For My people have done a twofold wrong:
They have foresaken Me, the Fount of living water,
And hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns,
Which cannot even hold water.
– Jeremiah 2:13
Couldn’t make it to this event on November 15th? You can still watch a recording of it here.
As the crisis in the global economy continues, those who control the wealth of our society are becoming more and more desperate for reliable sources of profit. In their desperation, they are taking measures that expose the total disregard for human life, especially the lives of poor people, as demanded by the current economic system. This disregard for human life finds especially clear expression in the denial of the human right to water to people all over the world. There is nothing more fundamental to life on this planet than water, and yet today more and more of us are finding ourselves cut off from access to clean water or any water at all.
In their desperation, those who own and control our economy are turning water away from its life-sustaining purpose and towards profit-making potential, with disastrous effects on the rest of us. Here are just some examples:
- Big agribusiness demands and wastes incredible amounts of water globally and then pollutes rivers and other water sources through the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides and other poisons.
- Extractive industries like mining poison local water supplies with toxic waste and with the dangerous gases and toxins released by fracking.
- Water privatization schemes turn water directly into a source of profit, which means denying water to poor people who can’t afford to pay for it.
The poor – from poor communities of color in Detroit struggling against water privatization and shut-offs, to poor white communities in Appalachia dealing with the environmental degradation caused by mining, to the rural poor of India fighting back against the advances of big agribusiness on their livelihood resources – are already taking action to secure our human right to water. On November 15th, we’re bringing together leaders from the struggles of the poor and dispossessed for the right to water, in order to hold up the importance of their work and to illustrate the necessity of building a common fight where the poor are taking action together. As we hear from these leaders, we are looking to connect the issue of water to other basic necessities like housing, land, and health, so as to build a basis of unity that crosses urban and rural divides, U.S. and global divides, and the many other ways that our communities are kept divided. We think this is a necessary effort as we move towards building a global Poor People’s Campaign for today. Below are profiles of a few of the leaders who will be joining us. As we get more details we’ll add them here.
Jill Carr-Harris has lived in India for more than 25 years and has been working with Ekta Parishad (more below) for nearly 15 years. She has a wide range of experiences – including working with the United Nations Development Program, Canadian International Development Agency, and numerous NGOs. Currently Jill is the Coordinator of International Initiatives, a platform of grassroots organizations and social movements mostly from the Global South, working to implement nonviolence within their struggles for land reform, women’s rights, peace education, environmental change, and community development. While she is based in India, she is also completing her doctorate on nonviolence in adult education at the University of Toronto. Jill has been very interested in solidarity between nonviolent actors as a way of exchanging lessons and experiences and in building development processes and leadership that are transformative.
Maureen Taylor and Marian Kramer have a long history of leadership in the fight for power, justice, and rights for poor people in Detroit and beyond. On November 15th, they’ll be joining us as members of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), to share their experiences in the effort to realize the human right to water in Detroit and the surrounding area.
Cherri Foytlin is a freelance journalist, author, advocate, speaker and mother of six, who lives in South Louisiana – an area inundated with industrial pollution. Cherri is part of the core leadership team of the Bridge the Gulf Project, which brings together storytelling, community organizing, and new media to amplify Gulf Coast voices, stories, and perspective often overlooked by mainstream media. Her work has focused on the effects of the BP oil spill on communities throughout the Gulf Coast. She’s also the author of “Spill It! The Truth About the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig Explosion,” and regularly contributes to the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and several local newspapers.
Paul Corbit Brown is a humanitarian photographer, educator and currently serves as the Chair/President of Board for Keeper of the Mountains. His work has carried him throughout the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Russia, Israel, Palestine, Kurdistan (Northern Iraq), Kenya, Rwanda, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and most recently Haiti. Paul’s commitment to illustrating the horrific injustices that are taking place across the world and the connections that exist between these communities can be seen in exhibits like Toxic Water for a Thirty Planet.
Paul was recently part of a delegation of environmental activists from West Virginia who delivered more than 1,000 gallons of bottled water to residents of Detroit. West Virginia recently suffered its own water woes, with 300,000 people in its capital, Charleston, and surrounding areas told not to drink their water for several days after a January coal processing chemical spill.