Don’t get me wrong. I support giving to the ALS Association or any charity. As a marketing person, I think the ice bucket challenge is sheer brilliance. And do I love seeing all you idiots dump ice water on yourselves. But it’s time to stop.
In my Instagram feed, a visually arresting photo. I stop scrolling.
It’s a black and white photo of a a woman filling a bucket from an outdoor spigot. The sort of scene you expect to accompany an article about poverty in the developing world. Or on a late-night, feed-the-hungry Sarah McLaughlin commercial. Only it’s not. It’s right here. In America.
The woman in the photo by Danny Wilcox Frazier for National Geographic (Instagram: natgeo) is filling a bucket at an abandoned house. She has been living without water for a month because her landlord has not paid the bill. She is one of more than 19,000 people who have had their water shut off by the city of Detroit. Shutoff without warning.
Detroit is bankrupt. Yes. It’s also a city where more than 40% of residents live in poverty.
The city’s controversial efforts to reduce bad debt have have left many elderly, disabled and working-poor Americans without clean water for drinking and bathing. The United Nations has warned this is a possible human rights violation.
Think for a moment about that woman filling a bucket at the abandoned house in Detroit. To date, the ALS ice bucket challenge has raised more than $100 million. How many buckets of water is that?
I’ve always thought that when given the opportunity, we should give to a charity that makes the greatest impact in the daily lives of those it seeks to help. And so I won’t do the ice bucket challenge. I won’t waste water when there are so many without it. I will take my bucket of icy water and give it to the people of Detroit in the form of a cash donation to the Detroit Water Brigade.