Our dependence on big systems--big oil, big coal--steers us away from little ones, such as biofuel made from garbage, that are transforming communities in other countries
By Hillary RosnerPosted 06.02.2011 at 5:33 pm 1 Comment
From the backseat of a beat-up Toyota taxi, Thomas Taha Rassam Culhane points out the passing sights. Fraying sacks of charcoal cut from nearby forests wait beside makeshift shops. Corrugated metal, cardboard and other scrap make up the ramshackle huts. A stream of dirty water, stained red by runoff from a nearby factory, runs down the alley. Garbage is everywhere. The ingredients of life here in Mukuru, one of Nairobi's largest slums, are raw. Yet Culhane leans forward in his seat, excited by the possibilities they present.
The taxi stops at the Mukuru Skills Training Center, an art and vocational school. A guard emerges from a small concrete shack to open the front gate. The Mukuru neighborhood is dirty and chaotic, but inside the compound, tidy bits of improvisation are everywhere: An art studio opens onto a small garden filled with herbs and saplings. Three composting toilets turn waste into fertilizer. And outside a bare-bones kitchen, a 500-gallon tank full of old beans and banana peels is slowly generating cooking gas.
No one loves that trash smell in the morning, and certainly not Beijing residents who have complained about a landfill at the city's edge. Chinese officials will respond to the Asuwei dump crisis by installing 100 deodorant guns that can literally cover up the problem temporarily with the sweeter smell of fragrance, The Guardian reports.