How the Water Box is fostering community trust across Flint

How the Water Box is fostering community trust across Flint

The Latinx Technology and Community Center is the fourth location of the Water Box, a portable filtration system developed by Jaden Smith’s environmental nonprofit 501cThree.The Latinx Technology and Community Center is the fourth location of the Water Box, a portable filtration system developed by Jaden Smith’s environmental nonprofit 501cThree.Mike Naddeo | Flintside

FLINT, Michigan—At first glance, it looks like a blue box on wheels with a few buttons and a hose, but it's breaking barriers in communities hit deepest by the water crisis. It’s called the Water Box, a portable filtration system you’ll find in three Flint locations, with the fourth finding its home on the city’s east side at the Latinx Technology and Community Center.

Residents in this largely Latinx community are welcoming the Water Box with open arms as it removes the possibility of being turned away in distribution lines due to lack of identification and language barriers.

“I’m really excited about the residents having an option to standing in line for three hours to get bottled water,” said east-side resident and board member Mary Vizcarra at the town hall on Nov. 25. “For the Hispanic community, I’m also happy that those that don’t have identification will be able to go somewhere—a safe trusted place—and get water."

A Community Introduction

The Latinx Tech Center will join First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, and Metropolitan Tabernacle Baptist Church to adopt the filtration technology developed by celebrity Jaden Smith's environment nonprofit 501cThree.

The fourth Water Box had its first formal introduction during an evening community town hall A resident listens to a live audio translation of a presentation of the Water Box at a community town hall at the Latinx Community and Technology Center on Monday, Nov. 25.Nov. 25 at the Latinx Tech Center, an organization that fosters bilingualism through cross-cultural community programming.

Residents were encouraged to ask questions of the panel featuring Jaron Rothkop, head engineer of 501cThree, and the Rev. Ezra and First Lady Catrina Tillman of First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church.

It was imperative to reach vulnerable communities, especially those uninformed about best water practices due to linguistic barriers, said Lady Tillman. First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, a long-standing site of bottled water giveaways, has hosted The Water Box since March 2019 through their year-long partnership with Smith and 501cThree.

“In the beginning, you had to show an ID in order to get bottles of water,” said Tillman. “And that was just something we didn’t believe in. We didn’t think that people had to show an ID to get water especially regardless of your race, ethnicity, background…an animal needs water. We all need water.”

To date, First Trinity’s Water Box has replaced almost 112,000 single-use 16-ounce plastic water bottles, serving as an example of how putting water in the hands of the community is a necessary step forward. With the provided refillable 5-gallon jugs from 501cThree, residents have an alternative to growing plastic waste.

SOURCE ABOUT THE WATER BOX on FLINT SIDE