Metrofocus: July 27, 2022

Some of New York’s leading lawmakers are turning up the pressure on the Biden administration over its controversial handling of the monkeypox outbreak.  As the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency and the city contends with vaccine shortages, Bronx Congressional Representative Ritchie Torres is pushing to investigate the federal response to the virus, which he’s calling a preventable public health failure that repeats history by ignoring the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Rep. Torres, who is the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress, also recently presided over the House vote passing the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects the right to marry regardless of race and sex, and he joins us with more on what’s next for both key issues.

In New York City, where one-third of garbage is compostable, there’s a woeful shortage of composting services — especially for the one in 15 people who live in public housing.  To prevent that trash from ending up in landfills and contributing to global warming, Domingo Morales has made it his personal mission to spread the power of composting to all New Yorkers. He started the organization “Compost Power” that maintains a growing number of public housing composting sites across the city.  Tonight, he joins us to discuss how this grassroots campaign is helping combat global warming and promote inclusivity.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, CONGRESSMAN RICHIE TORES, THE PUSH TO INVESTIGATE THE MOFRPGNKEYPOX RESPONSE.

MEET THE YOUNG MAN SAVING PLANET BY MAKING COMPOSTING COOL.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

RITCHIE TORES IS THE FIRST OPENING GAY AFRO-LATINO MEMBER OF CONGRESS.

HE IS TURNING UP THE PRESSURE ON TWO ISSUES IMPACTING NEW YORK'S LGBTQIA COMMUNITY, THE MONKEYPOX OUTBREAK AND MARRIAGE EQUALITY.

AS THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DECLARES A GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY AND THE CITY CONTENDS WITH VACCINE SHORTAGES AND CONCERNS ABOUT VACCINE EQUITY, THE CONGRESSMAN IS PUSHING TO INVESTIGATE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE VIRUS, WHICH HE CALLED A PREVENTABLE PUBLIC HEALTH FAILURE THAT IGNORES THE NEETDN OF THE LGBTQIA COMMUNITY.

MOST WERE FOUND AMONG MEMBER WHO HAVE SEX WITH OTHER MEN, THOUGH ANYONE CAN GET THE VIRUS.

THE DEMOCRAT FINDS HIMSELF IN THE CENTER OF ANOTHER NATIONAL FLASHPOINT, PRESIDING OVER THE HOUSE VOTE TO PASS THE RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT WHICH PROTECTS THE RIGHT TO MARRY REGARDLESS OF RACE AND SEX.

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM JOIN US ONCE AGAIN HERE ON 'METROFOCUS.'

WELCOME.

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH YOUR CALL FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO HOW THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS HANDLED THE MONKEYPOX SCENARIO.

WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS SUCH A NEED HERE, NOT JUST FOR CRITICISM, BUT ACTUALLY FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE GOVERNMENT'S CONDUCT?

I FIND IT PROFOUNDLY DAS PO DISAPPOINTING THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS GONE THROUGH 2 1/2 YEARS OF COVID AND HAS LEARNED NOTHING.

FAILURE TO THE MONKEYPOX IS A POINT AT WHICH THE VIRUS BECOMES UNCONTAINABLE AND MONKEYPOX HAS BECOME WHERE IT'S IN DANGER OF ENTRENCHING ITSELF AS AN ENDEMIC VIRUS IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT HAS A DESTRUCTIVE IMPACT ON THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

WHAT IS MOST TRAGIC IS THAT IT WAS PREVENTABLE.

THE UNITED STATES HAD MORE THAN A MILLION MONKEYPOX VACCINES IN A PLANT IN DENMARK.

IT TOOK THE FDA TWO MONTHS TO INSPECT THE PHARMACEUTICAL PLANT AND APPROVE THE RELEASE OF THE VACCINES.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THE FDA ESSENTIALLY ALLOWED THE VIRUS TO SPREAD UNCONTAINED FOR TWO MONTHS WHILE AMERICAN CITIZENS WERE BEING INFECTED IN REAL TIME.

IT'S UNACCEPTABLE.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY RESPONSE FROM THE FDA AS TO WHY THAT LAG IN TERMS OF THE INSPECTION AND THEN MAKING THE VACCINES AVAILABLE?

THE FDA CLAIMS THAT THE DELAY IN THE INSPECTION HAD NO IMPACT ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE VACCINES WHICH IS LAUGHABLE ON ITS FACE.

THERE'S NO ACCOUNTABLE.

THE FDA AND CDC CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO REFORM THEMSELVES.

I'M CALLING FOR AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE.

WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY WHY AND HOW OUR PUBLIC HEALTH BUREAUCRACY IS SO BROKEN AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIX IT.

ONE OF THE RESPONSES FROM THE CDC IS ESSENTIALLY THIS.

WE ARE STILL DEEPLY WITHIN THE COVID PANDEMIC.

WE HAVE ONLY SO MANY STAFF MEMBERS TO HANDLE THIS.

THEIR CLAIM WAS, WE TRIED TO MOVE AS MANY PEOPLE, SHIFT AS MANY PEOPLE FROM ONE DIFFICULT SCENARIO TO ANOTHER DIFFICULT SCENARIO, BUT WE ONLY HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE.

WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

CAN YOU IMAGINE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SAYING, WE CAN ONLY HANDLE ONE FIRE AT A TIME?

IT'S ABSURD.

MONKEYPOX WAS MORE CONTAINABLE THAN COVID.

COVID IS A RESPIRATORY VIRUS THAT SPREADS RAPIDLY AND WIDELY THROUGHOUT THE POPULATION.

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC, THERE WAS VIRTUALLY NO COVID TESTING.

NO COVID VACCINES.

THERE WAS NO MEANS OF CONTAINING THE VIRUS.

MONKEYPOX IS DIFFERENT.

THERE IS MONKEYPOX TESTING.

THERE ARE MONKEYPOX VACCINES.

WE HAVE THE TOOLS TO CONTAIN THE OUTBREAK.

WHAT WAS LACKING WAS THE COMPETENCE AND THE POLITICAL WILL OF OUR PUBLIC HEALTH BUREAUCRACY.

YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT THAT THE DELAY IN TERMS OF THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THIS.

ARE YOU SEEING THE GOVERNMENT MAKING OR HAVING ANY SUCCESS, A BETTER WAY TO PUT IT, IN CATCHING UP, IN GETTING PAST THAT DELAY AND STARTING NOW TO HANDLE THIS IN A MUCH MORE EFFICIENT FASHION?

THERE'S CERTAINLY BEEN AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE.

BUT THE BAR WAS LOW.

WE WENT FROM THE GOVERNMENT DOING ESSENTIALLY NOTHING OR TOO LITTLE TO TREATING THE SITUATION WITH SOME URGENCY.

BUT IT'S TOO LITTLE TOO LATE.

THE VIRUS HAS ENTRENCHED ITSELF IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED BY THE FORMER DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN NEW YORK CITY AS A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION, THAT IT HAS BECOME AN ENTRENCHED STD IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED BY A MORE RAPID RESPONSE ON THE PART OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

LET'S SHIFT OUR FOCUS TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT THE CITY, UNDER MAYOR ADAMS AND THE STATE UNDER GOVERNOR HOCHUL, HAVE DONE IN TERMS OF THEIR EFFORTS TO COMBAT THE MONKEYPOX SCENARIO.

THERE'S BEEN FAILURE AT EVERY LEVEL, INCLUDING THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL.

AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, THE ONLINE SYSTEM FOR SCHEDULING WAS A DEB DEBACLE.

THE HANDS OF SCITY GOVERNMENT I TIED.

THERE'S NO VACCINES.

THERE'S A LIMIT TO WHAT STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO.

THE BURDEN FALLS ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THAT THERE'S A SUFFICIENT STOCKPILE OF DIAGNOSTICS, THEY ARERAPEUTID V VACCINES THAT CAN BE DEPLOYED.

YOU ARE ARE A GROUP OF 50 HOUSE DEMOCRATS WHO ISSUED A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ASKING HIM TO ALSO DECLARE HERE IN THE U.S. A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY.

I GOT TWO QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT.

FIRST IS, HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY RESPO RESPONSE?

SECONDLY, WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN?

IF SUCH A DECLARATION WAS MADE IN TERMS OF OUR EFFORTS TO COMBAT THIS.

IT'S NOTING THAT THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HAS DECLARED MONKEYPOX A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY.

IT'S ONLY NATURAL FOR THE CDC TO FOLLOW SUIT AND DO THE SAME.

A DECLARATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY WOULD MEAN A GREATER ABILITY TO RESPOND RAPIDLY TO THE OUTBREAK.

IT WOULD MEAN MORE EMERGENCY POWERS, BECAUSE WE CANNOT ALLOW THE VIRUS TO KEEP SPREADING.

IT'S HAVING A DEVASTATING IMPACT, PARTICULARLY ON THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, ON MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN, IN PLACES LIKE NEW YORK CITY.

IT HAS BEEN PROFOUNDLY TRAUMATIC.

IT'S REMINISCENCE OF THE RESPONSE IN THE 1980s.

DURING THE 1980s, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DID TOO LITTLE WHILE THOUSANDS OF GAY MEN WERE BEING INFECTED BY HIV.

FLASH FORWARD MORE THAN FOUR DECADES IN 2022, THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING TOO LITTLE WHILE THOUSANDS OF GAY MEN HAVE BEEN INFECTED OR ARE IN DANGER OF BECOMING INFECTED WITH MONKEYPOX.

WE ARE RELIVING AN UGLY MOMENT OF HISTORY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE?

WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T FULLY RELIVE THESE UGLY MOMENTS IN HISTORY AND THAT THERE IS, INDEED, HEEQUITABLE DISTRIBUTIO OF THE VACCINE TO THAT COMMUNITY?

THERE ARE TWO KEYS TO CONTAINMENT.

TESTING.

WE NEED TO KNOW WHO HAS MONK MONKEYPOX.

AND VACCINES.

WE FLENEED TO PROTECT PEOPLE.

WE HAVE BOTH.

WE KNOW WHAT THE POPULATION IS.

LET ME SHIFT OUR FOCUS.

THE OTHER ISSUE I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION, THAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN CHAIRING THE RECENT VOTE, THE PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE OF THE RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT.

QUICK CONTEXT HERE.

GIVE US A SENSE THE IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THAT AND THE PROTECTIONS IT WOULD PROVIDE ASSUMING -- I WILL GET TO THAT QUESTION SEPARATELY IN A MOMENT.

ASSUMING IT GETS PAST THE SENATE AND SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT.

THE RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT PROTECTS THE RIGHT TO MARRIAGE.

BOTH INTERRACIAL AND SAME-SEX COUPLES.

IT WOULD PROTECT THEM FROM DISCRIMINATION UNDER FEDERAL LAW.

THERE IS PRESENTLY CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION FOR INTERRACIAL COUPLES AND SAME-SEX COUPLES BUT NO STATUTORY PROTECTION.

HISTORY TELLS US THAT THERE SHOULD BE ADDED LAYERS OF PROTECTION.

WHEN THE SUPREME COURT STRUCK DOWN ROE V. WADE AND STRUCK DOWN REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, THERE WAS NO STATUTORY PROTECTION THAT PROVIDED AN ADDED LAYER OF PROTECTION.

SO WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT THERE IS ADDITIONAL PROTECTION FOR THE RIGHT TO MARRIAGE, WHICH IS TOO FUNDAMENTAL TO BE STRIPPED AWAY.

SOME OF THOSE WHO HAVE SAID, WE ARE NOT OPPOSED TO THE NOTION OF THIS BILL, BUT WE DON'T -- MANY OF THESE ARE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE AISLE, THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, THEY SAID WE DON'T FEEL IT'S NECESSARY.

THEY POINTED TO SOMETHING AKIN TO WHAT YOU SAID.

THEY SAID, THE -- THE SUPREME COURT PROTECTED THESE RIGHTS.

THEY HAVE SAID, ALTHOUGH, AS YOU KNOW, IN A CONCURRING OPINION, JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS SAID THAT -- AT HIS URGING, THE SUPREME COURT SHOULD RE-VISIT THESE ISSUES BASED UPON THEIR DECISION IN THE DODDS CASE THAT OVERTURNED ROE V. WADE.

OTHERS SAID THAT MIGHT BE HIS OPINION.

BUT THE OPINION ITSELF OF THE COURT APPEARED TO SAY, WELL, WE ARE NOT -- THIS OPINION SHOULD NOT BE HELD TO IMPACT IN ANY WAY THOSE ISSUES.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO HAVE SAID, WE DON'T NEED THIS?

THIS IS STILL GOOD LAW.

STILL CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED LAW ACCORDING TO THE SUPREME COURT.

WHAT WOULD YOUR RESPONSE BE?

WE WERE REASSURED THAT ROE V.

WADE WAS SETTLED LAW.

IT IS SETTLED UNTIL IT IS UNSETTLED.

WE HAVE A SUPREME COURT WILLING TO UNSETTLE THAT.

FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU.

FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME.

WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST.

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS ANNOUNCED TO THE WORLD THAT HE IS ON A MISSION TO OVERTURN SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS WHICH FORMS THE FOUNDATION FOR PRIVACY AND PERSONAL FREEDOM IN AMERICA.

THE RIGHT TO MARRIAGE IN AMERICA.

SO IF THE SUPREME COURT MOVES IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, IN THE DIRECTION THAT JUSTICE THOMAS IS ADVOCATING, THEN WE HAVE TO ENSURE THAT THERE IS AN ADDED LAYER OF PROTECTION FORF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO MARRIAGE.

LOOKING AHEAD, THIS BILL WILL MOVE TO THE SENATE, AND IT PASSED IN THE HOUSE WITH SOME BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF REPUBLICANS WHO JOINED IN.

WHAT WOULD YOUR ANTICIPATION BE IN TERMS OF HOW THIS BILL WILL FARE IN THE SENATE?

I'M CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC.

THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 60.

ALL R50 DEMOCRATS ARE COMMITTED TO VOTING FOR THE RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT THERE ARE FIVE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE LIKELY TO VOTE FOR THE ACT.

THERE ARE 37 REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE NOT YET TAKEN A FIRM POSITION.

OF THE 37, WE ONLY NEED FIVE OF THOSE REPUBLICANS TO OVERCOME THE FILIBUSTER AND ENTRENCH MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN LAW.

EVEN THOUGH WASHINGTON, D.C. IS A PLACE THAT OFTEN DISAPPOINTS, EVERY NOW AND THEN THERE ARE PLEASANT SURPRISES.

I'M HOPEFUL ONE OF THOSE WILL BE THE PASSAGE OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE.

WE HAVE A MINUTE LEFT HERE.

I'M CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL FEELINGS.

I WAS WATCHING THE NEWSCAST.

THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE PASSAGE OF THIS ACT.

THE SHOT SHOWED YOU PRESIDING.

YOU HAVE BEEN A FRIEND OF 'METROFOCUS' FOR MANY YEARS NOW.

WE HAVE HAD MANY CONVERSATIONS WITH YOU.

GIVEN YOUR OWN PERSONAL STORY AND YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE THE ONE AT THE DIAS PRESIDING OVER THAT?

I GREW UP IN THE BRONX.

I SPENT MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE IN THE CLOSET.

I NEVER DREAMED OF BECOMING A MEMBER OF CONGRESS PRESIDING OVER THE VOTE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY.

IT WAS AN EMPOWERING EXPERIENCE FOR ME AS A GAY MAN WHO WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

WE APPRECIATE IT WHEN YOU JOIN US HERE.

WE CAN ENGAGE IN THESE CONVERSATIONS.

CERTAINLY, THEY ARE IMPORTANT.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO CONVERSE WITH YOU ABOUT THESE ISSUES AS WE MOVE FORWARD.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

YOU STAY WELL.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

TAKE CARE.

> IN A CITY WHERE ONE -THIRD F ALL GARBAGE IS COMPOSTABLE, MOST END UP IN A LANDFILL.

IMINGO GREW UP IN PUBLIC HOUSING.

HE DISCOVERED A PASSION FOR URBAN FARMING, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND COMPOSTING.INITIATI STARTED AN ORGANIZATION THAT MAINTAINS COMPOSTING SITES ACROSS THE CITY.

HE IS EXPLAINING WHAT HE IS TRYING TO DO.

I WANT TO HELP THAT COMMUNITY STAND ON THEIR FEET SO THEY CAN TAKE OVER AND I CAN WALK AWAY AND BUILD MORE COMPOST SITES.

IT'S ABOUT GIVING THE POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

NOT ONLY AM I REDUCING THE WASTE THAT GOES TO LANDFILL AND GENERATES METHANE EMISSIONS, BUT I'M CREATING A RESOURCE.

I WANT TO HIT THE AREAS THAT SANITATION SORT OF MISSED.

THOSE SPOTS IN NEW YORK CITY THAT REALLY, REALLY WANTED TO COMPOST BUT THEY DIDN'T HAVE A FOOD SCRAP DROPOFF NEAR BY.

JOINING US IS THE FOUNDER OF COMPOST POWER.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S START WITH THE OBVIOUS FIRST QUESTION.

EXPLAIN TO US IF YOU WILL, WHAT IS COMPOSTING?

COMPOSTING IS BASICALLY THE HUMAN MANAGED PROCESS OF RECYCLING ORGANIC MATTER AND TURNING IT INTO SOMETHING THAT WE CAN USE AS FERTILIZER TO GROW MORE FOOD TO CULTIVATE TREE PITS, PLANTS, SHRUBS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY.

GIVE US A SENSE, IF YOU WERE GOING TO ENGAGE IN SOME COMPOSTING TODAY, EXACTLY WHAT WOULD YOU BE WORKING WITH?

WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING WITH IT?

YES.

IF WE'RE COMPOSTING TODAY, WHAT WE WILL BE WORKING WITH IS RESIDENTIAL FOOD SCRAPS.

THINGS IN PEOPLE'S HOMES THAT THEY CAN'T EAT.

SUCH AS APPLE CORES, BANANA PEELS, ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN'T REALLY EAT, WE CAN'T USE.

GREEN WASTE THAT COMES OFF FARMS.

COMPOSTING IS WHEN WE TAKE THAT NITROGEN RICH MATERIAL AND WE BLEND IT WITH LEAVES, WOOD CHIPS, WOOD SHAVINGS.

THAT CARBON AND THAT NITROGEN CREATE A BIOLOGICAL REACTION WHERE MICROORGANISMS, FUNGUS, MATERIAL ATHAT IS BUGS AND INSECTS AND TURN IT INTO NUTRIENTS AND ORGANIC MATTER.

LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS.

I MENTIONED THAT AS A YOUNG MAN -- YOU ARE STILL A YOUNG MAN.

BUT YOU BECAME PASSIONATE ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND WORKING ON THIS.

I ALSO READ THAT WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG MAN, YOU DID NOT LIKE GERMS.

YOU DIDN'T LIKE DIRT.

WHICH MAKES IT AN INTERESTING QUESTION THEN, HOW DID YOU BECOME THE CHAMPION OF COMPOSTING IN NEW YORK CITY?

YEAH.

I HATED THE THOUGHT OF GERMS.

I REALLY DIDN'T LIKE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BECAUSE OF HOW DIRTY IT CAN BE IN NEW YORK CITY.

MY FAMILY MEMBERS WOULD DRINK FROM MY CUP AND I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO DRINK THAT ANYMORE.

I ALWAYS HAD A FEAR OF GERMS.

I HATED FARMING.

I JUST HATED BEING AROUND BUGS.

WHEN I STARTED A PROGRAM CALLED GREEN CITY FOREST IN 2015, THEY THREW ME UNDER THE TABLE.

THEY ARE LIKE, HERE YOU GO.

YOU WILL FARM IN A PUBLIC HOUSING COMMUNITY.

YOU ARE GOING TO WORK WITH FOOD SCRAPS.

I WAS WORKING WITH ROTTING FOOD.

IT REALLY -- IT WAS HARD FOR ME TO GET USED TO WORKING IN THESE CONDITIONS.

WORKING WITH MY MENTOR AT THE TIME, DAVID BUCKLE, HE SHOWED ME THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GOOD GERMS.

THE FUNGUS AND BACTERIA THAT ARE FOR CREATING LIFE.

SUPPRESSING THOSE DISEASES I WAS AFRAID OF.

IT WAS THE EDUCATION AND THAT HANDS ON TRAINING THAT GOT ME AWAY FROM THAT, I'M AFRAID OF GERMS.

NOW I LOVE GERMS.

IT TOOK A LIFE OF ITS OWN.

NOW I'M TEACHING PEOPLE THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPOSTING AND WORKING WITH THESE GERMS.

WE OFTEN HEAR THE NOTION OF HOW ENGAGED CONVERT CAN BE.

I THINK YOU FIT THAT DEFINITION.

SOMEBODY WHO SAID, NO, NO, NO, TO WOW, I WANT TO DO THIS.

I WANT TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE DO THIS.

YOU MENTIONED TEACHING.

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE EDUCATION X COMPONENT OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND WHAT COMPOST POWER IS DOING?

IT'S IMPORTANT.

WHENEVER I TALK ABOUT COMPOSTING IN NEW YORK CITY, THERE'S A LOT OF SYSTEMS THAT ARE IN PLACE THAT ARE CENTRALIZED.

WE HAVE THE DEPARTMENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION WHERE THEY PUT A BIN AND ONCE A WEEK YOU PUT YOUR SCRAPS IN AND IT GOES AWAY.

THE DIFFERENCE FROM THAT AND WHAT WE DO IS, WE ARE GIVING PEOPLE THE HANDS ON TRAINING.

RIGHT?

YOU ARE GIVING ME YOUR FOOD SCRAPS AND IT TAKES A LOT OF WORK.

IT TAKES PEOPLE SHOVELING, SHOPPING FOOD SCRAPS, BLENDING IT.

IT TAKES MONTHS FOR THIS STUFF TO ACTUALLY TURN INTO A PRODUCT WE CAN USE TO REBUILD OUR LAND.

THROUGH THAT PROCESS, WE ARE ABLE TO CHANGE PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR.

THEY SEE HOW MUCH WORK GOES INTO IT.

THEY SEE HOW MANY STAFF MEMBERS WE NEED TO PROCESS ORGANIC MATTER.

THEY SEE IT AS A WASTE.

WE CAN'T REALLY CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR OF THE AVERAGE RESIDENT WITHOUT GIVING THEM THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO COMPOST AND THE EDUCATION NECESSARY TO DO IT.

ONCE YOU HAVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE EDUCATION, THAT HANDS ON TRAINING, THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN AN AVERAGE RESIDENT START TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL HOUSEHOLDS.

EDUCATION CAN HAPPEN A NUMBER OF COMPONENTS TO IT.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO IS INTERESTED IN THIS AND YOU EXPLAIN THE PROCESS THE WAY YOU EXPLAINED IT TO US AND THEY SAY TO YOU, I UNDERSTAND THIS, BUT WHAT'S THE BIG PICTURE?

WHAT'S THE BENEFIT HERE FOR US DOING THAT OTHER THAN GETTING RID OF THIS, MOVING IT FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER, HOW CAN IT BE HELPFUL TO US?

ONE THING IS IF EVERYBODY WAS COMPOSTING THEIR ORGANIC WASTE IN THE LOCAL FACILITY, IN THEIR HOUSEHOLD, HOWEVER THEY WANT TO COMPOST, THEN WE CAN REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF TRUCKS THAT ARE TRUCKING WASTE THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

WE CAN REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF ORGANIC WASTE THAT GOES TO LANDFILL.

WHEN ORGANIC WASTE GOES TO LANDFILL, IT GENERATES METHANE WHEN IT'S NOT COMPOSTED.

IT GENERATES METHANE WHICH CAN BE 80 TIMES MORE POTENT THAN REGULAR CO2.

WE CAN SLOW THE RATE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY 30%. THAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE.

IT REGENERATES OUR SOIL, ALLOWING US TO GROW FOOD IN SOIL THAT MIGHT BE CONTAMINATED WITH LEAD, ARSENIC.

WE CAN BUILD RAISED BEDS, GROW NEW FOOD IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES.

WE ARE REHABILITATING OR SOIL.

DIVERTING WASTE.

REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF GREENHOUSE GASES THAT WE ARE PRODUCING WITH OUR WASTE.

THEN ON TOP OF THAT, WE ARE FEEDING PEOPLE.

ALL GOOD BENEFITS.

YES.

TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE IN TERMS OF SETTING UP AND HOW YOU HAVE SET UP THE VARIOUS COMPOSTING SITES AROUND THE CITY.

THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE SITES THAT I HAVE IS I'M PARTNERED WITH GREEN CITY FOREST, WHICH IS THE AMRICORP PROGRAM THAT THREW ME INTO FARMING.

THEY ARE GROWING FOOD IN PUBLIC HOUSING COMMUNITIES, ON PUBLIC HOUSING LAND.

THEY GIVE THAT FOOD AWAY TO RESIDENTS FOR FREE.

WHAT I WAS ABLE TO DO IS I WAS ABLE TO UTILIZE THAT FARM, BUILD A COMPOST COMPONENT WHERE WE TAKE ALL THE ORGANIC WASTE COMING FROM THE FARM, BUT WE TAKE FOOD SCRAPS FROM THE RESIDENTS THAT COME ONCE A WEEK TO PICK UP FRESH VEGGIES THEY CAN EAT.

WE CREATE A BARTER SYSTEM.

GET YOUR FOOD FROM THE FARMER'S MARKET.

BRING US FOOD SCRAPS.

WE WILL BUILD A THREE BIN SYSTEM, A WOODEN STRUCTURE WITH THREE DIFFERENT BINS THAT HAVE DIFFERENT STAGES OF COMPOST.

YOU HAVE THE FIRST STAGE WHERE IT'S JUST FOOD SCRAPS MIXED WITH CARBON RICH TERRIBLE.

SECOND STAGE WHERE IT GETS UP TO 55 DEGREES CELSIUS.

YOU SEE STEAM COMING FROM IT.

THEN YOU HAVE THE THIRD STAGE, WHICH IS THE MATURE COMPOST.

YOU SEE EARTH WORMS, BIODIVERSITY IN THAT BIN.

THAT'S THE MATERIAL WE USE TO ACTUALLY APPLY COMPOST TO THE CAMPUSES IN WHICH WE OPERATE.

WE HAVE FIVE COMPOST SITES ON PUBLIC HOUSING LAND.

THEN WE HAVE ONE SITE ON PRIVATE LAND WITH A PARTNERSHIP WITH TWO TREES MANAGEMENT.

THAT'S OUR PRIVATE SITE WHERE WE USE TO BRING LARGE GROUPS OF YOUNG ADULTS TO GIVE THEM THE TRAINING THAT THEY NEED TO MANAGE THE SMALLER SCALE SITES THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

DO YOU ENVISION THIS AS MORE OF A GRASS-ROOTS MOVEMENT?

OR DO YOU SEE THIS EVENTUALLY BEING SOMETHING THAT GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER OR SOME COMBINATION OF THE TWO?

HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

RIGHT NOW, IT'S A GRASS-ROOTS MOVEMENT.

EVERY TIME NEW YORK CITY FACES FINANCIAL HARDSHIP, THEIR SUSTAINABILITY GOALS TAKE A HIT.

POLITICIANS PUT IT ON THE BACK BURNER UNTIL THEY CAN FIND THE MONEY TO DO THOSE PROGRAMS.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IS WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO UTILIZE GRANTS, UTILIZE FUND-RAISING, UTILIZING THE PULL FROM THE RESIDENTS, FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

WE KEEP IT CONSISTENT.

SINCE WE STARTED WORKING WITH GREEN CITY FOREST IN LATE 2020, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP THESE FOOD SCRAP DROPOFFS S CONSISTEN.

WE KEEP IT GRASS-ROOTS.

IN ORDER FOR THIS TO WORK, WE HAVE TO WORK WITH THOSE LARGE-SCALE COMPOSTERS, WITH THE NEW YORK CITY COMPOST PROJECT, WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE THAT CENTRALIZED SYSTEM, THAT SANITATION HAS, THE DECENTRALIZED SYSTEM THAT COMPOST POWER HAS, OTHER NOT FOR PROFITS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY WORKING TOGETHER TO GET TO THE ZERO WASTE.

WE WILL TAKE SOME CITY FUNDING IF THAT'S SOMETHING THEY WANT TO GIVE US.

QUICK LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

I GOT A MINUTE.

SOMEBODY IS SAYING, THIS SOUNDS REALLY INTS ERESTING.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

MANY PROGRAMS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH.

GO ONLINE AND LOOK UP NEW YORK CITY COMPOSTING, YOU WILL FIND OUTLETS.

FOOD SCRAP DROPOFFS IS A KEY WORD IF YOU WANT A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BRING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS.

YOU KNOW THEY ARE GOING TO TAKE IT TO A COMPOST FACILITY AND IT'S GOING TO BE RECYCLED.

YOU CAN VISIT THE COMPOST POWER SITES THAT'S ON OUR WEBSITE.

COMPOSTPOWERNYC.ORG.

YOU CAN VISIT THEM.

REACH OUT TO THESE DIFFERENT PARTNERS THROUGHOUT STHE CITY.

SEND A MESSAGE.

LET US KNOW YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED.

ANOTHER WAY IS JUST SEPARATING YOUR WASTE AT HOME.

THAT'S THE FIRST STEP.

CREATE THAT BEHAVIOR.

THAT FIRST STEP.

THE FOUNDER OF COMPOST POWER, GOOD WORK, WELL DONE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

TAKE CARE.

NO PROBLEM.

GOOD LUCK MOVING FORWARD.

ALL RIGHT.

YOU AS WELL.

THANK YOU.

BE WELL.

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