Jaden Smith and the Church Solve Flint’s Water Problem
While much of American is obsessed with the White House and the goings-on of various celebrities, one well-known millennial has turned his attention to solving America’s problems.
Jaden Smith has teamed up with Drew FitzGerald of Just Goods and ReThink H2O to form 501CThree, a non-profit coalition of engineers and activists whose focus is the deployment of technological solutions around energy, food and water impact. And the team is actually fulfilling a great need: by providing Flint, MI with clean water. Yes. That Flint.
After more than 2 decades of governmental neglect and 5 years without clean water, the people of Flint still survive. But, although the residents still need help, Flint isn’t in the news as it once was, and the amount of donated water the City receives has plummeted. The State of Michigan has also ended the city’s free water program as well.
“People around the world,” said Jaden Smith, “think that the problem in Flint got solved…that’s just not true.” And to add insult to injury: Flint residents are still required to pay for the polluted, contaminated water which is pumped into their homes. The task of obtaining clean water – a right of every American – rests solely on the residents of Flint: until now.
First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church: “They’re Superheroes”
Pastor Ezra Tillman of First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church recognizes that the church has always been the place at the heart of any community which supplies resources to people in need. “Love is rooted in God’s character,” Pastor Tillman preached at a recent Sunday service. “When you display that type of love [for the people of a community], God calls it justice.”
First Missionary answered God’s call by giving out water almost daily to community residents in need. Donations which required 5 days a week to distribute have now dwindled to 3 because of the decrease in national water donations to Flint. Many who stood in line for hours had to be turned away.
Enter The Water Box
Enter Jaden Smith, Drew FitzGerald, and Waterbox. The Water Box is a portable filtration system which delivers clean drinking water at the rate of 10 Gallons per Minute. It’s the result of collaboration between the church and several community groups and nonprofits.
Drew FitzGerald, who has also teamed up with Jaden Smith, his dad, Will Smith, and many others to form the Just Water company, works around the world helping places which suffer from distressed water crises. “The goal of 501CThree,” says Fitzgerald, “is to engineer a solution specifically tailored around the churches’ current needs and capabilities,” with a focus on sustainability. They reached out to First Trinity not to find out what they can do for them, but, as First Lady Catrina Tillman expressed, “what we can do together.”
With the Waterbox, Flint residents can quickly fill up jugs of all sizes, and the church maintains its own water testing measures. Now, they not only survive: but with this new collaboration, they can also thrive.
Said Smith, “[First Trinity] has been here for the community when it really needs it: they’re superheroes…This is the most powerful thing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.” Said First Lady Catrina Tillman, “It’s a glimpse at what hope looks like.”
Watch the short film about the Water Box Project below: