Today is Blog Action Day and the subject is water. Awesome, right? Since I’ve chosen water.org as the organization I’m fundraising for with my half-marathon.

But not awesome, since I’ve really had a hard time coming up with something to write about. Sometimes it’s hard to articulate a cause I feel passionate about without coming off like Sally Struthers or a having a bad Hallmark card moment.

Besides, there are plenty of other people telling the water story today over at the BAD site and elsewhere. (water.org is a great place to start. They do a great job of telling the problem and giving solutions.)

So instead, I’m going to keep my little drop in the bucket (harhar) simpler.

Here are some things I remember about water.

Water thought #1:
When I think of the word “relief,” I have a very clear way to describe it. You know how sometimes you wake up in the night and it’s pitch black, you have no idea what time it is, but you do know one thing (more vividly than you’ve known anything before in your life): you’re thirsty. And not just “I might like a drink” thirsty. Or even “I’ve been outside for a bit and it’s hot” thirsty, no. We’re talking “bugs-bunny-in-the-desert-sees-a-mirage-with-a-girl-bunny-holding-pina-coladas-and-he-ends-up-with-a-mouthful-of-sand” thirsty. Is there anything more satisfying than that moment when you drag yourself out of bed and into the kitchen, stumbling in the dark for a clean glass and the fridge handle or faucet, and then drink an entire glass of water in one swallow?

Water thought #2:
I went to Vietnam a couple of years ago. That whole story’s too long to tell, just know I have some wonderful friends who have a way of making cool things happen. (You can read quite a bit about the trip here.)
One day we were working with an orphanage in Hoi Mai, doing art projects with the kids there and just playing and having a generally fabulous time. It was super hot, but we played frisbee with abandon until we were all sweaty-betties. Late in the day it started to rain. Not just a little bit, but a lotta bit. Pouring. Drenching. “Holy shit, I’m sitting in the car until this stops!” kind of rain. But that didn’t stop the kids from wanting to play. So play we did. (Some of us with more abandon than others. This pic shows my style. Two years later, I think I’d have gone full-drench. I like running in the rain now, after all.)


sesha shannon / convey studios


Water thought #3:
When I was in junior high, my family took a summer vacation out west. We did a lot of the big stuff: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Old Faithful, but a big point of the trip was seeing the land we own in Montana. (True story. My great-grandmother homesteaded in Montana in 1919. She was a teacher and farmer and general badass, and she earned the 160 acres the Homestead Act afforded her after 5 years.) The land itself isn’t too exciting, (unless you consider our fantasies of striking oil or finding dinosaur bones…) but it’s ours, and seeing it was very important to my mom.
I remember sitting in the back of our ’91 Chevy Caprice (which became my car in high school. Pimp.) and listening to this CD (in my brother’s boom box! yes kids, cars in the ’90s came without CD players…and iPods? fuggetabouttit…) of western songs that my mom had found. I can still hear this one:
somethin’somethin’ dan
dontcha listen to him dan,
he’s a devil not a man
and he’s spread the burnin sand with water
cool, clear water…

So those are my water thoughts.
A late night drink.
A Vietnam rainstorm.
A family vacation song.

They’re all happy memories.

Because I’ve never known what it’s like to walk for hours each day to find drinking water. I’ve spent very few days in my life without a functioning western toilet in the next room. I have never washed my dishes in the same water where my cows do their business.

All this stuff is day-to-day truth for almost a BILLION people on earth. Right now. Not 100 years ago when my grandma lived in Montana. Now.

And there’s something we can DO about it. (Uh-oh, Sally Struthers Moment Ahead.)
We can fight for legislation that makes America prioritize this issue.
We can raise awareness by spreading the word in real life and online.
We can donate to organizations (like water.org and many others) who are doing good work in the world. Sustainable, locally-focused, life-changing work.

It’s a big deal. That’s what this day is for. All our blogs, which we might spend talking about movies or cooking or boys or books or cats or running or whatever else it is that occupies our thoughts on a daily basis. We can use them to say hey, guess what? You can do a lot of good with a little effort.

SO. That’s my $0.02 on Blog Action Day.
Want to shut me up? :) Check out firstgiving.com/sjenkins and donate to water.org. Just $25 can give someone out there clean water and sanitation for life.
And that feels even better than a middle-of-the-night drink.


3 thoughts on “water

  1. Did you know there is a National Park site devoted to telling the story of the Homestead Act of 1862? To learn more about what may be the most influential piece of legislation this country has ever created go to http://www.nps.gov/home or visit Homestead National Monument of America. Located in Nebraska, the Monument includes one of the first 160 acres homestead claims but tells the story of homesteading throughout the United States. Nearly 4 million claims in 30 states were made under the Homestead Act and 1.6 million or 40 percent were successful. The Homestead Act was not repealed until 1976 and extended in Alaska until 1986. Homesteads could be claimed by “head of households” that were citizens or eligible for citizenship. New immigrants, African-Americans, women who were single, widowed or divorced all took advantage of the Homestead Act. It is estimated that as many as 93 million Americans are descendents of these homesteaders today. This is a story as big, fascinating, conflicted and contradictory as the United States itself. Learn more!

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