Our entrepreneurship professors (Paul Hudnut, JimPoss, Gifford Pinchot) have a term for describing launching an enterprise. They use the term “jumping in the pool.” As we look back at our original idea of providing low cost water filters to underserved populations and then having a long term mission of more community based water solutions, we are now focused on our long term mission. After meeting with our initial target communities we have now flipped our priorities from water filters to implementing a natural sewage treatment wetland modeled after the system in place in Arcata CA (marsh 1, marsh 2).
Before coming to Oaxaca, we knew we needed to listen to our partners, to our customers (communities), and to be flexible and open, so that we could provide solutions to their most pressing needs. We were told that with most folks in Oaxaca we would have to talk around our ideas and not be direct. After our initial meeting with Maria of Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla (SD) we knew we were headed toward a solution to their sewage issue. Much to our amazement, as we introduced our ideas to Maria (SD) and Justino Guadalupe Etla (GE), they jumped on the idea almost instantly and wanted to know more about it. Thus, we went from idea stage to solution stage very quickly.
As we look back, we all agree that our original idea was sort of like taking the first step in the shallow end of the pool. With the project we have now taken on, it feels more like we have jumped in the ocean. And, it feels GREAT. We say this because in just a few short weeks we have developed partnerships, relationships and commitments from the local communities, state & federal agencies, the university and our partner NGO: INSO. In building these commitments and partnerships, we have committed ourselves to follow though and put the money where our mouths have been.
Putting the money where our mouth is will be challenging, but we know we have a powerful public health story to tell, as well as, a fully sustainable solution.
We are now in our ocean adventure. The water is warm and GREAT. We know we have many challenging times ahead, but are ready for the adventure.