Please join We the People of Detroit, organizers, and medical professionals for a community conversation on the health crisis being brought on by Detroit’s water shutoffs.
Wednesday July 26, 6 to 8pm
Wayne State University Law School
471 W. Palmer Ave. Detroit.
An article entitled “Detroiters’ Fight for Affordable Water Access Has Lessons for America’s Future” by our own Monica Lewis Patrick has been published in the April 2017 issue of River Voices: Water Equity and Civic Engagement. Read our article and download the full issue of River Voices here. The article begins on page 7.
About this River Voices issue:
“We believe that access to affordable clean water and healthy rivers is a fundamental human right. Like other human rights, we must be prepared to assert and defend this right. By listening, we can hear the concerns of the communities we are part of; and by working together, we can influence elected officials and resource managers to address these disparities. The articles in this issue of River Voices provide examples of places where access to affordable clean water is not equal, and how civic engagement is making a difference. These articles underscore the variety of ways to become involved, including seeking public office. We hope that this issue sparks your curiosity and encourages you to continue exploring. Water is life.”
“We the People of Detroit’s work has four focus areas: water testing, story-telling and videography, door-to-door research, and mapping. The MSU team is collaborating with the collective to implement the water testing piece, looking at it from two angles: (1) How does water affordability affect water quality? and (2) How do communities use data and research to promote their own public health or political objectives?
The two-year project has two phases. The first phase involved creating a Community Advisory Board, made up of residents of Detroit, including members of We the People of Detroit. Then the MSU team worked with the Community Advisory Board to design the project, sampling strategy, and survey.
The next phase will involve sampling residents’ water for substances such as heavy metals, microorganisms, and disinfection by-products. To preserve anonymity, the MSU team does not go into the homes themselves to take the samples. “We’re working with the Community Advisory Board to train field workers to help the residents take their own samples and do some preliminary analysis in their households,” said Mitchell. This process also works towards a true citizen science approach. “Community members, via the Community Advisory Board, are engaged in the entire process. So even with developing the training protocols and what things we’re going to sample with, all of that is being developed with our community partners.””
Esperanza Cantu writes for authorityhealth.org on why water access in Detroit matters for public health:
As officials continue to grapple with how to receive payments from water customers, the Population Health Council continues to advocate for a water affordability plan as a long-term solution, and a moratorium to the populations listed above as exceptions based on public health.
To read more click here.
The following article was originally posted on We the People of Detroit co-founder Aurora Harris’ Detroit Parents with Special Needs blog.
For those who missed the incredible book launch for Mapping the Water Crisis here are some video links from the presentation! Thank you to Leona McElevene for capturing these moments.
|1/10 – (Approx. 1 minute) – Opening Song by The Flowtown Revue
|2/10 – (Approx. 2 minutes) – The Flowtown Revue, STOP Turning Water Off
|3/10 – (Approx. 2 minutes) – Hon. JoAnn Watson, We The People of Detroit Organizational Overview
|4/10 – (Approx. 6 minutes) – Debra Taylor, The Story of the Community Research Collective (CRC)
|5/10 – (Approx. 7 minutes) – Dr. Andrew Herscher, Map Overview
|6/10 – (Approx. 12 minutes) – Emily Kutil, Chart/Graphs Overview
|7/10 – (Approx. 6 minutes) – Nadia Gaber, Health Impact Study Update
|8/10 – (Approx. 30 minutes) – Dismantling of African-American Neighborhoods in Detroit – Q & A
|9/10 – (Approx. 7 minutes) – William Davis, President, DAREA; and J.T. Campbell, Arizona State Univ.
|10/10 – (Approx. 2 minutes) – Musical Performance by Next Generation Jazz Trio
The Mildred Gaddis show covered our release of “Mapping the Water Crisis.”
Thinking for ourselves
By Shea Howell
Separate and Unequal
August 14, 2016
This week the New York Times published yet another story about the reality of two separate and unequal Detroits. With the title “In Detroit’s 2-Speed Recovery, Downtown Roars and Neighborhoods Sputter,” Peter Applebome points to critical questions the Mayor and his administration would like to avoid.
After a brief sketch of downtown, Midtown and Corktown development, Applebome raises the question of what development means to neighborhoods. He says, “But what that means for the rest of the city and who is benefiting have set in motion a layered conversation about development, equity, race and class. It is playing out with particular force here in what was once the nation’s fourth-largest city and is now a place at once grappling with poverty, crime and failing schools, but also still animated by the bones of its former glory.”
This is a conversation the Mayor avoids. Yet even a transient observe like Applebome concludes, “The lack of progress is just as noticeable in the sprawl of often dilapidated neighborhoods, baking in the summer heat.”
Many are baking in that heat without water. No where is the lack of progress and the denial by the Mayor and his administration clearer than in the water shut off crisis. The day before the New York Times article appeared, a group of community based researchers issued an important report. Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit: Volume 1 is the result of an18 month study documenting water shut offs in the city. The report demonstrates in clear and specific detail that neighborhoods are suffering from a combination of foreclosures and shut offs, diminishing the quality of life for everyone in the community. Last year 23,000 homes were shut off from water. Over the last decade the city has endured 110,000 foreclosures.
Underscoring the growing divide in our city, Monica Lewis-Patrick, a guiding force in the research collaborative, said, “There is a renaissance downtown full of newcomers, while they are shutting off water for those who stayed and paid” their bills for years.
The impact of these shut offs in a city where 40% of the people live in poverty and many are paying more than 10% of their income for water is to actively drive people out of their homes. Dr. Gloria House, Professor Emerita of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State University explained that the mapping documents that
“The incidents of shutoffs, foreclosures and school closures are not random, but intentional and specific… We believe it’s about the dismantling of neighborhoods.”
The Mayor continues to deny this reality. He refuses to consider the consequences of his policies in the lives of people in neighborhoods. Instead he chooses to pretend his water assistance plan (WRAP) is solving the problem. No one but the Mayor and his administration believes this. No one who sees the shut off trucks moving through neighborhoods on a daily basis believes this.
The objective statistics do not support this. The WRAP is a failure. It has a waiting list of 3,000 customers and the majority of people who have been signed up simply cannot keep up with the monthly payments.
The work of the We the People Detroit Community Research Collective documents in stark terms that our city is devolving into two separate, unequal, and unhealthy realities.
It does not have to be this way. Community activists and researchers have consistently advocated plans to make water available to all at affordable prices. They have developed programs to keep people in their homes and to stop foreclosures. The real choice we face is about whose lives matter in our city.
Looking for the latest data and findings from the front lines of the Flint water crisis? Flintwaterdefenseinfo.org is a clearinghouse of findings on Flint water presented transparently and accessibly.
There are two ways to fight blight: Keep people in homes or demolish them. One embattled city will choose a path in September.
Takepart.com covers the connection between water bills, foreclosure, and displacement in this article featuring We the People co-founder Aurora Harris.