Month: June 2015

UC Santa Cruz students tackle human waste with public events

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OpenLab_Water Waste and Public Space
Graduate student Andrea Steves opens Thursday night’s panel discussion on water, waste and public space at the UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts Research Center. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
 That’s about 100 gallons of wastewater per person a day, from toilets, showers, washing machines and other domestic sources.

Capitola resident Brenda Livingstone joined the 5K on Saturday looking for exercise, and spent her morning following signs marked with arrows and cartoons of “smiling poop.”

She learned surprising statistics, such as toilets account for 27 percent household wastewater, the largest contributor.

Now she plans to change the way she showers and washes dishes, she said.

“All those little bits help,” said Livingstone.

Digital arts and new media graduate student Andrea Steves, the class’s co-leader, said she’s surprised that waste is not regularly part of discussion on the drought.

“A lot of the time it’s like, ‘Take shorter showers.’ But again, maybe it’s the ‘ick’ factor. People don’t want to talk about poop and people don’t want to talk about flushing the toilet,” Steves said.

Brooklyn, New York-based artist Shawn Shafner was one of four speakers Thursday. He founded the People’s Own Organic Power Project, an art and education sustainable sanitation program.

He began by tracing food’s route through intestines and sphincters, and asking the audience to call out synonyms for “the bodily function that dare not speak its name.”

The goal is to break the taboo, and encourage a shift from thinking of “poop” not as waste, but as a resource. We don’t have to disassociate from our “poop” and say “That’s not me,” said Shafner. “It may not be our prettiest part or our best-smelling part, but it is part of us,” he said.

More information about about the project see: http://www.fictilis.com/project/wastewater-walk