Climate Movement Monday: in support of Kalamazoo, MI

Welcome back to Movement Mondays in which I highlight an issue and the frontline community most impacted, along with suggestions for a quick action or two on their behalf. Today’s focus is on a predominantly Black community in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that I learned about via a Twitter thread from independent journalists at Status Coup News (@StatusCoup). I highly recommend reading that thread plus an earlier one I discovered while researching this post, but here are the basics:

Graphic Packaging is an international paper mill which makes packaging for food and beverages, etc., and it’s been operating in Kalamazoo for over a decade, spewing 30+ toxic chemicals day and night.

Image from journalist Jordan Chariton 2.9.23 Twitter thread

Children do not go outside at recess or play outside in their neighborhood because the smell is so bad. People do not open their windows. The smell worsens at night and those in the neighborhood suffer many health issues, including asthma, COPD, stomachaches, and headaches. Residents in the area suffer chronic lower respiratory diseases and since 2015, 1,950 Black babies (under the age of 1) have died in Kalamazoo. Despite ongoing complaints from the community to Governor Whitmer’s Health and Environmental Department, in 2021 the Whitmer administration approved a $125 million bond deal to help Graphic Packaging expand the Kalamazoo paper mill! Now the toxic air is impacting a predominantly white neighborhood.

Guess what? As of February, the state of Michigan has mandated that Graphic Packaging release data from their air sensors measuring toxic gases at the site. In addition, the multi-billion dollar corporation was hit with a whopping  $109,270 fine.

This is where solidarity comes in: even though the majority of people reading this do not live in Kalamazoo, those communities can use our help. 


If you like phone calls:
leave a message for Gov. Whitmer at 517-335-7858
(tip: press 5, then 2)
Gov. Whitmer requires email via this form

If you prefer email, here are the addresses for the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and City Commissioners (copy and paste from below):


Here’s what I sent (feel free to modify): Letter re Graphic Packaging

Thank you for reading this far. It’s completely coincidental that last week’s post also focused on Michigan, but I hope you’ll also speak out on behalf of the Kalamazoo communities. And if you want to support Status Coup News, you can do so here.  Solidarity! ✊🏽

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