West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Grand Valley State University’s Women’s Center and Sustainable Community Development Initiative are presenting the first Women & Environment Symposium on Thursday, March 29 at the GVSU L.V. Eberhard Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Women & Environment Symposium will explore the intersection between women’s issues and environmental concerns, examining topics such as environmental impacts on women’s and children’s health, food and farming practices, eco-business and sustainable living, among several others. An invaluable opportunity for professionals and students alike to learn about the issues, their history and current success stories, the symposium is the first large-scale meeting between local leaders and stakeholders in the academic, business and activism communities focused on women and the environment.
“The women’s movement and the environmental movement have been linked since the beginning,” said Rachel Hood, executive director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council. “You don’t have to look very hard to see the importance of women in the environmental movement: From trailblazers such as Rachel Carson and WMEAC founder Joan Wolfe to the dozens of local women carrying on their legacy today. What we don’t think people see quite as readily is the relationship between women’s issues and environmental concerns. There are some very strong links.”
The idea for the symposium initially emerged through the work of a number of young women that researched the growth of “eco-feminism” theory for publication on The WMEAC Blog. Impressed by the response the project received from WMEAC stakeholders, Hood encouraged the volunteer group to contact Brittany Dernberger, a frequent WMEAC volunteer and Assistant Director of the GVSU Women’s Center.
“We’re excited to work with numerous community partners on this event,” said Dernberger. “The Symposium will remind us that ‘the personal is political’ and allow attendees to make connections between personal lifestyle choices, such as buying local and organic products, to larger societal issues, such as women’s health.”
An advisory group consisting of representatives from WMEAC, GVSU and other local universities and non-profits developed the one-day symposium, which will begin with a luncheon panel and breakout sessions in the afternoon, closing with a reception and keynote speaker in the evening. The keynote speaker will be announced next month.