By Liz Miller
September 25, 2008 marked the launch of a six-month film tour of “The
Water Front” documentary to forty cities and universities around the
Great Lakes with Michigan based Welfare Rights and Washington, D.C.
based, Food and Water Watch.
The Great Lakes region, home to 34 million people and 90% of the U.S.
fresh water supply, is vulnerable to corporations that aim to exploit
water resources for profit rather than ensuring safe, clean and
affordable water. The region is an ideal location to launch a high
profile outreach campaign using “The Water Front” as an organizing
tool. The film demonstrates how deferring repairs of water
infrastructure leads to enormous problems, which often drive city
officials to consider different forms of privatization that will,
counter to corporate claims, only make the problems worse.
Our objective of the tour is to help educate and mobilize groups,
including college students, about the issues of infrastructure funding
and environmental justice. To accompany the tour, we have developed new
resources including a viewing guide, a take action guide, and materials
to host a screening.
To download visit http://www.waterfrontmovie.com/great-lakes-tour
To reach youth audiences, we have also launched a “Remix Competition”
in connection with The Great Lakes Water Front Film Tour. We are
asking participants to remix “The Water Front” theme song, “Please Mr.
Waterman” written by legendary bluesman, Joe L. Carter. His song,
“Please Mr. Foreman” was the trademark of the 1960s Black labor
movement. With the added verve of youth artists, “Mr. Waterman” can do
the same for the water movement. Rap artists like Mos Def and
Public Enemy are taking a stand on water privatization and we hope that
youth artists will follow the lead in turning up the volume on water
and environmental justice. The competition runs through December
16th and first prize is $400 cash.
The tour has just started and we are still open to groups or
communities wanting to join in. To see a map of the places we have been
and are going visit our site at
contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The struggle against
privatization and for water rights is taking place on many fronts:
According to a recent poll, nine of out ten Americans believe that
clean and safe water is a national priority that deserves federal
investment. Food and Water Watch is calling for a National Water
Trust Fund. The Water Trust Fund being drafted in Congress would
provide a consistent source of funding to states to support the
replacement, repair, and rehabilitation of drinking water
infrastructures. It is critical that a fund like this only be available
to publicly-owned and operated water systems and not become an
incentive to privatize. Similarly we don’t want consumers paying for
the fund as resources should come from those parties that most burden
the systems. For more information visit
Welfare Rights initiated a Truth Commission to record the testimonies
of individuals living in the Detroit area without the basic right to
water. They then developed a report to be delivered to the United
Nations. Neighboring students made a video of the process which can be
http://www.waterfrontmovie.com/water-channel. For information visit
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is supporting struggles
around the world fighting constitutional battles over water as a human
right. They are also supporting the work of groups in California and
Boston fighting water battles and are hoping to bring organizers from
Highland Park to share experiences with other cities. Visit
Finally, tireless Canadian water advocate Maude Barlow was recently
appointed senior water adviser to the United Nations. She plans to
lobby to have access to clean water recognized as a basic human right.