Voices for Earth Justice is featured in Dr. John Telford's column this month in the Detroit Native Sun. You can read the article here: http://www.detroitnativesunonline.com/Columnists.html, or see the text below. VEJ was also featured in the following article over the summer by Catholic News Service: "Dominican-backed Hope House grows new life in a Detroit neighborhood". In addition, VEJ Board President Anthony Hatinger was featured in a National Geographic article about Detroit earlier this year for his work with aquaponics, "Tough, Cheap, and Real, Detroit Is Cool Again".
Telford Telescope: Voices for Earth Justice
By Dr. John Telford
Now that the Michigan Chronicle has new and more community-supportive editorial leadership, Chronicle readers will be learning a whole lot more about some top-level malfeasances committed during Detroit Public Schools' entirely unwarranted state takeover and its subsequent decade-plus of disastrous 'emergency management' in periodic columns I will write there again.
Native Sun readers have already been reading about these malfeasances in this column for years. The malfeasances have been grossly unreported in the mainstream local media, including the television and radio stations. That is, they have gone unreported except on my and the late Angelo Henderson's shows on WCHB NewsTalk1200 and in grassroots publications such as the now out-of-print Michigan Citizen, sometimes in the Metro Times, here in the monthly Native Sun, and on the website of D-REM (Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management). In the Sun and on that D-REM website, my old Chronicle columns found a new home, and essays by Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann of St. Peter's Church, WSU Professor Tom Pedroni, and ACLU affiliate Curt Guyette joined their voices to mine on the D-REM website to keep the public apprised of these unlawful offenses against impoverished Detroiters and their schoolchildren.
Last year, I had the pleasure of working with Rich Samartino, a rising young activist in Detroit who is committed to addressing issues of social justice and achieving the re-empowerment of Detroit's democratically elected school board. Rich has been directly instrumental in coordinating the D-REM website d-rem.org) and the We the People of Detroit website (wethepeopleofdetroit.com). He has also been hired as an IT Support Professional by Voices for Earth Justice, a new non-profit based in the neighborhood of Brightmoor in northwest Detroit that aims to strengthen community bonds and spirituality through gardening projects, social gatherings, and environmental education.
Rich is not the only talented employee at Voices for Earth Justice. Naim Edwards, another aspiring young Detroit activist, is the Voices’ Garden and Outreach Coordinator. He is designing and managing the organization's gardens and coordinating its programs for youth and volunteers. Naim recently returned from a conference in India, where he represented the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN). The conference consisted of a series of meetings organized by grassroots organizations from around the world to form policies that will be proposed and hopefully passed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This Morehouse man is an alum of the Capuchin Volunteer Corps and also works closely with Great Lakes Bioneers and with Neighbors Building Brightmoor.
Voices for Earth Justice is working to rekindle a connection to nature for Detroit residents, cultivating native plant species and organic vegetables, and fostering biodiversity at its gardens. Voices also has a strong focus on social justice in the city. This focus is evidenced by Voices' membership and affiliation with groups like the People’s Water Board Coalition, Zero Waste Detroit, and a Black Lives Matter sign that will soon be proudly displayed on the property. The non-profit is hoping to make garden engagement and environmental education accessible to neighborhood residents and to schools. It is commonplace to see people of all ages in the neighborhood helping out in the garden, enjoying the colorful array of flowers, and relaxing in the community space. The response by the neighborhood has been most positive, but it still must be weighed against the severe challenges still facing Detroit’s underserved and disenfranchised residents, who have suffered under the yoke of emergency management, the state's forced privatization and plundering of the Detroit Public Schools, water shutoffs, housing foreclosures and pervasive resultant blight, and drug-peddling and gang violence out in the neighborhood. Naim and Rich are working toward building a more positive future for these residents, while remaining ever-vigilant to the ongoing hardships that the residents face.
As with any organization functioning in an urban setting, Voices for Earth Justice appreciates financial and in-kind support. You can go to http://www.voices4earth.org to see what materials it needs and make a financial contribution online. Voices is also actively pursuing grants to fund its programs, and readers who may know of any grant leads or who wish to volunteer with the organization can contact Voices' Executive Director, Patricia Gillis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Telford is a Detroit educator and poet whose most recent book is a biography of legendary Miller and Pershing coach Will Robinson. His books are available at Amazon.com by typing in 'Dr. John Telford.' They can also be obtained via direct contact with the author at (313) 460-8272 or DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com. His 4:30 Sunday afternoon shows on WCHB are on temporary hold, but he plans to resume broadcasting them very soon. In the meantime, his recent shows can be tuned in by scrolling to the Radio tab on his website, www.AlifeontheRUN.com.