The Macro : The Detroit Water Project has helped more than 950 families keep access to running water since it was founded just 16 months ago. Can you take us back to the beginning? How did this start?
Tiffani Ashley Bell : Last summer in 2014, I was a Code for America fellow, working on software with the City of Atlanta. With government stuff, when you’re working on projects at that level, there is often a lot of downtime as you wait for things to go through.
Before I get up in the morning, I usually scroll through Twitter on my phone. One morning in July of last year I read an article in the Atlantic about how there were 100,000 people in Detroit who were about to have their water shut off for owing money to the water company. The article said that something like 50 percent of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s customers were behind on their bills. If you were $150 behind for at least 2 months, you were eligible for shut off.
This story really bothered me. It just really bothered me. This was a city-run water company having this issue. I thought it was shady that this was the city’s solution. How is turning off a household’s access to clean water helping people who are already hurting, who are already behind on their bills?
Madison’s government schools have long tolerated disastrous reading results.