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"A Drop of Life" shown in the CUB Thursday
The film showing Indians in pursuit of fresh water was followed by a lecture by the director.
Published 4/20/2012
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Film maker and eco-activist Shalini Kantayya shows her film,Carly Engstrom/The Daily Evergreen

Water conservation is not only about saving water, but it is important in understanding one's lifestyle, said Shalini Kantayya, an international filmmaker and eco-activist.

“We live in a very fragile ecosystem and the decisions we make every day really matter,” Kantayya said.

Kantayya discussed global water shortages with the WSU community and showed her futuristic science fiction film “A Drop of Life: Inside the Mounting Water Crisis” in the CUB Auditorium Thursday evening.

The event started off with the film, which is set in India and presents the story of Indian families paying for water pumps in order to gain access to fresh water. Afterwards, Kantayya presented a slide show to the audience to show statistics and figures about current and future water concerns.

She said these problems are a kitchen table issue and affect everyone around the world. Droughts are even happening in the United States and there are no borders on this crisis, she said.

Being from Brooklyn, she said she is an unlikely environmentalist, but was inspired to act after seeing the disparities of culture between the U.S. and India.

At the 2009 United Nations Summit, the topic of water conservation was not discussed and she said the issue is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Water conservation is not only about saving water, but it is important in understanding one's lifestyle, she said.

After the presentation, she took questions from the audience, which included queries about the BP oil spill and current fracking practices in New York City that affect city water. 

Cameras streamed a live-feed of the event to the other WSU campuses in Tri-Cities, Spokane and Vancouver, where students also contributed questions and discussion.

Kelsey Kracher, president of the WSU Environmental Science Club, said having Kantayya at WSU will help bring attention to environmental issues around the globe. Not only will people gain the knowledge, but it will get people around Pullman thinking about these issues, she said.

The main emphasis of the event was expressing to everyone that by 2027, between one-half to two-thirds of the planet will have not drinking water, Kracher said.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Kantayya led a workshop with students on activism and film-making in the CUE. After Kracher attended the workshop, she said she saw a totally different spin on activism and the backgrounds of film-making.

“She is very charming and willing to listen to others,” Kracher said.

She said Kantayya is very encouraged by the students of WSU and would like them to go look at the possibilities within the environmental realm. Film students can also learn more from Kantayya, Kracher said.

Junior comparative ethnic studies major Justin Oba attended the event and said Kantayya’s view on water privatization was key and that her film presented an alternate view of reality many people do not know. 

“It is refreshing to see a woman of color be an activist and be inspiring to the youth,” Oba said.

Kantayya’s visit to WSU was primarily sponsored through the Environmental Science Club and Environmental Task Force, but also included contributions from various WSU colleges and departments.

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