Your Anus is Not Uranus

Today, I'd like to get personal. Like an all up in your space kind of personal. Like so personal, in fact, it's in your pants.

Your anus is not Uranus.

First of all, Uranus is the seventh planet from our sun and your anus is that opening at the end of your digestive tract, opposite from your mouth.  Secondly, Uranus belongs to no one, whereas your anus belongs to you and whomever you might temporarily and consensually entrust it to.  Though we could go on, suffice it to say that they don't even have to be pronounced the same, as Uranus can be said two ways.  They're not the

Are you loving your anus, or treating it like Uranus?

I recently came across this hilarious video by Superhero Clubhouse.  They are "a society of theater artists engaged in making original plays and events about the natural world via a green and collaborative process."  Cool, right?  (And they're having a benefit party tonight if you can make it!) The video is a promo for their upcoming production URANUS (a play about waste), and highly instructive in detailing anal abuse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fqBIXwe7-c&feature=player_embedded

OUCH!  If you're working that hard to move those bowels--especially on a regular basis--it might be time to reassess your anal relationship.  Let's face it, you both deserve better.

Unlike Uranus, your anus is attached to you.  And it might actually be quite talkative if it weren't always being sat on or pushed around.  So take a moment to listen in.  Is your anus clenched and tense?  Reeling from a spicy snack?  Feeling...drafty?   Anuses get overworked easily, but you can help them to be happy by making sure your poo is healthy.  Unlike that constipated feeling of opening a jar of old pickles, when your anus is relaxed, that healthy poo will slide right out.

Try cheering up your anus by adding more fiber to your diet.  Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are loaded with roughage that doesn't quite digest, instead joining forces to create a solid poo as it slides through your digestive tract.  The other half of that glue, however, is water, which gets reabsorbed from the poo by your intestines and colon in its exodus.  So as long as you're commemorating the upcoming World Water Day, make a toast to healthy, hydrated poo!  Feel free to eat a carrot-raisin bran muffin while you do.

So here's to eco-theater, end-conscious eating, Uranus and your expressive anus.  From me to you, 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.