EMEAC ANNUAL LETTER - Its been a busy year!

December 10, 2014

Our Power Detroit at First Water Station
Together we are making a difference!
Dear Friend:

As 2014 comes to a close, we send you well wishes for the new year and invite you to DONATE NOW with a tax deductible gift.

We have been busy this year, thanks to your support!

EMEAC covered new and bold ground in environmental and climate justice work in 2014. For example, our Young Educators Alliance (YEA) hosted our very first Our Power Detroit (click to watch video) and brought over 150 young leaders from around the nation to participate in and lead conversations at the Our Power Campus at the Cass Corridor Commons (June 27-29th). The weekend was full of workshops, discussions, activities and conversation. Saturday Night saw a concert headlined by YEA.  The Water Is Life Community Action was a demonstration on Our Power in effect.  We worked with the People's Water Board, We The People of Detroit, Detroit 2014: Building a National Network and other local change agents to help bring the city's first Relief Station to life.
Charity Hicks Presente!


This action was inspired and spirited by Charity Hicks, EMEAC's Policy Director, who transitioned after the gathering on July 8th, 2014. May her spirit live on through OUR POWER.

EMEAC and DBCFSN team up for healthy kids challenge
EMEAC and DBCFSN team up for healthy kids
 Members, friends and supporters have helped EMEAC create engaging and interactive learning experiences with children and families to deepen relationships with nature and to learn about healthy lifestyles -- characteristics we consider important in creating an environmentally just world.

Over the summer EMEAC hosted three Fellows from the University of Michigan: Dominique Mathews, Brittany Anstead and Todd Ziegler who helped to move our climate justice work forward specifically in evaluations, social media and youth workshop development.

EMEAC staff also continued to work collaboratively with other local,
EMEAC's Rackham Fellow Brittany Anstead
EMEAC's Rackham Arts of Citizenship Fellow
Brittany Anstead
state and national allies to bring about greater awareness of issues facing communities impacted by environmental injustices.  As a steering committee member of the Climate Justice Alliance, EMEAC has worked with many grassroots groups around the country to move toward what we call a Just Transition from heavy reliance on polluting fossil fuels to greater use of more sustainable, renewable forms of energy, while consuming less.  You will be able to read more about our great work in our 2014 Annual Report, which will be sent out the end of January. 


In 2015 we will continue to foster collaborations among environmental and justice groups in an effort to create and support green and just solutions to race, poverty and environmental concerns in southeast Michigan.  With your donation of $35, $50, $75 or more we will be able to build space for Detroit and grassroots leaders nationwide to model share, to expand digital justice capacity and cultivate the next generation of earth's caretakers.  We hope that you will help us make all of our programs possible with your gift.  Please click here to donate online or send your contribution to EMEAC 4605 Cass Ave Detroit, MI 48201.

On behalf of the EMEAC staff and Board of Directors we wish you a peaceful holiday season and a Happy New Year.


November 8, 2014

EMEAC’s Contribution to Universidad Sin Fronteras:

A Brief History of Universidad Sin Fronteras Detroit Campus
US Social Forum organizing process
Spring 2010
Initial #UpSouth/DownSouth delegation to Detroit for USSF work project
Summer 2010
USSF Detroit: 20,000 national and international activists
Spring 2011
Young Educators Alliance (YEA) founded
Spring 2011
Detroit Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) against RightSizing process
Cass Corridor Commons created as EMEAC takes ownership of UU church building
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church welcomes grassroots groups to Commons model
Summer 2011 EMEAC/YEA
#UpSouthDownSouth delegation to Project South for Youth/ Education Justice PMA
Summer 2012 EMEAC/ YEA
#UpSouthDownSouth to Jackson, MS for South x Southwest strategy session
Winter 2013
YEA organizes Feed 1 Teach 1 on Gentrification in Detroit
LIBERATION Spring 2013
UNSIF-Detroit organizes “Gentrification is Today’s Colonization” with EMEAC/YEA
UNSIF-Detroit organizes “Decolonize SW Detroit” with Raiz Up Collective & St. Peters
Spring 2014
#UpSouthDownSouth delegation to Jackson Rising
·  Embodying local leadership of activists in 20s-30s,
·  Cultural organizers taking greater leadership in local and national scenes
LIBERATION Spring 2014
UNSIF-Detroit hosts Nelson & Joyce Johnson at St. Peters
·      Welcomes Charity Hicks home from jail
·      #WageLove is first announced

FREEDOM Summer 2014
UNSIF-Detroit facilitates community workshops
·      Decolonizing Detroit at Our Power Gathering
·      Our Culture, Our Water at African World Festival with Peoples Water Board
·      Intergenerational Activism and Water at The Healing North End Arts Festival
Summer 2014
#UpSouthDownSouth delegation to Southern Movement Assembly 4
2014 UNSIF-Detroit organizes “Peoples Power & the Power of Big Money” with EMEAC & St. Peters

Adjunct Faculty exchange and model sharing between Cochibamba and Detroit Water Warriors

Clearly there are multiple issues we are grappling with in Detroit.  And at EMEAC we’ve had our hands in many as we continue work to empower the Detroit community to value the air, land and water ecology. Our food system is directly nested in our environmental/ecological systems & worldwide energy footprint and in the JUST TRANSITION campaign we are calling for a transition from our extreme energy economy to a JUSTICE centered, localized, resilient economy. Policy has a significant role to play in this shift towards resilience and must be leveraged to build transformative solutions, alongside grassroots organizing.

In Detroit, we are grappling with multiple issues simultaneously (e.g., incinerator, highway expansion, trolley, increased pollution, water shutoffs, limited access to healthy foods, etc.), all of which are rooted in a socioeconomic, political system that perpetuates and benefits from race, class, and gender inequalities and oppressions.  We are building with others locally and regionally to oppose this system, while generating solutions that involve creating local living economies that foster community resilience.  

The main strategy that we will employed to build community resilience is through political education tactics using the Universidad Sin Fronteras platform.

As part of her orientation to youth leadership work, Youth Coordinator Siwatu Salama-Ra asks,

“How can I translate what we are discussing here [at EMEAC] to the folks back in the neighborhood?”  

Universidad Sin Fronteras (University without Borders) and the Cass Corridor Commons University:  The Commons University (CCCU) is a collaborative between community, partners, Wayne State, University of Michigan and MSU comprised of community-based learning enriched course work that encouraging students to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to the pressing issues that affect our local communities. Working with faculty members and community leaders, students develop research projects, collect and analyze data, and share their results and conclusions, not just with their professors, but also with organizations and agencies that can make use of the information. Students can do such community-based work both in courses and, in a more in-depth manner, as part of junior or senior independent work.  The courses below and many others have a community-based component and/or offer an opportunity to do a community-based work project in partnership with local organizations.  CCCU course work will focus on food justice.
The opportunity for building this as a political education tool is in building EMEAC base and working towards one of our E4H goals of increasing membership in numbers and quality of experience.

In order to provide political and popular education and skills development training, Southwest Workers Union established an in-house organizing leadership justice institute early in 2003.  This educational work and leadership development has evolved and grown into the University Sin Fronteras founded in 2010.  EMEAC is the Detroit site and anchor for UNSIF.  UNSIF course will include food justice, discussion and round tables educating community members and University students on food related policy and practices.

Universidad certification, credits, accreditation and fee schedule:  Given the dire economic and educational situation in Detroit we feel strongly compelled to make UNSIF relevant


November 7, 2014

See firsthand what is happening in Detroit to fight extreme energy while building community Just Transition solutions in this Our Power video shot during the gathering at the Cass Corridor Commons, Detroit 2014 hosted by East Michigan Environmental Action Council.


Climate, Environmental Health, and Justice - 2014 Nexus Gathering

The Nexus 2014 Global Gathering on Climate, Environmental Health, and Justice sprang out of a recognition that many activists and organizations of the Global South were implementing solutions that are of immense value to the world’s fight to stop and reverse climate change.  I identify with this line of thinking because of Detroit’s status as a Global Black Metropolis and thus an internal colony of the usa.  I was sent to represent EMEAC and the Climate Justice Alliance.  CJA holds the motto “It takes roots to weather the storm” and exists to empower frontline communities to greater leadership in the national and international movement against climate change.  At one point I joined with a few other comrades to emphasize the distinction between “climate change” analysis and climate justice.  We are working for system change not just a reform of industrial pollution practices that maintains their power over our lives and our governments.

I also represented our local work with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).  GAIA was a co-convener of Nexus 2014, an international gathering on climate, health and justice that was organized in coalition between four powerhouse worldwide organizations in the field of global environmental health: GAIA, Healthcare without Harm, Pesticide Action Network, and IPEN which works towards a toxics free future. Jenifer Altman Foundation was the fifth convener. Nexus 2014 was hosted by University of California at Irvine as part of their Towards a Sustainable 21st Century Initiative with planning support and facilitation by the UCI Sustainability Initiative.

Day 1 was a conference held at UCI.  There were panels and presentation.  I was on a panel called “Health Energy, Clean Air.” I spoke about Detroit’s fight against incineration and broader struggles against waste-to-energy.  These policies actually provide incentives for corporations to build incinerators as they label these monstrosities “sustainable energy”
Day 2 we worked on story telling. One prompt was to “Describe a challenge you faced in your work.” I told the story of organizing during the US Social Forum and how local medical doctors withdrew their support from our health care organizing.  Due to the tireless work of Charity Hicks and Dr. Anjali Taneji we organized less priveleged sectors of health professionals (nurses, EMTs, physician assistants, etc) and still created a powerful rapid response team for 20,000 people during the USSF 2010.
Daly 3 focused on sharing strategies and small groups.  I enjoyed our GAIA small group, exchanging with organizers from China, Brasil, and India.  From this discussion I got a greater idea of the connections between climate justice and our waste policies. We analyzed packaging and the consumer culture of the United States, breaking it down all the way to individually wrapped candies and mints! There’s great untapped potential in this framework to build our local Just Transition framework and help create synergy between activities that may be viewed as separate.

After this, we went to San Francisco, where the group presented a Funders’ Briefing. The testimony was powerful. Our group made clear that connections between climate change and community health, while making compelling cases for the leadership of the Global South. At the reception that evening, we networked with funders.  Later, we debriefed the entire week at the National Resources Defence Council, and had a pizza and beer party at a Berkeley brewerie.

One of the best benefits of my participation in this meeting was relationships with a powerful group of organizers.  Alex from the Union of Waste Pickers in Porto Allegre, Brasil was inspirational.  He conveyed a powerful analysis contrasting corporate capture  with peoples’ recycling and told how his Union has offered a nationwide Zero Waste plan to national leaders. They have the political swagger to demonstrate that recycling offered by cooperatives is actually LESS expensive and more effiecient than done by major corporations.

I was welcomed by a trio of powerful African women activists, Mercia from South Africa, Elizabeth from Zimbabwe, and Bridget from Uganda.  Bridget works with the Pan-African Food Sovereignty Network. We discussed a skill exchange: sharing our experiences in youth organizing, as they share skills in international policy work.  Both our organizations are committed to fighting REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) which diminishes indigenous sovereignty, local agriculture, and strengthens corporate land ownership in the Global South all while posing to reduce carbon emissions.

They kept our schedules quite full, but there was some spare time for other pursuits such as: an acupressure massage, riding the BART around the Bay Area, looking at the ocean, standing beneath redwood forest, learning about gentrification and its resistance in Oakland, meeting with a strategic funding ally, and catching up with friends from Detroit, University of Michigan, and beyond.

I am still in my first month as Climate Justice Director for EMEAC. Nexus 2014 helped me to broaden my scope while connecting climate justice to the work EMEAC has already been doing.  There are some powerful opportunities to connect zero waste, Just Transition and build local economic networks.  I am honored to serve as your Climate Justice Director and help build a cleaner, stronger, self-determined Detroit.

Climate Justice Declaration

November 6, 2014

Poor nations, people of color, Indigenous Peoples, and low-income communities in all nations are the first to experience negative climate change impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, drought, heat-death and illness, respiratory illness, infectious disease, and economic and cultural displacement. 

The first conference convened in the United States on "Just Climate? Pursuing Environmental Justice in the Face of Global Climate Change" was held at the University of Michigan in March, 2004. The following 14 principles, developed as the Climate Justice Declaration at the 2nd People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit, surfaced in a workshop at the Michigan conference. The Climate Justice Declaration is endorsed by a variety of individuals and institutions.

To protect the most vulnerable communities, climate policy must follow these principles: 

1. Stop Cooking the Planet
Global climate change will accelerate unless we can slow the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.   Communities have the right to be free from climate change, its related impacts and other forms of ecological destruction.

2. Protect and Empower Vulnerable Individuals and Communities
Poor nations, low-income workers, people of color, and Indigenous Peoples will suffer the most from climate change's impacts.   We need to ensure the opportunity to adapt and thrive in a changing world.

3. Ensure Just Transition for Workers and Communities
No group should have to shoulder alone the burdens caused by the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a renewable energy-based economy. A just transition would create opportunities for displaced workers and communities to participate in the new economic order through compensation for job loss, loss of tax base, and other negative effects.

4. Require Community Participation
At all levels and in all realms, people must have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Communities, particularly affected communities, must play a leading role in national and international processes to address climate change.   Indigenous Peoples must have the right to self-determination to control their lands and resources.   Nations must recognize their government-to-government relationships with tribes.

5. Global Problems Need Global Solutions
The causes and effects of climate change occur around the world.   Individuals, communities, and nations must work together cooperatively to stop global climate change. 

6. The U.S. Must Lead
According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility agreed to by 165 nations as part of the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, countries that contribute the most to global warming should take the lead in solving the problem.   The U.S. is four percent of the world's population but emits over twenty percent of the world's greenhouse gases.   All people should have equal rights to the atmosphere.

7. Phase Out Exploration for Fossil Fuels
Presently known fossil fuel reserves will last far into the future.   However fossil fuel exploration destroys unique cultures and valuable ecosystems, so exploration should be phased out as it is no longer worth the social and environmental costs.   We should instead invest in clean, renewable, locally controlled and low-impact energy sources.

8. Monitor Domestic and International Carbon Markets
Any market-based or technological solution to climate change, such as carbon-trading and carbon sequestration, should be subject to principles of democratic accountability, ecological sustainability and social justice.

9. Caution in the Face of Uncertainty
No amount of action later can make up for lack of action today.   Just as we buy insurance to protect against uncertain danger, we must take precautionary measures to minimize harm to the global climate before it occurs.

10. Protect Future Generations
The greatest impacts of climate change will come in the future.   We should take into account the impacts on future generations in deciding policy today.   Our children should have the opportunity for success through the sustainable use of resources.

11. Ecological Debt Must be Repaid
Fossil fuel and extractive industries must be held strictly liable for past and current life-cycle impacts relating to the production of greenhouse gases and associated local pollutants.   Industrialized country governments and transnational corporations owe the victims of climate change and victims of associated injustices full compensation, restoration, and reparation for the loss of land, livelihood, and other damages.

12. Hold Financial Institutions and Corporations Accountable
Stop the role of financial institutions and transnational corporations in shaping unsustainable production and consumption patterns and lifestyles that lead to global warming.   Stop their role in unduly influencing national and international decision-making on policies that affect the climate.

13. Create Culturally-Appropriate Climate Education
Educate present and future generations about climate, energy, social and environmental issues based on real-life experiences and an appreciation of diverse cultural perspectives.

14. Foster Individual and Community Responsibility to Mother Earth
Individuals and communities must make personal choices to minimize consumption of Mother Earth's resources, reduce our need for fossil energy, make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles, and re-think our ethics with relation to the environment and Mother Earth.

We acknowledge and endorse the Bali Principles of Climate Justice, the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative's "10 Principles for Just Climate Policies in the U.S.", and the Principles of Environmental Justice adopted at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit of 1991, from which these principles were drawn.

Conference steering committee: Dr. Bunyan Bryant, Diana Copeland, Emily Maxwell, Terry Ogawa