Community-Based, Cross-National Responses to Climate Change

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Through monthly calls starting in November 2020, the organizers of the Mother Earth Foundation offered advice––based on their experience establishing community composting systems in the Philippines––to Breathe Free Detroit, a community-based organization working with city officials to establish a municipal composting system.

As Jena Brooker reported for Nexus Media News in October 2022, community activists in Detroit have long sought solutions to their city’s waste management problems. In 2019, Brooker reported, Breathe Free Detroit and other community groups succeeded in a campaign to shut down the city’s waste incinerator, which was one of the largest in the United States.

Located in a low-income, majority-Black neighborhood, Detroit Renewable Power’s incinerator “burned thousands of tons of trash each day, releasing toxic fumes,” including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead particles, which contributed to asthma rates that were 46% higher than the state average, Brooker reported.

After the residents of Detroit’s East Side formed Breathe Free Detroit and shut down the incinerator, the community realized they lacked the knowledge necessary to establish a community-wide composting program. They turned to the Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines, an organization with a well-deserved reputation for training low-income communities, government agencies, civic organizations, and businesses in zero-waste practices.

Breathe Free Detroit’s campaign manager KT Andresky stated how important it was for Breath Free Detroit “to learn from and be guided by some of the most impacted communities across the world, because these communities are experts in understanding the solutions for the problems that they face on a daily basis.”

The partnership between Breathe Free Detroit and the Mother Earth Foundation is one example of increasing international cooperation—at the community level—to address the global climate crisis. Climate change is often “overwhelming,” Nia Mitchell, manager of US health and equity climate for C40 Cities, told Nexus Media News. However, international collaboration focused on “transformation at the root,” can both inspire engagement and demonstrate that new strategies work, Mitchell said.

According to Josh Sorin of the Centre for Public Impact, “There are some exciting examples at the moment of cities learning from one another’s experiments and solutions to address the climate crisis in their cities,” he said. “However, the greater challenge we see is the need for cities to embed and influence insights from individual experiments into broader city policies, and even regional and national policies,” Sorin said.

As of October 26, 2022, no major corporate news outlets appear to have covered this story. Independent news outlets, including Next City, YES! Magazine, and New Humanitarian, republished Brooker’s original Nexus Media News report.

Source: Jenna Brooker, “Composting in Detroit Gets a Boost From the Philippines,” Nexus Media News, October 12, 2022.

Student Researcher: Alexa Dikos (Salisbury University)

Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Cox (Salisbury University)