I first stepped foot in Myanmar this past August, 2014, with an arrival at the new Yangon International Airport. The place was pleasant and calmed my nerves a bit, especially after being completely amped trying to scavenge for mint condition US currency in Indonesia the week prior - explanation below. It was great to have some unanticipated comfort right off the bat, after all that I had heard about this country.
Many environmental business leaders involved in water restoration, waste management, and recycling now envision the 21st century as one that will be full of opportunity to turn waste into highly sought after resources. For example, phosphorus recycling is one consideration already at the forefront, given the important role it plays in agriculture.
It was the perfect storm of creativity and collaboration. In the summer of 2013, a few Hanoi artists got together and firmly decided to rent studio space in a derelict pharmaceutical factory south of Hoan Kiem Lake. This was a quiet place of town, if you can believe it, with the factory and residential areas situated around the French-inspired Pasteur Park.
To escape Balinese island heat there are only a few plausible options to consider: excessive amounts of ice water, laying on your kitchen floor tiles, going into town to one of the few air-conditioned spaces, or traveling to the highlands.
Approximately 1.1 billion people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water (WHO, Water Sanitation Health, 2013). Even so, these current estimates are probably not as high as they should be. This is because the assumptions about the safety or quality of water is based on its source (lakes, rivers, ground), and does not take into account recontamination during its distribution for use (Sobsey, 2002).
The City of St. Albans, Vermont has just changed the way they look at their town park. Rather than just simply growing grass, they have installed a technology that makes an impact right away in the management and resiliency of its town center. While the Taylor Town Park has been established since 1799, St. Albans makes a great case for why it shouldn't just be business as usual.
Haiti has severe market constraints in its water sector, and clean water distribution is often poor due to the nature of it being traveled far distances by truck. For this reason, only about one third of Haiti’s urban poor and rural poor have access to clean water (Access to Water in Haiti, 2010).
The Pearl District in downtown Portland, Oregon is an interesting place of old and new. It was once only a creek and lake, fed by small streams from the nearby hills in southwest Portland. In these old times, the forested hillsides provided natural filtration for this water before it reached the downtown Willamette River (Health Parks, Healthy Portland, 2013).
The Cheonggyecheon (CH) was once a naturally formed stream, long before the Joseon Dynasty designated South Korea’s Capital, Seoul, along its banks in 1394 (Cheong Gye Cheon Tour, 2013). Throughout the City’s long history there has always been a connection to water, most likely because of its proximity to the mountains and several tributaries.
To Lich River is a major waterway running just south of the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. For centuries it was the major fishing source for many small villages located along its periphery. This environment provided nourishment for the many families here as well as created a valuable transportation route north and south.
In the summer of 2010, my brother and I slowly made our way through Zagreb and the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. We were welcomed down this stretch of the Adriatic Sea on a megabus of style and comfort. Throughout its spaciousness however, we did encounter jerking and swerving from the driver and his buddies as they literally lost control of the bus several times as they cat called to almost every woman in sight. It must have been a full moon that night.
Follow-up to The Community Lake: Using plants as water filters for dealing with excess nutrients and chemicals is becoming a more popular phenomenon around the world. This is probably because this type of remediation is really affordable and effective in doing its job. After all, its natures adaptability which make these such powerful organisms. Throughout the City of Hanoi, this is a really widespread process - specifically using one type of aquatic reed.
There are many traditional silk villages just outside the city of Hanoi, which have been there for hundreds of years. Silk has remained popular throughout this regions history because of its beauty, strength, and mixed nature of breathability and insulation for both summer and winter. Traditional Vietnamese clothing was often made of silk and these garments continue to be popular today.
I was troubled right when it pulled up. The screech and surprising effectiveness of its break pads. The all too functioning accordion doors as they made their sudden opening crack. It was decrepit, but also striving towards its full potential. This was my mini-bus. It was going from the New Territories region in Hong Kong to the red line MRT, where I would eventually find my way home (a plush 15 person dormitory room with a frequent lack of oxygen).
Asia has simply the most exciting street food around. Color, diversity, taste, cost - All to the maximum potential. Maybe all the small meals per day keeps the population thin, or maybe it is just because all of the available food is actually 'real food'. Ya know, the kind of edible matter that you can instinctively describe without inserting processing jargon.
That's right. Its Bat Trang. Known for its 'Bat Trang porcelain', this area of Vietnam has been making pottery since the 14th century. Located just outside Hanoi at a bend near the Red River, there is no question why this village was put on the map - proximity to the city and large deposits of fine clay. It is even said that porcelain from this area has travelled all over the world via European cargo ships ever since the beginning, often relabeled with a new origin or maker.
Throughout Vietnam there are the traditional hamlets, turned villages, turned suburbs. Something they all still retain, or a characteristic that has withstood the period of development, is the community lake. Used for fishing, bathing and general dumping - they are quite an asset to the suburb. Obviously as time goes by, and trash grows thigh-high these lakes can be more of a burden than a benefit to its society
Being through college and currently in graduate school surely tests the brains capacity. The experience confronts judgements and limitations of personal philosophy. It tests organizational skills and the power to process. There is a new movement developing for optimization of the brain - pushing us humans to the next level. Science and analytics of the brain are at an all time high, and this can help rapidly evolve work and development for our future green earth. We want everything faster, stronger, more efficient and more perfectly designed. Maybe taking this approach will make the world a better place?
Now that I am a greater distance away from most of my American Brothers, I am starting to examine other avenues of communication and sharing through technology. Face to face has jumped into email, tailspinnered into social media and then swallowed whole into smaller and smaller symbolic button-work. I believe there is an equal energy being put forth with these actions, but they are inherently different types of connection.
Happy Chinese New Year everyone (Snake). This week has been filled with food, friends and time away from normal actionable items, including this blog. It has focused everyone in the country of Vietnam on the essentials, the simple life. It makes you realize that a tradition so long lasting must have significance and importance, in life.
Now that I have a new setting for reflection let me see what was realized in Ghana. First of all, what a special and new country for me. Some of the nicest people I have met, and remember that is after experiencing life on the Smiling Island.
After surviving a round of stomach sickness and ache, I am now feeling even better than normal, and ready to spring our project to the next level, up a level level. We have made great strides as a group over the past few days - and am happy to be working on team efficiency with Gabby, Katie and Jane.
Today we left at 6am for Kulaa with the initiative being to build our main water unit’s structure. Bricks were in place and cement was happily resting in the chiefs hut, anticipating our arrival. We visited the sandman and made sure to tie the back with rubber straps conveniently strewn right nearby.
Today we were excited to conduct a large community meeting to discuss our implementation of CWS water purification systems. It turns out by the time we had gotten there, an “urgent” matter had occurred so the village was considerably sparse. These curve balls seem to happen every day and flexibility is key for implementation of this kind.
Today we left at a reasonable hour. 8am. Hopped in Cartier’s taxi cab with Amin as translator. Direction – Kulaa. Main goal was to propose to the chief of the village that we would like to implement a drinking water system for their 80 households. We showed them the tests we had sampled and found bacteria in.
Yesterday we visited the villages of Chani and kagbarasche. They had systems already implemented by Community Water solutions. This was our chance to see how they held up, how their dugout water was situated and how the village life was. It proved to be an interesting ride throughout the day.
We roll the bus through the busy town center. Everything is incredibly low, but also intensely busy. Nothing reaches more than three stories, but there is not an empty patch of ground to be found. We are noticeably some of the only foreigners in this northern city of Ghana.