Tina K. Russell

January 2, 2009

You might say it’s potable water

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:09 pm

Each year, The New York Times Magazine does a beautiful obituary issue on people who’ve passed on this year that you may or may not have heard of, but all have amazing stories. Here’s one:

Ron Rivera – b. 1948 – Solution in a Pot – NYTimes.com
Early on, Ron Rivera was a left-leaning, power-to-the-people sort of young man, full of vague ideas about social justice and eradicating poverty. Fresh out of college in Puerto Rico, he joined the Peace Corps and spent six years moving between the poorest parts of Ecuador and Panama, engaged in noble but sometimes futile-seeming community-development work. But then, during a stay in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1972, he met an older male potter who took him in as an apprentice. And as if by magic, the vagueness and futility dissipated, replaced by possibility. Why? Because Ron Rivera was now a left-leaning, power-to-the-people potter.

The man goes on to teach high-class craftsmanship and marketing techniques to rural potters in the developing world, and finally to invent a clay water filter that anyone can make, with the potential to save millions of lives. As I do whenever I find someone who upends conventional wisdom and saves untold lives in the process, combining realism and idealism into an unstoppable force for absolute good, I wrote a limerick. Enjoy.

Ron Rivera was anguished one day
“How can I fight disease?” he did say
The answer was watery
So he took up pottery
And where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.

UPDATE: I can’t help myself. Here’s another.

Ron saw the world was off kilter
When so many got water unfiltered
He spun a solution
For disease’s dilution
And thousands say proudly, “Ron built ’er.”


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