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Fighting For
Environmental Justice

Engaging the community for a better future

MEC was a force for stability and a voice for inclusion in the midst of tumultuous change in Detroit, working to make the city healthier, safer and more vibrant. During 2013 we were a catalyst for engaging residents in Detroit’s revitalization plans, for reigniting conversations about environmental justice at the state level, and for transitioning away from garbage incineration in favor of recycling and other smarter disposal options.

Detroit Future City: Helping residents shape the blueprint

MEC’s Sandra Turner-Handy served in multiple outreach and civic engagement roles as part of a strategic framework to revitalize the city that was released early in 2013. The Detroit Future City plan, part of the Detroit Works Project, offers a vision for the city in areas including health, environment and safety. As a process leader, Turner-Handy was relentless in helping her residents and others understand and shape this blueprint for the city’s future.

Turner-Handy also took the lead in organizing Denby High School students to research the plan’s recommendations, map the potential effects on their communities, and implement environmental recommendations including recycling, stormwater capture and community gardening.

As a Detroit Future City steering committee member, Turner-Handy is ensuring that Detroit’s future includes strong, sustainable policies that respect and include all residents. That effort was a linchpin of our work in 2013 and will continue for the foreseeable future. 

Environmental Justice Coalition

MEC was instrumental in creating the statewide Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition in 2013. The group is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to re-address the tenets of the 2007 executive directive, which calls for a state plan to protect vulnerable residents and persons of color from disproportionate burdens of pollution. That burden falls heavily on Detroiters and others in Michigan’s densest urban areas.

Other key urban, environmental and justice issues MEC engaged in during the year included:

  • Helping create a nonpartisan voters guide and Detroit Environmental Agenda to educate voters in advance of the November 2013 city election. MEC also moderated a candidate forum on environmental issues that was well attended.
  • Advocacy and organizing work that helped secure passage of the Detroit Urban Agriculture ordinance, allowing community gardening and small-scale agriculture in the city.
  • Appointment to the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority Advisory Committee.
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