Green Infrastructure Solutions to Health Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives of Affected Residents in Detroit, Michigan, USA
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Site
2.2. Data Collection and Analysis
- What do you think are potential solutions to the issues you are most concerned about?
- How does your local community engage with those solutions, or other solutions?
- What do you think are some barriers to dealing with these issues in this community?
- What parts of these information sheets do you find useful?
- What else could the state or city be doing to help address the weather-related health issues that most concern you?
- What else would you like to share with me that I didn’t think to ask?
2.3. Interviewee Sampling
3.1. Benefits of Green Infrastructure
3.2. Barriers to Green Infrastructure Implementation
3.2.1. Unintended Health Consequences
When the city closed the alleys, I don’t think that they [city government] properly prepared people, or explained to people, that once the alley was closed that it extended their property line back to that alley. And as a result of that people lost their backyards because it’s so overgrown, it becomes spooky…the children can’t safely play back there because now they’re worried about vermin, and wild animals, and things like that. Rats, you know rats can build habitats in those thick alleys. Add to that some abandoned furniture and all of the debris, and you have health-related issues. Because rodent feces is dangerous. (1D)
We are trying to work with Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on how to install those sorts of structures that filter water. And there’s some confusion around that, there’s no set policy at this point from the city. I think they’re getting close to it but it’s been a difficult process for us. So we’ve tried to respond by showing a good example of ecologically friendly water, filtration and water drainage with this green alley project. (15D)
The city used to maintain trees. And during the last gasp of the old regime, they weren’t even cutting down the ones that died. The street parkway trees. The city, it’s gotten better, but up until fairly recently, you got anything done in spite of the city. (8D)
There was a time not too long ago that the city had a lot of abandoned buildings and/or property. And so an individual could get a citation for not taking care of their building or property, but then the city had hundreds of them. …But it’s being turned around. It’s being addressed. There’s been some change. There’s been lots of change. (4D)
People buying houses here are going to have to deal with all the problems with the foundations [of their homes] that are created from not having any drainage plan for a very long time…We’ve got ponds all over the place now because of this ordinance. What do we do? (7D)
3.2.2. Limited Capacity to Implement Green Infrastructure
And I honestly think that if people have gardens, they got to give them jugs and things to catch the rainwater. They need to give them to people…I’m talking about the city, or the country, or the government. They’re charging people here for runoff, off of their lots. And so their getting a secondary bill...you don’t have living wage jobs...and then it’s fee upon fee upon fee. (1D)
when [a neighborhood pie shop] came in—not just them, but along this whole strip where they did this commercial business and everything—they had talked about doing a green space where the people in the neighborhood could come, and sit down, and chitchat, and everything. That sounded good, but that has not happened. And these businesses that have been here for about two years. What they’ve done, they have come up with a grant so that a green space can go behind these buildings, but that only benefits these businesses. It doesn’t benefit the community as a whole.
3.2.3. Limited Awareness of How Green Infrastructure Affects Local People
And just for me, a lot of times just awareness for people seems to help a lot. Like just being more aware of our neighbors and those who might be more in need of all of this. I think it would be really helpful. Because chances are good they may not be on the email servers, if they’re older and they don’t know. And so how do we reach those people?” (18D)
Conflicts of Interest
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|Demographic Characteristic||Categories||Number of Respondents|
|Not listed (space to write provided)||0|
|75 or older||1|
|Race||Black or African American||10|
|Caucasian or White||9|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||1|
|Ethnicity||Hispanic or Latino/Latina||1|
|Not Hispanic or Latino/Latina||12|
|No answer provided||8|
|Income Category||Below Median (<$58,411 annually for Detroit metropolitan area *)||8|
|Above median (>$58,411 annually)||10|
|Length of residence||0–4 years||4|
|40 years or more||10|
|Perceived Benefits of Green Infrastructure (Number of Respondents)||Perceived Domain of Benefit||Example Quotes|
|Decrease usage of city water (3)||Economic||"I’ve got a rain barrel myself. I love it. That much less I have to pay to the city for water. When you get your water bill, one-third of that bill is for actual water use. Two-thirds of it is the cleaning, and the processing, and everything else. That’s what makes the water bill so high...It just means I don’t have to use the city water. I can use that to water my garden, water my flowers." (14D)|
|Absorb stormwater runoff (3)||Ecological, Economic||"I know some of the algae blooms that occurred in Lake Erie has affected the city policy on stormwater and stormwater drainage and I know that’s affected us knowing that we’d rather naturally filter a lot of the water that’s fallen from the sky, naturally filter it through the soil rather than put it into the drainage systems. And they can also save money doing that with anticipated drainage fees that are coming from the city." (15D)|
|“Green” alleys could be more usable and safe than existing alleys (2)||Social, Health, Ecological||Green alleys “take what is a pretty beat up piece of infrastructure and clean it up and make it much more usable, friendly, and safe for people…And also the environmental gains, if you can show development that helps the environment then that’s a wonderful thing.” (15D)|
|Regulate outdoor temperatures (2)||Ecological, Economic||“All of the benefits that natural foliage does for cleaning air, and moderating temperatures, and taking carbon out of the atmosphere… I planted a liberty elm, one of the disease-resistant ones. And now, it’s almost to the third story and so I don’t run the air conditioner anywhere near as much because it’s shady. Definitely because of the cost of energy, people are paying more attention to home efficiency, insulation, all that good stuff.” (8D)|
|Habitat restoration (1)||Health, Ecological||"I think it’s five million dollars to do habitat restoration in that neighborhood, specifically around the canals and the parks. I think that sort of thing will probably help with these two issues [increased bacteria and/or algae in drinking and/or swimming waters, mosquito and tick-borne illness]. I think finding a natural, healthy ecosystem balance will probably help with some of that. It’ll probably help with other things like erosion...I’m not an environmental expert. I’m just excited for money to come into the neighborhood, frankly." (10D)|
|Increased engagement in gardening (4)||Ecological||“I see a lot of folks are using rain barrels. And also they’re using them to work like little gardens and stuff. A lot of folks were doing that. Yeah, it’s helpful.” (5D)|
“I just try to do my little part. I try to do my gardening so I can have food…And I’ll have bees for pollination. I’ll have birds.” (4D)
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Carmichael, C.; Danks, C.; Vatovec, C. Green Infrastructure Solutions to Health Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives of Affected Residents in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5688. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205688
Carmichael C, Danks C, Vatovec C. Green Infrastructure Solutions to Health Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives of Affected Residents in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Sustainability. 2019; 11(20):5688. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205688Chicago/Turabian Style
Carmichael, Christine, Cecilia Danks, and Christine Vatovec. 2019. "Green Infrastructure Solutions to Health Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives of Affected Residents in Detroit, Michigan, USA" Sustainability 11, no. 20: 5688. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205688