For our Supporters, Friends, and Family:
With the coming of the holiday season, it’s due time to share with you our year’s achievements and shortcomings with the Water for the Americas campaign. This is a letter that I have been anxious to write for months now and have finally found the appropriate time to share with you what we have been busy doing and more importantly, what your generous support as led to.
As some of you may know, we never did make it to Brazil this past summer. Far from it, unfortunately. After making it to Mexico City in early May, we had simply run out of gas money and decided to turn back and re-group in Los Angeles. We put the van in storage, and began to reflect on our journey. Though we missed our ambitious goal for Rio, we knew that what we had already achieved in North America wasn’t lost and yet rather found.
But before I go into what we have been up to here in the US, let me summarize our trip in numbers. I invite you all to review our more in-depth analytics on our journey online at www.waterfortheamericas.com and also our short video that we made to summarize our trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLrDRDz7O3o . But for now, here are some numbers that may impress you!
Days on the Road: Jan 22, 2014-May 10, 2014: 109 days
Miles driven: 17,000 miles
Cities visited: 50 cities
Money raised for 3rd party philanthropy: $4,000
We realized early on while on the road that what we had envisioned the trip to be was in reality very different from what we had encountered. We were impressed by both the lack of awareness on local water issues and yet also the hidden talent in water conservation and innovation that appeared to be facing similar obstacles that. What we saw was an overall lack of concern about water, and an immature evaluation of water for our own societies. Though many were able to acknowledge situations of world water poverty abroad, most people were unaware of water poverty and risk closer to home. We learned quickly that without this vital awareness of local water concerns, blue action would be much more difficult to materialize.
And so began our focus of finding such blue, grassroots organizations in the cities that we visited. What we found while on the road both surprised us and excited us for a hopeful future in water sustainability here in our continent and in the world. However, we were also left with an overwhelming sense of work that must be done in order to see such progress happen where it is badly needed.
Now that our road trip has ended, a hefty load of work is beginning. We have seen significant grassroots programs in both idea and execution phases, and Reach Trade wants to keeping doing its part too. Through the unique lens of our Water for the Americas Campaign, we at Reach have become even more determined to be another key player in the blue movement. More than before, we sense that our role in this movement is most helpful in a) our ongoing investments in general water education as well as b) our investigations in water sustainability in coffee and cacao.
Since our tour, Water for the Americas has witnessed the power of our youth through education. A noteworthy project is our partnership in Detroit with a charter school called Experiencia Preparatory Academy. Since February, we have been working with students from grades 3-8 to become more in-tune to water-related issues throughout the Americas. Following our campaign, these students faced a horrific water crisis in their own homes as hundreds of thousands of lower-income Detroit residents faced water shut-offs during the hottest months of the year. Many of our students themselves lost access water in their own homes and become a very crude awakening to a crisis that in the spring seemed so far away from a city situated on the world’s largest source of fresh water! These revelations inspired Water for the Americas and Experiencia to continue working together this school year to keep water awareness as a hot topic both in and out of the classroom. Together with a small group of inspirational Detroit teachers, we have been busy crafting perhaps one of the first blue curricula for elementary students in the US! Last year, these students partnered with the best-selling, Mexican rock band Mana to donate a nanofilter for a school in Guadalajara that lacked access to potable water. And this year, students at Experiencia and new partner school Escuela Avancemos are undergoing several service learning programs to demonstrate the power of water sustainability. One of the lessons that these kids are learning this year is urban gardening. By learning of the benefits of vertical aeroponic gardening, the students are now managing their own water-smart gardens in their classrooms and are fund raising with Reach Trade to widen the scope of their service learning programs. I strongly encourage you all to follow their programs both on our campaign page at www.waterfortheamericas.com as well as on their very own classroom blog here at http://theurbanfarmers.weebly.com/.
At Reach Trade, we have also decided to commit to a new mission in water sustainability. As we continually strive to improve coffee and cacao sustainability on the farms, we are constantly reminded of the water challenges that both crops face. Water is also a very tough topic in these regions of the world, and a topic that seems widely misunderstood. While on tour, we have discovered that our efforts to achieve water sustainability in our industries will be our most valuable asset in igniting the blue revolution. As we begin to now invest our 5% of sales into making coffee and cacao more water-friendly, we also hope to demonstrate the value of water sustainability as blue leaders in our own industry as well as to help encourage others to follow suite with their own efforts.
So as another exciting chapter closes at Reach Trade with our Water for the Americas campaign, yet another one begins. As always, none of our efforts could have been achieved without your ongoing support for our company and our non-partisan campaign. Our tour showed us that water matters more than we even though before, but that it’s something that will continue to take time to change. We are grateful for our ability to do our part, and we pray that we may continue to go above and beyond to fulfill our own commitments for a water-sustainable future.
A Blessed holiday season and year’s end to All! Let’s bring in 2015 with bigger hearts, wiser minds, stronger hands, and brighter spirits.
Reach Trade and the Water for the Americas Team