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Twenty years ago, I decided to return to academia after a 2004 visit to Nicaragua, Central America. I was working in documentary film production. I had gotten a small grant to develop a scenario on water privatization. I travelled the country speaking to families and community leaders about unaffordable public water, contaminated well-water from the agricultural industry, and indigenous communal land under threat from a dam project. As I observed casual greetings between neighbours and acquaintances (often in more impoverished neighborhoods or encampments), I was struck by how often the answer to the question “How are things?” would be: “Bad!” (Malo!). Such statements would sometimes lead to vague descriptions of “the situation” (in the country) or specifics: about the buying power of a cordoba (the currency); the theft of a water barrel in the night; too much rain ruining belongings or bringing illnesses; diabetes, back pain, eye problems, toothaches.