Issues Of The Environment: Women's History Month-The Life And Legacy Of Mary Beth Doyle

Mar 17, 2021

Mary Beth Doyle
Credit The Ecology Center / ecocenter.org

Mary Beth Doyle Park is a beautiful and serene area in which to spend time and enjoy the outdoors.  It is appropriately named after environmental advocate and activist Mary Beth Doyle.  She helped bring the Ecology Center to international prominence and improved the health of environment and inspired others to do the same.  WEMU's David Fair checked in with Doyle's mentee, colleague, and friend Rebecca Mueninck from the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor for a Women's History Month rememberance. 


Overview

  • In 2008, an underutilized park and natural area was renamed to commemorate and celebrate the life of Mary Beth Doyle, widely recognized as one of Michigan’s most prominent environmental advocates, who tragically passed away in 2004.
  • Mary Beth’s efforts spanned the local, state, and national environmental movements.  She worked with professionals, policymakers, health-impacted groups, and others to increase awareness of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and the links between public and environmental health.  She persuaded the first major retailer in the country to agree to stop selling children’s chew toys made from toxic poly vinyl chloride.  Mary Beth worked with dozens of local communities throughout Michigan to help them address toxic pollution problems.  Among the most notable examples of her work in Michigan, she led a successful campaign to shut down a polluting incinerator at a hospital in Detroit.  In Romulus, she helped local residents fight development of a toxic waste injection well. She was instrumental in the successful and high-profile “Don’t Trash Michigan” campaign, which resulted in passage of legislation to regulate out-of-state waste. 
  • In her adopted hometown of Ann Arbor, she coordinated the grassroots portion of the successful People for Parks campaign to pass a citizen-initiated millage proposal for parkland acquisition – the program which was later expanded into several City’s Parks and Greenbelt Programs.  She helped pass a ban on mercury thermometers in Ann Arbor – at the time, the third in the country – and then the successful statewide ban.  Mary Beth also served on the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission.  Through this outstanding work, Mary Beth was widely known and respected by policy makers and regulators in Michigan, as well as activists and community leaders throughout the country. (Source: *directly quoted* https://www.a2gov.org/departments/Parks-Recreation/NAP/Documents/Newsletters/fieldoperations_nap_newsletter_2008_summer.pdf)
  • Rebecca Meuninck, deputy director of the Ecology Center
    Credit The Ecology Center / ecocenter.org
    Rebecca Meuninck is Deputy Director of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, and was an intern, colleague, and dear friend of Mary Beth Doyle.

RESOURCES:

Mary Beth Doyle Park in Ann Arbor

Mary Beth Doyle Commemorative Issue of "From the Ground Up"

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu