EMEAC celebrates women and people of color in leadership at community event

May 28, 2013

Originally posted at The Michigan Citizen

Co-Directors Dr. Ife Kilimanjaro and Diana Copeland (background)

East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) celebrated women and people of color in leadership positions May 10 by hosting a community wine and cheese tasting.

Featuring locally made wines and cheeses donated by local businesses, the night’s activities showcased the past and present work of EMEAC and its community. Co-director Diana Copeland began the night by demonstrating the importance of remembering and centering the communities on the “front lines” of environmental and ecological injustice.
“As part of our organization, we have a memory of where we came from and a duty to amplify the voice of the ignored, marginalized and the beaten down — that the story of place comes from those living in the front lines of environmental and ecological warfare,” Copeland told those who attended the event.
“There are many such communities in Detroit. They are called frontline communities because even though climate change will affect the entire planet, these communities are most vulnerable and bear the biggest health and quality of life burdens for the energy and industry that we all use.”
Dr. Ife Kilimanjaro was introduced as the new co-director of EMEAC. Killimanjaro will be sharing leadership responsibilities with Copeland, who has been the director of the organization since 2006.
Kilimanjaro’s acceptance speech continued the night’s theme on the importance of centralizing traditionally marginalized communities in environmental justice work.
“Tonight we honor and celebrate leadership of women and people of color in the progressive march of history,” she said. “(These) populations (are) often valued in words but in practice, continue to face barriers to a variety of institutions, fields of study and careers; populations that are disproportionately and increasingly unable to meet basic needs and subject to the harmful impacts of ecological injustices and climate change; populations that are systematically kept out of positions of power where decisive decisions are made; and populations that often carry out added responsibility of caring emotionally, psychologically and physically for others. We celebrate women and people of color as leaders.”
Throughout the night, local wine and cheese was served to guests. Wine samples were donated by Detroit businesses The Bronx Bar and Traffic Jam and Snug. Specialty cheeses from Farm County Cheese House, located in Lakeview, Mich., made up the assortment of cheeses available for sampling.
The event also included an enactment of EMEAC’s extensive 40 year history of organizing in Detroit, followed by a presentation on the history of “The Commons,” or the set of three buildings and the community that now make up what is formerly known as the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit.
The event also kicked off the two-month long effort by EMEAC to raise $10,000 to renovate the windows of The Commons buildings. Replacing and restoring the decades old windows would allow for a cost savings for EMEAC. As Copeland stated, “This window campaign seems like a fitting way to launch our new vision! This will save tremendous energy. Many of the windows are cracked or the window seals and trim are rotted through. It will be an uplifting accomplishment for EMEAC and beautiful improvement for these historic buildings.”
EMEAC’s board and staff have committed to raising funds through their own individual online fundraising pages at www.firstgiving.com/emeac
East Michigan Environmental Action Council began as a response in the 1960s to environmental concerns in southeast Michigan. EMEAC’s mission is to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve and value the land, air and water.
For more information about EMEAC programs and events, contact EMEAC media director Lottie Spady at lottie@emeac.org or 313.556.1702 Ext 701.