Drink Local. Drink Tap. joins hands through Blue Planet Network

Erin Huber is Founder and Executive Director of Drink Local. Drink Tap, a Blue Planet Network member since 2011. With a decade-long history of civic engagement, mentoring, youth leadership practices and environmental stewardship, Erin uses Drink Local. Drink Tap. to inspire people to recognize and solve our water issues through creative education, events and collaboration.

Why are you personally committed to Blue Planet Network and the safe drinking water cause?

Erin: Water is the foundation of everything. No matter how much money we have, what color our skin, where we live or what religion we practice, we all need safe water to live. Sustainability starts with our water and air, which gives life to our planet, and, therefore, life to us. Blue Planet Network is a great way for a small organization like Drink Local. Drink Tap. to meet and learn from other organizations doing work like ours. We also post frequent updates on our Blue Planet Network project pages to share our progress with the world and identify and resolve any issues before they get big.

How did Drink Local. Drink Tap. begin working with Blue Planet Network?

Erin: In 2010, my friend, Andre Husain, was working out at a YMCA gym in Cleveland, Ohio. Andre was about to join the Race Across America (RAAM) with his team named “Team Hope” and wanted to raise funds and awareness for meaningful developmental aid work. The manager at the YMCA, already familiar with my organization, suggested Andre contact me. Serendipitously, Jin Zidell, the founder of Blue Planet Network also was a member of Team Hope. At the same time, I had contacted Katie Spotz, another Blue Planet Network Water Hero and a dear friend, to talk about how we might work together. Between Katie’s and Andre’s relationship with Blue Planet Network and our work on water in Uganda, we decided to join hands through Blue Planet Network.

Drink Local. Drink Tap. purchased notebooks to help students record water ideas/reflections and take note when the borehole is being misused by others and share with an adult. St Bonaventure Primary School, Mulajji Village, Uganda.

Can you tell us about Drink Local. Drink Taps.’s first water project?

Erin: We learned a tremendous amount from our first project in 2012. In life, and in Africa, the learning never ends, so we continue to get better as we grow. I personally did not complete studies for borehole building or water project management, but real life experience and contacts through Blue Planet Network and other groups helped to guide us through the early years. Our first project was a school-based borehole well in a small village in eastern Uganda. It took us two years to raise the funds, implement the project, make two trips there, and create a documentary about the school, village and general Ugandan water crisis. One year later, we returned to Uganda to add a gravity fed tap system that took the water directly to the school. This was huge...no more students carrying 40 lb. jerry cans of water.

Now, we are building 3-7 school-based water projects per year in the region and improving our process each time to better deliver lasting clean water to the communities we serve.

How else is Drink Local. Drink Tap. involved with water?

Erin: Drink Local. Drink Tap. focuses on not just on water access, but also on education and activism. We bring our Wavemaker awareness program to youth and communities in Northeast Ohio. We provide volunteer opportunities year-round, host beach clean-ups on the shores of Lake Erie, and screen our documentary, "Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda." We raise awareness with our annual "4 Miles 4 Water" walk, our "All Things Water Festival," and our Annual Giving Splash Party. We work in Africa twice a year to plan and implement sustainable water projects with schools, develop new partnerships with other nonprofits and create new educational stories through video and photography. All our work is designed to show people that everyone can be part of the solution to the global water crisis. Everyone can start a wave of change.

All our work is designed to show people that everyone can be part of the solution to the global water crisis. Everyone can start a wave of change.

How are you involved with David Christof and his 21 Marathons, 21 Schools Campaign to raise money for clean drinking water?

Erin: David is an original 2007 Blue Planet Global Runner who wanted to continue to do what he could to bring clean water to those in need. Blue Planet Network connected David with Drink Local. Drink Tap. a few years ago and he has run across Europe and to Morocco from his home in Prague, The Czech Republic, to raise funds for our Ugandan school water projects. This year, David is in the US, running 21 marathons and visiting at least 21 schools to help raise water awareness among students and donations for our Ugandan water projects. We are so excited to have David as a supporter... another way Blue Planet Network has helped Drink Local. Drink Tap.

What excites you every day?

Erin: While many of the world’s most pressing issues seem too big for an individual to face, we must realize that when we come together as a community, we can make the change necessary for lasting safe water to improve the lives of people everywhere and for the wellness of our entire beautiful planet.

See more of Drink Local. Drink Tap.’s stories and project updates on Blue Planet Network.