Talkin’ Shit in Switzerland

The Cloacina Project is in Switzerland till July 9th to participate in the first ever Cewas Start Up Programme in Willisau, Switzerland. The start up program brings together 12 young professionals from around the world for a year with several sessions in Switzerland, on session in India and yearlong mentorship from some of the world’s experts in sustainable sanitation and water approaches. Cewas is the first program to focus on incubating sustainable water and sanitation businesses and we are thrilled to be part of it.

Last week Mat and I got to talk shit with Thilo Panzerbieter of the German Toilet Organization. Thilo is a civil engineer who was working on installing ecological sanitation systems in the Zambia when he decided to focus his attention on advocating for sanitation work in his home country. Thilo’s two advocacy campaigns are on the cutting edge of awareness raising for sanitation. While I hadn’t heard of either campaigns before his presentation I was familiar with phrases that came out of the campaign like “sanitation as dignity.” This gets to two points: while I hadn’t seen any of his campaigns (the first of which was staged in 2006 in Germany and is now on a rotating tour around the globe) I had felt the impact of that work through my sanitation activists friends at PHLUSH.

What’s interesting about Thilo is he uses the taboo of sanitation as a strength for communicating the importance of the sanitation crisis. He took lessons from the HIV/AIDS campaigns of the late 90s that focused on mainstream media, rock concerts, movies and the energy of youth culture to spark a change in attitudes towards discussing something as taboo as sex. His focus has been on clear and simple messages backed by facts. His current show: ‘Voices for Sanitation’ and ‘Where Would You Hide’ are currently on tour around the world.

His current project, “Toilitised World” is a participatory approach to address sanitation in local schools in Berlin. It’s kind of like Community Led Total Sanitation, only for 13-16 year olds in Berlin who have access to flush toilets, but the bathrooms are still a mess. He facilitates a conversation among teachers, principals and students to discuss the sanitation situation in the schools to initiate positive change. He uses this discussion as an entry point to discuss sanitation situations for kids in developing countries. I was inspired to see someone introducing the true participatory processes to youngsters. For more on what is and isn’t participation check out our previous post on Colin Ward’s work.

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Emergency Sanitation Workshop This Saturday

We'll be doing a 45 minute workshop on Saturday June 2nd @ 2pm at King Elementary School as part of Resilience PDX.org
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