The team at Eco-Works proved themselves bravely faithful and worthy of the 35 year anniversary it celebrated at the Detroit Yacht Club last Friday. Centering the celebration around the Spirit of its people, partnerships, and mission, the Sustainable Community Champion Awards Ceremony held a far different energy this year. An honest, personal, and commitment filled thread weaved its way through the program in a rare and courageous way that left the attendees inspired and motivated for the future growth of not only the city, but the nation as a whole on it’s determined path for a sustainable tomorrow.
Held each year at the Detroit Yacht Club, the peaceful and elegant entrance up to the second floor to watch the sun rise above the water was reason enough to attend. The history and original architecture of the event based facility included a buffet-style breakfast offering, spilling over and above the servicing warmers with something for everyone. White linened tables were embellished with signage for sponsor acknowledgement and green floral centerpieces, held in Reclaim Detroit wooden vases. New faces were sprinkled in with veterans of the breakfast, all in anticipation of seeing the awards presented and keynote speaker Winona LaDuke.
Energy Auditor Brittany Anstead, who originally hails from North Carolina and embraces her Native American roots and is a relative newcomer to Eco-Works, enthusiastically introduced Winona LaDuke as keynote, taking the attendees along the journey of her chance meetings throughout the last few years with LaDuke. Her passion and excitement for the mission and message of LaDuke was clear and created an anticipation in the audience, who was honored with a traditional exchange of tobacco to honor the internationally known activist as she came to the stage.
Executive Director of the group Honor the Earth, LaDuke is a Harvard graduate with a degree in rural economic development. She captivated the room with her first hand accounts of the struggle and continued challenge of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline being forced upon the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Pepper spray, dogs, humans being locked up ion dog kennels for 9 hours, and other militant abuse scattered her speech as she called for the rational and compassionate support of those who care deeply for the sustainability of the country. Certain that the pipeline will disrupt the sacredness of the land, it’s inhabitants, the pollution of the water is at the height of the concern. Wild rice that is grown within the water is not only a staple of the people of the land, but holds an economic place with the citizens of the reservation as well. Fossil fuel infrastructure must be removed and replaced by wind, solar, and
The Sustainable Community Champions Award is given each year to leaders and representatives who bring sustainability, environmental justice, and energy efficiency to our Southeast Michigan communities. This years awards went to educator Michael Craig of the Drew Transition Center, (http://detroitk12.org/schools/drew/), Executive Director of Michigan Saves, Mary Templeton, (http://michigansaves.org), Flint community spokesperson, LeeAnn Walters, (http://flintwaterstudy.org/category/updates-from-lee-anne-walters/), and the inspiring Cody Youth Ambassadors, (http://www.glstewardship.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=tpPyHv40hhM%3D&tabid=188), a team of students spearheading several projects in and around Cody High School’s Detroit Institute of Technology, (http://detroitk12.org/schools/codydit/).
Justin Schott’s final remarks at the end of the breakfast were both humbling and inspired as he spoke of his gratitude for the spiritual connection that the non-profit holds dear as it moves ahead, honoring the big picture of the indigenous people of America. To read Justin’s full remarks, please click here.
Look for your chance next year to nominate an award winner and to participate in the breakfast next year by visiting http://www.ecoworksdetroit.org or contacting Alicia Miller at Eco Works – 313.894.1030
Cathleen Francois is Executive Director at GreeningDetroit.com She can be reached at 248-818-4252