Out in the Open: A Playful Art Installation for World Toilet Day

Seeking to raise awareness about the plight of 2.5 billion people without access to clean, private toilets, my mobile shower and toilet service for the homeless, San Francisco-based nonprofit Lava Mae, is mounting a public art installation entitled C’mon Give a Sh_t!.

"Comfurt" by Ana Teresa Fernandez. Donations go to the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Seeking to raise awareness about the plight of 2.5 billion people without access to clean, private toilets, my mobile shower and toilet service for the homeless, San Francisco-based nonprofit Lava Mae, is mounting a public art installation entitled C’mon Give a Sh_t!.

I only recently learned about World Toilet Day and was inspired to invite artists Ana Fernandez, Sarah Ratchye, and Travis Somerville; and designers Maloos Anvarian, Jeff Shipley, and Monica Viarengo to respond to the campaign. Partnering with homeless organizations Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, Project Homeless Connect, San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of HOPE’s Homeless Fund, and youth organization At the Crossroads, we will open up bidding online for the decorated toilets on November 19, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sanitation is a basic human right. World Toilet Day was created to raise global awareness of the daily struggle for proper, dignified sanitation. This is an issue we don’t expect to find in the U.S., but the reality is that it’s a huge problem for many people experiencing homelessness in our country. C’mon Give a Sh_t! seeks to capture the attention of local San Franciscans, especially the thriving tech community ensconced in mid-Market where the installation will reside.

"Your Waste in Here" by Sarah Ratcheye. Donations go to Project Homeless Connect Toilet.

Saskia Castelein, Advocacy and Communication Officer at Water Supply and Sanitation Council and cofounder of World Toilet Day, asks, “Can you imagine not having a toilet? Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? This is a harsh reality for many; in fact, one in three people on this planet lack access to a toilet.”

Sanitary engineer and inventor of the first public toilet, "George Jennings" by Travis Somerville. Donations go to At the Crossroads.

The benefits of proper sanitation, good hygiene, and clean drinking water on health and well-being, educational attainment, and economic growth are increasingly gaining recognition by the international development community. It’s also an issue of dignity for the men, women, and children who make the streets of our cities and towns their home.

"This Toilet Ain't Baroque" by Maloos Anvarian. Donations go to Mission Neighborhood Resource Center.

Support World Toilet Day and consider participating in our online auction to contribute to the homeless community of San Francisco.

Julian Meehan

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Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

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