While there are fights happening locally and globally for the human right to water, our recent trip to Detroit, Michigan showed us another side to the water wars: Unity. In this seemingly forgotten city, beautiful stories of kindness and empowerment are growing out of the chaos of poverty.
When you drive into the Livernois corridor of Detroit and head to the “cornerstone of Yellowstone” you will definitely think you’re in a ghost town. Boarded up homes and homes that have given way to nature’s wishes, line the path to a shining beacon of hope — Auntie Na’s House.
Our trip to Detroit revolved around members of the Detroit Water Brigade (DWB) and the water shut-offs the citizens in this city have been facing. When Detroit hit hard times and faced municipal bankruptcy, the revenues and population in the city declined. But, the expenses to run the municipal water supply didn’t decline. As water bills increased for the remaining residents of Detroit, many people couldn’t afford to pay their bills and mass water shut-offs ensued. As shut-offs were hitting an all-time high in the city of Detroit during 2014, the DWB and other grassroots organizations stepped into action. The DWB is founded under the belief that “water is an essential human right,” and along with a number of community initiatives, they also reach out to residents with running water and ask that they open their homes as “water hubs” for those in need. Some of the people we spoke to were directly involved in this organization, while others were those who opened their homes to residents dealing with water shut-offs. And, while the mural on Auntie Na’s House welcomes those in need of water to her “water hub,” this cornerstone of the community is also so much more.
Check out Auntie Na’s story below and get inspired. I was completely in awe of this woman and her wisdom.