From the Directors: Why is a "shared leadership" organizational model so important?

June 17, 2013

From the Directors #2

Here is the latest clip From the Directors! In it, co-directors, Ife Kilimanjaro and Diana Copeland talk about why modeling shared leadership in EMEAC's organization model is so important.

East Michigan Environmental Action Council Presents: From the Directors

June 11, 2013

From the Directors #1

 Welcome to From the Directors!

 In an effort to more consistently communicate with members, supporters and allies, my fellow EMEAC co-director, Diana Copeland and I, are creating a space in which to share our thoughts and analyses on a variety of issues that intersect our work, as well as provide updates on new initiatives, collaborations and other organization-wide efforts.

 The video you see here is a short clip from a longer conversation that Diana and I had about the transition to shared leadership. In it, I speak to what led me to EMEAC. Moving forward, we will be posting write ups and/or videos three times per month.

 Please stay tuned for the next From the Director vlog, where Diana and I will discuss the importance of the "shared leadership" model in Detroit organizing!

 Sincerely, Ife Kilimanjaro EMEAC Co-Director

Introducing: EMEAC's Semester in Detroit Intern, Emily McMahan

June 10, 2013

We at EMEAC are thrilled to welcome Semester in Detroit intern, Emily McMahan into our community! Semester in Detroit is an internship program that works to transform students attending the University of Michigan through reciprocal relationships with the people, organizations and neighborhoods of Detroit. By living, learning and working in the city, the students engage with community leaders in transformative work-stregnthening themselves as well as the wider region. You can find out more about the program here.

Please say hello to Emily! 

What is your name: 
Emily McMahan

Where are you from: Commerce Twp., MI

What are you studying at the University of Michigan? 
I'm in the Program in the Environment, with a specialization in Consumer Culture.

Why did you choose Semester in Detroit? 
I first attended an informational meeting about Semester in Detroit because I thought it was going to fill a credit for graduation.  After the meeting though, I knew it was going to be more than that for me.  I couldn't resist the idea of taking classes, interning, and just living in such an amazing and complex city like Detroit.  I really wanted the chance to learn about the city first-hand while gaining experience as an intern at the same time.  

You chose to work with EMEAC for your internship. What made you choose EMEAC?
I chose EMEAC because the project and organization descriptions were so interesting.  I had heard of EMEAC before, but wasn't really aware of how much is actually happening!  An environmental organization striving to do so much good in so many areas is definitely the place I wanted to be.

What are your goals for Semester in Detroit?  
I'm hoping to learn about the city of Detroit on my own terms - everyone always has their own opinions to share, but I really think it's impossible to get the whole picture from biased sources.  Many people have bad things to say and many people have good things to say about Detroit, so I feel like living here myself is the best way to form my own opinion.  Of course I only have a couple months here so I won't possibly get the whole picture, but it's a start.  I also am really looking forward to being a part of the amazing organization that is EMEAC.  I feel like it's a great place to help expand my ideas about environmental problems and solutions in cities and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help make progress with those solutions in whatever way I  can.

Any plans for after graduation? 
As of right now, I'm planning to find a job (preferably in an environmental organization!).  I am graduating a semester early (so I'll be done in December 2013), which makes "the real world" after college seem a lot closer and more overwhelming.  Other than that, I don't really know - I'm just going to go wherever life takes me and hope for the best.

Tell us something about yourself? 
I'm a member of the Michigan Marching Band, as well as a board member for a kindness organization on campus called Do Random Acts of Kindness.  I have met so many great people and have learned so much about myself through both of these groups, and I really think it's made me a better person to be so involved on campus with such amazing people.

EMEAC co-director awarded University of Michigan Visiting Social Activist Fellowship

June 3, 2013

Originally published at The Michigan Citizen

East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) co-director Diana Copeland is the recipient of the University of Michigan’s Visiting Social Activist Fellowship.
Awarded each year by the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women (CEW), the fellowship work focuses on building the capacity and effectiveness of social activists working on issues important to women.
This is accomplished by giving the activist two months in Ann Arbor with access to university resources and support to work on a project that would not be possible under the activist’s usual working circumstances.
For her project in September 2013, Copeland will develop popular education curricula for youth organizations, high school classrooms and other audiences interested in addressing urban environmental issues through a feminist lens.
“EMEAC is an organization that promotes and develops leadership of women and people of color so it seems appropriate to develop a curricula model and dialogue space,” says Copeland.
Since 2007, EMEAC has partnered with Detroit Public Schools and the University of Michigan to run the Greener Schools program, an interdisciplinary arts and environmental education program that uses participatory design activities to engage high school students in redesigning their school yards and elements inside the schools.
The program improves the school environment while giving students a sense of ownership and purpose in designing and developing the initiative.
Building on this educational model, Copeland’s new curricula will include video interviews of Detroit women and teens, reflecting on how place has shaped their view of self and why having a strong sense of womanism is important.
“I greatly appreciate having the time and space that this fellowship will allow me to think about how to link how we do our work with women in a leadership role to how it fits into our roots and education around the environmental justice movement,” she said.
Copeland received a Master of Science degree in environmental justice from the University of Michigan in 2004, where she was lead coordinator of the Environmental Justice and Global Climate Change International Conference. She became executive director of EMEAC in 2005.
With EMEAC as one of three local sponsoring organizations, Copeland was a lead organizer when Detroit hosted over 18,000 citizen activists attending the 2010 United States Social Forum.
EMEAC’s mission is to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve and value the land, air and water. EMEAC builds community power through environmental justice education, youth development and collaborative relationship building.
For more information about EMEAC’s programs or Diana Copeland’s work, contact Lottie Spady at or 313.556.1702 ext. 701.
For more information about the Visiting Social Activist Program, visit or contact Beth Sullivan, CEW senior associate for Advocacy and Policy, at or 734.764.6343.