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Tom Keating's notes from the aisle: Part four

November 04, 2010
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PHILADELPHIA — Advocacy was a watchword the last day of the three-fold convention of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), International Code Council (ICC) and World Toilet Summit (WTS). From 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., I attended panels on advocating for "potty parity," the availability of well-designed restrooms, federal involvement and U.S. and global youths.
Actually, the presentation times tell only part of the story. I have been on a "can''t to can''t" schedule — from when I can''t yet see the sun at a 7 a.m. boarding of the trolley and the L to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, to when I can’t see the sun coming home around 8 p.m. writing some thoughts and hitting the sack — tonight with a cold.
Advocacy, an often-used word, comes from the Latin ad — meaning to, toward, on behalf of — and vocare — to call, to speak on behalf of. Most of the presenters are members of the American Restroom Association and have extensive individual experience in architectural design of open spaces, restroom equity for women and related gender issues, regulatory and code change, community sanitation solutions, shy bladder concerns, as well as school and community related sanitation issues for 11 to 18-year-old youths.
The numbers of participants on the last day held up better than I expected, while the questions were keen to the end. Card exchanging is quicker than a handshake or hug, while a PowerPoint presentation is dependent on a staff person contracted by the convention host. Thank goodness for "what''s his name."
The sign-up for "The Proclamation on the Global Guidelines for Practical Toilet Design" came around again, as did a similar sheet for communication, with a disclaimer about not needing to sign "again." And still, no one discussed the Belfast Protocol, which seems rarer than the Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapon decommissioning, which, coincidentally, took place in Belfast at the same time as the 2005 World Toilet Summit.
The exhibition cavern is now empty except for trash, forklift skid marks, ASPE poker cards and Almanac logos.
The last advocate spoke about modifying the cliché, "pick you battles." He gave three examples of restroom improvements custodial, administrative staff and he had made at this very conference. In other words, since everybody eliminates, each attendee needs to decide if he or she will do something where he or she is that day to improve sanitation.
"Stuff" happens; plumbing fixtures and codes are here. Advocacy doesn''t just happen; advocates need to speak up.
Dr. Tom Keating, ASPE correspondent and speaker
To read parts one, two and three of Keating''s thoughts, click here, here and here, respectively.
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