“Walk for Water”


Photo courtesy of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement Facebook page

The Walk for Water brought people from the Decorah and Luther communities together to raise money for Water to Thrive.

Alanna Espinoza, Staff Writer

On Thursday, May 2, a 3-mile walk called “Walk for Water” occurred to fundraise for the Water to Thrive campaign, an organization that strives to build wells and bring access to clean water to those in parts of rural African countries that otherwise might not have that access. The Center for Sustainable Communities, Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, and Decorah Middle School teamed up to host the event.

The event was initially established last year by Zachary Fromm, a seventh grade geography teacher at Decorah Middle School. This year’s event was part of Luther’s first-ever Climate Justice Week, a week that the CSC organized in order to raise awareness of climate change issues around the world.

The walk started from the Olin parking lot and went to the Upper Iowa River near the bridge on College Drive. Students from Luther, the middle school, and members of the Decorah community carried buckets through the town to the river to collect water, to simulate the efforts necessary for people in many countries to collect safe drinking water. Funds raised will go toward the effort to dig a well in a town in Tanzania.

“Water to Thrive transforms lives in rural Africa by bringing the sustainable blessing of clean, safe water to communities in need by connecting them to social investors, congregations, schools, individuals, and community groups with a heart to make a difference,” the Water to Thrive website says.

According to Sustainability Coordinator Toby Cain, the water shortage is urgent, even in places that are not yet affected.

“We have a very limited amount of potable water on Earth and I think that, in the upper Midwest we have a glut of water,” Cain said. “We can see that the climate change is causing droughts in some places and floods in others, and it was really fascinating to me to contrast the flooding that was happening in Iowa this spring with the drought that’s happening in Tanzania so we are kind of connecting through Water to Thrive to both ends of climate extremes.”

Photo courtesy of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement Facebook page
Walk for Water participants stop by the Upper Iowa river to collect buckets of water to carry during the walk.

When planning the Climate Justice Week at Luther, the CSC noticed that the middle school’s Walk For Water event was scheduled during Luther’s Climate Justice Week. With the help of the CEPE, the Luther community was able to join the event.

Sustainability Educator in the CSC Piper Wood (‘21) helped organize the joint effort.

“It [was] a really good opportunity for the two schools to collaborate and get to better know one another and work together for a really great cause of bringing awareness to water scarcity in the world,” Wood said.

Upon hearing that Luther was going to join the middle school’s Walk For Water event, the Water to Thrive campaign turned the fundraising event into an ongoing competition between Wartburg College and Luther to see who could raise the most funds from their events.

Cain hopes that the Luther students who participated understand the impact they can have to inspire the Decorah community to continue to create change.

“I hope that [the Luther students who participated in the walk] know that they have a lot of power to engage in the Decorah community,” Cain said. “There is a voice for them within the community. There is space for them and if they want to interact with a community larger than the one here at Luther, then Decorah is open for them. I hope that they can see themselves as role models for younger people in this community.”

Sustainability Educator in the CSC Logan Olson (‘22) was inspired and encouraged by the enthusiasm he saw during the walk.

“I was really inspired by the hundreds of middle school students who were so excited to get involved with their global community as they learned how our changing climate disproportionately affects people living in regions with a lower standard of living,” Olson said. “While the effects of the changing climate are not seen to a large degree in Decorah right now, students were able to learn that our actions are still affecting people around the globe. Their fundraising efforts for the Water to Thrive campaign showed them that we all have the ability to make a difference and help those who do not have their basic need for clean water met.”

Participants of the Walk For Water event look forward to raising more awareness for issues related to climate change and giving back to both the Decorah and worldwide communities.

Wood believes it is important to increase knowledge and awareness about our impact on the world.

“There’s so much beauty in this world and so many beautiful people that inhabit this place,” Wood said. “It’s something that I want to protect, I want to save, and I want to empower other people to do the same.”

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