Last week, I had a great Skype session with a new friend/colleague in Education City in Doha, Qatar, Chris Silva. He is the Sustainability Coordinator for the Residence Halls there - a new position - and he gets to do all kinds of cool projects to teach and learn about sustainability. So great to have first hand commentary and comparison of what important things are happening around the world to take better care of our planet!
Weeks ago when we met at the LeaderShape Retreat in Chicago, Chris told me about some exciting initiatives he is promoting to change perceptions and behavior around water and local food - in particular to change the perception that "nothing grow in Qatar because it's too hot". Look at all that grows there:
Egg plant; zucchini; Chili peppers; tomatoes; gourds; cabbages; bell peppers; cauliflower; lettuce; corn; broccoli; green beans; carrots; different types of herbs; green onions and mint. (thanks for this Chris!) Nice list, huh?
This last chat, Chris shared some of his ideas for implementing a campaign to educate staff and students about the safety of drinking tap water in Qatar. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of plastic bottles going into their landfills -I share that goal! Apparently the tap water in Qatar is quite safe and in fact is above the standards of the World Health Organization. In spite of that fact, just like many places in the US, the perception is that tap water is not as good (safe) as bottled water... I am sure the whole scenario is much more complex than this and that changing perceptions actually requires a culture shift not mere behavioral changes.
By the way...this info from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN:
Qatar is a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf covering an area of approximately 11,000 km2 including a number of small offshore islands. It's maximum length is about 180km along the north-south axis, while the east-west width is 85 km at its widest point. It is bounded by the Persian Gulf on all sides except in the south where it touches the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Check the map :)
The movement toward more sustainable living is international...turns out, it is a small world after all...
More to come - have a Nothing New Day! Kristin