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Category / Tag: Inspiration

no need to fear the future

Speech for the Youth Environmental Summit in Japan.

Written by Jack Rose . . . Delivered by Dennis Haysbert.


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The Crazy Ones – by Steve Jobs – one minute story


upside down umbrella

When people ask me what a rain catcher is, I answer, “An upside down umbrella”. For centuries, architecture and municipal planning leaders have always considered rainwater to be ‘an-enemy-of-the-people’ –  and design our cities and homes with one overriding purpose: to get rainwater away from all buildings as fast as possible. This one minute video from India turns that old paradigm of fear and ingratitude on it’s head.

A simple story: rainwater belongs to each of us – why don’t we collect and share it?

let it rain . . .

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small mountains

A World Bank/United Nations Development Program report called “Learning What Works” strongly criticized mega-projects and called for small technologies and community control of water.

People in the United States drink over 2.5 billion gallons of bottled water each year, an amount equal to a single days’ rainfall on the side of one mountain in Hawaii. California has the Sierra Nevada to catch & release fresh water each year for tens of millions of Californians. But, most people don’t have a big mountain in their backyard, so I began playing with the idea of small mountains.


Everywhere in the world, the resource and the need exist side by side. By placing small mountains (rain gutters & water tanks on houses & schools) in the path of the coming rainy season, thousands receive home delivery of the best water on the planet. Instead of one big mountain, the idea is to scatter thousands and thousands of little ones over an entire continent. All these small efforts add up to the same result: billions of gallons of life-giving water.


Simple rain catching systems are set up in a day by the people who will be harvesting the water. The cost is minimal. For a while, more rain will fall than we will be able to catch, but our goal is to catch enough in each region so that everyone can enjoy, year round, the simple pleasure of a clean glass of water.

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catching fire

 To fulfill its design a car needs fire, a boat, an airplane, a train, each needs fire to move through the world. When the car ceases to run and the airplane is decommissioned, the boat mothballed, it’s because the fire is gone. We call this death. Same goes for us, we die when our fire goes out. So, for as long as we’re here, we need fire to move through the world. When we catch fire there is unlimited energy, creativity and resources. Pierre Teilhard de Chadin said it this way :

“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the tides, and gravity we shall harness the energies of love. Then for a second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire”.

My “catching rain” presentations always begin and end with a conversation about the importance of “catching fire”. If we catch fire, water will be plentiful, new opportunities and possibilities will suddenly become obvious, and we will have the energy to implement new solutions to old problems.

Common Ground

RainCatcher East Africa Project
Sponsored by Carl Daikeler & Beachbody –
RainCatchers on 22 schools and 2,500 Sawyer clean-water filter systems
“There are many problems in the world that seem unsolvable, clean drinking water isn’t one of them.
Kenya & Uganda: 100% successful mission.
As we venture to the far edges of the earth, bringing goodwill and reverence for life, we are received like firemen at a burning building, except the fire is literally in the belly of innocent children. By the time we leave each school, bouncing down the red dirt roads of equatorial Africa, the fires caused by water-bourne diseases are well on their way to being extinguished.
The awful belly fire is something I know from experience. The pain is like a knife being thrust into your stomach. So, alongside the millions who die from drinking contaminated water, there are countless others who endure intense pain as a part of daily life. Everywhere we go we are greeted by people who know what we know: That securing a reliable source of safe drinking water is the #1 top priority. This shared knowledge is the common ground where our friendships begin and upon which our collaboration continues.
And so begins a journey of hope – with many turns and detours and setbacks. This is the road we have chosen to walk. Our stride is steady, we never stop. The people are amazing and happy . . . and free of the burdens their counterparts endure everyday in the first world.
It is we who receive fulfillment from those we travel far to serve.

Starfish & Pistol

The ongoing contributions of many friends and colleagues are making a huge difference in many lands, including: Haiti, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, India, Indonesia, Sumatra, Chile.

Here’s a painting at an Argentine UN Military base in Haiti.

Here’s a well known fable  – a story I use to describe our work:

‘It’s extreme low tide and tens of thousands of starfish are stranded on the beach. An eight year old girl is picking them up one at a time and tossing them back into the ocean. A jogger has stopped far down the beach and is carefully observing all this. Eventually he walks up to the girl and says with authority, “This is a noble effort little girl, but (pointing up and down the beach to thousands of dying starfish) it isn’t going to make a difference”. In silence the girl bends down, picks up a starfish, and throws it into the water, then replies, “It made a difference to that one”.

Here’s another way I describe our work: In the remote regions of the world where we bring our clean-water systems, the practice of fetching drinking water from traditional  sources is akin to playing Russian Roulette (A bullet is placed in one of six chambers –  the pistol is pointed at your own head – you pull the trigger and hope it isn’t your turn to die). When we go into an area and distribute simple bucket filters we are effectively removing that bullet from the gun. It makes sense that kids around the world shouldn’t have to play Russian Roulette every time they take a drink of water.

It costs $50 to bring clean drinking water to 100 people, anywhere in the world. jack@water4everyone.org

Dialogue — "Water for Everyone"

Water for Everyone –  dialogue between a boy and a girl, somewhere in the United States.

by Jack Rose

What if the only water we had to drink came out of the L.A. River?

Or Malibu Creek? or any creek?

What if we lived In Africa and had to walk for hours everyday just to bring water from muddy streams back to our house?

What if we got typhoid or cholera. . . or dysentery?

What if 5 million of us died this year from drinking bad water?

Every year!

What if someone decided this was unacceptable?

What if we started to catch the rain that fell on our school house?

And channeled it through gutters.

And stored it in giant water tanks?

It isn’t rocket science, is it?

But NASA wants billions of dollars to look for water on Mars.

And then during recess, instead of walking a mile or two down the canyon to get a drink from that funky stream. . .

We just opened the tap on the tank outside our classroom and took a big gulp of the best water we’ve ever tasted.

What if all the thirsty kids around the world could do this?

What if the $20 million spent on one military tank was used to buy 40 thousand water tanks?

Then all the thirsty kids around the world would have fresh rainwater to drink instead of the contaminated stuff.

What if we could make that happen?

We can. My friends and I are helping the Water 4 Everyone initiative right now.


It’s easy. The people there really want clean water to drink, but they don’t have the right rain catching tools.

Water tanks – rain gutters – filters. It’s just a matter of hardware.

Out job is to purchase supplies and help get rainwater harvesting systems set up.

And before you know it, an entire village is drinking the good stuff.

What if everyone could do this?

We’re working on that.

Our goal is ‘Water for Everyone’

I’ll drink to that.

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no need to fear the future – script

Children are confronted with a lot of concerns today that, frankly, I never had to deal with when I was a kid. Paul Simon wrote a song to comfort his daughter at bedtime. He sang: “I believe the light that shines on you will shine on you forever.” I believe the same thing – and my message to you today is this: The one resource we will never run out of is you – your imagination, your creativity, your wonder and hope.  Each new generation has specific challenges to face, but just remember this:

There are no unsolvable problems.

My father’s generation ate problems for breakfast. They built a road across the entire continent. When a giant canyon appeared in their path they did not whine or whimper – they invented a bridge. In every field of science and medicine and exploration, at the edge of every chasm, they built a bridge. This is your lineage . . . You will do the same. There is no limit to your imagination.
Many people will tell you there isn’t enough — that we’re running out, that things are getting worse, and the future will be less than today. This is not true.

Some people have forgotten that a problem is something to be solved, not feared. Have you heard the story about the truck that got stuck in a tunnel?. . . A big ‘ol truck was roaring towards New York City when it rammed into the Lincoln Tunnel at 70 miles per hour The truck was too tall and got very extremely stuck and the cars backed up for miles. You can imagine the traffic jam. The fire department showed up to help. Then the Army Corps of Engineers — along with many others. With cranes and saws and jackhammers all tried to get the truck unstuck from the tunnel. But to no avail. Finally, after several hours, an 8 year old girl walked up from the long line of cars and said,

“Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires?”

You are today – all kids all over the world — you are the brilliant ones who will say, “Why don’t you let the air out of the tires?” There are no unsolvable problems. Let me give an example: Every week we hear about the ‘World Water Shortage’ — yet alongside these stories we see photos of floods … What gives?

A friend of mine says, “If we catch the rain that creates the floods, there would be no water shortage, there would be more than enough for everyone. He’s always reminding me that “There isn’t a shortage of water given, just a shortage of water received.”
If every school caught the rain that fell on its roof, kids all around the world would have plenty of clean water to drink. It’s as simple as letting the air out of the tires.We are told there’s a shortage of water, but what we really have is an abundance . . . a flood. Enough water is freely given for all if we simply put a bucket under a rainstorm. And enough energy is freely given from the sun and the wind and the ocean and the earth.

You do not need to fear the future, you are the future.

And I see no limit to the creative ideas that will come to you in this lifetime. It is a great and exciting time to be alive and I believe “The light that shines on you today will shine on you forever.”  Let it rain . . . Life is good . . . So be it

* This is text of speech I wrote for the Youth Environmental Summit in Kobe, Japan, 2008. Dennis Haysbert delivered this keynote address. In gratitude, the Summit organizers donated funds to install rainwater harvesting systems on several schools in Western Kenya.