The Social and Health Inequities between Water, Sanitation, and People

Entire Collage

As part of my History and Theory course, we were tasked to create a visual project based on what we chose to focus on at the beginning of the semester. After toiling with many ideas, I decided I wanted to make a collage of photos pasted on canvas portraits that I had lying around for almost a year. Below I included the books and websites I used to find my pictures- there’s even an entire digital format with all photographs of the book How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis! If you hadn’t read it or at least looked at some of the photographs, do so- you’ll be able to see social mindfulness and visual ethnography at its beginnings and documentation of what it was really like to live during the industrialized period. Two other great books to learn about sanitation and clean water history and cultural implications of dirt history are Filth: Dirt, Disgust, And Modern Life and The Sanitary City.

My intention was to show a contrast of present times with the historical beginnings of sanitation methods involving water and clean cities, along with how human interactions with each other and their environments are dependent on the level of sanitation and access to clean water. The contrast of present day color photos with black and white photos from the past are selectively pieced so that black and white historical photos are in the background, though still always present in today’s times of color photos. Many of the photos show humans reliance on water and sanitation for many purposes, such as for drinking, sewer and waste removal, employment, cleanliness, and enjoyment. We see that humans’ struggles, resilience and forms of success through ingenuity with cleaning water and cities is an issue that is present over time, though manifests and changes according to trends and locations around the world and is often done with the aid of planners. Ultimately, lack of clean water and sanitation is a social inequity that leads to health decline in the environments and its people throughout history, and we see that this dynamic though may seem resolved, still needs much work to be done today in order to reach global, social and health equality.

*If you would like more information about where I got my photos from, and what sources I use, please ask. Also, this looked much better when it was hung up on the wall as part of the gallery walk through, but I forgot to take a picture…Each canvas has its own photo as well as the collective piece in one photo.


Top Left Corner20141209_231746

Bottom Left Corner20141209_231723

Bibliography of Pictures

Cohen, W. (2005). Filth: Dirt Disgust and Modern Life. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

How The Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis. (2012, July 12). Retrieved November 5, 2014, from

Hoy, S. (1995). Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kostigen, T. (2008, July 10). The World’s Largest Dump: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from

Melosi, M. (2008). The Sanitary City (Abridged ed.). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Parker, L. (2014, July 15). First of Its Kind Map Reveals Extent of Ocean Plastic. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from


Class experiment- What comes to mind when we think of a planner?

What Does A Planner Do Wordle

What does a Planner do? Last week I gave a presentation (next blog post) and at the beginning I was curious of what my other classmates, future planners, think honestly of what a planner is or what they actually do. I thought it would be great to see it in a collage form in real time, so I decided to use Despite some technological challenges, I now have the Wordle and have had some time to soak in what ideas and words came to people’s minds when asked to only give one word. I wonder how the results would have differed if I increased more words, or allowed the students to write sentences. What would happen if I filled a room with non-planners, like community members and stakeholders, and asked them the same question- how would their word answers differ?

When I look at this word collage, I see words that could be synonymous with each other such as: mediates, facilitates, liaison, and organize. Though all of these words have their own unique meaning, I see how they all work together especially in the role of the planner. A liaison often interacts with the public and private institutions to organize and facilitate events and people to come together. A planner also mediates between stakeholders and community members, as well as between public and private organizations- or even within them!

Words like complexity, integrate, and multidisciplinary encompass the everyday planner because so many tasks are given to us in hopes that we can make sense of all of the pieces and put them (or most of them) neatly together in a nicely presentable plan. Planners are having to listen to a myriad of ideas from all backgrounds, and often try to incorporate them into a crafted plan, especially if public participation is prioritized as part of the planning process. A surprising word, choreography, though striking at first, reminds me of Jane Jacob’s street performance and ballet of the sidewalk. Planners must remember the unique interactions that occur in their own niches and locations, and how there is no “cure-all” plan that can be adapted to any city or neighborhood. Each plan needs to remember the individual dances and social interactions that occur, and how they come together to present a beautiful collective ballet. Here is a great site of her many famous quotes for reference!

Equity stands out to me personally because I believe that many planners throughout history have advised groups not for the benefit of the whole, but of the planner’s individual interests and benefit. So many initiatives and plans have been proposed but often failed because they did not consider the people they would impact and the people that were in charge of implementing the plan. Often planners forget just who they are planning for, and for what? The context of the situations and justices (or injustices) at play must be considered, especially when people are entrusting you with advising their decisions for a better present and future. Though we do not always succeed in this, planners should strive to be fair, listen to all sides, and make judgement calls or plans with equity as the foundation.

So readers, what do you think a planner does? Give me anything that comes to mind! And then feel free to comment on what should a planner do? I think this is a very insightful conversation that needs to be had more often, especially to bridge the gap between the people of the public and the planner.