Saturday, December 25, 2010

Access: Using the Bathroom

Every animal, of every species, is making poop, *every single day*, everywhere on this planet.

I mean to tell you there is poop happening all. the. time.

If you are alive, and you are an animal, you will be -- making sh*t happen!!!!!


Birdies just let theirs fly.  Whoop, off ya' go!  No matter where it lands.....

Kitties bury theirs meticulously.  Doggies make a big scene and do it right out in public. Cows leave 'em in big patties on the ground.  Babies....well babies fill up their diapers indiscriminately according to everything that has passed through them -- just like all other animals (but with fancier diapers).

In the U.S. where I live, for us humans once you're weaned from a diaper, most people start to use the toilet.  It's great!  You just sit down on it or stand next to it to do your business, and when you're finished you just flush a handle and - swoosh -- it washes away!  Ne'er to be seen again.....

Pretty convenient when you think about it -- the only time I ever have to deal with my "stuff" (unless I'm camping or traveling) -- is when my toilet backs up!!  (Get out the plunger and hope for the best, right?!  Gross!!)  I mean, I pay my utility bills, but I don't really think about what it means -- what I'm paying for, ya know?

Can you imagine what it would be like if we couldn't do that??

If you couldn't flush your stuff?

Can you imagine moving into an apartment or house anywhere in the U.S (that is up to code!) that doesn't have a bathroom - ??   As any carpenter or architect will tell you, our modern houses and indeed - our cities and towns are completely built around massive and brilliantly hidden plumbing, electrical wiring, gas lines, and what is known as "infrastructure".

I know this isn't exactly NEWS.....but I point it out as a way to demonstrate how easy it is for those of us in the modern world to forget about it!  It is actually a privelege millions -- indeed -- billions of humans who share this planet with us do not have.

Imagine!  Not being able to "use the bathroom" - anywhere!

Where would you go?!  What would you do?

It has to happen -- otherwise quite honestly you will die of toxic poisoning.

I think it's fair then that we could call this a "basic necessity" for human existence.  So it's hard to understand why so many people (2.5 billion or HALF the population of the world - have no access to this and other such actual necessities, such as clean water, food, and shelter.  (As opposed to a box set of "Lost".....).

The thing is, the health hazards which begin to multiply within days of losing one's access to basic sanitation are deadly, particularly if you don't have access to clean water with which to clean your hands either.....and it's hard to know where to place the blame, who to go to for help, what to do.

And yet -- there is a simple way to intervene in the above process!

Instead of leaching into the ground water and infecting people trying to live their lives, instead of expensive collection techniques that transport the wastes from public latrines to open pits of raw sewage further compromising public health in the region (can you say "cholera"?), instead of leaving people with the indignity of having to figure out what to do with their own "stuff" --

This film tells the story of a very simple solution to the above recipe for disaster, where human wastes are managed and recycled in such a way as to actually create healthy fertilizers.


SOIL is a non-profit organization working in Haiti since 2006 that is implementing a technique known as "Ecological Sanitation" (EcoSan).  SOIL and its partner Haitian organization SOL have built over 200 dry, composting toilets in displacement camps in Port au Prince in the past year, hired 300 Haitian staff to collect the "poop barrels" and deposit them at compost sites throughout the city, where they are mixed with sugarcane bagasse and monitored closely according to the staff agronomist.

Soon SOIL will begin a process of selling the wastes and actually stimulating the local economy!

All with a simple, ecological, sustainable, clean, urine-diverting toilet.

Stay tuned.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

home is where the heart is

(journal entry, 11/4/10)

3 days back and i'm finally remembering my name.  "what i do" combining with "how i do it" and i step back into the routines of my life, while the thick rocky streets of port au prince linger in my mind, the tires sorting it out with the unmade roads....

i hear the sounds, smell the smells, feel the heat, see the faces....and yet i am here in my living room with the small lamp shining sparkles onto my drum-kit, my heater turned on, socks on my feet, and a huge, warm, clean bed waiting for me to climb into.

port au prince, the home of african kings and queens, the land of lions and dragons, the schools and the wagons, grace mixed with passion, and a great deal of fashion, style worn in attitudes, displayed with fortitude, traffic exhaust pot-holes gas-fumes, heads held high with huge smiles wide, generators roosters water trucks church choirs........

ayiti chere

(film update:  working on it!  got some graphics comin up, a website happening, first meeting with my editor tomorrow night.......stay tuned!!)