World Water Day and Weekend Getaway

First, a plug! The Puru will be on faculty at the 2011 Nehirim Men's Retreat for queer/gay/bi/trans Jewish men & their admirers this weekend, March  25-27 at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. I'll be hosting the talent show, performing a Storahtelling Maven Saturday morning, teaching a performance workshop and--most relevantly--a text study called The Shadow and The Shit: Learning to Love Your Kishkas. Registration is still available! Tell 'em The Puru sent you.

And now...

HAPPY WORLD WATER DAY!

In 1993, the UN marked March 22 as World Water Day in order to "focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources." This year's theme, "Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge," was celebrated today with a main event in Cape Town and hundreds more around the world. A few that have caught my eye:

So go ahead. Pour yourself a cold one and raise a toast to a cleaner water future for all!

Drink responsibly, and peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

World Toilet Day Gone Down the Drain

To all the performers, volunteers and hip New Yorkers who came out to make World Toilet Day New York a huge success: THANK YOU!!  The place was packed with Bacchanalian revelers singing, dancing, and worshiping at the altar of the Porcelain God.  I was one proud Puru to stand in front of so many poopers all gathered in one place.  (See them all practicing their squats on our Facebook fan page or Flickr stream!) For those almost three hours, we managed to create a supportive community where the most private and embarrassing details of our lives become commonplace conversation.  By the end of the night, not a thigh muscle was left unstrained as people proudly squatted in solidarity with our toilet-less brothers and sisters.  Not to mention that we raised $652.08, which will all go towards producing outreach materials and bringing a one-man shit show to the Edinburgh International Fringe in 2011.

We've got a great flow going, now let's keep it moving!

There are many different sides to the sanitation question--domestic, international, environmental, sociological--but in honor of World Toilet Day, here are a few ways to get educated and get involved in empowering the developing world with a proper place to put their poo.

BROWSE: The UN's Water For Life initiative gives a great overview with links to many other resources.  Water.org, although they couch sanitation as a water issue, also offers a very accessible primer. Lastly, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council gives an in-depth overview on many of the key sanitation issues facing the developing world. For some quick statistics, take a look at WaterAid and these UN graphs and maps.

WATCH: Adam Yamaguchi of Vanguard explores the World Toilet Crisis first-hand in this 45 min. documentary.  (More from Vanguard on the subject here.) These five videos won the USAID Environmental Health Sanitation Video Contest--five very inspiring takes on how to convince a community that toilets are important.

READ: Journalist Rose George's 2009 book, The Big Necessity, is a thorough and well-written introduction to the complicated world of both domestic and international sanitation.  2008 was declared the International Year of Sanitation, something UNICEF commemorated by co-publishing The Last Taboo, an in-depth account by Maggie Black and Ben Fawcett of how the crisis came to be, and how progress is and is not being made.

DO: Get together with your family, roommates or co-workers to fund a latrine in Burundi through ToiletTwinning.org--like sponsoring a child but a little different.  Consider donating to the World Toilet Organization, the people who sponsor World Toilet Day and serve as the number one advocate on behalf of the toilet-less.

MOST IMPORTANT: Lift the lid, unlock the stall door, and SPEAK UP for those who haven't got a pot to piss in.  Literally.

Wishing you all a year of peaceful pooping, until World Toilet Day 2012.

The Puru

 

And some videos to whet your appetite:

World Toilet Day in NYC

Like a march on Washington, only different...

Celebrate sanitation at World Toilet Day on Friday, November 19th in New York City!

The POOP Project invites you to join us in one of the many World Toilet Day events happening around the world, featuring an interactive evening honoring the miracle of modern sanitation while remembering that 40% of the world still lives without it.

Why toilets?

While not everybody needs the standard porcelain fixture we're familiar with in the West, everyone needs a safe, sanitary place to put their poo.  The 2.6 billion people around the world without toilets wind up doing their business in fields, alleys and local waterways--which means poop winds its way back onto people, leading to a host of illnesses including cholera, giardia, typhoid and plain ol' diarrhea--which kills one child in the developing world every 15 seconds.

Even though sanitation kills more people than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined, it gets far less press because the toilet is taboo.  Which is why we're asking people to come out of the water closet and come on down to celebrate the plumbing that makes our lives possible.

World Toilet Day New York

Come Home Sweet Home to drink dirty martinis, give a "commode confessional", and check out authentic "flying toilets."  Write your thoughts on a stall wall, submit a secret to our privy chamber pot, and take a picture of your poo face in prep for The Big Squat--a minute of thigh-straining solidarity with the toiletless.

Shawn "The Poop Guru" Shafner and Josh Sitron will be your hosts for the evening, with sounds, stories, and unmentionables provided by Moth storyteller and comedian Sara Barron along with word mavens Amy Carrigan, Adam Laupus and Lisa Lewis, singer-songwriters Avi Fox-Rosen, Megan Gerlach, Ben Lerman, Brian Carter, and Hilary Schwartz PLUS buxom burlesque beauty Minnie Tonka and much more!

WHERE: Home Sweet Home, 131 Chrystie Street, New York, NY DATE/TIME: Friday, Nov. 19, 2010.  7:30 pm Doors, 8:30 pm Performances, 9:45 pm Big Squat, 10:00 pm Closing TICKETS: $15.00 tickets online, $18.00 at the door.  Limited supply $3 drink tickets good for draft beer and well drinks.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR PRESS RELEASE

All proceeds benefit The People's Own Organic Power Project (The POOP Project) in their mission to creative poop-positive spaces that spur creative thinking towards sustainable sanitation solutions for all.

(Porta-potty photo by AnyaLogic, licensed under Creative Commons. Big Squat banner property of the World Toilet Organization.)

Happy Global Handwashing Day!

Did you know that washing your hands with soap is one of the most cost-effective health care solutions on the planet?  Though nasty germs are everywhere, the ones on your hands can come into contact with (and thus spread disease through) innumerable other objects, eventually gaining access into your body when you scratch a small cut, rub your eyes or eat with your fingers.  Indulging in soapy, foamy, wet goodness all over your hands, between your fingers and under your nails (washing for at least 20 seconds) can drastically reduce the rate of infection, keeping adults at work, children in school, and all of us feeling productive, prosperous and happy.  Isn't that grand?

Unfortunately, for much of the developing world, there's a lot more at stake than a missed day at school.  According to UNICEF figures, close to 29,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes.  That's 21 children each minute whose lives are lost to diarrhea, respiratory illnesses (pneumonia), malaria and many other dreadful illnesses that could be kept at bay through fairly simple means.  While some of these challenges are best met with vaccines and medicines, one pump of soap and a little bit of water is incredibly effective at stopping the spread of typhoid, cholera, giardia and infections--especially when done habitually after using the toilet.  (For more exact statistics, see the Handwashing Fact Sheet).

Before you put away that celebratory champagne, remember that today also happens to be Blog Action Day 2010: Water, sponsored by Change.org.  (I am happy to be posting today as a part of that.)  While every man, woman and child has the right to clean drinking water, it's important to note that "clean water" is often a euphemism that really means "poop-free water."  Every gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria, so when people don't have toilets and poop gets in their water, or when they use the toilet but don't wash their hands with soap, it only takes a little bit to cause big trouble.

Water is the stuff of life; it sustains us, cleanses us, it's what we're mostly made of.  On a day like today, I encourage you to take a moment and acknowledge how lucky we are to turn on the tap and drink without fear.  If you can take a long shower, a hot bath, or flush a toilet, know that you might have it better than most of the world.  So go out there, indulge in what we've got--use the bathroom freely, wash your hands with relish, and eat messy finger foods.  With our thoughts, our donations, and our signatures on the petition line, soon the rest of the world will join us.