How a recession gig turned into lifelong work

Three years ago I took a part-time contract, which developed into a lifelong passion for water. I was a journalism school graduate working as a producer in radio and TV at the height of the recession. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best time to work in media. Then I scored a contract with the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) working with the group Youth4Water. This turned into two years of working with youth in water education, and it continues to be an important part of my life.

During my time at UNA-Canada, I had the privilege of meeting real and interesting youth who are educating peers about water. I learned more about global access-to-water issues, but also I learned about our own challenges here in North America. I discovered that there are over one-hundred First Nations communities that can’t drink their own water straight from the tap. And that’s when it all started compounding in my head, I realized, “I can’t survive without water, I need it to be clean, and yet I’ve never thought about all the work it takes to get this water to flow from my tap.”

By working with Youth4Water I began to have a newfound appreciation for this work. I got to meet youth from across Ontario involved in our Ripple Effect Ontario programming; they went out in their communities to find out about what people thought about their drinking water and how to protect it. Then my friend Rehana and I, along with Youth4Water, launched Catching Rain. It’s a project where we work with youth in Toronto public housing and discuss water issues through hands-on workshops. Together, we installed rain barrels in community gardens last summer.

Now I’m back to working as a journalist, but I’ve realized that I can’t seem to shake this water work. I’m still hanging out with Youth4Water, supporting Catching Rain and planning events for Canada Water Week; I’m a water geek.

This obsession probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve met people from this sort of secret Canadian water network. They’re engineers, activists, politicians, theatre facilitators, lawyers, documentary filmmakers, geographers, and neighbourhood historians. I want to introduce you to some of them, and tell you about the projects they’re working on and the interesting spaces they’re working with.

(Photo Credit: Dagna with Youth4Water and friends at Thirsty Minds: Youth Roundtable on Ontario Drinking Water, by: Nick Kozak)

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One Response to “How a recession gig turned into lifelong work”

  1. Korice Moir March 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    I remember attending a lovely event a few years back down at the Scadding Court Community Centre where Youth4Water launched its campaign for a national water strategy. Such an inspiration! And I just saw a tweet roll through that tonight is the night they are hitting the streets to support http://www.bluew.org/ ! Sounds like a terrific tap water initiative.

    For those interested in meeting Youth4Water, I noticed they will be at the Lost River Walk in Toronto this weekend. Click here for the event details: http://canadawaterweek.com/event/264

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