by Patrick Geans-Ali
The East Michigan Environmental Action Council and the First Unitarian Universalist Church celebrated the official transfer of the deed to the First UU complex to become the Cass Corridor Commons on May 20 in McCollester Hall. The event began with the traditional Sunday service followed by a fellowship gathering where First UU members, EMEAC staff and guests shared their reflections on the transfer, in addition to food and musical entertainment.
EMEAC officially assumed responsibility for the operation of the facility on August 15 of 2011 following the formal donation by the First UU Board of Directors last July. EMEAC’s plans for the complex include the creation of a Cass Corridor Commons community organizing hub consisting of fellow organizations geared towards social justice. The First UU congregation will still have full use of the worship and meeting facilities. EMEAC will operate the day-to-day administration of the building to include meeting facilities, office rentals and building maintenance.
“Our vision is to transform the UU space into a multi-use facility and Detroit grassroots organizing hub,” EMEAC Director Diana Copeland said in August. “This Cass Corridor Commons space will embody the principles and values of the Unitarian Church and our environmental and social justice principles. Not only will the facility be used for First UU services and EMEAC administrative office space, it will also house several grassroots organizations which are partnered with EMEAC.”
The facility will also accommodate entrepreneurial ventures by collaborative partners in addition to serving as a meeting space for grassroots events and activities. Some current tenants at the facility, including the Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Justice, will remain at First UU. They will be joined by EMEAC partners such as the People’s Kitchen Detroit, Whole Note Healing Space, and Fender Bender Detroit.
“We are creating a common space for the movements around social justice, food justice, environmental justice and digital justice to educate, strategize, and strengthen the underrepresented and unrepresented voices of our youth, elders, communities of color, and those that differ in their orientation and abilities,” said EMEAC Associate Director Lottie Spady. “Maintaining the structural expenses of a large building is a challenge, but it’s one that has been anticipated and we are planning accordingly. There will be many opportunities for the community to support this effort by way of events, campaigns, and outreach efforts. We hope that going forward community members would please consider connecting with EMEAC and First UU to share resources around the maintenance of this vital community resource.”