Meredith Potter: Founder and former co-president of Wishing Well at Yale University

Meredith Potter: Founder and former co-president of Wishing Well at Yale University

Hi folks! I’m Meredith, the founder and former co-president of the Yale University chapter of WW. In 2008, I met Ryan at this debate-focused leadership conference his university was hosting because, well, God works in mysterious ways.

Debaters love structure and old habits die hard, so here’s my road map for this post: 

(1) why Ryan asked me to blog and
(2) why I said yes.

1: Lots of people are WW advocates. Why did Ryan ask me, specifically, to do this?

Well, working with WW at Yale means I have thoughts about making clean water campaigns work. I have thoughts about what excites people, what inspires them, what confuses them, and what simply fails to capture their attention. Sometimes my posts are going to share experiential anecdotes. I hope they help those of you trying to temper the effects of water scarcity, especially those of you on college campuses.

I think (read: I hope) Ryan also appreciates why I care about water. We all have different concerns. In my experience, the most common ones are about public health. Mine’s conflict mitigation. Buzzwords like ‘security’ and ‘stability’ defined my academic career. They followed me to DC, where I’m living and working now. Too many people wage war with water. Sadly, guerrillas and insurgents are making us more susceptible to this than we’ve ever been before. Their groups are the kinds that militarize water. Then they convince men to become thieves, terrorists, and, worst of all, suicide bombers so their families can drink. Desperation makes people do terrible things. Sometimes my posts are going to explore this. Maybe, just maybe, I can broaden your thinking. 

2: Why am I writing? 

Because I care about water? Because I care about stability? Yes and yes, but also because I think Ryan’s many mantras about creativity are onto something. I think we need to be more creative about educating people – you know, when we’re answering questions like “what’s the water crisis?” and “why should we care?” Make arguments about stability and folks are going to listen. On college campuses, they’re the people who aspire to be senators, diplomats, and soldiers. Ryan’s ‘creative advocacy’ model is intuitive. It’s sensible. And it’s working. The more organizations like WW connect water to disease, health, economics, trade, stability, women, children, and sustainability, the more people are going to care – and the more they’re going to help. Ryan’s secondary model, which I call ‘creative action,’ is also smart. He’s telling people that want to raise money for wells to do so in all kinds of crazy ways. Art. Music. Comedy. Walking around barefoot. Problems with geopolitical implications are necessarily and inescapably complex. Only creative solutions - ones that pull their best practices from many voices with many experiences - can conquer them. So here I am, happy to help and looking forward to writing again soon!

Meredith and other members of Wishing Well at Yale at a photo gallery about the water crisis. This event was one of many creative ventures she and her team produced.

Meredith and other members of Wishing Well at Yale at a photo gallery about the water crisis. This event was one of many creative ventures she and her team produced.

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AuthorMeredith Potter

Who we are and should be
Ryan Groves 

Some of the 250 students who went on a barefoot water walk for the Creativity World Forum

Some of the 250 students who went on a barefoot water walk for the Creativity World Forum

For the last 8 years I have had the incredible honor of serving Wishing Well as CEO. In that time, God has allowed me to see the miraculous as students across the nation took up the banner of clean water. College students in Portland and Hawaii put on community driven art shows. High school students in the mid-west walked barefoot through downtown Oklahoma City by the hundreds carrying water. From bake sales to film premieres in Times Square, we became a family that used creativity to change the world. All in all, about 40 different colleges and high schools united to give clean water to tens of thousands of people in ten developing nations. 

In the last 10 years, the non-profit sector has exploded. Social causes went from a fringe movement of activist, to the main work of society. We couldn't be happier, but this comes with a new set of challenges.

In an age inundated with messages, it can be hard to find our identity. And if we don't know who we are and how we have been uniquely gifted it will be nearly impossible to work together. We no longer compare ourselves locally, but globally and with the click of a button. As my mother used to tell her sons, "comparison is the thief of joy." If we're not careful, comparison can cripple us and rob us of our identity and potential.

This generation is weary of transactions. We want relationships because they have the power to change the world. Relationships require knowing and being known. So let us reintroduce ourselves...

Wishing Well empowers communities to transform their world by giving clean water to those in need.

Our primary job is to explode the cultural imagination of this generation.

Ending the water crisis is not a matter of money. It would take about 40 billion a year to give everyone water on the planet. The U.S. alone spends 22 billion a year on ice cream, 11 billion on dog food, 40 billion on drugs, and over 50 billion on pornography. We have the cash. This is a question of what we believe about the world. It is a question of heart, love and action.

Wishing Well is a community of future leaders who, by changing what people believe, will end the world water crisis. We are a community, a movement, and a mouthpiece. 

If you are young, passionate, creative, and looking for family to chase after purpose  - we want you. 

To get involved, click on the "contact" tab and shoot us a message. We will be excitedly waiting to change the world with you. 

 "Actions reveal beliefs. If you desire to change action, you must challenge what people believe" - Nathan Mellor (President of Strata Leadership, Character First, and Board Member)

 

Six of the original Wishing Well crew during the documentary filming in Rwanda. All of us were college students.  (pictured: Ryan Groves, Whitney Parker, Josh Burgin, Chase Layman, Travis Hughes, Taylor Walling) Photo by Esther Havens

Six of the original Wishing Well crew during the documentary filming in Rwanda. All of us were college students. 

(pictured: Ryan Groves, Whitney Parker, Josh Burgin, Chase Layman, Travis Hughes, Taylor Walling) Photo by Esther Havens

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AuthorRyan Groves