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Planet Detroit

Planet Detroit helps you get smarter about the environment in Detroit and Michigan. Planet Detroit’s stories and weekly newsletter focus on explanatory, solutions-based and investigative reporting, and a deep commitment to community engagement around local environmental issues. Planet Detroit’s mission is to raise awareness about Metro Detroit’s environmental and public health issues, hold powerful entities accountable and help our audience connect with their local environment and take action to protect the health of their communities.

image of handmade knit/crochet tops
“I’ve always believed clothes have stories behind them and should live more than one life if they’re physically able to.” - Corliss Elizabeth Williams, proprietor of the Lowry Estate.  The annual farewell to summer and embrace of fall is typically marked by a collective feeling of novelty and excitement. Back-to-school shopping is a staple of the season, as consumers are bombarded with fashion standard-bearer’s list of fall trends.  This year is different for myriad reasons, chief among them an unending pandemic that has altered all conventional notions of time, seasons, and tradition. The COVID-19 health crisis has ravaged the economy,
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ypsilanti farmers market signs in the grass
This post is sponsored by Taste The Local Difference, your resource for local food & farms. September is Hunger Action Month, a national movement to raise awareness about hunger in the United States and the policies and systems that can combat it. This year, the efforts are even more pressing, especially in Michigan. Due to the global pandemic, Feeding America predicts Michigan’s statewide food insecurity rates will increase from 13.6% to 21% this year. Communities in eastern Washtenaw County and Wayne County are predicted to be among the hardest hit. Food pantries and emergency food sites are feeling the impact
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image of algae covering the waters surface
September 11, 2020 Getting the lead out: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) nearly $1.9 million in funds to test drinking water for lead in schools and childcare centers across the state. EGLE and the Department of Health and Human services say they will target areas where children have high blood lead levels and where schools are unable to pay for testing. In 2018, Detroit shut off the drinking water for a number of schools on account of high levels of lead and copper. The following year, “hydration stations” were installed
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Photo by Bridget Quinn
With the ongoing tragedies of the global pandemic, the police brutality and uprisings for Black life, the slide towards fascism, the increasing upheavals of climate change, and the cracking apart of capitalist American culture —is all happening at the same time. Are you stressed out? Exhausted? Me too. You might be wondering why I thought this was a good time to make a community art exhibition about weeds growing up in the cracks of the pavement? (Submissions due September 15th)  I believe that the last frontiers of capitalist conquest are happening in the contested territory of our attention. Advertising, social
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map with the pinpoint on the FCA Mack Engine Plant
Community residents raised concerns about a permit request submitted by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) for both their Detroit Assembly Complex Mack Plant and their Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) in an online hearing held Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).  The request was to make modifications to the assembly line at the Mack plant, and to install a new coating line and modify equipment at JNAP.  In order for EGLE to grant the permit, FCA modeling has to show compliance with air quality emission standards for pollutants like volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, sulfur
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map with pinpoint on US Ecology facility
In November of 2018, an explosion at a US Ecology facility just outside Grand View, Idaho, population 450, killed one person and injured three. The official cause for the incident was identified as “non-conforming waste in the treatment process” or a chemical reaction caused by materials that weren’t supposed to be there.  “Most of the skin has been blown out, and much of the metal has been bent," Simon Bell, chief operating officer and vice president of operations for US Ecology, which owns facilities in the United States and across the globe, said of the building where the explosion occurred.
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dripping water faucet
Sept. 4, 2020 Toxic justice? A recent decision to allow US Ecology to massively expand its toxic waste storage facility on the Detroit/Hamtramck border has led to a civil rights complaint from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC) and questions over Michigan’s priorities when it comes to environmental justice. This comes against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement that have intensified concerns over how burdens like air quality and water access disproportionately affect low income areas and communities of color. Monica Lewis-Patrick from water rights group We The People of Detroit points to Gov.
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Jamesa Johnson-Greer. Photo credit: StillPine Photos, Sarah Faraj.
To learn more about why environmental justice matters the ways poor communities are more vulnerable to the climate crisis, Planet Detroit spoke with Jamesa Johnson-Greer, the climate justice director for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition.
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belle isle police station in black and white
In 1870, Detroit had a problem. The City Council had the desire and funds to build a leisure park in downtown Detroit, but could not settle on a location. Quarrels over the matter permeated Detroit newspapers for years in what reporters dubbed “The Park Question”.
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Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
One was used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The other is fun to step on.
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ragweed
A common allergen and a 'noxious weed' -- both native plants that offer food for wildlife!
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wet-mesic flatwoods
Drone photographs show masses of dead canopy trees on Belle Isle, especially where Lake Okonoka has inundated the island’s Wet-Mesic Flatwoods ecosystem, a swampy type of forest that the Michigan Natural Features Inventory lists as “imperiled” in Michigan.
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