by Moya Tobey
Since 2011, women in West Michigan have come together to discuss and explore something about which they are all deeply passionate: environment advocacy. These women know how precious our natural resources are and how the environment should be treated; they believe in a better, cleaner tomorrow. Hosted by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), the Women, Community and Environment Series spans three days and will include themes of water, health and environmental issues specific to Michigan. The event kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 21 with time for networking at The Loft at Luna in downtown Grand Rapids.Friday presents an opportunity to view the film Thirst for Justice, which discusses the Flint water crisis and Standing Rock, followed by a panel discussion. To top off the series, Saturday hosts the chance to participate in an advocacy workshop, and attend the hidden heroine awards ceremony with an inspiring speech given by keynote speaker Sen. Stephanie Chang.
Mary Robinson, the Director of Development at WMEAC, has been with the organization for more than six years.
“Every year of this event is profound,” Robison expressed. “We have had amazing speakers and hidden heroines.”
Chang represents the 1st Michigan Senate District and has been an environmental advocate for years. From 2005-07 she was a live-in assistant to Grace Lee Boggs, one of the most revolutionary and inspirational activists of our day. During her time with Boggs, Chang gained a new perspective on the environmental issues facing our state. The experience shaped her as a Detroiter. In tune with one of the themes for this year’s series, the senator believes the biggest environmental issue Michigan currently faces is water. Everything from the Flint water crisis to Detroit residents who are unable to afford their water bill to protecting the Great Lakes needs our consideration. Chang notes that women play a key role in drawing attention to these issues.
“It’s important for women to be involved in these issues,” Chang explained.“We have a lot of things to say because we are thinking about the impact these issues have on families.”
Change is inevitable. Sometimes it comes with a clear alarm sounding above the thunder of everyday life. Sometimes, it appears without so much as a warning. And sometimes, it’s brought about by women who fight for the betterment of their communities.
“It’s important to be around other women activists because it can feel like an uphill battle, and hearing of others’ passions and struggle is encouraging,” Chang commented. “It’s exciting that this gathering is happening, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
We hope to see you there as well.
Tickets to this year’s event are all-inclusive. Click here to purchase.
What: Networking Kickoff
When: Thursday, Feb. 21, 5- 7 pm
Where: The Loft at Luna, 64 Ionia Ave SW #100
What: “Thirst for Justice” Film and Panel Discussion
When: Friday, Feb. 22, 7- 9 pm
Where: Grand Rapids Community College, 143 Bostwick Ave NE
What: Advocacy Workshop, Hidden Heroine Awards, Keynote and Reception
When: Saturday, Feb. 23, 1- 5 pm
Where: Kroc Center, 2500 Division Ave S