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Monday, December 31, 2012

The lawsuit concerning a violation of the Clean Water Act by Berlin family farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson was recently decided in favor of the farmers, with the judge ruling that the plaintiff has not shown, "by a preponderance of the evidence" that the poultry operation on the Hudson Farm has discharged pollutants.

I, personally, have always found this case to be quite intriguing. I myself am from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and have spent my entire life growing up around these small family farms and know all too well the company of Perdue. However, taking what I have learned this past semester in Design Build about the quality of water throughout the world and the urgency demanded for its rehabilitation seems like a contrasted matter in this case. The business of small family farms is represented as such a wholesome operation, but when you think about all of the pollutants that farming in general creates, it's hard to see such an operation with overwhelming esteem.

Though I can not defend the operation of the Hudson family farm, I did find an article that sheds some light on the portion of the story that we often do not see. I believe that most articles are written with bias, so finding multiple points of view helps to create a more well rounded understanding of the situation. For that reason, I have provided a link to the Save Farm Families article on the case. It was interesting to read, though I found it seemed somewhat irrational at times. That seems to be the approach in most high profile cases though...

Save Farm Families Article

Posted by Angela

December 31st, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Heres an article and video from Huf. Post about how technology helps an organization provide clean water. Kind of like our campaign.

WASHINGTON -- Scott Harrison knows his charity has funded nearly 7,000 clean water projects in some of the poorest areas of the world in the past six years. How many of those wells are still flowing with drinking water months or years later, though? That's a tough question to answer.
His organization called Charity: Water has funded projects in 20 different countries. It's committed to spend 100 percent of each donation in the field to help reach some of the 800 million people who don't have clean water and resort to drinking from swamps, unhealthy ponds or polluted rivers. Organizers send donors photos and GPS coordinates for each water project they pay for.
Still, Harrison, a former New York promoter for nightclubs and fashion events, didn't want to guess at how many water projects were actually working. He wanted to give donors more assurance, knowing as many as a third of hand pumps built by various governments or groups stop functioning later. His solution: why not create sensors to monitor the water flow at each well? But raising millions for a new innovation could prove impossible.
Few funders want to pay for a nonprofit's technical infrastructure or take the risk of funding a dreamy idea. They'd rather pay for real work on the ground.
This month, Google stepped in with major funding to create and install sensors on 4,000 wells across Africa by 2015 that will send back real-time data on the water flow at each site. The $5 million grant could be a game changer for Charity: Water to ensure its projects are sustainable, to raise money for maintenance and to empower developing countries to maintain their infrastructure with new data.
"You could imagine a water minister salivating over this technology, even a president of a country being able to hold his water ministers in different districts accountable, saying, `Hey, look, I want a dashboard in my office where I can see how my small, rural water projects are performing,'" Harrison said.
The grant is part of the first class of Google's Global Impact Awards totaling $23 million to spur innovation among nonprofits. Experts say the new annual grants are a part of a growing trend in venture philanthropy from funders who see technology as an instrument for social change. Such donors say they can have a bigger impact funding nonprofits that find ways to multiply their efforts through technology.
The gifts also represent a shift in the tech company's approach to philanthropy.
Google's Director of Charitable Giving Jacquelline Fuller said the company analyzed its giving, including $115 million in grants last year. It decided it could have a greater impact by funding nonprofit tech innovation, rather than specific issue areas or existing projects. Its grants will come with volunteer consulting on each project from Google engineers or specialists.
"We're really looking for the transformational impact" from clever uses of technology, Fuller said. But that sometimes involves risk that new technologies and innovations may not work.
"Informed risk is something Google understands," she said. "There's actually very few dollars available that's truly risk capital, lenders willing to take informed risk to help back some of these new technologies and innovations that may not pan out."
The largest source of funding for U.S. nonprofits is government, mostly through contracts that come with strings attached. Individual donors contribute significant support to charities as well, and the nation's foundations give about 14 percent of overall philanthropy to nonprofits.
"There is sort of a new breed of philanthropists coming into the field," including many who made money in the tech sector at a young age, said Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center, an information clearinghouse on nonprofits. "There I think you're seeing a really interesting sort of confluence of almost kind of a venture, risk-taking approach and technology as an instrument for social change."
Google zeroed in on projects that could develop new technology to scale up smaller projects targeting the environment, poverty, education and gender issues.
It's giving $5 million to the World Wildlife Fund to develop high-tech sensors for wildlife tagging to detect and deter poaching of endangered species. Another $3 million is going to a project at the Smithsonian Institution to develop DNA barcoding as a tool to stop illegal trading of endangered plants or animals smuggled across borders. That project could give six developing countries DNA testing materials with fast results to use as evidence to prosecute smugglers.
To fuel future innovation, Google is giving $5 million to create 500 new Advanced Placement courses in math, science and technology for U.S. schools that are committed to enrolling girls and minority students.
The charity GiveDirectly will receive $2.4 million to expand its model of direct mobile cash transfers to poor families in Kenya as a new method for lifting people out of poverty.
A charity run by actress Geena Davis that studies gender portrayals in the media will use a $1.2 million Google grant to develop new automated software that analyzes how females are portrayed in children's media worldwide, speeding up a previously manual process.
"It was looking prohibitively expensive to do a global study," Davis said, adding that developing new technology seemed like a far-flung wish. "It seems so science future that we weren't really raising money to do it."
While the grant may be a relatively small investment for a major tech company, it represents one of the largest gifts ever for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Innovation and technology among nonprofits have long been underfunded with traditional funders often feeling averse to risk and more often seeking to fund specific types of existing programs.
Momentum has been building for the past decade for funders pursuing venture philanthropy, said Matt Bannick, managing partner of the Omidyar Network founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Since 2004, the group has given out $310 million in grants to nonprofits, including the Sunlight Foundation and DonorsChoose.
Seeking out ideas to fund, rather than existing projects, turns traditional notions of philanthropy on its head, Bannick said.
"Rather than looking for organizations that could do this specific work that we're hoping to get accomplished, let's look for fabulous entrepreneurs ... that have a new and innovative idea that we can get behind," he said.
Silicon Valley philanthropists are fueling some growth in funding for nonprofit innovators, but some older foundations also have turned to funding innovation and nonprofit entrepreneurs.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, born from a newspaper chain, has turned its focus to media innovation. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934 by a General Motors chief, focuses on science and technology to drive the nation's prosperity. Sloan was an early funder of the Smithsonian's DNA barcoding project.
Such funders are betting that early seed money can have a big impact with the right ideas and entrepreneurs.
"If there was more funding," Bannick said, "there would be a lot more great ideas that could emerge."

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the End of the World

 Posted by DAVID.
Published December 21st, 2012.
If you are like me, naturally comfortable mulling over potential conspiracy theories, then you probably fell into slumber last night with a bit of anticipation about the demise of civilization as we know it.

Then you woke up, and (perhaps with a bit of disappointment)... nothing.

Everything seems the same. The radio station that wakes me up sounded the same. Brushing my teeth, I looked the same. Getting dressed, nothing unusual. Driving into work, people are driving the same (unfortunately... ).

I do take comfort knowing that NASA is watching closely though...

Still, a week after the tragedy that happened in Newtown, Connecticut, things don't necessarily feel the same.

Personally, I had grown numb to the stories of mass shootings... for instance, the mall shooting in Portland a few days before the tragedy barely lit up my radar. The stories are all too common.

But Newtown was different. I think we all know that. What now begins to register, a week after letting thoughts and assumptions settle a bit in my brain, is that with some certainty I feel I can finally say that the human condition is in decline. It feels like we have reached a peak in the recent past, and our momentum is just beginning to creep downhill.

Hope is being challenged.

While our intentions are decidedly environmental with this blog and our project, it feels appropriate to reflect a little bit on who we are and what we are doing with our selves... with our lives.

Why do we continue to let tragedy happen, then talk about it? Why do we continue to talk about change, but not implement it? Why do we depend on a broken system of politicians who go on vacation while something called the FISCAL CLIFF is looming ?!?!

Shouldn't we all be a bit more concerned? Shouldn't we do something different?

It all seems so comical sometimes... and it would be if it wasn't so painful to think about.

Historically, civilizations begin to decline when leadership goes awry, when power shifts so decidedly in one direction, and when the abuse of that power leads to anger, frustration, and eventually revolution.

We are a series of tribes by nature. Any system that tries to control the actions of tribes eventually succumbs to the disparate nature of tribal actions.

Control is not power. Power is being unique in this world. Power is finding a voice, and letting it be heard for the betterment of the human condition.

Perhaps it is time for some (re)Evolution.

In that light, two things are on the collective agenda:

First - feel tribal tonight. Stare up at the moon, scream aloud, and beat your chest. Do it to feel alive. And thank the stars for not ending the world... for giving us a bit more time to figure this thing out...

And secondly, as we slip into this holiday weekend, and we all begin to stuff our bellies with good stories and memories of holidays past, it might be wise to take a moment and reconnect with your self. Ask your self - "what have I done lately to make the world a better place?"

If you don't have an answer, find a charity and donate. I know of one I can recommend...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Back Home and Swimming With the Fishes

Posted by ASHLEY

Published on Dec 20, 2012

My hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia is along the
Atlantic Ocean and near the North Carolina border.

The MICA Fall semester has ended and the Design-Build class is home visiting family for the holidays. Grumbling jet noise from Oceana military base and a drowsy suburban neighborhood welcome me back to Virginia Beach, Virginia. The semester has been a stimulating whirlwind of research, drawing, writing, and animation. Our efforts continue as we begin our Indiegogo campaign and connect to more inspiring people. Thank you for joining us along this trip. And if you're new to our mission, it's nice to meet you. Now in my hometown, I picked up the Nov/Dec issue of Azure magazine and discovered a fishy design product.
Mackerel packaging by Postler Ferguson

Part of a design roundup, Postler Ferguson's conceptual fish packaging promotes the purchase and consumption of sustainable fish. Fill this airtight, double-layered polyethylene packet with ice and carry your fish from market to pan. This environmentally concerned packaging made me curious of the connection between water pollution and fish harvesting. There are two ways to collect fish for market – catching wild creatures or raising organisms in farms. Both methods strive to have more careful consumption, but they can emit harmful waste. Midcoast Fishermen's Association and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute have partnered to design nets that allow small and non-targeted species to escape and catch big, high quality animals. Thinner, stronger twine also reduces fuel consumption. Sarah Simpson in Scientific American describes the conventional fish farm as a floating cage that extrudes excrement and food scraps that cloud shallow waters. This garbage triggers harmful algal bloom that snuff out sea life underneath the pens. But placing farms near rapid offshore currents and raising seaweed and filter-feeding animals near pens to gobble up waste help to reduce pollution. I think Postler Ferguson is talking about an important issue because a healthy aquatic ecosystem preserves the identity of coastal communities.
On the packaging "56N and 3E" points to
the North Sea which is between the
United Kingdom and Denmark

I agree with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute goal of "ensuring the survival of the commercial and recreational activities that define the character of our coastal communities."I live in an area called Hampton Roads that's all about the ocean, fishing, and surfing; however, I can barely swim and I don't enjoy being on a tiny boat. Furthermore, at the summertime Steel Pier Classic surfing competition I was hanging out at the coastal art booth. Did I also mention that I'm vegan? Yet visiting the Oceanfront with my friends and family is a cherished pastime. I love weaving my bike around unhurried tourists as I race towards each end of the boardwalk. Or squatting on the beach and compressing damp sand between my hands are activities that rely on a healthy aquatic ecosystem. So even if you're terrified to swim in the ocean like me the ocean water is important to us all. So go out there and eat some mackerel. If you're a veggie I leave you with a tofu stir fry.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


If you would like to be one of our first backers. Visit our indiegogo site. Remember you guys are totally rad.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Learning From The Past...

Posted by DAVID
Published on Dec 10, 2012

I read an article today on the New York Economic Development Corporation, and what many locals think is backwards thinking so shortly after storms and tidal surges destroyed a good portion of the coast line in Staten Island.

The EDC is planning to move forward with plans for a waterfront development project that will showcase the world's largest ferris wheel as part of the attraction.

While those of us involved with the Water Truck Project don't like picking sides in issues related to economic development and it's impact on the environment, it seems too soon to truly assess the situation at hand related to this vulnerable coastline, and so quickly make the decision to move forward with plans for the project.

It reminds me of the story of Hilo, Hawaii.

Researching the history of this city reveals the dangers of consistently ignoring the impact of the environment. Hilo has been severely damaged by two different tsunamis in recorded history - one in 1946 and one in 1960. What is interesting about Hilo is that the coastline is designed to make taller, more-devestating tsunamis because of it's crescent shape and the slope of the ocean floor. In consideration of the growing threat of earthquakes, and the known impacts of the tsunamis, it is one of the worst locations to build a city.

Yet between these two events in the history of Hilo, more people moved back after each successive event. Hilo's population is now at an all time high.

Though coastlines are some of our most beautiful landscapes, they often represent the poorest logic of the human condition. Can we put a value on the preservation of the environment that equates to the value we put on residential amenities and views?

Until we do, we are putting lives at risk.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baltimore's Plan to Replace 100-Year-Old Water Pipe Infrastructure

Posted by ASHLEY
Published on Dec 4,2012

Angela reported on the latest broken water main in Baltimore when a 60-inch one blew on Charles Street. It caused massive flooding on North Avenue and 5 days later City Paper reports that the same occurred on Madison Street and Guilford Avenue. The resulting flooding disrupted traffic and forced 19 Mount Vernon properties to shut down. With bursts occurring more and more, it pushes city officials to address a 100-year-old infrastructure that supports Baltimore County and partially Howard County. So now the city plans to spend $60 million per year in order to replace 40 miles of pipe till 2017. It’ll be interesting to see how fast the city can mobilize and work towards their deadline. With newer, more efficient water pipes I hope we’ll see a decrease in breaks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Informational Website and Online Store Promotes Best Practices for Clean Water

Posted by GIL
Published on Monday, Dec 3 2012
Founder and President of Savory LLC and, Peter Rudnick, utilizes clean water filtration systems for himself and his household and states, "When we think of at-home or at-office filtration systems, we typically think of filtrating water for consumption purposes, but clean water works in many ways to better various activities such as washing the car or watering plants."
The new website, which operates as an e-commerce store, sells a variety of products that filtrate water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. Products include but are not limited to reusable water bottles, filtration systems for the home and office, shower filters, water filtering faucets, replacement filters and more. The website also offers educational materials in its book section.
Rudnick adds, "Purchasing bottled water may be a very safe option for consuming or utilizing clean water, but it gets expensive and our increasingly high plastic consumption rates are bad for the environment. Water filtration systems are a happy medium, for both the environment and your wallet." accepts all major credit cards through PayPal and items purchased can be shipped anywhere in the United States. Most orders received before 5:00PM will ship the same day, provided the product ordered is in stock.
For more information on Savory LLC and its new water filtration products website,

Read more here:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mexico and US Sign Shared Water Agreement for Colorado River

Posted by ANGELA
Published on Sun, Dec 2 2012
The Colorado river serves as a source of water for some 30 million people within America's southwest region and Mexico's bordering states. Seven US states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming (Upper Division) and Nevada, Arizona, and California (Lower Division) rely on the river to supply their residents in such an arid climate. Large metropolises such as Los Angeles go through elaborate measures to pump water into the city from the river, as they have no other option. 
Droughts along with increased water usage, population growth, and increased industry and farming have begun to put quite a bit of pressure on the river in recent years, which ensue creates a large conflict for all reliant on the river for water. 
The latest accord, signed in late November 2012 and runs until 2017, is a major amendment of the original treaty signed in 1944. Under the deal, the US will send less water to Mexico during a drought, while Mexico will be able to store water north of the border during wet years. Mexico, which has little storage capacity, is allowed to store water in times of surplus in Lake Mead, a vast reservoir by the Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border. They will forgo some of their share during drought, a tactic already practiced by the states of California, Arizona and Nevada.
In addition to the shared water agreement, Mexico will also get $10m to repair irrigation channels damaged during a 2010 earthquake. Both the US and Mexico have agreed to fund efforts in restoring the Colorado River delta, which has largely dried up.