Education for Citizenship Series:
Gratitude and Poetry for Water

Jane Hirshfield, Roger Housden and Jenna Davis with David Freyberg

Thursday, May 21, 2009 | 7:30–9:00pm | Kresge Auditorium | Free and Open to All

The purpose of this evening is to bring poetic and scientific sensibilities to bear on life-sustaining elements that we often take for granted, especially water.  While nearly 2 billion of the world’s population lack adequate supplies of water and proper facilities for the disposal of human waste, we who are affluent treat the planet’s water system irresponsibly by drawing unsustainable amounts from and polluting the environment.  By bringing attention to present and future global water crises and to people and projects that are working toward solutions, we hope to foster a more respectful attitude toward water and the ecosystems that provide it.

The evening will begin with a presentation by David Crossweller introducing Wherever the Need, a charitable organization concerned with the provision and use of eco-sanitation toilets and water.

Jane Hirshfield, Poet
Jane Hirshfield’s poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence—desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, the many dimensions of our connection to others and to the creatures and objects with which we share our lives. Described by reviewers as “radiant and passionate,” “ethically aware,” “insightful and eloquent,” and as conveying “a succinct wisdom,” her work ranges from the metaphysical and passionate to the political and scientific to the subtle unfolding of daily life. Her book of essays on the “mind of poetry” and three anthologies recording the work of women poets from the past are each considered classics in their fields.  She is the author of six collections of poetry, including After, which was shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Prize and chosen as one of the best books of 2006 by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the London Financial Times.

Roger Housden, Poet and Anthologist

Roger Housden grew up in the cleft of a Cotswold valley on the edge of Bath, England.  He has led contemplative journeys all over the world: walking in silence through the Sahara Desert, and through Death Valley; following the pilgrim route down the Ganges; to the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, and to the great artistic sites of Italy.  He has published seventeen books, including Ten Poems To Change Your Life Again and Again.  Working with Wherever the Need, a UK charity that provides drinking water and sanitation to the poorest parts of Africa and India, he has created “Poetry for Water” events that raise funds to support this work.

Jennifer (“Jenna”) Davis, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

Jenna Davis' research interests focus on the intersection of economic development and environmental management, with particular emphasis on cost-effective, sustainable water supply and sanitation service delivery in developing countries.  Current research projects focus sustainable sanitation solutions for middle- and low-income urban areas and links between water, sanitation, and health.  She has conducted fieldwork in more than a dozen countries, including most recently the Philippines, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

David Freyberg (moderator), Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

David Freyberg teaches a wide range of courses with titles such as Hydrology and Water Resources, Environmental and Water Studies Design, and Watershed and Wetlands Hydrology.  He maintains a strong interest in water resources development, policy, and history, particularly in North America, the American West, the Middle East, and Asia. He is a co-author of a widely-used textbook, Water-Resources Engineering.

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