that video technologies are particularly useful because they allow community members to not only hear about the work being done but also to actually see it for themselves.

"We are beginning to make vidoes of the sessions we have," he said. "People want to know about how to organize around different issues. Instead of reading it, people can actually see it. This way they can not only see the great things that actually come out of it, but they can see the challenging things too. It's definitely a challenge with the camera, but by recording it you can actually show a lot of things that you can't actually show on paper. Once we actually get completed projects, we are actually trying to move toward showing the different items that we have and making them more accessible."

Certainly not least of all, using multi-media to demonstrate the work of the various programs also allows the gifts and talents of the youth involved to shine through. Whether it is mural projects at Young Nation and Detroit Summer, music and performance arts by youth with 5 Elements Gallery and the Heru or cooperative economic thinking at Vanguard CDC, Detroit Impact or Michigan Roundtable, DFY also helps foster the talents of youth in Detroit.

"We try to use digital media to address certain problems we see in the community," said Detroit Summer's 19-year-old Dakari Carter who now attends Wayne State University. "It can be environmental justice, youth self image, school closings or different things like that. We try to examine those issues through different media."

In the process youth talent shines through.

"Detroit Summer youth have also been actively producing several digital media projects such as The Live Arts Media Project, which is a youth-led response to Detroit's drop-out crisis," said Detroit Summer's 17-year-old Zena Addae who attends Cass Technical High School. "It uses music, poetry, and visual art to investigate community problems and generate community-based solutions. We also have produced videos examining cooperative economics, and alternatives to criminalization on the Detroit Summer YouTube Channel."

"We went out into the community and interviewed other youth in the city. From those interviews we made music pieces. There are some pieces from some very dope artists on there that make some dope music."

How each member of the DFY network uses the combination of the internet, digital media and the youth talent at their disposal is completely driven by the missions and goals of each individual program.

"Each DFY partner approaches this differently," said Harvey-Quinn. "Some groups create music around these topics, share it online and then hold online conversations. Some partners' youth leaders create videos highlighting issues important to them, share their videos online and then host workshops in which participants live tweet their feedback.

"One organization [Detroit Impact] created a video about the criminalization of youth, featuring input from police officers, posted their video online, and then used the feedback from the video as a way for youth to have honest conversations with police authorities that they might not otherwise feel comfortable having."

A year after its inception, DFY is fulfilling its goal of growing a youth-led movement in Detroit using digital media created by youth and the internet as a tool for building community. Network members share a commitment to authentic youth-leadership development that fosters the future creators, problem-solvers and social change-makers that the city needs now more than ever. DFY's approach to broadband adoption is based on an assessment of how young Detroiters are using the internet, why young Detroiters are using the internet and what the meaningful uses of the internet could be for young Detroiters.

Of all the "innovative" and "transformative" initiatives being trumpeted throughout the city, here is one that should never be the least of these. Society's best equipment to adapt to the rapid changes of modern society are the youth themselves. Any initiative keeping them grounded in community-based social justice frameworks has the vision for a positive future.

Rio+20 UN Conference a Failure, People’s Summit a Step Forward


EMEAC's Lottie Spady at Rio+20 UN Conference in June
June 15-23, 2012: GGJ brought a delegation of 16 people to Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the Rio+20 Cúpula dos Povos (People’s Summit), and other social movement activities.
The Rio+20 UN conference is being called at best a stalemate, if not a complete failure.  Opposition to the “Greed Economy” was loud and clear, from grassroots social movements voices as well as world leaders and academics.  President of Bolivia Evo Morales said “the ‘green economy’ promoted by the UN Rio+20 summit is ‘a new colonialism’ which rich nations want to impose on developing countries,” (click here for full article) and Venezuelan Professor Edgardo Lander of the Transnational Institute declared the corporate-based Green Economy stillborn—dead before it began.
Despite the US Delegation's failure to show up at their own planned events in Rio, GGJ delivered a petition with signed by 1,130 people to US reps at the UN summit. Read more about US Priorities at Rio+20 here
Check out photos from the delegation here
Photos from the June 20 Day of Action and the June 20 Solidarity Action with Vila Autódromo

Resistance Inside the UN Conference
Resistance around the site of the UN conference was powerful.  Over 500 Indigenous Peoples from Brazil and throughout the world gathered at the Kari Oca II Earth Summit and ratified a Declaration demanding respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the dignity of Mother Earth and condemning the Green Economy as the privatization of Life. Read the Kari Oca II Declaration here
11 year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney of Indigenous Environmental Network took action with other young leaders from around the world in staging a "People's Assembly" inside the United Nations before deciding to collectively walk-out and deposit their badges. Ta’Kaiya made international news for her poignant speech and song challenging world leaders to stop destroying the earth, and for ripping up the UN draft text. Watch the video of Ta'Kaiya here
GGJ joined La Via Campesina and other social movements in a solidarity march through the Vila Autódromo, a community fighting displacement next door to the site of the Rio+20 UN conference. Click here to check out a slideshow from the march and read the community's statement

Outside Strategy: The People’s Summit and Beyond
The People’s Summit had more success in bringing together social movements from across Brazil and around the world through an extensive consultation process of Plenaries (or tracks) and People’s Assemblies to define a common platform for how to move forward.  GGJ played a key organizing role in the People’s Summit, leading the facilitation and documentation of the “Rights for Social and Environmental Justice” track during the Plenary and Assembly popular consultation processes of the summit.
Click here for a report on GGJ's participation in the People's Summit
Click here to read about the Final Declaration of the People's Summit
The June 20 Day of Action in Defense of the Commons and Against the Commodification of Life brought out the largest mobilization in Rio de Janeiro’s history, with estimates ranging from 50,000-80,000 people.  Check out photos from the march
Saki Hall of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement reported on Free Speech Radio News some of the real green solutions that groups are working toward. Listen to the 5 minute report here
The People’s Assemblies were opened and closed with “mysticas”—cultural performances reflecting people’s struggles. Watch video of the opening to the People’s Assembly on Real Solutions led by La Vía Campesina, and a video of Michael Leon Guerrero (Outgoing GGJ National Coordinator) and Nathanette Mayo (Black Workers For Justice) singing Get Up, Stand Up.
Nile Malloy of Communities for a Better Environment shares reflections and a video on a talk by Vandana Shiva; Jorge Glackman of Activist San Diego shares a report from one of the “Toxic Tours” that GGJ delegates were able to attend to get to know local communities in the Rio de Janeiro area; and Ife Kilimanjaro of East Michigan Environmental Action Council reflects on a workshop by the World March of Women on Feminism, Food and Agroecology.
The Robin Hood Tax launched on June 19th with actions across the US, and also in Rio de Janeiro at the People’s Summit.  A leader of the PT, the Brazilian Workers Party, showed up to the morning workshop wearing a homemade Robin Hood hat and announcing that he was on his way to bring it up on the Senate floor, inviting anyone who wanted to join him to come along. Learn more about the Robin Hood Tax campaign here

What’s Next after Rio+20?
While we can claim victory in the sense that this Green Capitalist model that the UN summit hoped to launch seems to have lost steam before taking off, we still have a long way to go toward actually implementing strategies for a real Green Economy that keeps the green in the grassroots and implements solutions to the economic and ecological crises that cool the planet and put our communities to work.
Pablo Solon posed the question of what comes next throughout the People’s Summit, convening a workshop featuring leaders from many of the social movement alliances in leadership of the process.  GGJ National Coordinator Cindy Wiesner joined the panel, calling on the movement to have a more comprehensive analysis of the issues we face and of how to bring them together. Read more about the workshop here
“There are two things that will kill the planet,” said Solon in a meeting with the GGJ delegation. “The financial sector, and climate change.”  Angela Adrar of Rural Coalition interviewed Pablo Solon on what he sees as a next step in this process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CD4IzKAmIQ

Community-centered media creating answers to environmental injustice Published

• Sun, Aug 12, 2012
By Victoria Goff

Each week, this column discusses the principles of different movements, including the environment, digital and food justice movements. This week, we’re discussing the 12th environmental justice principle, which “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 providing fair access for all to the full range of resources.”

Recently, I found myself watching old environmentalist public service announcements from the 1970s, including the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” campaign and the “Crying Indian” campaign. I couldn’t help but laugh at the dated quality of the commercials. The “Give a Hoot” commercial featured a massive brown owl dancing around in nature singing with children. And the “Crying Indian” commercial (the one with the man dressed up like a Native American crying a single tear over littering) displayed its own special brand of ‘70s-based racism; according to this commercial, while the rest of the world bought cars and blue jeans, Native Americans were busy crying over people not throwing away their garbage.

But on a more disturbing level, not one of the “Give a Hoot” videos pointed to industrial pollution in any way. In fact, the “Give a Hoot” commercials relied on an all too common narrative that nature is a pristine glorious national park that we travel to for vacations. It’s not the air we breathe sitting in a bus on the way to school or the teeny plots of grass sitting outside our front doors. And it’s most certainly not the community that the oil refinery up the road is releasing heavy pollution into. 

The “Crying Indian” video showed a few brief shots of industrial pollution, but again, the greatest “injustice” in the commercial, in fact, the moment that makes the “Indian” cry, comes when a man in a car throws a bag of half eaten food at the “Indian.” The message of this commercial, like the “Give a Hoot” commercials, is clearly directed at individual action against individual pollution. Industrial pollution created by massive corporations went unaddressed in corporate media, even back then.

In the years since these commercials were made, things have not changed much. While there has been a push toward “green economies,” industrial pollution is still far off the mainstream radar. This has created an unprecedented opportunity for corporations most guilty of heavy pollution to create their own “green” media campaigns. For example, that beautiful green and yellow flower that is now the BP logo cost the corporation $7 million. According to the BBC News, BP is also expecting to invest an additional $25 million a quarter to maintain the branding. But it has become perhaps one of the most recognized logos of all the different oil corporations.

And of course, most of us are familiar by now of T. Boone Pickens’ famous commercials advocating for the switch in the United State’s energy strategy from dirty oil to “natural gas.” These calls have earned him respect from many in corporate media as an “unlikely environmentalist,” even as the horrific environmental dangers of fracking (which is how natural gas is removed from the ground) are being leaked out of communities with a terrifying frequency. 

That media campaigns around the environment are being largely controlled by corporations doing the worst polluting only makes sense if we go back to those old ‘70s commercials. In creating a divide between “nature” and cities and positioning cities as a place where nature doesn’t exist, oil corporations have an easy way to get people to not pay attention to what they are doing. Even worse, because so much of the industrial pollution in cities are located around communities of color, many people feel like if pollution does happen, it’s really not worth investing time and energy in cleaning up. Specifically, it’s better to fight to keep something from being lost (the National Park for vacations) than to fight for something that is already lost (heavily polluted urban areas).

The 12th environmental justice principle attempts to make visible and help repair that disconnect between how we understand what nature is and the actual pollution our communities are living with on a daily basis. By “affirming 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 providing fair access for all to the full range of resources,” environmental justice advocates are very clearly refusing the traditional narratives around what “environment” needs to be “saved.” Nature is not something that rich people get to visit on vacations — it is something that exists in all communities, and all of those communities require resources (e.g., media campaigns) to “save” their environment.

An example of how this principle is put into action would be the work the 48217 community has done around the oil refinery pollution in their neighborhood. By collecting the stories of folks most directly affected by the pollution, organizers have not only used social media sources like websites and twitter to spread the word, but have also created a documentary about the situation, which they showed recently at a community gathering. This work not only highlights the very real needs of the community, it actively works to build a new narrative around pollution, one that suggests that pollution is more than just littering, and positions community organizing as a legitimate response to corporate violence.

In another example, the organization I work with, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, sponsors a yearly Green Screen event, where the films that young people from Detroit make about the environment are highlighted and supported. Last year’s Green Screen showed films featuring community gardening, the need for local grocery stores, industrial pollution and, yes, even classroom responses to littering.

What other ways can community-driven media continue to build on the work that environmental justice activists are already doing? While community media may never be able to fund a gimmicky campaign with a dancing owl or an actor with a single tear running down his face, I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing. What our communities need right now is a new way of thinking about our current problems and the ability to imagine new answers. We need each other — and community-centered media is just the way to start the conversation.

Victoria Goff is a communications coordinator at East Michigan Environmental Action Council.

People power from the No-NATO Counter Summit comes back to Detroit stronger than ever

GGJ delegation to No-NATO Summit in Chicago May 2012
By Patrick Geans-Ali

CHICAGO – In May of 2012, the EMEAC Grassroots Global Justice delegation to the No-NATO Summit arrived in Chicago. I'll freely admit I had little idea about what was in store for the weekend, but in hind sight I can truly say it was momentous on several levels, and many parts of that experience I've brought back with me.

First and foremost, the moment was about the people we met there and the common-cause connections we all share around the environmental and social justice issues we all face. Our fellow GGJ delegates represented social justice organizations from New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago and of course Detroit. Among the delegates was a wonderful diversity of ethnicities, gender identities, political perspectives and organizational causes.

I learned so much in interacting with each of them. From the Asian American delegations from San Francisco and New York I got insights about how even “model minorities” struggle with complex political dynamics around gentrification, cultural assimilation, generational differences, gang activity and yes police brutality and violence. From the local hispanic and African-American community members from Chicago, I learned that the problems with bank foreclosures, privatization of mental health facilities, abandoned housing, neighborhood stability, gentrification, crime and environmental racism mirror those here in Detroit.

After taking the MegaBus in from the D, our little GGJ delegation of myself, Ife Kilamanjaro, Charity Hicks, Victoria Goff and Siwatu Salama Ra did our part to make room for the big shots in town by camping out in two rooms at a local hostel. We had a total of eight members sharing space along gender lines...such that they are among grassroots collaboratives.

From the LGBQT delegates, I learned that their definition of community is not as limited as some would have you think. Heck, I even managed to get some delegates to come out the closet as true sports aficionados. In short, the trip mostly reaffirmed for me that we are all just regular people dealing with a most extraordinary time in history.

You would think that the fall of the former Soviet Union and the subsequent transformation of both Russia and China into a one-world economic order where red states are going green (and no, I don't mean environmentally green either) would make the need for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization obsolete. Think again.

With no large collective adversary to push back, it too often seems NATO – the joint military arm of the Group of 8 (G8) countries: the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Russian, Germany, France, Italy and Japan and the world's larger military industrial complex feel they need to push back individual citizens to justify its existence. Now apparently dedicated to protecting the world from a rag tag group of terrorists diligently training on monkey bars when they can afford to peep out of their desert caves or assassinating the occasional rogue dictator, NATO held their annual summit in Chicago May 17-21.

I suppose we should all be thankful that doing something as Un-American as peacefully assembling to protest the summit didn't warrant NATO to employ any of their unmanned drones.

Personally, I have never seen such a police gathering in my life. You would have thought that instead of NATO there was a world doughnut summit going on if it wasn't for stern faced ones decked out in riot gear with hickory sticks at the ready in case any of the Harry Krishna's decided to make up for year's of fasting by raiding every doughnut stand in the Windy City.

Looking back, I suppose that was all for the television audience who actually couldn't be there. The discrepancy between my experience on the ground there in Chicago and what I was seeing in the main stream media coverage was one of the more enlightening aspects of the whole weekend.
On the ground, we got to see some of the real reasons behind NATO's angst over the protests. As the military arm of the G-8's dubious economic empire, I suppose the NATO commanders should be feeling a little antsy.

They've learned to live with any number of civilian casualties aka "collateral damage" from the use of unmanned drones overseas. So, the deployment of ground based two-legged drones in riot gear on the streets of a major American city is probably their definition of soft power. NATO exercises much more ominous shows of force all around the world, so why not let the U.S. Population get a peek at the kinder, gentler face of NATO. Right?

After our arrival on day one, we got to hear about how the grassroots activists of Chicago have been “occupying” the shut-down of mental institutions in hopes of keeping patients off the streets while the privatizers find ways to profit off their condition. Since this was done decades ago in Detroit, I couldn't help but wonder what was taking them so long. We also got to hear how the immigrant community is organizing for their rights while having their labor exploited by many of the same policies that make the G-8 so wealthy at the expense of citizens both foreign and domestic.

The next morning on route to a NATO Journalists Tour of “the other Chicago”, we got the lowdown on how local corporations put $36.5 million in tax subsidies to use. Fourteen million of that total was allocated for parties and social functions. I suppose with the world economy like it is, even the G-8 has to pass the hat around to make sure the muscle end of the family can enjoy their time in the Second City.

I wonder did they bring their secret service agents? Probably not as everyone knows the price of prostitutes in the US is appreciably higher among the so-called developed nations where our politicians provide their services with enough wanton abandon to make the workers of any South American bordello blush.

Of the corporate donors that contributed to the NATO party slush fund, United Air Lines received $31M in tax increment financing, Boeing received $24M in property tax breaks and grants from the city, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange got $9.8M in tax breaks, AECOM received over $30 million in city contracts, AT&T, Bank of America, Exelon and Harris Bank each got $30M, $25M, $60M, $98M and $1.2 Billion respectively in city business.

Not to be outdone, the state of Illinois chipped in by returning $77M of CME's $2 Billion in profits, Boeing got an additional $17M in state subsidies and another $13 million in state grants.
Meanwhile, what have the tax paying residents of the city and state been getting for living and working in Chicago? Well in our first stop on the media tour, the residents of the largely African-American community of Englewood have been getting the same treatment the rest of the country as been getting: foreclosures with banks inexplicably refusing to rent vacant properties to potential renters, cut backs in all public services, lost jobs, reduced wages and lip service -- according to Mr. Charles Brown, a retired police officer and community leader with Action Now.

At our next stop in the largely hispanic community of Brighton Park, the priorities of seeing to the safety of the NATO elite was so great, that mothers and grandmothers of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council had to don their yellow vests (not bullet proof ones like we would see later on the manned drones lining the streets downtown). These ladies volunteer their time to work the school cross walks because the city can no longer afford to provide adequate police protection for school children in the community.

It turned out that we could have used some protection because when our little troupe of journalists wandered one block over to take pictures the memorials tagged in memory of fallen gang members, one of the S.A's took exception. He rode through on his bicycle and swerved through the corner like a buzzed hornet finding intruders in his hive and reminded us all in his own way that “people die 'round here.”

Maybe it was the presence of the vigilant mothers and grandmothers a block away that kept him from carrying out a sting operation. But needless to say, we took his reminder to heart and made our way back on the bus and headed back down town where it suddenly seemed a lot safer place to be.
That Friday afternoon was one of the best parts of the entire weekend however as GGJ's Sha Grogan-Brown and I walked back from the Hyatt to Daly Plaza with a community journalist from Chicago and another American expatriate living in France.

It was at Daly Plaza that I first saw the scale of the police presence assembled in Chicago. They were out in force because the National Nurse's Union had decided to hold a rally on the steps of the government buildings in favor of the Robin Hood tax. The nurses were all decked out in green red-feathered bonnets and woodsman clothes in support of the now arcane notion that taking from the poor to give to the rich is not good economic policy in a Democracy.

Can you imagine the nerve of these modern day outlaws running around in green hoods and red fairy tights right under the Sheriff of Nottingham's nose? They even had the nerve to break out into flash mobs and defiantly remind Democratic Mayor Rom Emanuel that he was occupying the People's office!

Fortunately for the police, the nurses soon gave way to a modern day warrior-minstrel like Rage Against the Machine lead guitarist Tom Morello. Morello began by pointing out that he was another Harvard graduate with a Kenyan father and American mother from Illinois with rock star credentials in town for the NATO festivities. He then proceeded to energize the rally with a rousing Jimmy Hendrix impersonation, and some good old fashioned folk music.

Morello's rendition of This Land is Our Land and World Wide Rebel Song to close out the rally sent the throng gathered in Daly Plaza away on a high note. The wind swirling through the concrete jungle had a tangible electricity to it as Sha and I now gathered with the entire GGJ delegation across the street on a corner opposite the plaza. There a restlessness in the air as the crowd was being ushered out of the plaza by police.

We blended in with the regular workers come down from their offices to see what all the buzz was about, however we intentionally avoided getting swept up in the crowd being channeled back up Washington Street like a rush of rain water. We didn't come there for any drama and people were wary of provacateurs planted among the crowd to give police the justification for being there in such overwhelming force. We soon found our bearings however and found our way to our van.

Next, it was off to Chicago's Little Village neighborhood for a grassroots environmental justice tour. You can draw many similarities between Southwest Detroit's 48217 and Little Village. They both fit the pattern of initially being a landing spot for poor Eastern European immigrants who found work in industrial facilities along what was then the outskirts of the city. As the number of industrial facilities grew, so did the number of black and hispanics in the community with Little Village being mostly hispanic today.

The rates of asthma among children and miscarriages among women are largely credited to a waste disposal facility and coal power plant nearby. But I have to say that the level of industry and environmental justice hazards in Detroit are on a whole other level.

Even on its smaller scale, Little Village had some valuable lessons to be share with the EJ community of Detroit. Because they were truly a small grassroots operation rooted in the local community, Little Village was able to have the freedom to apply leverage against local industry that some of the larger foundation funded-EJ groups in either city haven't been able to.

Their new association with GGJ and traditional EJ organizations like the Sierra Club has been a part of those victories for sure, but their real strength lies in the fact that the people being most affected are the ones advocating on the community's behalf because they live and work there.

It was also interesting to note the obvious toll exposure to the conditions there had on our delegation. Check out my colleague Victoria Goff's account of her experience there. As we walked over to near the industrialized zone, I was reminded so much of walking through the smelly, dusty atmosphere surrounding the rice mills I grew up around in Arkansas.

For some of our delegation, it simply made them nauseated and sick. The combination of a long day of marches, rallies, security stare downs and warm temperatures didn't help. Nor did Rafael and Conseulo's assurances that we could just ignore the security detail taking our pictures. By the time the tour was over, we had all had enough. Thank God that Friday came to a close with Little Village officially becoming the latest member of GGJ.

The highlight for me that Saturday was a speech by Iraq/Afganistan War veteran Alejandro Villatro. As a veteran of the first Gulf War, I have a special place in my heart for the veterans of this one. I served in the U.S. Navy as a chaplains assistant from 1989-1993. I also did three years in the Arkansas Army National Guard and have a sister who retired from the U.S. Air Force (not to mention various other family members, friends and classmates who have served or are serving in the various branches of the military) so I couldn't think of a better way to end the weekend than to march in support of the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Saturday was otherwise about lectures and workshops which didn't to go over too well with the grassroots oriented members of the delegation. Still, Alejandro's story made up for it all. Fortunately for us, Alejandro's presentation was enough to key us up for the big closing event on Sunday.

I had to fight down a huge lump in my throat as I tweeted his words as he spoke from the podium that Saturday. No better person could have set the table for Sunday's big march led by Iraq Veterans Against the War by down Michigan Avenue. At the end of that long march, the IVAW would symbolically return their medals to NATO generals.

When Sunday arrived, I soon learned that schedule changes were pushing the march back and that my fellow EMEAC delegates and I would not be able to attend the entire way because our bus back to Detroit was leaving before the March would be over. It would turn out to be a huge protest march through the streets of Chicago. I've been to enough stadium events to safely guess there must have been no less than 10,000 participating.

I had no real idea of the scale the march would eventually take on. When we arrived at where the pre-march rally was being held, we joined our delegation with the International League of People's Struggle which mostly consisted of Filipino and other Pacific Islanders. The ILPS was the most organized group of activists I had ever seen, and I knew enough about the history of Filipino opposition to American and Spanish occupation from former Filipino nationals I had the honor to serve with in the Navy that I had some idea why.

The group was determined to maintain they integrity of their ranks in the parade from outside provocateurs and I was honored that they asked me to be a part of their security detail. I looked totally out of place of course as a six-foot dreaded black guy who was part of a human chain surrounding the ILPS delegation as we marched but I did my best. It was fascinating to see how the onlookers were obviously impressed by the way the group did their synchronized chants and steps among all the bustle, banners and pageantry of the march.

The thing I hated most is that we didn't get a chance to march all the way. The MegaBus back to Detroit was scheduled to leave before we could see the veterans give back their medals to the NATO generals. Still, I had gotten a real sense of the people power bubbling up to the surface in the face of all the powerful opposition people all over the world are up against.

I had stood with them, marched with them, slept with them and ate with them, and they are still with me as I continue my social and environmental justice work here in Detroit. In trying to sort it all out, I think GGJ's Ife Kilamanjaro said it best.

"I think that the No NATO summit and mobilizations are ways for people to feel as though they are doing something to oppose the destructive policies of nameless transnational corporations and their U.S. government puppets. Also, I see that these convergences provide a space for people engaged in similar work to meet, work and strategize with one another. On another level, however, I think that it reflects a need for deeper study and analysis. It is important to learn lessons from the past, understand this current moment and figure out what is most appropriate for the current moment."