Wednesday, January 29, 2014

River Steward takes on Honduras!

This pass January I had the opportunity to travel to southern Honduras with Saint Louis University students who are apart of a program called Global Brigade. They were broken down into nine different brigades and I went on the Water Brigades. On this trip several different universities and colleges and community members participated in this mission. Our project was to build a water system for one community. We had to dig about one mile of trenches, move boulders (no joke!), and glue PVC piping. I was completely amazed how much work was put into water system. It was hard work! They are hoping to finish this project by the end of this month. Before they even started this project, they created a Water Council. This council consisted members of the community and leaders of Water Brigades. Together, they discussed on the best sustainable solution for their community. The universities and colleges come in take that idea and produced the product.

Another part of the brigade that was very important was the education fair. This fair was mostly for the children but the parents also participated. The purpose of this education fair is to teach the community about hygiene, water storage, and household sanitation. I believe that education is the key to develop a more sustainable community.
We ask a question about water storage and water sanitation and the kids are throwing duct tape balls to the correct answer.  
  At the end of this trip I realized that back at home, I am very lucky for the water systems that we have. My semester as a River Steward, I learned about where our water comes from and who takes care of it. I learn to appreciate the workers at the Waste Treatment Plant and Water Treatment Plant. Going on this trip, I realized that WOW, I am very fortunate. People in Honduras do not have the proper water treatment. They could be searching for water for days. I met one man around 3pm and he told me that he has been looking for water all day. He looked exhausted. Back at home, I can go to the kitchen sink and get a glass of water. I don’t have to think about not having water because we never had that problem. After this trip, I will never take water for granted. This trip allowed to see how a community comes together to work on a common goal and how they help improve their situation in the future from a different perspective. This project would not have accomplished without the water brigades or without the community. Together, this community will have drinkable water for a long time.

Maggie Rohs
Cohort 2016 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Year, Same Water

Happy new year to all. 

It feels so good to be back on campus with a whole fresh semester just beginning. As the snow continues to fall outside my window I am reminded of how intriguing water is. While skydiving over break I was able to witness water in several different forms, as snow on the ground, as water in lakes and ponds scattered far below me, and as ice for all the ice skaters out there. I was also reminded of the power of water when the water main broke in Marianist Hall this christmas break.

Last semester was the start of my Junior year at UD as a mechanical engineering major. As for most majors … Junior year is one of those most dreaded times in college. This past semester helped me grow in brilliant ways and offered many opportunities across different areas. I learned about myself, grew as a leader, and had some great experiences this past semester. Some of my courses finally had direct connections to the pillars of the Rivers Institute … including my Fluid Dynamics class (the first day we talked about rivers and water flow through pipes for a quarter of the class! and we designed and analyzed pipe flow for our capstone project at the end of the semester) and the ASI 345 River Leadership Curriculum course. I really enjoyed the RLC course, learning about the 1913 Flood, exploring and investigating Cincinnati’s River Front and Combined sewer systems, and developing a proposal related to river leadership.

This semester has only just begun and I’ve already made connections to the Rivers Institute in some of my classes including Environmental Geology and my Engineering Ethics class. In our first reading for the Engineering Ethics class we’ve already started talking about rivers in relation to the design process. How the language of the design process flows and drifts just as a river changes courses over time.

While spending a lovely few weeks at home in New York I found out Buffalo, like Cincinnati, has a combined sewer system. It’s crazy how many connections we can make between cities and see how rivers really do connect us all. Over break I was also able to spend a day touring Cincinnati with some friends and even exploring the beautiful river front development:

River Love of course,
Abigail Spohn
Mechanical Engineering

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where it is still warm: the Bahamian Islands

Hello River Friends!

I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the Bahamas during my winter break. Around so much water it was hard not to think about, well, water!  It is not new news that people everywhere depend on water (whether they know it or not), but in some places people depend on water much more than others.  On a small island in the Bahamas water both destroys and provides growth.  A reef on the coast at the island I was staying at was destroyed, not because of humans, but because a hurricane deposited sand into the reef.  On another part of the coast a hurricane took away the white sand that made up the whole beach.  For me, this was a reminder that it isn't just humans that may destroy wildlife habitat.  Although, this does not mean that humans can’t still help care for places so unaffected by humans like the Bahamian Island of Man-O-Way Cay. 

On the white sand beach and very blue water of the Bahamas a beach cleanup was organized by some local Bahamians.  Naturally, after seeing some posters (meant for locals) I decided that it was an excellent idea to crash the beach cleanup.  

Cleanup crew in the distance

Help was needed to remove this heavy rope!

Evidence of the amount of garbage collected

Obviously the view was awful (I am kidding, it's gorgeous!)

It was really great to work alongside people that care about where they live and that it stays beautiful, and refreshing to interact with people that really work with the environment that they live in.  

Thankfully, there are river stewards and ocean stewards elsewhere in the world, and if I ever see another poster to help do a cleanup while traveling I would definitely try to participate again!

River Love,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Beyond the Mini Course

Take a look at this picture. (I know, it's just a black rectangle. just humor me for a few seconds). Also plug your ears. Well go on, do it.

Buried deep within Flyer folklore, probably in an ancient papyrus scroll or a dusty leather-bound book somewhere in the Roesch Library stacks, exists a tale of great adventure passed down from upper classmen to lower classmen through the ages. It tells of a magical cave of wonder (definitely not a dirty storm sewer) that sleeps under the very foundation of the UD campus, and stretches from beyond Stuart Hall all the way to the Great Miami. It's walls are crowded with detailed prehistoric cave carvings (definately not half-assed graffiti), but when the lights go out, the picture above is all you see. The blackness is thick, and it is eerily quiet save for the echoing trickle of water passing beneath your feet. You wave your hand in front of your face, and your eyes open wide as you ask them to see something. Anything.

...No good. it's too dark, and you and your group are forced to re-light the torches (definately not LED headlamps)  and trek onward for over a mile of  soggy subterranean creepiness. As you walk, you can't help but think of the basements of buildings that you pass under, the tree roots in the dirt far above that branch down towards you like chandeliers, the people on the surface whose feet might be directly over your head, and how they have no idea you're even there.

A faint blue glow lights the path just ahead, and as you round the last turn you kill the lights. Nearly a full hour of darkness opens up into a brilliantly bright moon above, and a shimmering river below. Fresh air. Tall river grass. A hunger for exploration heartily satisfied. Friendships strengthened. Memories forever made. This is what awaits any adventurer bold enough to make the dark journey for themselves.

...Or at least that's how the stories go. You'll have to choose who to believe. Many adventurers (definately not an undisclosed selection of River Stewards and myself) have many stories. And not just stories of this particular adventure. There are so many caves, streams, trails, crawls and climbs to be discovered all around the Dayton area. And some people (definately not myself) are so grateful to have such a solid group of friends (definately not the 2016 River Stewards cohort) who are always ready to brave the next adventure.

Here's to the next five semesters we'll share, and the countless adventures that await.

River love all around,

Matt Lickenbrock
2016 Cohort

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CNN Hero of the Year is a River Steward through and through!

For a little inspiration and river love, check out this story about CNN Hero of the Year...

Rivers' garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year