Photo: Kristen Haitaian, Freshwater Future with Michael Harris of the Flint Community Lab connect at River Rally.
by Kristen Haitaian, Freshwater Future Community Program Associate
This week, I had the opportunity to participate in River Rally, an annual convening of local, state, regional, and federal water-focused groups, hosted by River Network. The Washington D.C. convening focused on celebrating leaders and clean-water victories, sharing research and expertise, and building on the movement to diversify voices, leaders, and philanthropic efforts.
The Keynote speaker, Colette Pichon Battle, a Gulf Coast regional leader,urged that the “time is now” to address the intertwined, root causes of compromised livelihoods due to the abuse of our water systems because “it’s all connected.” Her perpetual hope shone through her passionate appeals to change ourselves in order to change the system, as well as asserting “we cannot compromise on water” because “if you need money to access water, then you need money to access life.”
Another impactful session was a panel discussion on Climate, Water, and Equity. The despair and urgency from participants sharing the suffering of contaminated drinking water from lead pipes and threats to California were impactful.Their pained pleas for accountability was palpable and most importantly served as a wake up call to those within safe privileged spaces to remember that every day there are people suffering from unsafe or inaccessible water. Water is life.