Community Program Spotlight: Shoshana Sommer

Edited by: Sarah Cedro, Residential Composting Analyst

Compost Crew’s community programs offer discounted rates when groups of residents within a designated area sign up for our service.  In today’s spotlight we sat down with Shoshana Sommer, an Eckington resident.  Since Shoshana became a community champion in March, she’s helped to get many of her neighbors composting, which has meant lower rates for residents in her area. 

Compost Crew: Tell us about your background in the area.

Shoshana: I grew up visiting family in D.C., and have been in the area full-time since 2013. I live in Eckington with my partner (Mark), our Aussie pup (Zahvi), and my red-eared slider turtle (Gilly). As a veterinarian, I previously practiced on birds and exotic animals and now advise on infectious diseases and global health. I love exploring D.C. by foot, admiring the city’s architecture and parks, urban bird-watching, gardening, and visiting with friends and neighbors.

Compost Crew: In what ways are you involved with your community? 

Shoshana: My passion for green spaces, urban wildlife, and community engagement led me to Eckington Parks and Arts, where I served as the first Greenways Committee Chair in 2020. I became president of the non-profit in 2021, and I spend much of my free time on community organizing, advocacy, and events. Our group is entirely run by volunteer neighbors and funded by donations. In addition to greening up the neighborhood and activating park spaces, EP&A also funds cleaning and supplies for the Eckington Dog Park. Finally, I am on the board for the organization Green Spaces for D.C. , a non-profit dedicated to advocacy for and access to green spaces throughout our urban community. My partner, Mark, is also on the board of EP&A while additionally being a steering committee member for the North Capitol Deck Over Project, a community effort to establish more green space in the North Capitol Street corridor. We’ve always tried to be aware of community happenings and attend civic association meetings, but it’s only in the past couple of years that we’ve become more proactively involved in community efforts.

Compost Crew: Did you have any previous experience with composting? 

Shoshana: My family composted on and off while I was growing up, with my parents teaching us the importance of reducing waste and preserving our natural environment. I also DIYed a couple of home composters (made from trash cans) back in graduate school to cut down on waste created by myself and housemates. That was in Ithaca, NY, where the city charges by the bag for trash disposal to incentivize residents to recycle and compost. Successful backyard composting can be challenging, though; and it’s nearly impossible in our small urban spaces. That’s why companies like Compost Crew are so important.

Compost Crew: What inspired you to recruit members of your community? 

Shoshana: Change may start with one person, but reducing our footprint and preserving natural resources requires action on a larger scale. Working with our community is the perfect place to start. It is also a way to build relationships with neighbors, which becomes a conduit for other positive change.

Compost Crew: What methods of outreach did you use? 

Shoshana: We used numerous avenues to reach people, such as including information on our organization’s website, announcing the effort at community meetings, posting on social media, including write-ups in our monthly newsletter, passing along details through neighborhood listservs, word of mouth, and more.

Compost Crew: What is your advice for other community champions?

Shoshana: Just go for it! Don’t be afraid to start the conversation and encourage neighbors to join in on efforts for positive change. There are so many people interested in making things better, and most just don’t know where to start. Not only does composting help the environment and generate soil for our gardens, it also removes food waste from trash cans, reducing pests and avoiding common urban sanitation issues. This seemingly small step can have a tremendous impact on our communities. Ultimately, the positives of a program like this feed into the success of other efforts.

Thank you Shoshana, for all of your hard work encouraging composting in your community and for speaking with us about your experience creating a community program. To read more about starting a community program, you can read Xin’s spotlight here

If you are interested in starting your own community program today, or have any questions, complete this short form and we will be in touch!