Newsletter March 10

March 12, 2014

Save the Date! 

Mark your calendars for June 27 - 30 for a 4-day Our Power gathering!  Our Power Detroit is focused on scaling up the leadership and presence of youth and young adults the environmental and climate justice movements.  During this gathering, we will work on generating solutions for a Just Transition* from reliance on unsustainable, polluting, resource intensive practices and policies to those that are sustainable, renewable and nurture healthy communities. We will discuss the health, environmental and climate impacts of polluting energy producing industries; collaboratively generate creative ways to address the negative impacts, while posing sustainable, renewable and non-exploitive alternatives; and define pathways to move this agreed upon work forward. 

EMEAC is a member and serves on the Steering Committee of the Climate Justice Alliance, a collaborative of community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, socially and economically just transition away from unsustainable energy and false solutions to climate change.  In 2013, CJA launched a national Our Power campaign to win real solutions to the climate crisis.  One component of the campaign calls for spaces to be created for deeper work. Our Power Gatherings bring together frontline communities and allies to coordinate community-led action strategies that advance an ecologically resilient and economically just transition out of deadly, destructive, dirty development into new economic solutions based on healthy work that serves our communities, heals the planet and preserves our cultures. 

*Used here as a verb, Just Transition is a broad frame that outlines our commitment to co-create the transition from such heavy reliance on dirty, polluting forms of energy to more sustainable, renewable forms.  It also encompasses our commitment and efforts to lift up and contribute to building local, living economies that foster community resilience and bring about lasting change.

EDGE Funders and National Allies Visit

Charity Hicks speaks to funders
During the week of February Detroit hosted the Environmental Grantmaker's Association State of the State's briefing.  EMEAC's Everybody at the Table for Health (EAT4Health) Fellow Charity Hicks spoke briefly at a pre-dinner social event at Colors  about bringing about real transformation in the city of Detroit through a regional food system. The next day, we hosted a couple of fishbowl conversations as part of a broader discussion among EDGE Funders Alliance members about Breaking the Silos: Deepening our engagement on grassroots organizing and building movements for power locally and beyond.  With such allies as Rhonda Anderson (Sierra Club EJ office), Ahmina Maxey (Zero Waste Detroit Coalition), Michelle Martinez (Consortium of Hispanic Agencies), we explored several of the issues, challenges and opportunities many of us face in efforts to create meaningful change in our communities.  We touched on such topics as the critical role that grassroots organizing plays in creating change in society, building and maintaining coalitions, fiscal impacts when funders disagree with political positions taken by organizations, and relationships with grasstop/big green organizations. Though only a beginning, our hope is that these conversations continue and ultimately lead to more support going to the grassroots sector. 

Youth Ready2Grow in Good Health

It was fun under the sun this winter as Ready2Grow youth and their families enjoyed ice skating and snow shoeing.  According to EMEAC's Sanaa Green, both events were a success as children played, laughed and enjoyed the outdoors.  Snow shoeing at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo provided an opportunity for Ready2Grow participants to collaborate with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network's Food Warriors program.  The outing opened with a blind trust activity to demonstrate senses other than sight that are used in tracking.  One of the guides explained that Native Americans used snow shoes coupled with all of their senses to travel in in the snow and track animals. 

These family events, designed to encourage healthy eating and exercise habits to prevent childhood obesity, are only some of the exciting things we do as part of this program.  During and after school we offer programs that engage children in a variety of hands-on learning games and other activities aimed at reducing and preventing obesity, while making important connections to nature and the environment. 

What We Have Our Eyes On

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama's Climate Action Plan, has begun the process of developing standards for new, existing and modified power plants.  This is the first time in U.S. history that such regulations are being developed.  However given that power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon pollution in the United States, we are concerned that EPA's standards don't go far enough. For one, the standards promote such false solutions to climate destabilization as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, natural gas production and biomass incineration.  CCS is problematic because not only are the technologies untested, but storing carbon underground can have severe consequences. The extraction and transportation of natural gas devastates the environment and people who depend on it. And biomass incineration is one of the most expensive, inefficient and polluting ways to make energy, according to Energy Justice Network. 

Despite our concern about the methods embraced by the administration, we are glad that there is an attempt to reduce emissions.  This sentiment is not shared, however, by those who benefit by the pollution as challenges have already been made at the federal and state levels.  For example, although the Supreme Court decided in 2007 that greenhouse gas emissions are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act, industry profiteers have challenged EPA's authority to regulate emissions for stationary sources. Additionally, pro-fossil fuel industry legislators have introduced a dozen anti-EPA bills and resolutions across the country. 

While we will continue to monitor and report on the issue, we encourage you to submit your thoughts and concerns to the EPA on new power plants and existing power plants