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.
And some videos to whet your appetite: