East Michigan Environmental Action Council Records, 1969-1989
Using These Materials
- The record group is open for research.
- East Michigan Environmental Action Council.
- Citizens action group concerned with health and environmental issues. Series in record group include Administrative, Grants and Proposals, Litigation, Topical, and Great Lakes and Water Resources Planning Commission.
- 6 linear feet
- Call Number:
- 90189 Bn 2
- Finding aid prepared by: Brian A. Williams
- Scope and Content:
The records of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) comprise 8 linear feet of materials spanning the years 1969-1989. The records have been retained in the order maintained by the organization and consist of 5 series: Administrative, Grants and Proposals, Litigation, Topical, and Great Lakes and Water Resources Planning Commission. The collection documents the founding of EMEAC, its development and operation as an important grass-roots organization, as well as a variety of environmental issues affecting southeast Michigan.
- Biographical / Historical:
The East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) was established in 1970 by a group of dedicated individuals who shared a concern for the health of people and the environment. They determined there was a need for an action-oriented group to address environmental problems directly affecting southeast Michigan. EMEAC was an outgrowth of the environmental grass-roots movement of the 1960s, and came into being in conjunction with the first Earth Day in 1970.
In 1969, the National Association of Junior Leagues announced a national conference on "Strategies for Environmental Control." Each local league was to send two representatives to the conference. Sara McGath and Dorothy Hoffman were chosen to represent the Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan. As a result of the national conference, the two delegates were inspired to create a local environmental protection council. With the support of the Junior League of Birmingham and under the direction of the League's Public Affairs Committee chaired by Susan Cooper, an umbrella organization was formed. This enabled the League to work directly with its own members as well as with members of other organizations. After two meetings of this new task force, the group had attracted fifteen members representing both individuals and organizations, including the League of Women Voters, The Association of American University Women, Planned Parenthood, a number of churches, and other environmentally concerned groups.
Seeking further guidance, the task force met with Shirley Meadowcroft, executive director of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), to learn about the organization and functions of the Grand Rapids group. At that time, WMEAC was an established "umbrella" council representing some 700 individuals and 50 groups. Acting on the advice of WMEAC, in 1971 the Birmingham task force incorporated itself as EMEAC, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. By the end of the year EMEAC counted 75 individuals and 27 organizations among its members.
After its incorporation, EMEAC mandated a three-fold mission encompassing community education, legislative action, and communication of environmental information. An office was established to handle community inquiries and house a library of environmental resource material. Community education was designed to educate the public about environmental problems and solutions. EMEAC has educational programs aimed at both children and adults, offering the screening of environmental films and the distribution of materials through schools and service organizations. Education is also carried out through the publication of brochures and the organizational newsletter Target: Earth. Legislative action includes lobbying for legislation that would encourage environmentally-sound progress, and the oversight of the administration and enforcement of laws that affect the environment. EMEAC follows both a pro-active and reactive policy toward environmental legislation. It works to strengthen and enforce legislation, and to provide information to legislators early in the deliberative process. Other activities include drafting proposed legislation and the preparation of rules and regulations for the enactment of environmental policies. In addition, among the most notable legislative issues EMEAC has been involved with are the Goemaere and Anderson Wetlands Protection Acts, and the Hazardous Waste and Solid Waste Management Acts. EMEAC has increasingly become involved in litigation to bolster and uphold environmental policy. The mission of communication is conducted in a variety of ways, ranging from establishing media contacts to providing testimony at public hearings. Members speak at public meetings arranged by EMEAC's speaker's bureau, which offers a number of informed and educated specialists. Staff members also serve as liaisons with other local environmental and governmental organizations such as Concern, Inc. and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). In 1976, EMEAC consolidated with Environmental Action Now (EAN) and merged with the East Michigan Environmental Action Corporation. Under the 1976 Federal Tax Revision code, the new organization, which retained the name East Michigan Environmental Action Council, was incorporated as a tax-deductible corporation, and a new set of bylaws was written. The merger and consolidation allowed for the hiring of a full-time executive director, who greatly increased the visibility and impact of the organization throughout the state.
Funding for EMEAC is derived primarily from grants. The Ruth C. Mott and Joyce Foundations have been particularly helpful in providing grants and proposal funding. The Harder Endowment assisted the organization in fund raising during the years 1985-1989, when it supplied up to $200,000 to match donations collected from memberships. Currently EMEAC has 1200 individual and organizational memberships.
EMEAC's active membership is supplemented by six full-and part-time professional staff members. EMEAC's governing body takes the form of a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors. The Board of Directors is responsible for determining policy objectives and goals. Members are elected at the annual meeting in May, and serve for a two-year period. The Board of Directors meets monthly with the exception of the summer months. The meetings are chaired by the president, who acts as the liaison between the boards and the office staff. Issues are drawn primarily from the Board's three major task forces: water resources protection, toxic substance management, and farmland preservation. The Board of Directors consults with the Board of Advisors, although the latter is not directly involved in setting policy. The Board of Advisors is designated as a committee of informed and environmentally concerned individuals. The advisors are comprised of scientists, lawyers, doctors and other specialists who act as consultants and resource people for the organization. Both boards are comprised entirely of volunteers. The professional staff members, managed by the executive director, implement policies set by the Board of Directors.
- Acquisition Information:
- The record group was donated by EMEAC (donor no. 7817 ) in June 1990.
- Additional Descriptive Data:
The Bentley Historical Library is the repository for other materials pertaining to environmental protection. The records of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) are available for research as well as the personal papers of its members, including William M. Cary and Joan Wolfe. The papers of Helen W. Milliken, a civic leader and wife of governor William Milliken document a number of environmental protection issues. Records from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), a federation of public and private conservation agencies, contain information on the federation and its activities. Materials documenting the passage of the 1970 Michigan Environmental Protection Act are in the Joseph Sax collection.
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Using These Materials
The record group is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., East Michigan Environmental Action Council Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan