Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aqua Week Events

The week of Ringling 10:10 events upheld a consistent theme: water - its consumption, origins, export, and purification -- locally and globally. Based on audience reaction, this issue is largely unknown yet water enters every area of life.

For the kick-off night, students, teachers, and guest speakers engaged in a comprehensive discussion of water. Project coordinator, Ted Weber, started off the talks, reminding the audience, "The environment is our responsibility. It is a gift that we take for granted."

He then introduced Dr. Tim Rumage, professor of environmental studies at the Ringling College of Art and Design. Dr. Rumage covered the degree of water waste, and the fact that "water is invisible in our routine; we don't see water, we don't pay attention to it, but it represents an ongoing crises." Other speakers included Sarasota County's Theresa Connor and Suzanne Dameron, speaking on watersheds and water quality.

Before the screenings of Flow, the talks introduced the water bottle issue. Design was emphasized as both a problem and a solution. Professor Dr. Emily Hall shared statistics about water with the audience. We learned that Sarasota municipal water is tested 400 times a month, meanwhile water bottles remain unregulated (and avoid the FDA if possible). As mentioned in the documentaries, unsafe drinking water is the prime cause of death in the world.

The third event of the week, "Aqua Talk", featured a panel of RCAD, NCF, and USF faculty as well as Sarasota Environmental Specialists. The panelists included Jono Miller (an activist at New College), Robert Wright (Sarasota County), John Ryan (Sarasota County), and Alison Albee (City of Sarasota). First, each panelists introduced themselves. Each were from different backgrounds: business to eduction to profit, nonprofit, and government agencies - and yet they all agreed that water is an urgent issue. During the talk, students from liberal arts classes expressed their frustration about the lack of activism on campus around water. The message they left with was, "Be persistant and preservere. Follow up and take responsibility, and never take no as an answer without a conversation."

Later, we watched Blue Gold, a documentary about the economic-political implications of "water wars". The following discussion focused on water privatization as a global struggle that exploits people internationally. We learned that water contamination killing more people than war, Aids, and Malaria combined. The documentary left an impact on all who saw it.

"In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an expediential level as population and technology grows. The rampant overdevelopment of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.

Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars."

Although Aqua Week is over, the final Ringling 10:10 event will take place on November 6th at 7pm in the Ringling Academic Center Auditorium. There will be a screening of Tapped, following a discussion on why and how we plan to ban water bottles on campus. According to Ted Weber, "Every person who sits through this documentary will understand the importance of banning of water bottles from campuses, cities and entire nations! Show that you care for your health, your pocket, our economy and environment, sign this petition to support the ban on sales of water bottles at Ringling College of Art and Design, from here, we can expand to all campus in town and then the community at large!" To sign the petition click here.

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