How Sustainable Bamboo will Help Haiti and the World

Humanitarian and Sustainable Bamboo for Haiti and beyond!


Hey Folks Gaia Punk here,

New Developments

I haven’t had much time to post because I’ve been working pretty much non-stop on a Permaculture Relief Corps mission call Perma Corps for Haiti, which has been getting a LOT of support from here and also here .  Which brings me to my next subject sustainable bamboo production! I absolutely love bamboo, in fact, I currently live in cozy and locally sourced bamboo framed yurt.  I wish to bring up the subject because RIGHT NOW there are currently around two million people homeless in Haiti, 1 million or so in Port Au Prince and another million scattered throughout the countryside.   It is very likely that in couple of weeks when when the seasonal rains begin in full force (not to mention Hurricanes) many of the tents  and encampments where displaced Haitians are housed will be completely washed out.  Haiti desperately needs cheap, permanent, sustainable housing that is hurricane and earthquake resistant ASAP and bamboo combined with Cob is the ideal locally sourced combination.  Below is a wonderful manual about Humanitarian Bamboo from the amazing IDEP foundation, as well as, my top 5 reasons bamboo rocks. This list comes with the best and most up to date links you could ever hope to find on the web regarding sustainable bamboo.  If you have any bamboo resources such as connections with bamboo plantations or builders or can offer help in anyway please email thejulianeffect(at) as Perma Corps for Haiti is looking to have teams on the ground shortly and then building structures right away.

TOP 5 Reasons That Bamboo Rocks!!!

1.)  Bamboo is a very strong, very cheap, natural, quickly renewable, highly flexible and adaptable, building material.

To see just what Bamboo can do just take a peak at this link and especially these great e-books below:

2.)  Bamboo is a ideal perennial and beneficially plant for Permaculture Design applications:

3.)  Bamboo can sequester TONS of carbon while still being regularly harvested and can drastically improve soil fertility when used as biochar!

Biochar from bamboo has a unique pore structure, making it a perfect soil structure for beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi, resulting in crop yield gains of as much as 800-percent. It is important to mix the biochar with well-prepared compost inoculated with bacteria from undisturbed (usually nearby forest) local soils.

4.) You can eat it and it tastes amazing!

How to grow edible bamboo shoots

5.)  In Permaculture there is a saying, “Unity through intergration, intergration through diversity!” and the world of Bamboo is full of diversity.  Due to bamboo’s amazing diversity of both products and species it will be a key economic factor in helping the 2/3rds (developing) world out of poverty especially in heavily deforested regions such as Haiti.

Bamboo and sustainable economic development

Permie Punk Profile: Ethan Roland

Get Your Forest Garden On…

Hey Gaia Punk here,

So I was just recently accepted for a 3 month Advance Permaculture Design internship with Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permaculture in the Hudson Valley area of New York.  I am very excited for this opportunity to deepen my skills and I’m dedicated to the helping make permaculture design accessible to even more people than ever before.  Ethan is such an awesome force in the world of permaculture and vital mentor to so many wonderful folks that I decided I would take a moment to highlight some of his work.

Ethan is a full time Permaculture designer and teacher and expert in the areas of large scale perennial polyculture systems and ecological community design.  See slideshow:

Ethan studied at Haverford College and later obtained a M.S. in Collaborative eco-social design from Gaia University a innovative and global growing university through which he now occasionally teaches courses.  Ethan is the principal of Appleseed Permaculuture which collaborates with permaculture and ecological designers from all over the world.  Ethan currently sits on the board of Permaculture Across Boarders which assists permaculture projects in the developing or 2/3 rds world.  His work has brought him all over world (Thailand, Azerbaijan, Kazakastan, the Virgin Islands,) with direct learning experience and mentoring from folks like Geoff Lawton and Dave Jacke.  Ethan is directly involved with the Carbon Farming and Financial Permaculture movements.  He supports and promotes sustainable community based cooperative enterprises like the innovative cocao CSA Booyacacao.  Ethan contributes contents and expertise for Earth Activist Mentor a amazing site and service for up and coming designer like myself, folks looking for detailed in depth resources, or distance mentoring for permaculture diplomas.  Well, I hope to do a video interview shortly with Ethan and Nicolas Roberts from but until then enjoy this inspiring lecture Ethan presented to a group of UMASS architecture students and Greg Landua presentation of Booyacocao “Theobroma” production.

Gaia Punks in Costa Rica II

A little Providence….

Cob Building with Sun Ray Kelly!

Just 4 days before I left for Costa Rica I casually picked up a book at my favorite local bookstore (Last Word Books) and as is my habit started flipping through it.  This book was entitled                          

Sun Ray Kelly

Sun Ray Kelly


Builders of the Pacific Coast      

It featured some of the most amazing natural building I had ever seen.  The work of Sun Ray apprentice of  fammed cob master Ianto Evans was esspecially amazing and I wished that I would have the opportunity to learn from such a inspiring artisan, architect, and craftsman, but then Icyni saddly thought fat chance of that happening.  Little did I know that my wish would be granted half way through my permaculture design course at True Nature Community when one evening I was walking up to the balcone and there, as if by divine providence, was a smiling and radiant Sun Ray.  Later our class was able to pitch in on amazing spiral temple/house cob dome project in the La Florida area.  Here are some pics and a short video (forgive the feet filming)….

Cob templecob temple










gaia punks

bamboo framing

cob goddess











Gaia Punx in Costa Rica

True nature

La Pura Vida de Permacultura


Hola Folks,

This is Permie Boi passin’ the good word from La Florida, Costa Rica where I’m in the middle of a fabulous permaculture design course at True Nature Community instructed by Scott Pitman of the Permaculture Institute.

I’m having a wonderful time learning, exploring, and sharing.  The landscape here is amazing but in a lot of cases in need of regeneration.  Even though true nature is a gringo (expats) community, (for now) it is very nice to see that they have intergrated themselves with in the larger community through helping to support and share with the local ticos (Costa Ricans) in multiple ways.  This is a sharp contrast from much of the negative colonialist like developments happening in many ecologically fragile areas of the country.  The people here from True Nature really practice what they preach at every level and also run a amazing educational service organization called CREER.


The students attending this course are from all over the world and are very excited about what they will bring back to where they live as am I.  In the morning we wake up to amazing to an amazing landscape full of colorful chirping birds (Tucans even!) and verdant plants.  We’ve been eating fresh local foods cooked with local recipies and Luna of True Nature has been kind enough to offer a free yoga class to those who enjoy it. It is amazing to see how much we’ve been able to improve the site in just a few days by building rain swales and various watercatchments.  I know that all of this rewarding work will be greatly appreciated after our departure.  I just recently saw an amazing animal locally known as  a pizote’ (super cute!) for the first time and I’m extremely excited to continue to explore the rich ecology of this area.   Much more more to come soon.

 Living la pura vida,




the porch

Liberty spikes?

Liberty spikes?





Bamboo Yurts RULE!

So I’m currently in process of constructing a locally sourced bamboo framed yurt.  Right now I’m working on the latice and hope to have the entire yurt finished by the end of Feb.  Look for upcoming instructional posts on DIY bamboo yurt construction.  I have been a fan of yurts especially bamboo framed for a while now the reasons are simple: yurts sustainable, cost effective, mobile, simple, low impact, and just plain cool.  Please check out for some sweet eco shelter designs and my previous post all that bamboo can do!

Sustainable shelter

Sustainable shelter

Oh and if building your house out of bamboo wasn’t cool enough for you check out the video below of some MIT folks who have ideas for living tree houses.

Bamboo Can Do!!!

Last months plant was Wheat Grass this months miracle plant to save the earth is Bamboo!

So I’m currently constructing a low cost, low weight, highly efficient bamboo yurt (similar to the one shown).  Incidentally, I have grown to love this incredible and lovely sounding plant called bamboo, which incidently is also native to every continent but Europe and Antarctica. 

I  just thought I would give you a little primer about the state of bamboo construction today, the newest developments, and it’s incredible aesthetics.

Some quick facts:

Strength and Durability
Bamboo is a fascinating material due to its incredible strength, regenerative properties, and its natural aesthetic beauty. In structural engineering tests, bamboo has a higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel, and a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. It even has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite.

Bamboo has been used as the standard building material for the majority of the world for thousands of years. There are many examples of buildings constructed entirely of bamboo, which are now several hundred years old. Due to their strength, these structures have even withstood 9.0 magnitude earthquakes.
Fast Regeneration
Typically trees such as the ones used in conventional wood fencing take 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass. In the meantime, there is less oxygen produced, less carbon dioxide consumed, and more soil runoff in the spot where that tree was harvested – all producing negative environmental effects.

Live bambooOn the other hand, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth. Some species have actually been measured to grow over 4 feet in 24 hours. A pole of bamboo can regenerate to its full mass in just six months! Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested every 3 years, without causing damage to the plant system and surrounding environment. During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant’s root system stays intact so erosion is prevented. Continuous harvesting of this woody grass every 3-7 years, actually improves the overall health of the plant.

It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years, and provide a renewable source of food, building material, and erosion prevention.

New Innovations:

The key to making bamboo a viable building structure that could eliminate the need for input intensive steel and concrete buildings is joiners.  Innovations in bamboo joint technology will allow for the realization of  hybrid buildings that have steel vertical supports with all floor and roof suspended by bamboo!!

Here are two examples of the latest technology:

Bamboo tetrahedron made by german design team

Bamboo tetrahedron with specially designed joints made by a German bamboo engineering team

This joint was designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano

Be sure to read about Glubam compostite beams  another wonderful innovation that is set to make the sustainable bamboo market explode in the near future Bamboo resins and composites are also growing in demand and if all this isn’t exciting enough then just look at this bike by Calfee Designs! Damn!! I want to ride.



Here are some great links for you to explore:

Permaculture Bamboo Farming

1000 things made with bamboo

Bamboo, mud, and straw (how to build the worlds most renewable buildings)