With a huge nudge from Adria Richards, I submitted a proposal to the Panelpicker for the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive Festival. You can read all you want about what the Panelpicker is, exactly. The short version is that the general public gets to submit ideas which are vetted by SXSW staff, whittled down, and then turned back over to the public for voting. Panelpicker votes, however, are only worth 30% in the selection process. The remainder comes from SXSW Interactive staff (30%) and an advisory board (40%).
So I made it over hurdle #1 (submitting something in the first place) and hurdle #2 (making it into the Panelpicker). My panel proposal is entitled How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event:
As in, find places to fill your personal water bottle with water, thereby avoiding the consumption of bottled water. At TapItWater.com you can search in your location to find places where you can fill up on tap water for free. There’s not a whole lot of inventory, there yet. For instance, there are only a handful of states listed. Minnesota is one, but from there you can only search Minneapolis, and there are only two results: The Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis (completely unsurprising) and the Butter Bakery Cafe in Saint Paul. Though it doesn’t and probably won’t list them, I would imagine you can refill your bottle with water at any fast food joint with a soda fountain. I get the sense – though I could be projecting – that cafes that provide a big water cooler jug for you aren’t thrilled when you drain their bottle into yours.
I try to do this as much as possible. Or I like to think I do. But I probably don’t. The barriers I’ve experienced are:
Forgetting to take a bottle with me. I need to learn to just keep a bottle in my bag, even if I don’t remember to fill it before I leave the house.
Paralysis over choosing a big bottle vs a little one. I have a choice of 2-cup, 3-cup, or 4-cup bottle. It’s way more convenient to carry a smaller bottle, but if I know I’m gonna be out for a while and am not sure where I can refill it, I’d rather take the big one. Except that the big bottle is annoying to carry around.
Fear, probably unfounded, about taking freely available water. Such as at the aforementioned soda fountains and water cooler jugs. I don’t know if that comes from my thinking a restaurant is going to accuse me of stealing pop (a problem I’ve never had with all the water cups I’ve asked for) or taking more than my fair share or what.
Concern over lack of access to facilities should I obtain, consume, and thus need to eliminate all this water. If I think I can’t find a bathroom, I won’t drink the water. But water’s good for you, and urgency breeds ingenuity. Probably better to drink up and deal with that problem if/when it arises.
Some of these may seem trivial, but I really do let little shit like this keep me from making the best choice. But – above and beyond the bottled water and related energy consumption/waste production issue – a year of practicing bikram yoga has really helped me see how much different and better I feel when well hydrated. So that’s another really good reason for me to keep a water bottle handy. And to use it.
Read the official resignation letter (embedded below, posted at Pam’s House Blend, provided by Outserve). You really must read the whole thing. This kid is amazingly mature and accomplished at 22 years old. Exactly the kind of person you’d want as a military officer. I think she might do more good as a civilian, though.