Title Page Collage


In 2020, the Ecology Center celebrates fifty years of environmental action. Established in the wake of the first Earth Day in 1970, the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center has grown into a leading regional organization promoting a mission of “healthy people, healthy planet.” A fiftieth birthday is an opportunity to take stock of past successes, reflect about what’s changed, and evaluate lessons learned and opportunities that lie ahead.  This website, created by the Environmental Justice HistoryLab as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Ecology Center and the University of Michigan Department of History, presents the main campaigns and other highlights and accomplishments from the Ecology Center's history and role in the broader movement for environmental justice and sustainability.

The first section, “Building a Movement,” chronicles how the 1970 Environmental Action for Survival Teach-In at the University of Michigan in March 1970 and subsequent Earth Day activities spurred the environmental movement in southeast Michigan and inspired action in the 1970s. The rest of the site is divided into five themes that characterize the expanding scope of the organization’s work between 1980 and the present. Progressing chronologically within each theme, you can--among many other highlights--explore the development and growth of recycling in Ann Arbor, learn about the Ecology Center’s educational programs, and discover collaborations with groups such the NAACP, UAW, and local communities.

So far, the site focuses on the Ecology Center’s work through the year 2000. As a work-in-progress, we’re excited to release more material throughout the year. Check back again in the future as we continue to document the Ecology Center’s work into the 21st century. If you have stories or ideas to share, please contact us at ecologycenterhistory@umich.edu.

Visit the website for the Environmental Justice HistoryLab to learn more about its projects and this partnership with the Ecology Center.  Also please check out the Ecology Center's "50 Years of Fighting for a Health Future" project to read the shorter stories drawn from the documents, oral histories, and campaigns featured in this exhibit.