My year at the Ecology Center is coming to a close, but my time with the organization is just beginning. Surely the greatest takeaway from this time has been the ability to take concrete steps toward a future I am proud of building for myself, the community, and the planet.
The phrase “Think global, Act local,” has significance to me in this work. It is overwhelming to confront global challenges and fears, but by working in my locality, I have a tangible role in improving the lives of many. The Ecology Center has given me a platform to engage with my community on the issues about which I am passionate.
The environmental movement is not occurring independently of other movements, rather environmental rights intertwine with civil and human rights, women’s rights, class struggles, and the establishment of peace. The questions we face are colossal: who has access to resources, and how do we establish equality in the dispersal of environmental hazards? Subsequently, if conflict is the effect of causal resource disparity, how can actions taken for environmental protection be the route to world peace? How will we build a community and planet upon which humans can outlive our own generation? What corporations put profits before people, and how can we effectively alter consumerism for the betterment of human health? How can we build and rebuild communities and cities that can sustain humans prospering–indiscriminately–for generations to come?
These questions peg me to be an activist. The Ecology Center has shown me that there are communities of thinkers and doers that reject apathy each day, and strive to leave this Earth in better condition than it was when they inherited it.
Political challenges have arisen this summer for the United States and beyond that have added an urgency to my work. There is no time to relent on critical issues when the health of the planet and the longevity of its people are at stake. Yet, this struggle is not nascent, and my work is merely a continuation of the work done by so many. The Ecology Center has been around since 1970, working without stop for environmental and human rights.
Without the relentlessness of the hardworking people with which I am fortunate enough to collaborate, Ann Arbor would look quite a bit different. The Ecology Center created Michigan’s first recycling program, developed the Midwest’s largest locally funded land preservation program, and created the country’s premier source of information about toxic chemicals in brand-name consumer products. Since its origin, it has been moving forward. I am endlessly proud to be part of this ever-forward motion.