Organization’s Social Mission
Established in 1981, EcoWorks is a non-profit organization focused on energy education, green building, and sustainable communities promoting the development of resource efficient, affordable, healthy homes and communities through education, training and technical assistance.
Description of Organization
Established in 1981, as WARM Traning Center, Eco Works is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Detroit, Michigan.
At Eco-Works 8th Annual Breakfast on November 4, 2016, Executive Director, Justin Schott gave a humbling and inspiring speech. Read his words here:
Bringing everyone together is my favorite part of the breakfast, but a close second is the invitation to become a student again, to stretch my understanding of sustainability and social justice. This year, that meant going back to the Native American writings I became familiar with a few years ago, reading LaDuke and watching her talks, and actively engaging in dialogue about the evolving resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
During this period, I have realized my ignorance, how far off my radar Native issues have been when there is not a pipeline in the national media. I do not think I’m alone in this sense. In Detroit, we have a phenomenal community of activists and elders to keep us grounded in local struggles, particularly those that affect our black, Hispanic, and Arab American communities, from access to clean water to healthy affordable housing. We have incredible leaders among us today and remember the wisdom of protectors like Grace Lee Boggs and Charity Hicks. I hope, though, that we broaden our circle of solidarity and open ourselves to indigenous struggles, too.
One recurring narrative around the struggle at Standing Rock and the pipelines that LaDuke and others have fought in Minnesota, is that this goes far deeper than seeking economic opportunity or even basic protections from violence and for democratic rights. It is not merely this pipeline that is at stake, nor is it just this election or even the next 35 years that we have to be concerned about. For Native communities, this is about survival, about the fundamental right to exist.
With all of the injustices we are already grappling with, how do we, to use a phrase from a Billy Collins poem, find room on the walls of the heart? The weight of injustice these past few months has been heavy, it has been a real source of grieving for many of our staff, myself included. The work we signed up for is hard and emotionally draining.
While EcoWorks may be celebrating 35 years today, the indigenous people have a much longer time horizon. In her book All Our Relations, LaDuke describes the simple yet eloquent process of an Anishanaabeg couple working together to harvest wild rice in September as “a thousand year old scene on Big Chippewa Lake. And there is a community that intends to carry it on for another thousand years.” Thinking in millennia is incomprehensible to many of us, but that is what guides many Native communities to act courageously in the face of exploitation. Faced with sniper rifles, pepper spray, dogs, sound cannons, rubber bullets, and other weaponry of a highly militarized force, the water protectors have responded with song, with prayer, with horseback rides along proposed pipeline routes, with holding the line and the high road.
At this milestone in EcoWorks’ history, this is what we hoped to capture in the Spirit of EcoWorks–a sense of the big picture, of the long, winding good green road we are here to travel. I want to end with a quote from Egiwaateshkang, George Aubid, Sr. from All Our Relations, that ties back to both the power of indigenous wisdom and today’s theme about spirit:
“We do not have thousands upon thousands of dollars. We do not have great mansions of beauty. We do not lead a life of ease nor do we live in luxury. We do not own the land upon which we live. We do not have the basic things of life which we are told are necessary to better ourselves. But today, I want to tell you that we do not need these things. What we do need, however, is what we already have. What we do need has been provided to us by the Great Spirit…. We need to realize who we are and what we stand for….We are the keepers of that which the Great Spirit has given to us, that is, our language, our culture, our drum societies, our religion, and, most important of all, our traditional way of life…. We need to be the Anishinaabeg again.”
What do you need to awaken to and stand for? What are the culture and the traditions you need to be keepers of in your communities, in your workplaces? Who are the people you need to become again?
Thank you for being here, have a wonderful weekend, come stand with the protectors today at 4:00 in Detroit and Saturday in Lansing, then get out and vote as we make history on Tuesday. Thank you.