Meet Gravity Water's Founder and Executive Director: Danny Wright
A lifetime connection with water is inspiring Danny Wright to bring safe drinking water to schools all over the world. Danny is the founder and executive director of Gravity Water, a non-profit that uses an energy-free water catchment and filtration system to change the lives of children and communities.
Danny spent a lot of his childhood on the coastline in Santa Cruz, California. He says he developed a strong connection with the ocean and the water that has stuck with him his whole life.
“I love water. I love being surrounded by it, I love being under it. It's such a huge part of my personality and my being and my work.”
He also had a firsthand view of poverty as a child, when he spent time living with his family in New Mexico.
“That was a really low-income community, with a really high poverty rate. I was able to experience what life was like in a scarce environment and then also in a well-off environment back in California. So it was great to kind of get perspective on different lifestyles and different value systems.”
That understanding of what it means to experience poverty has played a significant role in his work with Gravity Water. He has huge empathy for those living in situations where scarcity is a part of daily life.
“We've spent billions of dollars over many decades trying to solve this issue, and we still have an estimated 2 billion people drinking water contaminated with feces in 2021.”
Danny came up with the idea for delivering a sustainable, affordable water supply using rainwater while traveling in Central America in 2011. He says the difference it makes for kids who are used to drinking contaminated water is immense.
“I remember one system we built in 2016, and we had to leave before we’d seen it in action. The first time I saw it in use was a year later, and I remember walking down and seeing a kid run-up to it and just totally nonchalantly fill up their bottle and take it away with them. It was just a part of their daily life all of a sudden; it wasn’t anything special to them. But it was a pretty profound moment where I just realized how easy it was to create change.”
Danny’s remote team has helped deliver clean water to more than 28,000 kids all over the world since 2016. He’s based in Costa Rica and works across all manner of time zones to deliver benefits to local communities. Danny says the way the world has embraced remote working in the COVID era has made things easier to coordinate, but a big focus for him is finding the sweet spot between that and in-person work.
“We're going to need to find a balance between what's necessary for in-person engagement and what's not. Digital nomads are blowing up right now, which definitely provides a more global outreach - we have people working for us in Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Germany, Costa Rica, and having this international team is awesome. But it's so important we don't lose sight of the importance of in-person engagement and connection, and team building."
Outside work, Danny likes to go surfing every morning, and he really wants to learn to sail. No surprises it’s another water-based activity and was actually his New Year's resolution in 2020. Although, like many resolutions, he’s still yet to make it happen.
Get involved through Gravity Water's membership-based program.