Monday, November 26, 2012

Wash Your Car and Wash Away Thirst

Jesse with his cousin, Daron, in front of the Valiant
When my son, Jesse, was a child, one of the ways that I entertained him was going to the car wash. For a few dollars we could ride through a tunnel of dancing rubber, whirling brushes and extreme water. "A car wash is one of the few places within the civilized world where one can scream one's head off and not alarm others," I instructed him. So as soon as our '64 Valiant lurched into the downpour we would start screaming, then laughing, and not stop until the car was spit out at the end of the tunnel. We would emerge exhilarated and the car would be clean, even though it was beyond it's ability to shine. Jesse would often say, "When I grow up I'm going to buy a car wash," and I never doubted him.

Jesse is now the proud owner of ENVI Auto Care in Portsmouth, NH. Within weeks of his ownership he discovered a Rotary-sponsored program called Wash Away Thirst ( that provides clean drinking water to those in need throughout the world.  ENVI Auto Care is the first car wash in NH to sign up for this innovative program, which means that every car washed at ENVI will provide one day of clean water to one person. Since starting Art for Water, Jesse's heard all about the millions of people who die every year from preventable, water-related diseases because they do not have access to clean water. As a result, he is mindful of water conservation, environmental standards, and global water issues. When he found out about Rotary International's efforts, he jumped at the chance to support a program that alleviates suffering and raises awareness of this critical humanitarian crisis.

If you're in Portsmouth, NH, check out ENVI Auto Care and take part in the Wash Away Thirst program. The next time you go to another car wash, ask the attendant if they belong to Wash Away Thirst. And if they don't, keep asking until they sign up.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New York Aquarium Hit Hard by Sandy

Karsten Moran for The New York Times
The New York Aquarium in Brooklyn will be closed indefinitely because of the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Throughout the buildup to and the duration of the storm, I kept thinking of the Aquarium and wondering how they would manage to keep all 12,000 fish and marine mammals safe, especially the walruses who stole my heart last summer. Fortunately, the only victims were 150 koi carp who were outside in temporary holding tanks because their exhibit was being renovated. The staff worked tirelessly to ensure that all of the other fish and sea mammals survived the flooding and power outages.

In June, Art for Water was the visiting artist for the Aquarium's first art exhibition – Amaze-ing Water. Christine Badalamenti, Noel Greiner, and I spent 3 days working with hundreds of Aquarium visitors to create Wave of Words for the group art exhibit. We were stationed in the Ocean View room, a magnificent second-floor open-air setting overlooking the beach, the walrus tank, and surrounding the top of the main fish tank. What better place to write about water with the breeze carrying the smell of salt air? We lucked out with perfect weather and an enthusiastic crowd.

I can only wonder what the future might be for the New York Aquarium housed right along the historic coastline of Coney Island. Art for Water had the memorable experience of sharing its message and exploring the significance of the relationship between saltwater and freshwater with the visiting patrons and local community. Now it appears that relationship is ever more tenuous and important to consider as the ocean recedes and locals clean up after Sandy. Will there be a New York Aquarium on the boardwalk at Coney Island? What should the Aquarium do as Climate Change threatens to bring the tides even further ashore? We are grateful that Art for Water could participate in the first art exhibition at the New York Aquarium on the boardwalk of Coney Island, hopefully it will not be the last.

Click on the link above to see how you can help the New York Aquarium.