Tag Archives: Nature

Exploring Connections – Clean Water and Healthy Communities

Carol A. Hand

Autumn is always a busy time with gardens to harvest and a college course on research that needs to be updated. My colleague and I always try to consider what students will need to know for their work with people in the future. This year, we decided to focus on weaving our courses on research and community practice together even more tightly to help reduce confusion and workloads for our students. The shared focus we chose was exploring the connections between access to clean water and healthy communities.

Of course that means I have an opportunity to learn more about research on another topic that is relatively new to me. Fortunately, working collaboratively, my colleague and I discovered a number of important resources that we plan to share with students. Because this topic is so crucial for all of us, I’m sharing some of those resources here, too.

Lake Superior (Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory) – Autumn 2017

Following is an overview of what we have drafted thus far for our classes.

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The focus of our work this semester will be on the connections between access to safe water and community health. Water is essential for life on our planet, yet many of us have grown up in communities where we learned to take it for granted. This is not the case for many people around the world. As climate changes accelerate and water supplies become endangered by pollution from many sources, issues affecting water quality are beginning to affect all of us. The question we need to consider as social workers (and members of communities) is what can we do to assure access to clean water before it is too late.

It is estimated that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within sixty miles of the coastline of an ocean, lake or river. (Wallace, 2014, p. 9)

Coastline communities are profoundly affected by the cleanliness and quality of the nearby water. Proximity to water doesn’t mean that access to clean water is a simple matter, even in countries that are classified as “economically and/or technologically developed,” like the United States. Outdated plumbing and pollution from natural or anthropogenic (human-caused) disasters have threatened water supplies. Communities that are economically or technologically disadvantaged face a host of other challenges.

Picture a day without clean water: You wake up to dirty clothes and bedding, as laundry is limited. You don’t take a shower, you can’t wash your face, and there is no coffee. As a woman in some places, you must take your daughter on a six-kilometer trek to fetch water for the day’s cooking, drinking, and caring of ill family members. To go to the bathroom, you wander deep into the fields, which is not only an inconvenience—it’s a safety risk. Besides snakes, spiders and aggressive animals, there are also ill-intentioned men. Sexual harassment and rape are not uncommon. (WWF, n.d., para. 1)

Wallace’s (2014) research points out that there are deeper connections between human communities and water beyond the physical necessity of water to sustain life.

There’s something about water that draws and fascinates us. No wonder: it’s the most omnipresent substance on Earth and, along with air, the primary ingredient for supporting life as we know it… Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface [96 percent of it saline]; 95 percent of those waters have yet to be explored. From one million miles away our planet resembles a small blue marble; from one hundred million miles it’s a tiny, pale, blue dot. ‘How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean,’ author Arthur C. Clark once astutely commented. (pp. 8-9)

Our innate relationship to water goes far deeper than economics, food, or proximity, however… [W]e spend our first nine months of life immersed in the ‘watery’ environment of our mother’s womb. When we’re born, our bodies are approximately 78 percent water. As we age, that number drops to below 60 percent – but the brain continues to be made of 80 percent water. (p. 10)

Lake Superior (Palisade Head) – Summer 2017

Without access to clean, safe water, life itself is at risk. Research and community practice provide us with a valuable opportunity to learn from the experiences of people in our local region, in our nation, and around the world. Communities both near and far have had to deal with disasters that left them without access to safe, life-sustaining water: hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, wars, toxic chemical spills, or faulty water and sanitation systems. From a social work perspective, access is important for the people we will serve at both the micro and macro levels of practice. This semester, in both research and practice with community systems, we will identify ways to explore issues affecting access to clean water and related consequences, as well as the effectiveness of organized community-awareness initiatives and innovative solutions among communities and community systems.

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One of the most powerful videos I have watched about the connection between clean water and community health is the story of what happened to the Pima and Tohono O’odham peoples in southern Arizona when the river that once flowed through their homeland was diverted to provide water for white settlements and cities. After decades of fighting to restore the tribe’s water rights, Attorney Rod Lewis negotiated a settlement with the state of Arizona that guaranteed the return of water and funding to build the necessary infrastructure. The following video clip, from Unnatural Causes – Bad Sugar, tells the story of one of the tribe’s recovery initiatives:

https://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=47

In case anyone is interested in finding out how safe drinking water is in the U.S., the following article includes an interactive map with county-level data that lists reported violations: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/millions-americans-drink-potentially-unsafe-tap-water-how-does-your-county-stack .

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water” (W. H. Auden, 1957, First Things First)

Works Cited:

Nichols, Wallace J. (2014). Blue mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

WWF (n.d.). Stories – Clean water for healthy communities. Available from https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/clean-water-for-healthy-communities.

Live and Learn

Carol A. Hand

 

If we take time to look around

we may notice something mysterious

that we missed before

in our preoccupying busyness

believing that what we were doing

was more important

than being present in the moment

to witness the wondrous diversity of life

and learn something we didn’t know before

about other beings who share the world

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A fascinating visitor (American Pelecinid Wasp) – August 22, 2018

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P.S. – I’m still on my break from blogging, but my muse insisted that I share this post today after seeing the little wasp again. Her return visit reminded me about the photo I took a couple days ago when I first saw her on my side step. She waited patiently for me to grab my iphone and take a number of pictures. I meant to see if I could learn more about her then, but there is always something else that needs doing. This morning, she was walking over the moist ground in my backyard, a gift from last night’s rain, and then flew up with her tiny wings and sat on a bent fern. Her return inspired me to discover more about her and share what I learned.

Evening Reflections – August 2018

Carol A. Hand

Venus glowing in the western sky
the only light visible as clouds pass by

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Venus in the evening sky – August 4, 2018

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Known as Ikwe-Anang – “Women’s Star”
rising in the east just before dawn
and lighting the west just after sunset
in a nine-month repeating cycle
the gestation time for human life-givers (1)
reminding me of the Ojiwe Midewewin code
“Honour women;
in honouring women, you honour the gift
of life and love” (2)

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Venus setting – August 4, 2018

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Sources Cited:

(1) Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbetts, and Carl Gawboy (2014), Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide: An Introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge. North Rocks, CA: Lightning Source: Ingram Spark.

(2) Basil Johnston (1990), Ojibway Heritage. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, p. 93.

Another resource link:

http://linearpopulationmodel.blogspot.com/2016/04/ojibwe-star-map-constellation-guide.html

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Morning Reflections – June 28, 2018

Carol A. Hand

Morning gardens dappled with sunlight and shadow

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June 28, 2018

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a few bumble bees and butterflies feasting on flowers
as another dry June day begins – this one already hot

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One of the few butterflies this season

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Last evening’s promise of rain unfulfilled
despite the dramatic sunset sky
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Sunset (1) – June 27, 2018
Sunset (2) – June 27, 2018
Sunset (3) – June 27, 2018
Sunset (4) – June 27, 2018

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Dark clouds quickly effacing the rising full moon
on their way east to deliver rain elsewhere

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Full Moon Rising – June 27, 2018

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giving me an opportunity to do the best I can
to gratefully sustain life in times of adversity

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Look Higher

Carol A. Hand

Little Ovenbird
resting on a wire
raising his head in song
urging me to look up – higher

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Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) – Butterfly World, Florida, by Dick Daniels, 4 February, 2011, Wikipedia

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Teacher-teacher-teacher
see the pale waning westward moon
barely visible in a hazy sky this noon
circling earth slowly in early June?”

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morning moon – June 2018

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“Please remember to give thanks for nature’s wondrous beauty”

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A Drizzly Dawn

Carol A. Hand

The day dawns drizzly
as     the     weeping     willow     waits
welcoming        the        end        of        struggle
living         too         long         alone      –      her         fate
the    tree    surgeons    soon    arriving
finally  she’ll  join  her  mate

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Greeting a Drizzly Morning – May 8, 2018

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Her passing will
leave a void
in the
neighborhood
she graced
standing strong
but supple
despite the many
storms she faced
Birds sing as her
budding branches sway
kissed by warm
gentle breezes
on her final day

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May 8, 2018 – A Different View

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Chi miigwetch for your presence, beloved willow

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Simple Moments

Carol A. Hand

 

Sometimes, I can’t resist photographing the night sky.

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May 2, 2018

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The moon highlighting the church steeple

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May 2, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps I post too many photos of

the moon and everyday landscapes

exposing the limits of my old hand-held cameras

 

Still, I prefer to believe that

capturing the beauty of a simple life

is an act of gratitude –

and a special kind of art

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May 3, 2018

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Like the view from across the street

of the long-lived willow tree

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May 3, 2018

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a solitary sentinel gracing an urban neighborhood

greeting her final spring

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May 3, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The winds and weight of her branches

finally proved more than she could bear

Photos will help me preserve poignant memories

of her beauty and my enduring gratitude

for her comforting presence in my life

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April Awakenings

Carol A. Hand

Despite prayers for peace
bullets fly and bombs fall faster
killing innocents and madmen alike
dreams of empire forever fading
with each child who dies

 

Despite eagerly awaiting spring
trees bend and gyrate
as fierce winds roar day and night
propelling heavy driven snow
quickly erasing human footprints

 

The nokomis listens to the winds
as trees foretell of even harder times ahead
making each urgent new now more pressing
life is still pregnant with possibilities
for weaving healing loving connections

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Microsoft WORD Clip Art

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“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.” (William A. Ward)

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Seasons of Life

Carol A. Hand

The long-lived weeping willow
greets her final spring
Alone, she weathered many storms
but the violent winds of winter past
twisted her and split her to the core
leaving her fatally wounded

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Leafless Willow – November 15, 2017

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I grieve her passing
as I do the gentle faithful dog
who once sought her shade
in the heat of summer
and whose ashes have rested
beneath her sheltering canopy
for many years

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Cookie – My beloved friend who passed on October 4, 2013

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Yet the beloved dog’s passing
opened up a safe home for another
that was abandoned and abused
as the weeping willow’s passing
will open up a sunny space
for the mountain ash
that has struggled to survive
with little light in her shadow

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Pinto – January 3, 2018

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Wish though we may to turn back time
the cycle of life continues
opening up new possibilities to love

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