MEET Kris: fantastic bartender, clean water enthusiast and nonprofit founder
Kristopher Eby has traveled the world, from Peru to Indonesia and has come to one conclusion: the world needs a better clean water strategy. And he is going create it. His Project Water organization is exploring local and international efforts to provide clean water and water education, aiming to become a leader in the field. The FEED sat down with this bartender-by-night, water-guru-by-day guy to learn more about this project.
Tell us about your organization:
Project Water is an organization founded out of the desire to fight poverty at its root sources. For me through my experience of traveling, living and working abroad I found that inadequate access to safe water and sanitation is a root cause of keeping people in poverty- unable to move forward- whether in education, heath or whatever. Water is where I want to work, its where I feel that I can make a change in this global crisis of poverty and inadequate allocation of resources.
How did it get started?
In 2005 I lived in Sumatra, Indonesia, my first experience living in ‘developing country’, if that is what you want to call it. Through experience I realized that water was one of the main issues keeping people in poverty. I came back to the states and went back to school, trying to figure out how to accomplish the skills I knew I needed. I put together a dual major in Anthropology and Geology/Hydrology. About halfway through my college degrees, I had the idea to start nonprofit focused on water and health-related education. Looked at various organizations already doing this and I saw a gap. I saw things they weren’t doing, things that I could do.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
You name it and I am running into it. It is sad to say, but when you get a bachelors degree, you get training in a certain field. You get very specific skills. The fact of matter the matter is, starting a business or nonprofit requires numerous skills that you might not have from that education. You are forced to acquire them. You are often times the only one running with the operation, and you must fill all the shoes.
What inspires you to do this kind of work?
Compassion. Excitement. People inspire me to be honest with you. People motivated to do something that isn’t centered on money or normal things we think jobs should be about. People motivated to give something back. I get motivated by people not willing to follow the rules to get what they want.
Is there a local community impact you are hoping to have?
It is well known that being in the nonprofit industry, your funding comes from people. You get some from big grants, but people primarily fund what you do. People believe in what you do. If you take money out of the economy for some greater cause, you still want to give something back to those people and their life. We feel strongly about our donors and educating them. Health, sanitation, global water problems- we hope to help the local community by educating people on the local and global aspects of these problems. In some ways we want to create a new way for organizations to interact with donors. Also we are open to anyone of any ethnicity or religion. We want to be open to anyone, because our community is diverse. We want to bring together diverse groups to learn as much about each other as they do global water issues.
What are some of the biggest issues facing Atlanta?
Atlanta has its fair share of water issues. The tristate water war has been around for 10 or 15 years. As a growing city, we use a lot of water here. There is a lot of opportunity here to teach people about water conservation, to conserve what little bit we have. I think water is a big issue for Atlanta.
Also, when you look at other wealthy, large, booming cities around the country- and we have young energetic wealthy people- despite this, we have a long way to go for activism. Atlanta’s young people have a chance to put ourselves on the map as a city that cares about global and local issues, using our energy for good. But we are not there yet.
Are you open to collaboration? Who are you working with?
Yes. We are trying to work with anyone and everyone. I just came back from working a few months in Peru with Pisco Sin Fronteras. We are working with them on water issues. There are a few local water groups we are trying to work with. We really want to collaborate with schools and universities. We want to create an open space or forum for anyone who has ideas involving our mission, we want to provide you the space to make it happen.
What kind of help or assistance does your project need?
Everything! We are working to build our media team. We have a few folks working on building a website, but I want it to be a team. Having worked in the restaurant industry, I have seen how having a strong team- and a strong name like that of a great chef- can help build a name brand. We are looking for marketing people and also people with a lot of reach. Anyone who can help get our name out. In general, we just need people. We are an organization that is open to inviting everyone else in to build something great.
Do you have any favorite organizations in Atlanta?
There is a company called Safe Water Now, started out of Georgia Tech. They provide access to and education on ceramic filtration. The woman who founded it was also a pottery expert and she created a water filtration system from pottery. Its a great way to clean water for less than $30 a person.
I also recently learned about i2i USA from a professor friend of mine. They work in Brazil, providing education and skills to families living in the favelas.
How can our readers find you?
I work 4 to 5 nights at Woodfire Grill, a slow food restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road. You can find me behind the bar. You can also find me on our Facebook page or you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am open to all any conversations.
Random acts of compassion. And of course water.