During this season of harvest and gratitude, we at Voices for Earth Justice offer a prayer of deep appreciation for our donors, staff members, collaborators, and volunteers.
This year we have connected with you in our gardens, children's programs, interfaith prayer gatherings, environmental justice work, workshops, and pot lucks. Thank you so much for participating with your presence and other forms of support! Partnering with people and organizations who want to save the planet and who share their resources makes the day-to-day miracles of life happen.
We are looking forward to 2017, believing that together we will ensure a more just world for our children and grandchildren. We rely on your annual financial support. Will you help us continue our good work by sending us a check or donating on line through our web site?
THANK YOU, AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING from all of us at
Voices for Earth Justice
Our garden designer and program manager Naim Edwards took a few weeks off in September and October for a permaculture design course in Missouri. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The course was hosted at the Peace and Permaculture Center by the Possibility Alliance. Naim spent two weeks sleeping in a tent on a 160 acre wooded savannah site with no running water or electricity learning how humans can better live in harmony with one another and nature.
Permaculture is an approach to food production that is intended to be self-sufficient and self sustaining. The course was almost divided 50/50 between hard, technical skills and "harder" social skills like conflict resolution. Naim was awakened by music every morning before dawn to a day filled with learning sessions, reflection, and just living outside. He returned from the Permaculture Design Course with new knowledge, ideas, and skills to apply at Hope House and our outreach work in Detroit!
VEJ Cofounder on "Going Green in Warren"Watch Voices for Earth Justice cofounder Patty Gillis on the TV program "Going Green in Warren" discussing faith-based environmentalism, including VEJ's work and Laudato Si: https://vimeo.com/album/2519140/video/189196015 or watch below:
We hosted the Community and Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) from the University of Michigan for a tour of Hope House and discussion of VEJ's work in Detroit. The CEDC provides transactional legal services to non-profit and community based organizations in underserved and urban areas in Michigan. They selected Hope House as one of their tour sites for an introduction to Detroit, as the student attorneys prepare for working with local organizations.
The tour covered a history of VEJ and Hope House, a walk through the property, and discussion about composting, food cultivation, and the rain garden. We talked about how "there is no such thing as away"; meaning when we create waste and throw things out we really just create problems for ourselves and someone else later. We also discussed food culture, how what we eat affects how we live, and how land and water rights are essential to food sovereignty. We closed out with discussion of the rain garden, and how benefits the city by diverting thousands of gallons of water from entering the sewage systems as well as provides food and habitat for wildlife!
On Sunday, September 18, 2016 we enjoyed a beautiful Peace Pole dedication in Detroit at Hope House (see above photo). Rabbi Syme, Imam Muhammad, Rev. Phil Paxton, CP, shared peace from their respective traditions. We prayed the prayer of St. Frances, and all creation shouted for joy as Doris Thunder Feather Allen honored all in a sage blessing ceremony. The Peace Pole was a donation in honor of the 50th Jubilee of Sister Janet Stankowski. Gratitude was extended to family and friends for their prayers, support and donations.
Voices for Earth Justice staff Rich Samartino, Patty Gillis, and Naim Edwards, and summer intern Theresa Beckley-Amaya participated in the St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center’s young adult service retreat. The first day started with a service project at our neighbor Bianca Danzy's property across the street from Hope House, where volunteers gutted the burned out house, so it can be restored as a garden center. Other volunteers cleared the back yard of brush, and painted at Hope House.
Back at the retreat center, we reflected on the call to a life of service, and discussed social justice issues in Detroit and beyond.
Thanks to Bianca, our interns, and volunteers this summer, our garden has been thriving and yielding much produce. With such an abundance, we can both provide it at the farmers' market and give it away to neighbors, visitors, and volunteers.
With support from the Father Clement H. Kern Foundation, we re-launched our youth internship program this August, and welcomed five teenagers from the community to manage the garden and assist us at the Northwest Detroit Farmer's Market. Lamar (17), Lauren (13), Jonathan (18), Damone (13), Michelle (14), and Ricky (12) learned gardening skills, as well as how to cook healthy meals and sell at the market. Bianca led them in a cooking demonstration in the Education Center, using a meal prepared with almost 100% of the herbs and vegetables sourced from our garden.
In late August, we enjoyed a laid back lunch, orientation, and work day with this fall’s PeerCorps group and the family of L'Oreal Hawkes-Williams, our summer intern in 2015. L’Oreal and her husband Dennis are gifting us with professional video and photography to help us promote Voices for Earth Justice’s mission.
Peer Corps will be back! We will be blessed with two mentors from this group of Jewish teens who will help Hope House by caring for the garden and creating educational materials.
In August, Voices for Earth Justice bid farewell to Theresa Beckley-Amaya, our intern in University of Michigan’s Detroit Community Based Research Program (DCBRP). Theresa was an absolute joy to work with; and her research allowed us to network with other private, non-profit, and community organizations that have missions and community engagement similar to ours. We also gained ideas for how to better engage youth as well as how to organize our garden. Pictured above is Naim Edwards, Voices for Earth Justice’s Program Director, with Theresa (center) and our DCBRP intern from last summer L’Oreal Hawkes-Williams at the August 5th DCBRP Exhibition. At the exhibition, Theresa presented a spoken word piece with Naim recounting her experiences in Detroit this summer.