Michigan Environmental Council Records

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Michigan Environmental Council Records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Michigan Environmental Council record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

The Lansing-based Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) formed in 1980 to coordinate lobbying and other member activities, distribute information, and monitor the environmental policies of state government. More recently, the council has focused almost exclusively on distributing information, directing funding, and building broad consensus on land use issues. The MEC records include information on significant environmental issues in Michigan as well as administrative papers pertaining to the council’s operation.

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that was created in 1980 at the urging of Ken Sikkema, director of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. The original idea seems to have come out of discussions between Sikkema and Grant Trigger. In Sikkema’s view, Michigan’s environmental movement at that time was losing its effectiveness. After meeting many of its goals in the 1970s, economic problems in 1979 and 1980 had made it more difficult for existing environmental organizations to keep up lobbying activities. The West Michigan Environmental Council, East Michigan Environmental Council, Detroit Audubon Society, Flint Environmental Action Team, Michigan Audubon Society, and the Mackinac Chapter of the Sierra Club agreed to work together to build an effective coordinating organization based in Lansing. The six organizations created the council and hired Grant Trigger, an environmental engineer, as its first director.

In 1983, Carol Dansereau, a lawyer, became director of the council. (David Dempsey had served for a time between Trigger and Dansereau). Under Dansereau, the council changed its emphasis somewhat, emphasizing lobbying as well as providing information directly to individuals through the MEC newsletter (the Michigan Environmental Report), which began publication in January 1984. The council’s total membership grew to 17 organizations by the time Dansereau left in 1986.

David Stead then assumed the executive director position and continued the council’s emphasis on lobbying during his tenure from 1987 until 1992. He was then succeeded by Carol Misseldine who in turn served until 1996. Under her guidance, the group continued to lobby on behalf of its member organization and provide timely information about environmental issues to members and its newsletter subscribers. In 1994, MEC launched the Land Stewardship Initiative and for the first time in its history, the organization devoted itself to a single (albeit broadly defined) goal. Thus, land use—and a host of related issues—became the focus of subsequent MEC activities and led to the hiring of Julie Stoneman in 1994 as its first Land Programs Director. By the time Misseldine stepped down in 1996, MEC had 21 full and associate member organizations.

Lana Pollack, a former Michigan State Senator and founder of Michigan Monthly magazine, became president of the council in 1996 and served in that capacity through 2008. Her tenure witnessed MEC undergo vast changes in organizational structure and expand its Land Stewardship Initiative to incorporate principles of Smart Growth, transportation design, and healthy community planning. During this period, full time MEC staff grew from five to twelve; the organizational budget increased from $320,000 to $2.3 million, and MEC came to represent 70 groups with a combined membership of approximately 200,000 Michigan citizens. In addition to lobbying, the council engaged in extensive coalition-building activities that resulted, among other things, in a ban on oil drilling below the Great Lakes and the passage in 1998 and 2002 of environmental bond issues. After a dozen years of leading MEC, Pollack was succeeded on January 1, 2009 by Chris Kolb. Additional information on the Michigan Environmental Council may be found online at http://www.environmentalcouncil.org/.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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