Access to clean water is an issue that has deeply struck me this past year. Earlier this year I saw how difficult it is for local Tanzanians to obtain fresh water on a daily basis, and how even the simplest tokens of aid can exponentially help these individuals and families.
With nearly 1 billion people on our planet who lack access to clean drinking water, the problem seems like an overwhelming conundrum that will never be fully solved. Governments (can) only do so much and an H20 handicap is one that stunts almost all areas of life for these people. It is truly a daily struggle for them.
I have received lots of feedback and support on global water and food issues since conducting research on this subject in East Africa, and just received information on The BNE Water Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing clean drinking water and sanitary living conditions to developing countries.
The organization, based in Indonesia, was recently created by the infamous New York graffiti artist known as BNE, who was so inspired by his world travels -- as well as disgusted with the greedy corporate minions who wanted to utilize his art to push their products -- that he decided to set up a system to make an impact on the vast poverty he had witnessed:
I’ve always thought that it was a shame that there are so many artists around the world and we have never all tried to unite for a single cause. I have come up with a way for us to do that and it's actually pretty simple and very doable. All it takes for us to save millions of lives is for each one of us to donate one work of art and recruit two of our peers to do the same. Gradually the movement will spread throughout the entire art community around the world. The Artists 4 Water gallery will raise millions of dollars to fight the world water crisis and save millions of lives. Each contributing artist’s talent and influence will also raise awareness and help bring worldwide attention to our cause.
This is the sort of project that I've always felt was seriously lacking in the art world. So much of art is for "art's sake" and, to be perfectly blunt, is ultimately elitist and irrelevant in our globalizing world. (Elitism is outdated...but most of the art world hasn't received that memo, surprise-surprise!) Don't get me wrong -- I can certainly appreciate fun and frivolous art too, but when an artist is able to transcend his own body of work and contextualize it into a real-world issue, ultimately eschewing his own ego...that's always such a great move.
There are lots of ways you can get involved and support The BNE Water Foundation -- 100% of profits from merchandise and donations go directly into their projects (their administrative costs are funded separately).
I look forward to seeing this organization grow and flourish in its mission!