1981 - 2016
building energy solutions
Spirit. After 35 years, we honor and celebrate spirit as an
abundant, renewable, and indispensable resource.
Too often, an organization’s spirit is undervalued and
commands no limelight. Unlike missions and metrics,
spirit is vague, squishy, daunting to define or evaluate.
We have yet to hear it raised in conversations about
organizational leadership. Perhaps this dearth of
conversation is because exploring and grappling with
spirit will not yield immediate, concrete results.
In a world where change is constant, spirit is a precious
island of bedrock on which to stand. When buffeted by the
urgency of unceasing demands, spirit calls us to pause, to
breathe and plant new seeds. At EcoWorks, our spirit has
lifted us through the crests of joy and helped us survive
the moments that were lean, uncertain, and trying.
Reflecting on our first 35 years, if there is one thing we
feel compelled to share, it is the essence of the EcoWorks
spirit. This small book is a humble attempt to capture
hints of the spirit that has nourished and sustained us.
It is something that everyone connected to EcoWorks
has shaped in some way and carries forward into spaces
beyond EcoWorks. We hope this serves as a reminder of
our roots, an inspiration to staff, and a window into our
“true north” for partners and community.
- Team EcoWorks: 2016
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the
heart that one can see rightly; what is invisible to the eye.
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
At EcoWorks, our values drive us to ensure all people and future
generations have access to economic, environmental, and social
well being. They drive us to build capacity in local partners and
model structural change. Since 1981, our values have kept us firmly
rooted in the City of Detroit.
If our values, in concert with our mission and vision, define the
horizons of our work, then our spirit is like the soil which anchors
us. Like soil, spirit is an element that must be fed, tilled, and
cultivated. The more we enrich and replenish our spirit, the greater
our opportunities to grow just, green solutions.
When we consider our vision of all people thriving in healthy and
vibrant communities, our most compelling role in bringing that
vision closer will extend beyond the number of individuals we
train, students we teach, families we support, or municipal energy
plans we draft. Our most significant contribution may be the spirit
and inspiration that our staff, clients, and partners carry with them
in future work.
THE FIRST 35 YEARS...
WARM adds workshops and
trainings in home buying,
home repair, and energy
education for low-income
residents. WARM co-organizes
the first of more than 20
(and counting) Financial
Weatherization and Retrofit
Training Program is
to developing workerowned cooperatives which
ultimately create meaningful
and secure jobs / careers for
previously unemployed or
WARM begins job training
in basic weatherization
and construction skills and
and Southwest Detroit
Age of Innovation: WARM
launches Reclaim Detroit,
Better Buildings for Michigan,
and expands utility energy
optimization programs and
the Youth Energy Squad.
WARM extends job training
partnerships through the
federal Pathways Out of
Poverty grant and earns a
number of awards. All of this
culminates in changing our
name to EcoWorks.
WARM emerges as a leader
and provides training for
green building professionals,
conducts commercial and
residential energy audits,
and is named an Energy
by the State of Michigan.
WARM collaborates as a
founding partner of Great
Lakes Bioneers, Detroit City
Council’s Green Task Force,
and the Southeast Michigan
Regional Energy Office, which
serves over 30 municipalities.
Energy & Water
For 35 years, the spirit of EcoWorks has
nourished the development and evolution of
dozens of programs, initiatives, coalitions, and
over one hundred active partnerships. Our
founders could not have envisioned that their
humble beginnings in a church basement
would spark the cutting edge programs
in deconstruction, green community
development, residential and youth education
that EcoWorks operates today.
In the same vein, we cannot envision all of
the sustainable solutions the next generation
of “EcoWorkers” will identify and pursue. But
we can hope that the spirit that has inspired
us since 1981 will continue to shine through
our future work.
Everywhere people ask: “What can I actually do?” The answer is as simple as it is
disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The
guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value
of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the
traditional wisdom of mankind.”
EcoWorks is exceptional at staying true to their mission.
- E.F. Schmacher,
The work we do and the way we do it always feels meaningful,
Small is Beautiful
just, and driven by the communities we serve.
–Anonymous (EcoWorks staff survey, 2015)
MISSION: We create opportunities to learn and practice the sustainable
use of energy and natural resources through innovative education, job
training, consulting, social enterprise, and advocacy.
Student-led school greening projects
Hands-on energy and water conservation workshops
Train-the-trainer sessions for human service agencies
Advanced trainings for builders and other
professionals in green building best practices
Weatherization and deconstruction
Energy auditor certification
Summer youth employment
Community energy management
Neighborhood EcoDistrict planning and coordination
Green building resources
Large-scale program design and operation for
utilities and local governments
Worker owned co-ops
Co-founder of new sustainability offices & task forces
Industry work groups
Conference presentations and meetings with key
officials in Lansing, Washington DC, and beyond
WARM intends to truly be a learning organization,
actively seeking the knowledge that will ultimately
make it better at serving its clients. If we grow
bigger, it will come out of serving the mission.
–Bob Chapman, Former Executive Director
I’m lucky to team with a group of passionate,
intelligent people who are blazing a diverse set of
trails towards environmental sustainability.
–Anonymous (EcoWorks staff survey, 2015)
Where would we be without EcoWorks? It’s touched
so many lives with a hope grounded in real solutions,
with big picture thinking put into service every day.
It’s a treasure that more people should know about.
–Jacob Corvidae, Former Green Program Manager
& Interim Executive Director
I genuinely love coming to work every day. The
people are wonderful, the environment is incredibly
supportive, but most importantly the work is so
meaningful and impactful.
–Anonymous (EcoWorks staff survey, 2015)
EcoWorks has a humble way of addressing
problems bigger than us.
–Noah Purcell, Green Consultant
Sometimes you try, but it can be so
overwhelming you want to give up.
When I went down into the basement to
get my towels and I saw the water leaking
I just felt powerless. People are out there
with need; with no income and their house
at risk. I had an excellent visit. I learned
how water can be saved through great
explanations of usage, conservation, bill
education and sewerage. These things
I did not know. I feel hopeful and so
empowered. I am very grateful for the
kindness, compassion and teaching of
my educator. He was the best. He knows
how to educate with dignity. God Bless
him, God Bless EcoWorks!
–Novellia P., Detroit resident
I am extremely thankful for this program. It has given me a
clear understanding of how to manage my occupant behavior
and closely monitor my water usage. –Connie H., Detroit resident
Getting people to work, that’s number one for me. I have
a passion for giving people the opportunity to work
and provide for their families. –Donovan White, Board Member
I have to say that this in one of the most inspiring
presentations that I have seen at any conference, and I have
probably been to over 200 conferences.
–Ethan Lowenstein, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Eastern Michigan University and
Director, Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition
I feel better about my energy bill! –Geri K., Detroit resident
Our building is student led now. We have had it in our building long
enough that the students are trained on how to conserve energy and
how and what to recycle that they take the lead and the teacher is the
facilitator that just monitors at this point. –Teacher, DPS Go Green Challenge
I personally like the ability to create, support,
encourage, and implement programs and ideals
that will help the school and community embrace a
sustainable life. –Cherryl, Teacher at King HS
When EcoWorks came to my home they were very informative and gave
hands on training. They showed me how to do it. People have come
before but never showed me or involved me. They were the best, ever.
They helped me put up the tracks [for the window kits]. I thought they
were family they worked so well together. I am in awe, I’ve never had a
group that awesome, I didn’t want them to leave. –Killi S., Detroit resident
How will we cultivate spirit? We will celebrate it, laugh about it, talk with
others about it, and carve out time to reflect on it. If we listen closely, we
may just glide along with some extra spirit in our step, a renewed energy
to contribute to a vibrant, just, and sustainable world.
Spirit of EcoWorks is printed sustainably on 100% recycled paper.