My journey to Lansing to observe World Water Day proved to be a trip filled with engaging, ever-changing emotions. Along with DJJ leaders Sureena, Rondi, Hannah L, Eleanor and Rabbi Alana, we learned, marched, sang, shouted, felt anger and laughed. We shared all this with about 300 other Michiganders committed to bringing attention to water justice issues.
We met at the First Congregational Church in Lansing, near the Capitol. As people collected in the basement amidst food and drink we awaited the arrival of like-minded protestors from Detroit, Flint Grand Rapids Traverse City, Muskegon and many other Michigan locations. Then the program began. Momma Lila, from Detroit’s People’s Water Board led the way. She set the stage for what was to come. A Native American, an Odawa tribal leader, shared his group’s concern for clean water and our right to it. Then a retired teacher and activist from Grand Rapids talked about Nestle’s water grab for cash. The danger to the Great Lakes of Line 5 in the Straits was also addressed. Then it was time to sing. To Motown tunes we belted out “water songs” like “Water Love” (to the tune of “Baby Love”) and “Michigan, Listen Up” (to the tune of “Sugarpie Honeybunch”).
From the front of the church we began our march. The skies were clear, the sun shined brightly but the wind was biting. With shouts echoing our leaders we screamed chants like “What do we want?” “Clean water!” “When do we want it?” “Now!” First we walked to the Williams Office Building. There, a big, puppet-headed Rick Snyder was put on trial and convicted in a street-theater scene. On the steps of the Capitol we heard two state legislators speak of efforts to pass water affordability legislation and sang some more. Finally, we shouted at the MDEQ Building, “Do your job!”
As I drove home I reflected. The humor and joyfulness of our songs still could not overcome my continued sadness and anger at the plight of those suffering from undrinkable or unaffordable water.
Barry Rubin is a lifelong learner and educator, husband, father and saba (grandfather).
Grateful for all the opportunities he has had throughout his life, he continues to try to help others improve their lives. Barry is an active member of the DJJ Water Campaign Team.