Updates and Actions - July 2014

July 17, 2014

Reflections from OP Coordinator William Copeland 

Submitted by Will Copeland
Our Power Detroit Coordinator
Directors Diana Copeland and Ife Kilimajaro joined the Young Educators Alliance to set the tone with a profound opening ceremony.  Fifty-seven people representing CJA member organizations and other environmental justice allies joined with local Detroit activists, artists, and community change agents. We are happy to announce that over ⅔ of Gathering participants were 25 and younger.  Khafre Sims-Bey at the YEA debrief remarked "I have a feeling that I will be seeing them over and over again"  One of our objectives was to host a significant gathering of youth activists in the climate justice and environmental justice movements that would help build relationships and deepen a generational analysis of organizing. [Continue reading...]

Voices of Our Power Detroit Participants

Submitted by Brittany Anstead
University of Michigan, Arts and Citizenship Intern
Interviewing Our Power Detroit participants and documenting their testimonies was quite uplifting and rewarding. Many, both native and non-native Detroiters, shared a fluid commonality among their testimonies, a conscious passion to change our planet's current trajectory through a just transition.  One testament, by Ms. Dorian Willams of the Better Future Project, left a lasting impression on me.  Ms. Williams articulated a testimony not only embellished with raw, beautiful empathy for Detroit, but an affinity with the meaning of "Our Power". [Continue reading...]

Preliminary Reflections on the Venezuelan Social Pre-COP

Submitted by Ife Kilimanjaro
Co-Director, EMEAC
As one of GGJ's three delegates to the social pre-COP on climate change sponsored by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, i am glad to be part of the process of shaping, with others, the country's official statement on climate change going into the 2015 negotiations.  Venezuela invited civil society organizations and movements from around the world to engage in this process as a way of inviting the voice of the people into what has become a very closed and corporate-led UN space. Though there are some questions circulating about the underlying intentions of the Venezuelan government and caution by people who know what it is like to be tokenized or have their work/ideas appropriated by larger bodies and institutions (be spoken for by them), one thing is clear; that this is a huge (though not unprecedented) undertaking deserving of note. Why? [Continue reading...]


Within EMEAC we've been having conversations about Just Transition from an economic system that exploits human labor and natural resources, while damaging both, to one that is based upon community led and implemented solutions that value health of people and the planet. In these exploratory conversations, we've been discussing what a Just Transition means, what it can look like and how to get there, particularly in a place such as Detroit, with a long history of corporate and industrial led environmental degradation and resulting community health challenges.  The Our Power Detroit gathering provided a space for us to have these and other important conversations with and among youth.  As we continue to sharpen what the work looks like on the ground in Detroit, we will further these conversations and deepen the work at the National Gathering in Richmond, California.  Stay tuned for more in August. 

In addition to this long term work, we continue to fight many struggles in Detroit around water, transportation, environmental injustices and more.  EMEAC staff wages these battles while also in mourning for our dear sister, comrade and friend Charity Hicks. Continue to send prayers for her family and friends in this moment. May the struggle continue towards real, fundamental change!