Travel Fellowship Home

 

Our Living World is Dying

Stacey Worman, 2006-2007 Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow

 

Home

The Fellowship

Former Fellows' Websites

About My Project

Itinerary

Online Journal

Photo Gallery

Learn More

Get Involved

Thank You's

Contact Information

Online Journal

_____________________________________

Date: March 15th, 2007

To: Undisclosed recipients

Re: Congrats, Cawst, Coal, and Cities...

______________________________________

First off, CONGRATS to Erin Feeney, who has been selected as next year's traveling fellow! She surely has an amazing journey ahead of her! It's hard to believe that I was in her shoes this time last year and that my own journey out in this crazy-beautiful world will be winding itself down in the upcoming months....my oh my, how time flies! But anyway, onto the less important stuff, an update on my whereabout/whatabouts since I was last in contact with ya'll....

-----

"Water-related conflicts can be prevented if humanity recognizes that water can be a learning ground for conflict resolution," Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Deputy Assistant Director General at UNESCO (the United Nation's cultural arm).

------

The 5-day workshop on safe-drinking water was a powerful example for me of how people from different countries and from different cultures...who have different political views and religious affiliations...are capable of putting all of their differences aside and working constructively together because they share common ground in their desire to 'do something' about the impending water problem. And because water has this unifying potential, many individuals who wish for "peace on earth" are now focusing all of their attention and energy on addressing the global water crisis and tackling local water issues...

------

While in the Philippines, I'd frequently bump into Peace Corp Volunteers (PCVs) who'd mention some girl named 'Gemma' and some project involving 'BioSand Filters'. Soon or later, it became apparent that I had to follow up on the whole thing...and when I found my way to her website, I realized that she was someone who I simply had to meet! Despite her crazy travel schedule and my own movement about the different regions of the country....we managed to cross paths in Manila and sat down for some dinner (for the record...it was Mexican...and...despite my long standing aversion, I even enjoyed it!). She is a ball of light and energy...and is incredibly humble and personable...and it was wonderful and inspiring to 'hear everything from the horses mouth'; water connects us all...and music, the universal language, can bring us all together...and so Gemma has joined these two powerful forces together to launch a global water movement! For the past 5 years, in the wake of September 11th, she's been traveling the world assembling the million voice choir...encouraging people everywhere to be a part of it...inviting them to sing her song, "We Rise", the song the United Nations has hailed as the 'new human world anthem' (View the music video online at www.asingledrop.org, but be careful...the tune quickly get's stuck in your head!).

Gemma is trying to reach as many people as possible...to spread awareness of the global water crisis...and for the fact that it is something that we all need to be in, together. And two critical groups that she's focusing on engaging and empowering are women (the traditional 'water keepers' in societies) and children (who will ultimately be most effected by these issues). And her advocacy is backed by action...with community based projects that teach people how to secure safe-drinking water on their own...so that instead of depending on (or waiting for) public or private aid (which, in reality, often will never come anyway in many parts of these third-world countries)...they will have the tools necessary to be responsible for themselves...to provide for their own basic needs. The idea is to enable people to become accountable for their own well-being...and in turn, their own future...

After our enjoyable Mexican meal (don't quote me on that)...I only wanted to know more...and so two days later I went on my merry little way to observe one of the workshops on the BioSand Filter (BSF) that her NGO was conducting locally...but I found myself on a 63-hour ill-fated ferry boat ride that drifted near the international waters of the South China Sea (where the pirates still roam, Rrrrrrrr)....and I unfortunately missed it. She told me about the next one that she'd be co-facilitating in Bali with CAWST, the NGO that actually taught her how to build and implement the BSF back in June 2005...and well, Bali? Umm...OK...my arm was twisted...

------

The BSF is what they call a 'soft-path' technological solution and is especially applicable in the case of rural communities (Definition: "Soft path solutions aim to improve the productivity of water rather than seek endless new supply; soft path solutions complement centrally-planned infrastructure with community scale projects; and soft path solutions involve stake-holders in key decisions so that water deals and projects protect the environment and the public interest.") There's plenty more reading material about it all at www.cawst.org and www.asingledrop.com ...but here are some of my impressed-ions of the whole thing...

Firstly...from hearing that Gemma attended a CAWST training in Calgry in June 2005...to her then launching a spin-off training program in the Philippines...to her NGO training PCV's...to those PCV's then implementing their own BSF projects at their host sites...to encountering a BSF in some random village...for the first time in my life, I actually saw the ripple effect that I've always heard about...it's really real...and it moves faster and farther than I would have ever imagined. And secondly...it's one thing to develop a simple, affordable, easily-replicable technology that can get the job done...and it's a whole different thing to actually implement it...to get people to change their habits and/or to convince them that 'it works'. It's not easy...but they've found a good place to start the process...and it is a process...

-----

After the workshop I journeyed to the island of Sumatra to see my uncle, an engineer who is working on the construction of the island's first coal-fired power plant. I stayed with the project manager and his wife; Rodney and Gail were a beautiful-hearted South African couple who took me into their home and looked after (spoiled) me for the week. The whole experience was intriguing and a definite highlight for me, as it exposed me to totally new points of view...those from people building large-scale technological projects and those working in international business. Indonesia has traditionally depended on diesel fired power plants for electricity. And despite their once large oil fields...which were developed by Multi-National Corporations (MNC's)...oil coming from within their own country is now too expesnisve for their own domestic consumption...and it has forced them to pursue coal, a more affordable alternative for the advancing region.

Touring the site reminded me of how ingenious mankind is...and of our capacity to conceive, plan, collaborate, and create amazing things to solve problems...And furthermore, it was great to hear from my uncle about the evolution of techonology over the course of his career...how scientists and engineers have been working to refine everything...to make these plants more efficient and more clean...

-----

From Sumatra, I jumped over the ocean quickly to pay Singapore a visit. About to take off, I experienced what I think was my first wave of reverse culture shock. It's the first time I've been on a plane in a while where my knees weren't touching the tray table and where I didn't feel the need to grip both arm rests as we started down the runway! I couldn't believe that there were 9 seats in a row...a personal TV, a footrest, and a free/nice meal!?...it was the strangest thing ever...

But the reverse-shock of the first world was buffered by the fact that I was able to cross-paths with Heather (a friend from the ship), who was also passing through the SEA travel hub on her way back to Europe! Within the first two minutes of meeting in Raffle's Marina, we were standing on the top of a boat chit-chatting and swabbing the deck (it was all way too appropriate)...and the next morning we saw Gaie and Laser (the heads of PCRF) at breakfast! So I guess you could say, lately I've had lots of reunions with familiar faces...and it has been quite energizing to reconnect with people I care about...one who knew me when I was a child...and ones who I spent the first two months of my fellowship with...

Going to Singapore was good for me for other reasons too (most of my travels to date have been in rural/remote areas). I wouldn't call myself a big-city kind of girl...although I do enjoy them for a day or so, they quickly exhaust me! And at this point in time, I could never imagine myself actually living in one...(but then again, a year ago I couldn't have imagined myself enjoying Mexican food either)...But reality is that most of our world is living in cities these days...And just as I appreciate the beauty of the natural world...Singapore reminded me of the beauty and importance of our man-made worlds too, of our city ecosystems...

There's a great interactive exhibit downtown which walks you through Singapore 's urban planning...because of its' small size, they have no space to waste...and so must be thoughtful and wise in their decision making process. And they've managed to strike a beautiful balance between modernization, preserving their culturally significant buildings, and establishing national parks and green spaces...it's a small country, and yet it seems to have room for everything...for the best of all worlds...including a mix of ethnicities. And without any natural resources of their own, they seem to be embracing the concept of sustainable development, as it is likely their only chance for long-lasting prosperity...

One of their main issues at present is their water supply; 2/3's of which now comes from Malaysia . But over the last two years, instead of just depending on their neighbors, the government has pushed for the country to become more self-reliant...new water (recycled sewage water)...desalination...creating new reservoirs/water catchments areas...and other international suppliers (specifically Indonesia)...like with the BSF before, it's not easy to solve these water issues...it's not simple...it won't happen over night, but they seem to at least be working on it...as they seem to realize that they cannot carry on as they have been.

It was a quick trip with quick impressing impressions, and perhaps I'll follow up on it all some day...who knows...

And now...I'm going out to where the wild things are :-D

I hope you are all doing well...and until next time...

Take care and so will I,

Love,

Stace

____________________________________

March 3rd, 2007, H-2-Ohh Yeah, There's a Crisis...

February 21st, 2007, Recipe for Disaster...

February 8th, 2007, Making the Trip....

Janurary 23rd, 2007, Did You Hear the Good News?

Janurary 6th, 2007, I Found it on the Map....

December 17th, 2006, Catch as Catch Can, As Fast as You Can...

December 1st, 2006, My Dream Destination & an Indigenous Filipino Family...

November 8th, 2006, An Old Forest, A Feral Ship, and Discarded Paper...

November 3rd, 2006, It's all Fun and Games Until...

October 17th, 2006, Ends Justifying Means?...

October 4, 2006, Different Industries Down Under...

September 28, 2006, Close Together, Worlds Apart....

September 10, 2006, Final Thoughts, the Life/Work Dichotomy....

September 7, 2006, The Party Eventually Ends...

September 4, 2006, Under the Sea, with Scientific Spectacles...

September 3, 2006, Off the Ship...

August 8, 2006, Back on land, but not for long...

June 24, 2006, Our maiden voyage(s)...

June 19, 2006, Not another mass email...

______________________________________