Rather than dwell on the numerous problems besetting our neighborhood and the world of which it is a part, maybe this is a good time to rest on our laurels (celebrating what we have accomplished) and envision the wonderful future we can all agree on working together on. For my part, being focused on the soil and the importance of a diversity of wildlife large and small, my thoughts go to recycling sectors of the organic fraction of our waste for community health.
Albert Einstein said,
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
With that in mind, here's my personal dream for changes I'd like to see in this community:
One of the many unused tracts of land around here could be set up to, with liaison with the Health Department, recycle all types of organic waste in a low-tech gravity medium-scale enclosed aerobic (oxygen-using) thermophilic (hot) bioreactor (composter) which would quickly, safely (without disease or vermin), and without bad smells transform organic matter into top quality soil amendment. Because of the internal design which with baffles mixes the material as it falls to the bottom of the bioreactor, no turning would be required. Thermophilic composting is faster than traditional composting - organic material can be processed in weeks rather than months. Screens on top and bottom, and lid on top, make the system unavailable to wildlife. Biological heat prevents the culturing of insects.
Something approaching one third of our waste heading to the landfill is organic. Not only is there no need to transport this discarded material such a long distance, but this stuff can feed our gardens. Cardboard and newspaper (excepting whatever color dye is in them) are made from tree and so can and should be returned to the soil the way Nature did before we humans went to changing everything. Before industrialization food scraps fell to the ground and were integrated into the web of life. Now that our society is reaching points of logical absurdity in what has been defined as "civilization" (such as results for instance in garlic being shipped from China because it was more profitable than growing our own right here), the organic fraction of our waste (such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, banana peels, apple cores, etc.) are growing in value so quickly that waste biomass (basically anything that is or was alive) is becoming a hot property (as was foreseen many years ago by some).
As we out of necessity transition to a more local, natural food economy (with the expertise on how to grow food also becoming more valued), a new way of looking at our waste is developing. Other food activists and organizers and economic development thinkers in Hazelwood are working toward a community in which fresh locally grown food provides health, jobs, training, and profit. A part of that can be cooperative management of the food waste to recycle it back to the soil.
I would like to recommend two books:
by Leila Darwish, published 2013
Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures
Both are available from the Carnegie Library system. Earth Repair is full of hands-on ways to use nature's capacity to use e.g. microbes to heal our damaged urban neighborhoods. Animal Wise discusses the latest research showing that we humans are not the only ones on the planet capable of love, deception, anger, compassion, envy, empathy, altruism, planning, memory, and other abilities formerly thought to be possible solely with human beings.
St. Jim the Composter
composter and biotech researcher