I never really expected to be making documentaries, much less, be the main character in one. The past two years have been an amazing adventure while documenting our Making Waves project consisting of our work here in Cleveland and drilling our first borehole abroad. But before I get into all of that, let me back up a minute. I want to share a story of how this all began.
Since I was a child, I had always dreamed of working in Africa. Something has always pulled me there. Growing up in a family where we “rooted” for the underdog and had empathy for suffering people, I think my heart just led me there. Maybe it all started with a poor starving African child on the television, I don’t know. All I do know is that there are too many horrifying gaps in the way humans live on this planet and if we shut our eyes to it, well, it’s just plain wrong; shame on us.
When I was young, I was mad about a lot of things: pollution, animal cruelty, homelessness, racism, stereotyping and on and on. I started helping animals and homeless people in my teenage years, protesting oil drilling in ANWR in D.C. and then worked my way through five years at a community college where I finally met one of the first people who had the same fire I felt inside. At the time, she was Councilwoman Nina Turner in Cleveland, Ohio, also a part-time professor. She said one thing that will stick in my head forever. Nina asked us one day, “How many races are there on earth?” We all started guessing in class and then it finally clicked.
There is only one race, the human race.
I still have this photo from almost 10 years ago that she gave to us in class; it reminds me that we are all one, we are all connected and if we ignore each others’ suffering, we in turn, will suffer.
As I passed on through eight years of college trying to build my passions into a solid career path, I had another moment of clarity. I showed up for my undergraduate entrance interview and thought, wow, I could help people find safe drinking water and become a hydrologist and make a decent living after college. Sooner than later, I realized I could only go so far in physics and math before I lost the joy in that career idea. At the same time, I realized there was something else I was comfortable with, enjoyed doing and I was good at it; I could help educate others about water, inspire people to care and most importantly, positively impact people and the planet currently suffering from water related stresses.
Water is the foundation for everything. Finally-it was all coming together!
With a life built on compassion, a few college degrees and amazing mentors along the way, I was almost there.
During my masters degree at Cleveland State University, I was extremely fortunate to work side by side with Dr. Nicholas Zingale. Nick turned my head into a white board, he taught me how to think and he helped the systems-thinking I had always tried to untangle inside come alive.
Untangling a life-long, fired-up, spaghetti mess of passions and turning them into a business has taken some time and, like everything else, has not happened alone in a silo. Drink Local. Drink Tap, Inc. started as a passionate volunteer group inspired by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s first Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit in 2009 and has since then developed into a local to global focused non-profit working on creatively reconnecting people to local water around the globe. After over 15 years of sifting through my passions, engaging with inspiring and supportive mentors and realizing the true value of our local fresh water resources, I was finally on my life path.
In 2011, I ran into an old rowing friend, Laura Watilo Blake, and told her about my passion to get people to care about water, appreciate the tap, toilet and shower we all have, and understand the importance of sharing safe water access with people in need. Never did I imagine that would have led to a full length documentary and thousands of beautiful photographs that would help tell the story of children and communities thousands of miles away and their need for safe access to water. Laura has now been to Africa with us twice, mostly on her own dollar, and she is a philanthropic photography manager for DLDT in addition to her many en-devours. In that same path, we connected with Tom Kondilas at LESS Productions, Inc. and the three of us (and Evan Kondilas in the US) have worked thousands of hours to bring our story of water to you.
Our mission at Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc. is to “creatively” reconnect people to local water. In order to do that in the US, we educate people, especially Great Lakes region youths, about individual waste streams, how they impact our shared water resources and how we can all become better stewards of our water, our life source. Once we connect people in the US to local water, we bring the larger story of safe water access issues in the world into the conversation through photography and our current documentary, Making Waves.
Over two years, the crew has has worked to tell the story of why we should reconnect to our local water, appreciate what we have and share our tools, our knowledge and our safe “water access” with people in need. Again, we are very lucky to live in a place where there is a toilet, a tap, a shower and a lake or a stream almost everywhere we go.
We may not always feel we can connect to people in other countries, cultures and cities, and that’s okay. What makes my stomach sour is when we look the other way pretending we are not one, we are not connected. Not only are we connected by water, but we are all human and we all need safe sustainable water every three days before we die. Let’s help each other; this is the only race we have.
Water is life.
Erin Huber 2/17/2013
We have been submitting the movie to film festivals around the world where we qualify and where we are able to secure a fee waived or reduction. We will keep everyone up to date on Facebook, Twitter @DrinkLocalTap and our website when we get accepted to our first festival.
Unfortunately, we will not be having our World Premiere at the 37th Cleveland International Film Festival in 2013, but we will be hosting a private World Premiere FUNdraiser March 22nd, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. We hope you can join us! See more details and secure your entry today! We appreciate the CIFF’s consideration of our submission and send our congratulations to everyone who made it!
We will continue to work on our documentary in the coming months to make it all that we can and truly appreciate your support!