How Sustainable Bamboo will Help Haiti and the World

Humanitarian and Sustainable Bamboo for Haiti and beyond!

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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)gmail.com 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

Dirt the Movie!

Vandana Shiva

I’m really excited to see this film and debute it in my community.  It has a great cast of main characters:

Jamie Lee CurtisBill Logan Andy Lipkis Vandana Shiva Wangari Maathai Wes JacksonSebastiao SalgadoLelia Deluiz Wanick Salgado Paul StametsMiguel AltieriPierre RabhiDavid OrrMajora CarterJames JilerFritjof CapraPeter Girguis |Alice WatersGary VaynerchukJanine BenyusJohn Todd

but it also stars my most favorite environmental super-celebrity DIRT!       [tweetmeme]

Growing Power going to Africa!

allenWill Allen: Growing power—and gaining influence in development circles, too.

From Grist.com

At the Clinton Global Initiative wrap-up on Friday, ex-President Clinton made waves in the sustainable-ag world by declaring Will Allen of Milwaukee/Chicago-based based Growing Powerhis “hero.”

The real news was buried in the press release, though. Toward the bottom of a listing of verbal “commitments” from NGOs and foundations, we findthis:

Growing Power commits to strengthen food security for school children and their care givers in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Growing Power will build a new model of local food systems to ensure adequate nutrition in the short-term and build a long-term foundation for competitive African human capital in the global market place.

So Growing Power will be bringing its community-based, low-input style of agriculture to Africa—under the aegis of a group most known for its top-down, Big Solution way of development work.

I got Erika Allen, daughter of Growing Power founder Will and leader of the group’s Chicago operations, on the phone Monday to talk about the announcement.

She told me that in the current phase, Growing Power is hoping to raise $2 million to get its Africa initiative started. (The Clinton Global Initiative doesn’t so much fund specific projects as match funders with projects.)

Allen described the proposed initiative as a “cultural exchange”—Growing Power reps would be learning about how food production currently works in South Africa and Zimbabwe; looking closely at local assets, resources, gaps, and needs. And food-system actors from those places would visit Growing Power sites in the United States—not just at the flagship enterprises in Milwaukee and Chicago, but also at partner projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.

From there, Growing Power and its partners in southern Africa would work on “modifying our production systems to local resources there.”

She stressed that what works in Milwaukee won’t necessarily fly in Zimbabwe. Here in the United States, Growing Power essentially siphons off some of the enormous food waste generated by a modern U.S. city and transforms it into fertile soil, which is then used to grow food. But African cities generate less compostable waste.

erikaErika Allen of Growing Power.“The challenge will be to find the systems that work in areas with less excess,” Allen told me. She cited Growing Power’s aquaculture setup, where waste from tilapia tanks is used to fertilize watercress, one example of a low-input system that could work in Africa.

“Overall, it’s about helping people use their resources to build soil and grow food,” she said.

In a single sentence, Allen had articulated a vision completely counter to the top-down model of development that has dominated U.S. policy since at least the Cold War—the agricultural model most famously promoted by the recently deceased Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug. In this model, imported agrichemicals and seed varieties provide the path to food security in the global south. And trade is venerated with an almost religious zeal—nations should only produce food insofar as they have a “comparative advantage” in a particular crop. “High-value” crops like fresh produce should be exported to the industrialized north, where consumers can pay top dollar for them; “low-value” staple crops should be imported when expedient.

Make no mistake—even though more than a billion people globally lack sufficient access to food and farmers in the global south operate in a state of permanent crisis, that model still dominates today. The“Millennium Villages” concept for Africa championed by Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs hinges on “new advances in science and technology.” To help boost food security, these showcase villages receive subsidies for imported fertilizers and seeds.

And the Gates Foundation, which has been organizing a massive attempt to transform food production in Africa,  has made a game attempt to be open to new models of ag development. But as Annie Stattuck, Raj Patel, and Eric Holt-Gimenez show in an excellent recent article in The Nation, the overall thrust has been in the direction of high-tech “solutions” to the continent’s food problems.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has recently taken a deep bow to the conventional ag-development gods, by putting agrichemical-industry stalwarts in charge of both agriculture negotiations at global trade talks and USDA-funded research. Analyzing the latter appointment, that of the Monsanto-affiliated Roger Beachy to lead the USDA’s new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Science blog recently wrote that:

Beachy’s interests in biotechnology and the developing world closely match those of his new boss, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research Rajiv Shah. They also fit with President Barack Obama’s desire to increase agricultural assistance to developing countries.

The Growing Power initiative points to a new direction. In place of costly and often ecologically and socially ruinous high-tech methods, the Allens present a vision of appropriate technology: techniques that communities can own and manage themselves, without the perpetual need to commit precious resources to toxic agrichemicals and patent-protected seeds.

As debate rages about how to “feed the world” amid population growth, climate change, and fossil-fuel depletion, projects like this one are critical. I’ll be watching it closely.

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.

Wow!

Wow!

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)