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!