Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Like Blood from our Veins:" Perspectives on water in post-communist Poland. October 20, 2009.

Dr. Sharon Moran, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, briefly discussed Poland's rich history, highlights of two of her projects, and invited participants to sample meats, bread and sweets representative of the country's cuisine.
Poland's transition to a market economy and a democratic government, creative/energetic/idealistic leaders in 1999, coupled with a main watershed covering 53% of the country and most of its industrial center, and that it was the last unregulated in Europe made the country very open for Sharon Moran's doctoral research.  The country's location between Germany and Russia also means that the borders have shifted a lot over the years.  Despite this, there is a great sense of national pride--especially for the communal opposition of Nazi occupiers.  Reconstruction in Warsaw used authentic building techniques so that new building are almost indistinguishable from the originals.  New signs now mark the site of the Warsaw ghetto that housed Polish Jews during that time.
Municipal Waste Management during the Early Part of the transition from a welfaristic to a neoliberal orientation.  She found great variation in the incentives to improve water across the country:  better quality for profit, a brewer subsidizing projects, commercial interests.
Local perception of drinking water:  Warsaw has cheap filtered tap water, commercial bottled water is available but not frequently purchased.  It also has >100 deep wells throughout the cite fed by a common aquifer, drilled by the government in late 50s in  so that good quality drinking water would be available should bombing resume.  Workers would bottle their own and bring this great tasting water home.  Many of the wellhouses are open 24/7.  Wells are tested periodically, and local variations due affect quality and individual wells may be closed temporarily.She expected that this practice developed because it was cheaper than commercial bottled water.  Instead, she heard that the water tastes wonderful, and that its safe (respondents would know if it were otherwise, and "they" would close).  Further, most of the interviewees were unaware that the filtered river water from their taps was actually still contaminated. 
Lunchtime Learning Seminars are offered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

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