According to Planet Pals (www.planetpals.com), 2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation. As I contemplate this, I have one question. Who decides these “International Year of” dates? Turns out, it’s just one of the UN’s many functions. The International Year events typically involve forums, workshops and advisory groups. But how can I—an often insufficiently hydrated person—get involved? Better yet, how can I get my fifth and sixth-grade students involved?
My curiosity leads me to research 2012’s International Year of Cooperatives, where I learn that a major sponsor was Rabobank. Ah, I think, you gotta have money; that leaves me out. But isn’t there some way I could’ve participated? I decide to check out the closing ceremony.
I get a feel for the year’s activities by watching a three-minute video, apparently the winner of the International Cooperatives Short Film Festival. There are pictures of people, presumably cooperating, along with a few statistics and some sleepy piano music. That’s nice, I think, but how did we do? I mean, did we meet our goal to “pursue both economic viability and social responsibility” or not? The answer is probably as elusive as it will be for this year’s International Year of Water Cooperation. After all, how do you measure cooperation?
I suspect the UN is just hoping to increase awareness, as opposed to making real strides in any of these areas. For instance, the first action they’ve taken for 2013’s water issue is a slogan contest. They’ve received a whopping 12,151 proposals, from 5,654 people in 180 countries. According to their website (www.unwater.org), the Selection Committee has “exceptionnally [sic] selected six slogans”—and unprecedented number—“because we received so many and six of them obtained close score” [sic again]. The English teacher in me winces at the errors. Then I remind myself that this is not about grammar or spelling; it’s about water. Let’s give the UN some slack here. Still, I would gladly volunteer to be on the Website Proofreading Committee.
Luckily, there is another way an individual can contribute. By voting for the best slogan. Here are the contenders:
- Water knows no borders. (Not terribly inspiring, but makes sense, coming from New Zealand, which is surrounded by water.)
- 2013 – Don’t let this chance to cooperate evaporate! (I’m a sucker for rhyme.)
- Hand in hand, drop by drop. (Catchy, visual.)
- Working together – WhATevER it Takes! (Kinda clunky, but I applaud the effort.)
- Water water everywhere, only if we share. (Here, I’d award bonus points for knowing the allusion to Coleridge.)
- Working Together for Water Today, for a Better Tomorrow (This one’s from the Philippines. Probably sounds better in Tagalog.)
Oops, I procrastinate so long, the deadline for voting passes. I turn my attention to other green holidays in 2013, looking for something besides the usual Earth Day (April 22) that my students can sink their teeth into.
- January 5, National Bird Day. (Wait. Is that Bald Eagle Day? Or a national day to recognize birds in general?)
- First week in February, Recyclemania. (Anything with the word “mania” is a winner with kids.)
- Last week of April, TV Turnoff Week. (Most of TV is a turnoff anyway.)
- May 31, World No Tobacco Day. (Great, but hardly suitable for school kids.)
- June 15, Global Wind Day. (While I’m a fan of wind power, I refuse to subject myself to the inevitable jokes.)
- First week of October, Junk Mail Awareness Week. (Oh I’m aware, trust me.)
- Late November, Buy Nothing Day. (What? Not even from local mom-and-pop shops?)
Hardly an inspiring list. Then it occurs to me, why not declare my own holidays?
The first one is a variation of Take Your Child to Work Day. I call it Take Your Parent on a Fee-Free Play Date. You choose an activity that’s fun and costs nothing, like making mudpies. Your kids will love it and so will you, even if your manicure is ruined.
My other ideas include: The Year of Picking Up Your Dog Poop, Turn Down the Bass on Your Blaring Car Stereo Day, and for the summer months, Really? You Have to Drive to Your Neighbor’s Backyard Barbecue Just Two Blocks Away?
I chastise myself for my cynicism, which is not good, especially around kids. Returning to Planet Pals, I find it. April 27th, Save the Frogs Day. I’m already ahead of the game. A family of frogs live in my empty, water-wise Jacuzzi.