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A Weekend of Documentaries

January 19, 2010

Sorry it has been a little while since I wrote last, but I have a lot to share with you today.

First, I am excited to tell you that I’ve enrolled in a blogging class, lead by Holly Becker from Decor8, and Leslie Shewring from A Creative Mint. They both run beautiful blogs, and I’m really excited to gain new insight and soak up as much as I can from these two incredibly creative women.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. Mine was quite fulfilling and busy — I was able to fit in some baking (Dorie Greenspan’s bacon cheddar bread), some fantastic jazz (Jason Linder’s Now vs. Now), and a few films. I had heard of the film ‘Flow: For Love of Water’ for awhile, and when it finally came from netflix this weekend I was excited, if not a little hesitant because I knew learning more about the global water crisis would be depressing.

The film was extremely well done, and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t already. Though many can argue that the film points to extremes and lays blame for water loss and pollution solely on large corporations and the World Bank, it does bring up an ever increasingly important issue: water privatization. Large companies, like Suez, Vivendi, and others are building contracts across the global to manage and control municipal water systems. They can then control quality, quantity and who receives water which forces many of us to stop and ask: does anyone have the RIGHT to own water?

It is, after all, the source of life. And when people without means to pay for water are the ones footing the bill for these multi-national giants, it doesn’t make much sense. Many people in Africa were told privatization would provide them with healthy, clean drinking water but that just simply is not true. And if they cannot pay the fees, do they have any other choice but to find and drink dirty water, often leading to water-borne diseases?

So why is it, that some of the poorest people in the world are the ones paying for water that otherwise flows out of American taps for free (or very cheap)? How can we water golf courses, plant water-intensive crops such as genetically modified corn and flush our toilets with what could be drinking water?? How can we pave over our ever-expanding cities, making miles and miles impermeable without finding some other way to replenish our aquifers?

Companies in the United States, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and many others are extracting water for free from aquifers and municipal water supplies, bottling it, and turning around and putting it on the shelves in our grocery stores. How does that make ANY sense?? So let’s see: your friendly neighbor, Nestle Corp, comes in and starts drilling wells. The stream that used to run through your backyard is dropping and dropping until it’s mostly just mud. And you go to the grocery store to see plastic bottles of Poland Springs water for sale. You’re then paying several dollars for something that is basically equivalent to the water that comes out of your tap at home.

Okay, so, you’ve probably gotten the point. And it is easy to be negative about the problem, but the fact is there IS something we can all do.

  • We need more pervious space in urban centers so water can filter into the ground and return to the hydrologic cycle
  • we need green roofs
  • we need to collect rainwater in cisterns
  • employ greywater systems in our buildings
  • re-design our farming systems to reduce irrigation needs
  • regulate what gets dumped into water systems
  • conserve water
  • reduce the number of chemicals in our products
  • stop buying bottled water (filter or drink tap water)
  • landscape with local plants that are more drought-resistant
  • stop building on deserts
  • value and increase our wetlands to naturally filter water
  • make sure water is not privatized but is available to everyone

These are just some of the ways we can take better care of fresh water, to make sure that there is water available to everyone in the world.

The second film I saw this weekend was ‘Homegrown‘, a film about the Dervaes family in Pasadena, California who grow nearly all of their own food on roughly 1/5 of an acre. Last year, they grew 6,000 lbs of food! It’s an incredible example of urban homesteading, one that points out the advantages and importance of growing food on a small, local scale rather than massive farms. The sisters in the Dervaes family run a website detailing their progress and their daily life – check it out here. The film was shown as part of Slow Food BU, which is part of Slow Food USA, a member based organization that promotes sustainable, local food and those engaged in the process. Check out the trailer for the film:

After the film screening, there was a discussion which was fantastic to be a part of because it enabled me to see how many people are interested in growing their own food, gardening and becoming more organic and sustainable. In Boston there is a group called the Urban Homesteaders League, which puts on a number of events, workshops and lessons to help people grow and make their own things — from sprouting, to skincare products, to vermicomposting. There was also a speaker on the panel from The Food Project, another fantastic program in the Boston area.

Though it can be easy to get bogged down and feel negative about environmental issues, it is also really uplifting to find small pockets in the community that are taking initiative to change our systems, and to promote a more sustainable lifestyle. I learned a lot this weekend and hopefully this week, I will find seeds to sprout on my windowsill and take one step to reduce my consumption of water. Every little thing counts!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 9:15 pm

    Hi Liza,
    My word you are a wealth of knowledge!!! Impressive blog -I need to come back and read more and more! I am going to find “Homegrown” -I know my husband will love watching it too. See you in class.

  2. judistringbean permalink
    January 24, 2010 7:44 pm

    OK, I have to figure out where our garden is going wrong! I want at least 2 pounds of veggies! Wouldn’t it be amazing if people could raise their own food and share it FREE for others.

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