EMEAC began in the 1970s in response to environmental concerns in Southeast Michigan. A cornerstone of EMEAC’s formation was the belief that informing the public about environmental issues would lead to solutions to environmental problems. For over thirty years, EMEAC has been working in the legislature, in the courts, in township halls and in schools, playing a role in the enactment of most of Michigan’s environmental laws. EMEAC has used those laws in court to protect air and water quality, wetlands, natural areas, farmlands and wildlife. We have drafted regulations for local governments and have provided public information and environmental education opportunities throughout Southeast Michigan.
The mission of East Michigan Environmental Action Council is to empower the citizens of Southeast Michigan to protect the land, air, water and diversity of life through informed action. To achieve its mission, EMEAC works primarily with Detroit-area students to build their leadership skills to become environmental justice advocates and activists in their own communities. EMEAC also provides environmental science resources for teachers.
While our current programs focus primarily on youth, the goal of EMEAC is to raise awareness, engage and mobilize entire communities affected by environmental hazards in order to improve the quality of life and build healthy, sustainable communities. EMEAC’s current programs are:
Stand Up! Speak Out! – which equips youth with the knowledge, tools, and skills they need to effectively advocate for initiatives and public policies that improve environmental quality in Detroit.
Greener Schools Program, which creates environmental labs in the Detroit Public Schools. Supported by EMEAC staff members, the labs are taught by Community Fellows, VISTA volunteers who are also community residents, trained to deliver the Greener Schools curriculum in the classroom.
ReMedia – ReMedia is an environmental literacy media program which focuses on documenting environmental injustices and solutions. ReMedia integrates environmental education, art, multi-media production, media literacy, green technologies, popular culture, social networking, civic engagement and social consciousness as a means to trigger systemic change on individual and social levels.
EMEAC has demonstrated the organizational, financial and coalition building capacity to lead this broad-based planning effort. EMEAC has worked on a wide variety of successful environmental health campaigns. Our 2005 Clean Air for Kids Campaign, a collaborative effort led by EMEAC along with the Ecology Center and Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) to retrofit and limit pollution caused by diesel school buses, lessened the risk from school buses to children and bus drivers. In 2008 EMEAC worked with Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health to increase the profile, understanding, and policy action on children’s environmental health issues in Michigan.
EMEAC is partnering with the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Natural Resources and the Environment to create community residencies in Detroit Schools as part of our outdoor classroom and nutrition education programs. We are also working with Detroit Public Schools to provide environmental justice leadership and civic engagement trainings for students. Our efforts have increased communities’ capacity to address local environmental and public health issues by providing their members with a better understanding of the cause and effect of pollution, and by providing opportunities to talk with local decision-makers.
EMEAC currently administers a two-year grant from the Kellogg Foundation for our Greener Schools program, which has created innovative environmental labs in the Detroit Public School system. EMEAC fosters program sustainability through focused and effective fund development, sound stewardship of our resources and by empowerment and training of students, teachers and community residents to carry on the work of environmental activism in their neighborhoods and schools beyond their participation in EMEAC programs.
EMEAC has a track record of fostering strong relationships and partnerships with communities and organizations across southeast Michigan including the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program, Michigan Environmental Council, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, the Ecology Center, Clean Water Action and the University of Michigan.