The Water March - Background - Staff - Water Stewards Tees

Our Mission

The Water Stewards Network works to build cohesiveness among regional water networks emerging around the world and to emphasize the theme of stewardship in the global dialogue. This project also works to collect and disseminate informational resources on sustainable water management in order to empower communities to take more local responsibility, thereby rebuilding a culture of stewardship.

The Water March

With a strong focus on youth, the Water March will travel the country in an RV powered by alternative energy sources visiting water festivals, conferences, schools, music festivals and other events to engage people in a dialogue about our common water resources. The overarching goal of the Water March is to raise awareness about the major threats to our water and foster local activism. We will empower people to take simple actions of water conservation and protection in their watershed by providing the necessary informational tools and will facilitate continued engagement by connecting local watershed groups with national campaigns.

The Water March will use the mediums of film and music to first provide context and convey the urgency for local action. By utilizing today’s omnipresence of bottled water, we can exhibit how the problems surrounding the corporate interests in our water translate into the need for better local stewardship. The Water March will encourage communities to take two specific actions: pursue the passage of a local government resolution (or even legislation) to maintain local water resources in the public trust, and to choose tap water over bottled water. By focusing on drinking water quality - something that everyone is concerned about - and encouraging one simple step people can take in their lives that will have an immediate and positive effect, we hope to set the stage for more involved water stewardship. In order that community activism continue after our visit, we will be connecting local groups to well-established national campaigns of the water movement that will provide the support and impetus for further action. By traveling the country, we will be able to rally involvement in these campaigns, increasing their effectiveness, and identify ‘hot spots’ that are or will be in need of their support. Our on-the-road campaign –organized and executed by a young, experienced and energetic team – will have particular appeal for youth and will attract significant attention wherever we travel, communicating an inspiring message of hope while simultaneously expressing urgency. The Water March will provide the means for the water movement to better reach the public and will help to build momentum on the path toward sustainability.

Background

Water is the foundation of all life, yet over a billion people are without adequate supplies of potable water due to drought, pollution, and profligate consumption patterns. The scarcity of clean water has the potential to cause great conflict. It equally provides an opportunity for people to unite in addressing a common, vital challenge.

There is a mounting international campaign to provide water security for all people as a basic human right. Concomitantly, corporations, international trade and development organizations, intergovernmental agencies, and governments are proceeding to turn water into a commodity and allocate it through the free market. Disproportionate distribution of wealth between North and South, East and West, and within individual nations threatens access to a common birthright. The move toward privatization of water resources and services is dominating the debate at a crucial time in the formation of international water policy. With the recent Johannesburg Summit, 3rd World Water Forum and the UN General Assembly's International Year of Freshwater all focusing international attention on water issues, there needs to be a concerted and organized effort to oppose this trend.

There is already a substantial effort on the part of numerous international bodies, including various branches of the United Nations, the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and the World Bank, to aid the regions of the world experiencing acute water scarcity. These organizations are concentrating on increasing current infrastructure and importing water, an approach that may offer temporary relief but does little to address the fundamental problem: water scarcity. If anything, perpetuating the status quo in delivery and sanitation infrastructure will augment problems of scarcity in the long term. Considering our wasteful use and reckless contamination of pristine waters, focus needs to first be given to conservation, restoration, and the reuse of wastewaters. The ways in which society utilizes water for industry, agriculture, and sanitation must be rethought.

This group of large international agencies currently dominates the realm of global water policy through integrated initiatives and unified rhetoric. Also partnering in these initiatives are entities such as the IMF, Vivendi, Suez, and other transnational water and utilities corporations. In effect, this group is a monopoly and allows no room for opposing views to enter the policy debate. It is imperative that these current trends in water policy do not remain unopposed.

We at the Water Stewards Network see this global grassroots campaign (that has now developed into the Peoples’ World Water Movement) as an unprecedented opportunity to engage communities at the grassroots level. Through this engagement, we hope to foster a culture of local water stewardship. This movement has arisen by necessity in order to defend our rights from the corporate agenda for water. The privatization and commodification of water resources is not the root of the problem though - it is a false solution that will only exacerbate the growing global water crisis. The true problem, which has created the market corporations are pursuing, is society’s unsustainable use and mismanagement of this vital resource. This mandates that, in conjunction with defending the global water commons from corporate theft, the movement begin to focus on how to foster sustainable management at the local level. The network of people and organizations that has grown surrounding these issues allows for an extraordinary level of communication and information exchange- providing the necessary strength and collaboration to achieve our goals. The Water Stewards Network has played a major role in bringing a focus on sustainable management into the Peoples’ World Water Movement.

Staff

Ryan Case, Director & Co-founder

Ryan Case has a very multidisciplinary background in International Environmental Studies and has spent much time exploring first-hand sustainable development and human rights issues in various parts of the world. Ryan began his work with water by designing and constructing ecological wastewater treatment systems with John Todd and crew several years ago. This work brought his attention to the root problems surrounding our water resources and to the larger political realm as well. For the past 2 years or so, he has dedicated himself to studying global water politics and the development of a global grassroots water movement while continuing with on-the-ground work developing sustainable water management systems. He has become an active participant in the emerging Peoples' World Water Movement.
For speaking engagements, contact info@waterstewards.org

Dr. John Todd, Co-founder & Water Steward at large

John Todd is an internationally recognized biologist, the author of more than 200 technical and popular articles on biology and planetary stewardship, and is considered a global leader in the field of ecological water purification. He is the cofounder of several foundations and companies with ecological missions including The New Alchemy Institute, Ocean Arks International, Living Technologies, Inc., which has the largest number of completed projects in the field of ecological water purification. Todd has been the recipient of many accolades and awards. Most recently he was profiled in Inventing Modern America, a publication of the Lemelson-MIT Program for Invention and Innovation. He received an honorary doctorate from Green Mountain College in 2000 and the Bioneers Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. Todd and his wife, Nancy Jack Todd, received the Lindbergh Award in 1998, in recognition of their work in technology and the environment. In the late 1990s, Todd won two EPA awards in for his innovations with Living Machines.
For speaking engagements, contact info@waterstewards.org

Michael Blazewicz, Resources Coordinator

Michael Blazewicz' expertise lies in the restoration of community, land, and water systems through research, education, and the development of cooperative partnerships. Michael grew up along the banks of the Ipswich River in northern Massachusetts where he took careful observation of the affects that municipal pumping, groundwater withdrawals, and residential misuse had on the river. In 2003 the Ipswich River was named the third most endangered river in the United States, reaffirming his dedication to assist communities in the stewardship of their water resources. Michael's academic background and continuing work has focused on human relationships with watersheds and the tools and techniques for restoring them. As three year director of Friends of the Mad River, a community watershed group in central Vermont, Michael has worked to foster a greater understanding of the local watershed and offer specific solutions to problems facing this resource. At the Water Stewards Network, Michael works to bring resources to individuals and to assist communities in developing methods for water stewardship.

Surabhi Mahapatra, Intern

Surabhi Mahapatra recently graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. Having roots in India, Surabhi took an early interest in understanding poverty and human rights in developing nations. In Spring 2003, she worked with To Help Rural Indian Villages Emerge, a rural development agency in Orissa, India. She quickly became aware that one of the largest challenges facing the rural poor is a lack of clean drinking water. Surabhi then learned about watershed development and sustainable living. A lover of sports and avid water drinker, Surabhi hopes to use her knowledge of human rights legislation and community-building to promote water to its rightful place on the community agenda and help protect this natural resource.

Kevin Natapow, Outreach Coordinator

Kevin Natapow has an undergraduate background in Asian Studies and is currently working on his Master's degree in Sustainable Development at the School for International Training. Kevin's recent studies have focused on the political, social, and economic effects of globalization on the developing world, as well as sustainable alternatives to traditional development paradigms. Kevin has a long history of international travel and has lived extensively in both Nepal and India. It was here that Kevin first learned of the issues plaguing many countries in the developing world- including the increasing scarcity of clean potable water for the countries poor and impoverished. These experiences, as well as others, led Kevin to pursue a degree in sustainable development and continue his work with domestic and international communities in finding ecologically sound and sustainable approaches to natural resource management.

Aryn Bowman, Research Associate

Aryn Bowman has a background in International Development and Government and has conducted extensive research on the privatization and commodification of the world's water resources. Aryn first developed a passion for water issues in her youth when the water bottling company Vermont Pure Springs cut down her tree house in order to build a bottling plant next to her rural Vermont home. In March 2003, she traveled to India to participate in the People's National Water Forum, a gathering of key activistsnd experts committed to regaining and retaining sovereignty over water resources. This experience fueled her current focus on Gandhian influences on democratic decentralization in Kerala, India, and on other alternative paradigms of development offered in South Asia. Formerly a full-time Water Steward, Aryn now assists us with research when her schedule permits.

Water Stewards Tees

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