When I first met Carol McCreary last year ("Tour de Porcelain"
, May 17, 2006) she was Portland's foremost toilet activist, working tirelessly as the head of PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Healthy) to improve Portland's public loos. It seems the toilet gods have smiled on the efforts of this local proselytizer: Carol's going international now.
Yesterday she jetted off to Delhi, India, on an all-expenses-paid visit as the U.S. representative to the World Toilet Summit
, one of the world's biggest (only?) international restroom symposium. (This year's theme: “Toilets for all.”) There, Carol will "join the world's leading authorities as they probe and analyze the changes in the Toilet and Sanitation Sectors," according to the Summit's colorful brochure. The Summit goes from Oct. 31 - Nov. 1.
“I'm really excited about talking to other people,” Carol told me last week. “The issue of sanitation is really on the radar.”
Aside from networking, Carol's main task at the summit will be presenting and promoting the American Restroom Association's
“Call to Action,” challenging the US Department of Health and Human Services to help guarantee access to restrooms in public places.
According to an ARA press release, “the agency… has failed to recognize the threat to public health if restrooms are not available.” First among these threats, says Carol, is the spread of disease. Carol hopes that presenting at the WTS will draw attention at the international level to the importance of public restrooms. “We're running after press attention,” Carol said.
On the home front, Carol and PHLUSH
are still working with Tom Potter toward their ultimate goal of opening a multi-purpose “comfort station” somewhere in Old Town. Here's hoping that her newfound international clout can bring to the process the kind of pressing urgency process familiar to everyone, everywhere, when they really need to take a piss.
P.S. Stay tuned for a report from Carol when she gets back.