Funny you ask! I might just have an answer. I recently returned from an amazing trip to Detroit, Michigan for two conferences - the Allied Media Conference and the US Social Forum (powerful and inspiring events - check 'em out!). People in Detroit were incredible, welcoming, and brilliant. And while I was visiting there, I learned some disturbing things...
Detroit is the most polluted city in the country - it's a scary portrait of how environmental hazards can impact communities disproportionately (read on for more on this).
Why? It's home to a coal fired power plant, a salt mine, the Ford Rouge (car) Plant, a waste water treatment plant, two steel mills, and last but not least: the Marathon Oil Refinery, which is undergoing a $2.2 billion expansion project so that it can process crude oil from the Tar Sands in Canada.
When you add this all up, what you get is an industrial nightmare. And, this is surrounded by residential neighborhoods full of families!
What's so bad about these industries, you ask? First off, they are major emitters of CO2. But they are also major emitters of pollutants that cause asthma, cancer, brain and nervous system problems, behavior and learning problems, heart problems and even more.
Pretty bad, right? But wait, there's more. Detroit is also home to:
The World's Largest Waste Incinerator
They burn trash. A lot of it. Residential, Commercial, and Hazardous waste, from across multiple states and even Canada, gets sent to Detroit to get torched. Then they make electricity from it and call it "green", "alternative" energy. But, the fact is that the air quality is horrendous, and children go to school across the street from it all....
The good news is, people in the community know what's going on, and they're getting together to do something about it. And what they are asking for is Clean Air, Good Jobs, and Justice for All.
After the US Social Forum, thousands of people hit the streets for a rally to show their support for closing the incinerator and creating a cleaner community. Along the way we stopped at a neighboring school for an impromptu theatre performance, live art, and planting trees and flowers. Check out a photo collage of the march by clicking HERE.