Every day, I meet Americans -- of all backgrounds and political views -- who love this country, who want to see their neighbors succeed, and ask themselves, 'What can I do to solve problems and serve my community?'
That is the American spirit, and it will be on full display this Saturday, July 16th, as part of Green The Block, a national campaign created by Green For All and the Hip-Hop Caucus to get communities involved in the green movement.In dozens of cities across the country, people are gathering together to address an urgent issue - America's water crisis. Studies have found that two-thirds of states will soon face water shortages. 20 million Americans get sick every year from drinking contaminated water due to untreated waste. And 250,000 water mains break annually because of crumbling infrastructure, wasting 1.7 trillion gallons of water a year.
These are serious problems. Yet, you hardly hear about them. That's why people at the grassroots level are stepping up to take action.
In Denver, organizers are creating an educational initiative to inform and organize so that entire communities can get involved in the effort to clean their water. In Los Angeles, La Causa is hosting a community event to show others the benefits of a new drip system and rain water catchment at a local elementary school. And, in Albuquerque, speakers will use art, dance and workshops to raise awareness and engage others.
In every city, you see ordinary people with an extraordinary commitment to solving problems. And, the fact is that we need them more than ever because, right now, government isn't doing enough to support environmental efforts. Case in point: once again, the Environmental Protection Agency is under attack.
Recently, the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed a bill that would cut the EPA's Fiscal Year 2012 budget by $1.5 billion dollars, or 18%. The largest cut -- nearly $1 billion -- would come from the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which helps to finance water and wastewater infrastructure improvements throughout the nation.
It simply doesn't make sense. Little is more vital to the growth and future of our country than clean water. And, investments in our water infrastructure create jobs and boost the economy. They are beneficial to both our economic and environmental future -- but our government by and for the people doesn't seem to care. That's why it's up to us -- the people -- to get active and make them care.
America is a diverse country; we have different perspectives, backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. Yet, during times of crisis, we are able to come together and work towards common goals. We expect our national leaders to do the same, to put aside their political alliances and work in partnership on common sense issues like clean water.
Yet, they can't seem to do it which is why, on Saturday, as part of Green The Block, we will do it and send a powerful message to government leaders: Don't mess with our water. I encourage you to check out the Green The Block site, find an event near you and get involved.
Everywhere I look, people are doing incredible things. I have met countless Americans who are selfless and committed to service. As long as that American spirit is alive and well, I will always be optimistic about the future of this country -- no matter what happens in Washington.