The Breathe Free Detroit campaign to shut down the Detroit incinerator has been building momentum all summer. It marked May with the delivery of a 15,000 signature petition and research report to Mayor Duggan. July brought legal response from the Michigan Attorney General’s office to Detroiters’ ongoing complaints about the facility’s disruption. August sees another milestone that promises further movement, as the Ecology Center welcomes a full-time organizer to support and spearhead the campaign.
Campaign organizer KT Andresky is a seasoned activist and a Detroiter who has lived in the shadow of the incinerator for over a decade. “The thing I’m most excited about is that this is an opportunity for me to do right by my own community,” Andresky says. “I want to make sure that the kids who hang out in the neighborhood have a better future, from education to clean air.”
Based in the Ecology Center’s Detroit office, Andresky will work to educate and empower the community by carrying out public engagement, public education, and community action campaigns. Her dedication and her expertise in community organizing will help harness collective energy for this grassroots, community-powered campaign.
She joins Breathe Free Detroit in her official capacity after longstanding personal and professional investment in her community as an engaged neighbor. She founded The People’s Organization Against Incineration in 2008, and she has spent the past eight years of her career devoted to teaching environmental stewardship at schools and community centers in Detroit & Hamtramck.
Inspired by the energy and power of protest she observed while living in San Francisco, Andresky rallied action against the incinerator shortly after moving to Detroit in 2007. She secured media attention to the cause. She organized a group of neighborhood kids who made a rap about the incinerator’s effect on them, and they earned a standing ovation from city council. When she rallied 200 neighbors for a protest, a councilwoman joined their ranks to march. Other environmental organizations who had kept a seat at the government negotiating table by agreeing not to protest took advantage of Andresky’s protest to make a push behind the scenes, and the pressure on both sides prompted the mayor to action.
She’s been a citizen-participant in the Breathe Free Detroit campaign over the past year and a half of its existence. She has attended all public hearings, and she’s hosted the visiting artists who created the sunflower protest signs at the Yes Farm, her community art and agriculture space. As the member of a farming family and holder of a fine arts degree, she brings deep-seated environmental consciousness and creativity to her passion for growing a healthy and equitable Detroit.
Ecology Center Detroit Community Health Director Kathryn Savoie comments, “We are thrilled to have KT Andresky join Breathe Free Detroit as the campaign organizer. As an organizer, artist, activist and resident who is directly experiencing impacts of the incinerator, KT is well-positioned to help us accelerate our campaign's momentum.”
Detroiters have railed against the incinerator’s nuisances, hazards, and injustices since the facility opened nearly thirty years ago. It has a history of routinely violating clean air laws and operating agreements, with documented health consequences. A child living near the incinerator is five times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than a child living elsewhere in the state. Enough is enough. It’s time to organize.
Published on August 30, 2018