ELCA World Hungerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/241 miles. 7 days. This is the Hunger RideGuest blog author: Matt Bishophttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/631http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/631<div class="ExternalClass358F7E98C9BA40CCBF2414CDFE2AD9C6"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">241 miles. 7 days. A couple of bicycles. This is The Hunger Ride&#58;&#160; </span> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Feeding People, Feeding Souls.</span></p><p>Many of us will never know what it means to be chronically hungry. And yet <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/hunger">too many of us will</a>. A lot of us would like to suppose that, if only more people knew about this and thought about this, then we'd get something done! But there's another story to tell—the story of all of those who <em>do</em> answer the call to serve, and are working hard every day to feed their neighbors and to help their neighbors feed themselves. This story goes untold too often, so the Northwestern Minnesota Synod created The Hunger Ride.</p><p>Educating people about hunger and poverty is a trivial chore if we don't give those people somewhere to use the energy these stories create. So six <a href="http&#58;//nwmnsynod.org/meet-the-hunger-ambassadors/">Hunger Ambassadors</a> suited up, stretched out, and peddled their way across the synod to connect people to the stories of the hungry and the stories of those who accompany them. The riders stopped at events along the way, planned by hosting communities, to raise awareness about hunger locally and abroad, and to start conversations.</p><p>See for yourself&#58;​ ​​​​​ </p> <iframe src="http&#58;//player.vimeo.com/video/96105978" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe> <p><a href="http&#58;//vimeo.com/96105978">HungerRide</a> from <a href="http&#58;//vimeo.com/user3198684">Hope Deutscher</a> on <a href="https&#58;//vimeo.com/">Vimeo</a>.</p><p> Lin​da Eickman, a licensed social worker working in Christian resource development and one of the Hunger Ambassadors, said that the best part was meeting so many new people. &quot;[I] loved discovering the great services and organizations we have in our communities that support our hungry families.&quot; </p><p>The Hunger Ride was the synod's opportunity to celebrate with those who strive to relieve the weight of hunger and poverty in its communities and across the world, including the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, Meals on Wheels (through the local Wadena Area Seniors Bag Program), and—of course—ELCA World Hunger. Or as Pr. Frank Johnson, another Hunger Ambassador put it, &quot;we were able to string together the stories of organic farmers in Sebeka, the hungry and homeless at Peoples' Church in Bemidji, the youth volunteering at Calvary of Park Rapids, and the students in Wadena who were growing food for their own school lunches.&quot;</p><p>But the real power of The Hunger Ride comes in Frank's subsequent realization. &quot;These are not independent efforts; they are people working together, who often do not even know that one another exist, but they have a common purpose. These are people concerned about eating and eating well.&quot;</p><p>Frank made a more sophisticated reflection than is possible here on his blog—<a href="http&#58;//pawntoking4.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-hunger-ride-recap.html">check it out</a>.</p><p>The Hunger Ride culminated with a day ride around Moorhead in anticipation of Synod Assembly. Riders stopped at congregations along the way for refreshment and to learn more generally about hunger issues and ELCA World Hunger as a response. Finally, those who were left, including the Hunger Ambassadors, rode their bikes right up to the stage at synod assembly to share some of the stories from the week prior.</p><p>The Hunger Ride brought with it a few lessons. First, it's fun and life-giving. Lisa Winter, another Hunger Ambassador, said &quot;I feel like I received a special grace of the Holy Spirit on this ride.&quot; Second, it's hard to measure the impact of educating people. This isn't a new lesson, but the buzz around the entire event was contagious. While the goal was to raise awareness for hunger issues, build recognition for those responding in our communities and give people an opportunity to connect to those responses, the results of the offerings along the route are suggestive. By the end of the week, The Hunger Ride raised over $15,000 for hunger and poverty ministries, including ELCA World Hunger. Well, sort of. This total doesn't count one congregation, Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, which used The Hunger Ride as the focus of its Lenten hunger fundraising. It's nearly impossible to attribute particular dollars to The Hunger Ride, but the bottom line is the same&#58;&#160; another $13,000 for ELCA World Hunger.</p><p>And the final lesson is perhaps the most important of all. Will there be a Hunger Ride next year? Lisa said most eloquently what everyone agreed&#58;&#160; &quot;Absolutely!&quot;</p><p> <img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/AllItems/hr20.jpg" alt="hr20.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/AllItems/hr4.jpg" alt="hr4.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />​​<br></p></div>08/21/2014A Summer Farewell Teri Muellerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/630http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/630<div class="ExternalClassAF3F01039237401EA14A065975B75358"><p>​The fleeting nature of time never ceases to amaze me. I am having a hard time grasping the fact that I ended my internship at the close of last week. The past eleven weeks have passed very quickly and have contained so many meaningful experiences! </p><p>Prior to coming to the churchwide office, I had rarely focused specifically on the issue of hunger in our world. Sure, I had volunteered at food banks, collected cans for food drives, participated in fasting activities, and served meals at shelters, but my experiences were solely surface level. They satisfied me but did not truly engage me. I could volunteer and feel good about myself and then return to my life slightly more grateful for the blessings I had been bestowed with. </p><p>Working as the ELCA World Hunger Education intern allowed me to bridge experiences with information. I&#160;was able to better connect the statistics and data of hunger to real life through looking into resources. I&#160;began to realize the importance of educational exposure that makes people think critically about social issues in our world. I&#160;was able&#160;to do research and learn more about what hunger and poverty directly relate to. I&#160;was challenged through trying to communicate information in a concise manner through working on blog posts and potential resources. I had the opportunity to journey on educational field trips to <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/625"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Bethel New Life</span></a> and <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/629"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Cross Lutheran Church/Alice's Garden</span></a>. </p><p>As I prepared to leave, I found myself asking the question <em>What does my internship mean for me as I move forward? </em>I am still figuring out the answer to that. I obviously learned a lot. I feel more passionate about issues of hunger and poverty. I will definitely look for ways to be involved with hunger work in the future. The rest is rather uncertain, but I am sure that I will continue to realize ways this internship has affected me as time progresses. &#160;</p><p>My time working with ELCA World Hunger at the churchwide office has been an incredibly beneficial experience. Though I was sad to say goodbye, I look forward to the coming adventures that God brings my way during my final year at Wartburg and the somewhat daunting time after graduation. I take comfort in Jesus' final words to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew, &quot;I am with you always, even until the end of the age.&quot; (Matthew 28&#58;20) Thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey at the ELCA and God Bless! <br><br><em>Teri Mueller is an intern with ELCA World Hunger. This is her final post for the summer.</em></p><p>Would you like to subscribe to the ELCA World Hunger blog?&#160; Click <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/worldhunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to enter your email address on the homepage. </p></div>08/18/2014Milwaukee Ministries: Visiting Cross Lutheran Church and Alice's GardenTeri Muellerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/629http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/629<div class="ExternalClass88830A3ABEA14CDBB1357663B83B40CE"><p>​Many powerful and meaningful ministries are flourishing across the United States. This past Fr<img alt="Compressed Milwaukee Intern field trip.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Compressed%20Milwaukee%20Intern%20field%20trip.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;262px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />iday, the interns at the ELCA Churchwide office had the opportunity to hear from two Milwaukee-based ministries on our second and final field trip of the summer. Joe Young, ELCA Program Director of Community Development, described the trip as &quot;an opportunity to integrate what is happening at the Churchwide level with what is actually happening on the ground.&quot; I was really excited about the trip because of my interest in community gardening and social ministry organizations. We visited <a href="http&#58;//crosslutheranmilwaukee.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Cross Lutheran Church</span></a> and <a href="http&#58;//alicesgardenmilwaukee.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Alice's Garden</span></a>, two organizations that are doing really incredible work. </p><p>We arrived at Cross Lutheran Church in the late morning and were greeted by Pastor Michelle Townsend de López. She talked to us about the history of the church, the ministries of the church, and the city of Milwaukee. Cross is an urban congregation located in the heart of the city. Originally founded as a Missouri Synod church, Cross has German and Polish roots that date back 144 years. <img alt="Compressed Pastor Michelle talking.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Compressed%20Pastor%20Michelle%20talking.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;304px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Cross has a rich tradition of embracing diversity and is known as &quot;one of the most diverse congregations in not only Wisconsin, but also the entire U.S.&quot; according to Pastor Michelle. During the 20<sup>th</sup> century, Cross was seen as a safe place for mixed race couples in the midst of segregation and as a shelter for refugees fleeing oppression from countries in conflict like Bosnia, Somalia and Sudan. In 1984, Cross was one of the first churches to become <a href="http&#58;//www.reconcilingworks.org/"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Reconciled in Christ</span></a>, meaning that they welcome and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples and individuals. Their decision to openly embrace so many forms of diversity has been contentious at times, but now diversity is a given at Cross. Inclusivity is a key focus of the church in all that they do. We were all encouraged to remember the importance of welcoming and including others as we move forward with our lives.</p><p>Numerous services and programs are run through Cross Lutheran Church as part of their outward, community focus. Pastor Michelle gave us a tour of the church and explained many of the ministries that occur. The Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry provides a hot meal every Wednesday, operates a food pantry and hosts a Bible study. The Bread of Healing Clinic offers free services to uninsured individuals and serves over 3600 people each year. The church additionally is home to the Bridges Tutoring Program, a job training program, yoga classes, three different church choirs (Cross Youth Praise Team, Community Gospel Choir, and Cross Praise Choir) and more. Over 2000 people come through the church every week! </p><p>Funds from ELCA Domestic Hunger Grants have helped the church with its various social ministry programs. Cross has plans for expansion in the near future. The ministries and programs of the church are simply outgrowing the space. Visiting Cross really helped us make connections to work at the churchwide office in a variety of different ways. Ben Skelton, an intern with the Mission Investment Fund (MIF), explained how the visit connected to what he has experienced through working in MIF. He explained, &quot;Working with the Mission Investment Fund, I was able to see how supporting a congregation like this with a loan would allow them to make expansions to their facility. This would ensure that they can continue to grow and have a positive impact on a community that is in desperate need of it.&quot;</p><p><img alt="Compressed Venus talks under shelter.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Compressed%20Venus%20talks%20under%20shelter.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;298px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />After a very informative morning at Cross Lutheran Church, we continued on to Alice's Garden and met with the Executive Director, Ms. Venice Williams. The garden has undergone a lot of positive change in recent years under her direction. Ms. Williams has a strong passion for using the earth's resources and explained, &quot;I came to farming and urban agriculture because I was unhappy with how we feed people as the church.&quot; She emphasized that there was not enough responsibility, accountability or harvesting of people's talents. She wanted a different model that helped enable people so she invested heavily in Alice's Garden. It was really touching and inspiring to hear Ms. Williams talk about the positive impact of the garden on the community. She described Alice's Garden as &quot;the best blessing outside of family or spouse that I've ever had.&quot;</p><p><img alt="Compressed Venus talks in garden.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Compressed%20Venus%20talks%20in%20garden.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;186px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Alice's garden occupies 2.2 acres of land and is described as both an urban farm and a community garden. A number of plots are available for community members to rent out to grow their own plants and produce. &#160;However, so much more than food is harvested from the garden! Alice's Garden is a cultural haven for people as 20+ ethnicities are represented among the gardeners. There is an herbal product line, Alice Garden Healing Herbs, that is produced. Forty-seven young people ages 14-24 have found work in the garden over the summer due to Milwaukee's Earn and Learn program. Nine caterers and food trucks use food from the garden. Yoga is held in the garden twice a week.&#160; The list could go on and on. </p><p>On a personal note, I was really touched by the thriving community garden in the <img alt="Compressed Milwaukee Intern group 2.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/Compressed%20Milwaukee%20Intern%20group%202.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;274px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />midst of the city. I did not grow up on a farm, but I am from a rural community in Iowa. My family had a garden where we grew varied produce like strawberries, squash, and tomatoes. There is something about growing one's own food that warms my heart. Ms. Williams talked a lot about how Alice's Garden taps into the community resources and gives people an outlet to help themselves. Alice's Garden is a beautiful gift to the community, but community members are also a beautiful gift to Alice's Garden. It is a partnership between people and the land that is far too often ignored. </p><p>Cross Lutheran Church and Alice's Garden are two amazing community partners of the ELCA that promote social justice in Milwaukee. It was a true blessing to hear about their work and see the context of their ministries. I have no doubt that they will continue to do great things in the years to come. </p><p><em>Teri Mueller is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.</em></p><p>Would you like to subscribe to the ELCA World Hunger blog?&#160; Click <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/worldhunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to enter your email address on the homepage. </p><p>&#160;</p></div>08/15/2014'Tis the Season for Fresh ProduceTeri Muellerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/628http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/628<div class="ExternalClass300039B4C2F3439A849A933C5D7B14D8"><p>​Summer is now in full swing, and with it comes the flourishing of many farmers' markets and community gardens all across the country. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States currently has over 8,100 farmers' markets of varying sizes in operation. Their <a href="http&#58;//search.ams.usda.gov/FARMERSMARKETS/default.aspx"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">online directory</span></a> provides people with an easy way to determine where nearby markets are and what produce is typically offered. Community gardens also are in season during the summer months. Because of farmers' markets and community gardens, many people are able to access fresh and healthy produce. </p><p>One may wonder, <em>what's all the hype about farmers' markets and buying local? </em>&#160;There are actually <a href="http&#58;//www.nutrition.gov/farmers-markets"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">numerous perks</span></a> to the markets that attract a variety of different people. &#160;One of the most frequently referenced positives is the flavor of fruits and vegetables because they are picked in season and not overly processed. Many people also like that farmers' markets support local economies and encourage community. Free samples from some vendors attract the hungry and curious, too.</p><p>Another appeal of farmers' markets is that families of different income levels are able to shop there and purchase fresh produce. As of May 2014, <a href="http&#58;//www.fns.usda.gov/ebt/learn-about-snap-benefits-farmers-markets"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">2,696 markets accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits</span></a>. Utilizing SNAP helps ease food insecurity and is a benefit to multiple parties. It brings more customers to the market, which is good for business, and helps families to eat fresh food without traveling too far. While the price of produce is often lower at supermarkets or grocery stores (at least in the Midwest according to a <a href="http&#58;//time.com/2838629/the-pros-and-cons-of-food-stamps-at-farmers-markets/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">recent article</span></a> published by <em>Time</em>), farmers' market advocates still stand by the importance of the markets for low-income families. Markets can increase the appeal of a variety of fruits and vegetables and provide inspiration to eat a wholesome diet. </p><p>Like farmers' markets, community gardens also increase access to fresh, healthy produce and provide a sense of community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified many <a href="http&#58;//www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/healthyfood/community.htm"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">physical and mental health benefits</span></a> of community gardens. Beyond the obvious increase in availability of fresh produce, gardens also beautify empty lots, encourage physical activity, revitalize neighborhoods and bring people together. </p><p>Gifts to ELCA World Hunger have helped provide many churches and organizations with Domestic Hunger Grants to start, continue, and/or enhance community garden projects. Trinity Gardens is one such project in Santa Barbara, CA. The project is run by Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and has both a communal garden and individual garden plots. Each week, around 150-200 pounds of food from the communal garden is donated to community non-profits and community members who are in need. (Click <a href="http&#58;//telcsb.org/TrinityGardens.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> for more information about the project.) </p><p>Another example of an organization supported by gifts to ELCA World Hunger is the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, AK. The food bank's &quot;Hoop House and Garden&quot; produced 1,860 pounds of produce in 2013, and they have already harvested 69 pounds of produce as of June 12, 2014. ELCA World Hunger supports an educational component of the garden that seeks to help individuals living in poverty to plant container gardens and grow their own produce. (Click <a href="http&#58;//www.kpfoodbank.org/garden--hoop-house.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to see pictures from the Hoop House and Garden). Trinity Gardens and the Hoop House and Garden are just two examples of the over 20 garden projects supported by grants from ELCA World Hunger.</p><p>Farmers' markets and community gardens both provide communities with fresh produce and assist with neighborhood development. Taking advantage of nearby resources is beneficial to all people and is an important step towards alleviating hunger. Local initiatives like farmers' markets and community gardens help people think about where their food is coming from. They personalize the food gathering experience through providing fresh and tasty produce to individuals and families all across the country. </p><p><em>Teri Mueller is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.</em></p><p>Would you like to subscribe to the ELCA World Hunger blog?&#160; Click <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/worldhunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to enter your email address on the homepage. </p></div>08/14/2014Thirst in a Hungry World: 10 Facts about WaterTeri Muellerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/627http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/627<div class="ExternalClassA6067BBBD05240F5A01E30C2A517122F"><p>Water is closely related to hunger, disaster, and poverty. Take a look at the 10 facts below to learn more!</p><ol><li>A lot of water is used to produce foods that we often take for granted. Consider that it takes 200 liters to produce a glass of milk, 70 liters to produce an apple, 140 liters to produce a cup of coffee, and 2,400 liters to produce a hamburger.<sup>1</sup> &#160;</li><li>The total amount of water generally needed to produce food for one person for one day ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 liters.<sup>2</sup> </li><li>Humans are able to use only about 1% of the 70% of the earth that is covered by water.<sup>3</sup> &#160;</li><li>Water is closely connected to food security as agriculture is responsible for 70% of the water that is withdrawn by the agricultural, municipal and industrial sectors.<sup>4</sup> &#160;</li><li>It is estimated that there will be a 19% increase in agricultural water consumption by 2050 due to population growth.<sup>5</sup> &#160;</li><li>Progress has been made as advances in access to drinking water have occurred over the past few decades. The World Health Organization reports, &quot;By the end of 2012, 89% of the global population used improved drinking water sources, a rise of 13 percentage points in 22 years or 2.3 billion people.&quot;<sup>6</sup></li><li>However, approximately 780 million people in the world still do not have access to clean drinking water. One third live in Africa and around 130 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.<sup>7</sup> </li><li>Contaminated water still plays a part in 80 percent of all worldwide sickness and disease.<sup>7</sup> </li><li>Children are hit especially hard by not having clean water. Shortages account for the daily deaths of more than 3,000 children under the age of five. These children die every day due to water-related illnesses like diarrhea.<sup>8</sup> </li><li>Between the 1970s and 2005, the percentage of the Earth that experienced serious drought more than doubled.<sup>7</sup> </li></ol><p>Interested in helping with water issues in our world? Check out options that are available in the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/GoodGifts-Water"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Good Gifts catalog</span></a>!&#160;</p><p>Would you like to subscribe to the ELCA World Hunger blog?&#160; Click <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/blogs/worldhunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to enter your email address on the homepage.</p><p><em>Teri Mueller is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.</em> </p><ol><li>&quot;Water and Hunger,&quot; The Water Project, <a href="http&#58;//thewaterproject.org/hunger"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//thewaterproject.org/hunger</span></a> </li><li>&quot;Water and Hunger,&quot; The Voss Foundation, <a href="http&#58;//www.vossfoundation.org/therippleeffect/water-and-hunger/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.vossfoundation.org/therippleeffect/water-and-hunger/</span></a></li><li>&quot;Water Supply in the U.S.,&quot; United States Environmental Protection Agency, <a href="http&#58;//www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/supply.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/supply.html</span></a></li><li>&quot;Water for Food,&quot; U.N. Water, <a href="http&#58;//www.unwater.org/topics/water-and-food/en/"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.unwater.org/topics/water-and-food/en/</span></a><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span></li><li>&quot;Water for Food PDF,&quot; U.N. Water, <a href="http&#58;//www.unwater.org/fileadmin/user_upload/unwater_new/docs/water_for_food.pdf"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.unwater.org/fileadmin/user_upload/unwater_new/docs/water_for_food.pdf</span></a></li><li>&quot;WHO/UNICEF highlight need to further reduce gaps in access to improved drinking water and sanitation,&quot; World Health Organization, <a href="http&#58;//www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/jmp-report/en/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/jmp-report/en/</span></a></li><li>&quot;Water Facts,&quot; Food and Water Watch, <a href="https&#58;//www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/interesting-water-facts/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">https&#58;//www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/interesting-water-facts/</span></a></li><li>&quot;World Water Day 2013&#58; How Shortages Affect Women, Kids, Hunger (And What You Can Do),&quot; The Huffington Post, <a href="http&#58;//www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/world-water-day-2013-facts_n_2927389.html"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/world-water-day-2013-facts_n_2927389.html</span></a> </li></ol></div>08/12/2014Myths and Realities about Water Shutoffs in DetroitRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/626http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/626<div class="ExternalClass9DE893C0E1A54769845CD1515DE49A24"><p>Access to clean water has long been a concern of ELCA World Hunger.&#160; Together, we have supported our companion churches with projects like wells, knowing that ending hunger means not only having food but also having clean and safe water for washing fruit and vegetables, cooking, drinking, and sanitation.&#160; God taught Moses to sanitize the waters of Marah (Exodus 15&#58;25) and graced God's people with water from the rock (Exodus 17&#58;1-7).&#160; Clearly, the basic need of water for life is never far from God's attention, nor from ours as the people of God.</p><p><img alt="shutterstock_198729194.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/shutterstock_198729194.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />But even as we focus on the need for water in the developing world, we can often miss the problems people in the US face in accessing water.&#160; Lately, more attention has been on this issue since the news media have taken up the story of water shutoffs in Detroit.&#160; Last year, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) ramped up efforts to shut water off to homes with delinquent accounts.&#160; By this spring, the shutoffs had increased exponentially, with more than 7,500 homes losing access in April and May 2014, and DWSD threatening to shut off up to 3,000 more customers each week this summer.&#160; This comes as Detroit is in the midst of the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.</p><p>Thankfully, the department has responded to criticism and halted the shutoffs – at least for now.&#160; Yet, there was so much misinformation and misinterpretation about the crisis, that it is difficult to see what this meant for Detroit residents – and what it means for the rest of us.&#160; Below are some of the myths and realities about the Detroit water shutoffs.</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #1 – This is about residents refusing to pay the bills they owe.</strong></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13pt;"><strong>Reality – The municipal water department in Detroit had no intention of holding its worst delinquents accountable.</strong><strong>&#160; </strong><strong>Until public opposition got in the way.</strong></span></p><p>DWSD has argued that shutting off water to customers is the only way to force residents to pay the nearly $100 million dollars owed to the department.&#160; However, while 39,000 households had their water shutoff within the last year, DWSD has only recently – after significant community pressure – begun sending notices to the 22,735 commercial accounts that are delinquent.&#160; And these businesses and agencies owe quite a bit more than the few hundred dollars homeowners are behind (<a href="http&#58;//www.clickondetroit.com/news/sinking-in-unpaid-water-bills-dwsd-owed-118-million/25370670"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">see this April report from local news WDIV</span></a>)&#58; </p><ul><li>Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) - $55,803 [1]</li><li>Eastern Market - $60,911</li><li>Joe Louis Arena (home of the Detroit Red Wings) - $80,255</li><li>Veterans Administration hospital - $131,006</li><li>Vargo Golf (Oakland County golf course management firm) - <a href="http&#58;//www.freep.com/article/20140709/NEWS01/307090141/Detroit-water-shut-offs-companies-customers"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">$437,714</span></a></li><li>State of Michigan – $5,000,000</li></ul><p>Recently, DWSD has started sending shutoff notices to commercial customers, but this appears to have been the result of public outcry rather than original intent.&#160; In fact, the contractor hired by DWSD to shut water off was <a href="http&#58;//www.freep.com/article/20140709/NEWS01/307090141/Detroit-water-shut-offs-companies-customers"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">not even equipped to shut off commercial customers</span></a>.&#160; And residents are still waiting for these large businesses to lose their access to water.</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;"></strong>&#160;</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #2 – This is about a municipal department trying to pay its bills.</strong></p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Reality – This is an attempt to create opportunities for profit by shaming and harming over-burdened households.</strong></p><p>On the one hand, yes, the department needs money to function, and this money comes from customers paying for a service.&#160; </p><p>On the other hand, DWSD issued $1.16 billion in bonds in 2011-2012 to pay for its aging infrastructure.&#160; According to <a href="http&#58;//www.businessweek.com/news/2012-09-13/detroit-shows-wall-street-never-loses-on-bad-swaps-muni-credit"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Bloomberg Businessweek</span></a>, more than $500 million of this was given to banks like JP Morgan Chase to terminate financial agreements.&#160; In fact, as Detroit was heading for bankruptcy, JP Morgan Chase <em>made</em> money on the swap. </p><p>This goes a step further, though.&#160; In June 2014, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr <a href="http&#58;//www.freep.com/article/20140602/NEWS01/306020189/detroit-water-privatize-bids"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">reviewed several bids to privatize</span></a> the Detroit water department, making way for private companies to operate and manage the public service.&#160; As <em>The Guardian</em> reports, the shut-off campaign comes as this shift toward privatization gains momentum, leading many to believe that <a href="http&#58;//www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2014/jun/25/detroits-water-war-a-tap-shut-off-that-could-impact-300000-people"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">residents are losing water to make the utility a more attractive entity for investors</span></a>.</p><p>We should also bear in mind that <a href="http&#58;//www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/what-happens-when-detroit-shuts-off-the-water-of-100000-people/374548/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Detroiters currently pay twice the national average for water services</span></a> and are facing yet another rate hike.&#160; In 2009, the rates paid by Detroiters were substantially higher than the rates paid by suburban residents, many of whom get their water from Detroit.&#160; At that time, the average water and sewage bill in Detroit was $62.75; in the suburbs, it was $26.56.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[2]</span></a> And this is in a city sharing a border with the source of nearly 1/5 of the world's surface freshwater.&#160; </p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;"></strong>&#160;</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #3 – Customers have the money; they just don't want to pay.</strong></p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Reality – Yes, customers have the money, though typically it might go to other luxuries – like food.</strong></p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/25861095/detroit-water-department-responds-to-water-shutoffs"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">DWSD officials have argued</span></a> that the shut-off campaign has been a success since as many as 60% of delinquent accounts have been paid.&#160; That figure, however, obscures the reality that <a href="http&#58;//www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/human-rights-institute/upload/HumanRightsFinal2013.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">many people are paying their water bills with money that would go to other needs like food, health care, or transportation</span></a>.&#160; </p><p>Detroit has an excessively high rate of poverty.&#160; <a href="http&#58;//quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2622000.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Over 38% of residents live the below the federal poverty line</span></a> ($23,850 per year for a family of four).&#160;&#160; The <a href="http&#58;//www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&amp;met_y=unemployment_rate&amp;idim=city&#58;CT2622000000000&#58;CT3651000000000&amp;fdim_y=seasonality&#58;U&amp;hl=en&amp;dl=en#%21ctype=l&amp;strail=false&amp;bcs=d&amp;nselm=h&amp;met_y=unemployment_rate&amp;fdim_y=seasonality&#58;U&amp;scale_y=lin&amp;ind_y=false&amp;rdim=country&amp;idim=city&#58;CT2622000000000&#58;CT3651000000000&amp;idim=country&#58;US&amp;ifdim=country&amp;hl=en_US&amp;dl=en&amp;ind=false"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">unemployment rate</span></a> has fallen from a high of nearly 28% in 2010 to nearly 15% in 2014 – still more than twice the national average.&#160; Homes in the city – usually the single largest asset for individuals and families – <a href="http&#58;//www.freep.com/article/20120624/BUSINESS04/206240311/What-kind-of-houses-you-can-buy-in-the-city-of-Detroit"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">sell for less than a new car</span></a>.&#160; With delinquent water bills running into the thousands of dollars, many families simply cannot get caught up without assistance.</p><p><strong></strong>&#160;</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #4 – This a local issue; no one outside Detroit is affected.</strong></p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Reality – Detroit is the latest example of a shift toward privatization of water services and, some fear, commodification of water itself. </strong></p><p>As researchers from Georgetown University Law Center pointed out in an <a href="http&#58;//www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/human-rights-institute/upload/HumanRightsFinal2013.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">April 2013 report</span></a>, &quot;In the United States today, the goal of universal water service is slipping out of reach.&quot;</p><p>The distressing reality is that this is merely one example of what some see as a gradual shift from viewing water as a public good to viewing it as a private commodity, available only or mostly to those with the means to pay for it.&#160; Many cite examples like <a href="http&#58;//www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bolivia/timeline.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Bolivia, which, in the late 1990s, was forced to lease its water supply to Bechtel</span></a>, a multinational corporation that doubled water rates within a few years, leaving many Bolivians paying nearly a quarter of their income for water.<span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span></p><p>The World Bank famously declared in a 2000 sourcebook on Africa, &quot;Work is still needed with political leaders in some national governments to move away from the concept for free water for all…&quot; (see Gernot Kohler and Emilio José Chaves, <em>Globalization&#58; Critical Perspectives</em>, page 200).&#160; The World Bank, of course, was the entity that forced Bolivia to lease its water system to Bechtel.&#160; As communities continue to grow and water use continues to expand, more and more companies see the opportunity for profit in privatizing water supplies, regardless of the <a href="http&#58;//scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&amp;context=wmelpr"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;large-scale and long-term risks and harms&quot;</span></a> posed by privatization.</p><p>But this isn't limited to other countries.&#160; <span>In the US, cities and states are increasingly turning toward private corporations to operate or manage their water systems, and multinational corporations are seeking water rights for bottling, shipping overseas, and agricultural and industrial uses<span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">.</span></span></p><p>What has privatization looked like in the US?&#160; Ask <a href="http&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2003/02/10/us/as-cities-move-to-privatize-water-atlanta-steps-back.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Atlanta, Ga</span></a>., residents whose water ran brown and had to be boiled often after private firm United Water cut jobs and training for employees once it took over the city's water supply.&#160; Even when they are not providing unsanitary water, private firms raise rates, fail to ensure long-term sustainability of infrastructure, and do little to prevent the degradation of the interconnected water systems within a region, according to <a href="http&#58;//scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&amp;context=wmelpr"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Craig Anthony Arnold, Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use and Professor of Law at the University of Louisville</span></a>.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #5 – This is not about race.</strong></p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Reality – To ignore race is to miss the entire background against which this situation plays out.</strong></p><p>Almost half of the Black citizens of Michigan are living under non-democratically elected <a href="http&#58;//www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-15/half-of-michigan-s-blacks-lose-local-control-in-detroit-takeover.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;overseers with little say in the governments nearest them.&quot;</span></a>&#160; Legislation passed by the disproportionately white state government allowed the governor of Michigan to appoint emergency managers in cities under financial distress.&#160; These managers have more power than locally elected officials and are not accountable to the voting citizens of the area.&#160; Of the eight municipalities that have been or are under emergency management, six have been majority-black cities.&#160; This is despite the reality that many majority-white cities in Michigan face <a href="http&#58;//bridgemi.com/2013/05/see-how-your-hometowns-checkbook-is-holding-up-searchable-database/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">as bad – if not worse – financial distress</span></a>, according to reports.</p><p>Even if the governor begins to correct discrimination in this process, there is a legacy of racist policies and processes that have left their mark on Detroit.&#160; From <a href="https&#58;//www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/clio/detroit_riot/DetroitNewsRiots1943.htm"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">riots to protest integrated housing</span></a>, to <a href="http&#58;//prrac.org/newsletters/novdec2012.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">denial of federal loans to Black would-be homeowners</span></a>, to <a href="http&#58;//www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2004/May/04_crt_342.htm"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">redlining of neighborhoods as recently as 2000</span></a>, the bankruptcy of Detroit has to be seen against a backdrop of the deep divisions and lasting scars of institutional racism.</p><p>This is not even to mention that research has demonstrated that the burden for paying for public services like water is disproportionately borne by African Americans.&#160; In their analysis of data from Detroit, researchers Rachel Butts and Stephen Gasteyer found that &quot;water costs more in areas with greater proportions of racial minorities,&quot; regardless of household income or whether the home was in an urban or rural area.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[3]</span></a>&#160; The structural injustice caused by discrimination in housing and employment, coupled with economic shifts, thus shows its long reach over time.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Myth #6 – The people of Detroit are broke and broken; their situation should inspire pity and move the rest of us to go there and help.</strong></p><p><strong style="font-size&#58;13pt;">Reality – There is nothing wrong with the people of Detroit; there is something deeply wrong with the systems – inside and outside the city – that seek to constrain them.</strong></p><p>As I sat with a pastor from Detroit and talked about the upcoming ELCA Youth Gathering, he flipped a common lens on its head – &quot;No one is bringing God into Detroit; God is already here.&quot;&#160; Having grown up north of Detroit and recalling fond memories of evenings and weekends in the city, I often think of Philip's words to Nathanael when people talk about Detroit with pity or derision&#58; &quot;Nathanael asked him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see!'&quot; (John 1&#58;46).&#160; </p><p>It's no lie to say that outside attention and criticism helped force the city's hand in this situation.&#160; But that is not to say that the recent moratorium in shutoffs came from the hard work of anyone but Detroiters themselves.&#160; Coalitions of faith communities, along with many other community organizations, have been involved in peaceful demonstrations and activism.&#160; Many of our ELCA brothers and sisters have also been active.&#160; Some Detroiters have gone so far as to be arrested for physically placing their bodies in front of water shutoff valves for their neighbors.&#160; In addition to this, the <a href="http&#58;//detroitwaterbrigade.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Detroit Water Brigade</span></a> has provided immediate relief to families in need and advocated for affordable water for all people, with a cap on the utility fees that can be charged to a household.&#160; There are also local agencies working to help people pay their bills or make arrangements to pay with DWSD.</p><p>Detroit does not need rescuers from outside.&#160; What those of us who are not from the city can do is support what is already going on, learn more about the context of Detroit and the current situation, and listen to community members.&#160; We can also help bring attention in our own communities, by using what we have learned to change the conversation about Detroit, and join the conversation about what it means for water to be a human right – both around the world and in our own communities.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><strong><em>Ryan P. Cumming, Ph.D.,</em></strong><em> is Program Director of Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger.</em><em>&#160; </em><em>He can be reached at <a href="mailto&#58;Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org">Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org</a>.</em></p><p>&#160;</p><p>[1] The owners of Ford Field have recently resolved their bill by providing evidence that the delinquency was a clerical error. Still, it is curious how they were able to resolve this without having their water disconnected, while stories of residents facing shutoff due to billing errors, arrearages from prior property owners, or water leaks continue to emerge from the city.&#160;</p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[2]</span></a> Rachel Butts and Stephen Gasteyer, &quot;More Cost per Drop&#58; Water Rates, Structural Inequality, and Race in the United States—The Case of Michigan,&quot; <em>Environmental Practice</em> 13,4 (Dec 2011)&#58; 393.</p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[3]</span></a> Butts and Gasteyer, 392.</p><p>​</p></div>08/08/2014