Official ECO Girls website: www.EnvironmentForGirls.org
The ECO Girls Mission
The ECO Girls mission is to foster environmental awareness and stewardship, ecological literacy, cultural education, friendship building, self-confidence, and leadership skills for elementary and middle school girls in the southeastern Michigan cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit. ECO Girls has the goal of encouraging girls to integrate environmentalism into their lives, share environmental knowledge with their communities, and contribute to environmental problem solving as future thinkers and leaders. Because cultural practice shapes personal and communal identities and therefore has the power to facilitate social change, ECO Girls treats culture as a critical link in the advancement of ecological consciousness and the vision of a just, sustainable future.
ECO Girls, Environmental Justice, and Ecofeminism
With an environmental justice commitment at its center, ECO Girls especially aims to reach girls of color and girls in economically challenged areas who have less access to green spaces, whose neighborhoods too often become dumping grounds for pollution, and whose communities are under-informed about the effects and risks of global climate change and natural resource depletion. The conceptualization of ECO Girls also accepts the thesis of ecofeminist scholars that environmental issues profoundly affect women and girls. All over the world (with variations in definition and degree depending on geography and wealth) women and girls carry out domestic and community activities (such as gathering water & biomass for fuel, nursing babies, feeding families) that are dependent on natural resources within degraded environmental contexts. In economically privileged nations like the U.S., women frequently direct household shopping and consumption norms; they are therefore situated at the cross-roads of culture change for families and communities regarding the creation (and recovery) of sustainable life ways.
ECO Girls organizers share the view that by fostering in girls a connection with and understanding of nature, and by teaching girls about a range of cultural strengths, values, and strategies, we can build on solid ground the kind of self-empowerment that comes from knowing one’s place in the world. Education, emplacement, and empowerment, then, become our stepping stones of positive change — for girls and the women they will become, for their diverse communities, and for the earth that is the heart of it all.
Engaged Learning with ECO Girls
Organizers and teachers with ECO Girls are faculty, staff, alumnae and students at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Undergraduate students at UM in Afroamerican & African Studies, Women’s Studies, Sociology, and the Program in the Environment may work with ECO Girls for internship, field, or service learning credit. Please see the ECO Girls website for more information.
“Growing Up Green” in UM’s LS&A Magazine.
Profile of Tiya and the childhood that inspired her to create ECO Girls. Minnesota Alumni Magazine, Winter 2010.