By Ashley Bowden
A celebration of sorts took place the evening of March 22 in the End Zone. The Coalition for Conservation club sponsored an event in recognition of World Water Day.
The event, hosted by club president, freshman geology and environmental sustainability major, Erica Ferrara, was an opportunity for students to learn to look at water from a different perspective. The event kicked off with a lively welcome from Ferrara and introduction of guest speaker Peter Maniscalco, a conservation activist. Ferrara presented a detailed PowerPoint containing facts about water and its necessity to human life. Afterwards, Maniscalco led the audience of about 30 students in a traditional water ceremony.
Ferrara’s presentation contained a variety of eye-opening statistics about how much water people use compared to how much is necessary to use. It also explained how people in other parts of the world are forced to deal with the near absence of this essential element which maintains life. “It’s actually very striking and a little sad that 3 billion people in the whole world don’t actually have access to clean water,” Ferrara said. “We never think about what clean water is to us.” Some people have to walk miles simply to fetch water to replenish their village’s supply. Nearly 40 percent of the water we waste on a regular basis results from something as seemingly insignificant as flushing the toilet. While showing a map illustrating how much of Long Island’s water supply is susceptible to contamination, Ferrara stated, “Water issues are not only global issues; they’re local ones as well.”
Ferrara explained how many cultures appreciate and respect water because of how it is such a vital part of our lives. Maniscalco then shared his own life experiences and the importance water holds to him. Being a conservation activist for over 40 years, Maniscalco has worked on numerous projects and accomplished many things in favor of the environment such as coordinating the “Stop Shoreham” campaign. He was part of “the only people in the world to stop a completed nuclear power plant from opening.” He also taught college students on Long Island about “spirituality of the environment” for seven years, showing them “a different part of themselves that is not taught in our collegiate system.”
After his lively recount of his life as an activist, he led the group in a water ceremony to close the night. Maniscalco briefly sang a song of appreciation to the pitcher of water on the table followed by Ferrara pouring each person a small cup, while Maniscalco instructed everyone to honor and give thanks to the water in a way they personally saw fit before drinking together.
The ceremony was intended to get participants to “think and feel in new ways,” Maniscalco said. Ferrara, who hopes to affect her community by finding solutions to environmental issues, is currently interning at a solar energy company.
Attendees enjoyed the Water Day celebration experience. Marianna Scalise, a Post alumna works for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a nonprofit organization in Farmingdale. “Our issue right now is about drinking water on Long Island, so that’s why it really impacted me,” she said. “I really loved him saying to love the water and respect it; a lot of people don’t really think that’s important anymore.”