In a Grove

More bamboo!


And why not - it is quite beautiful. A green unlike any other; growing at almost unbelievable speeds; and in giant groves bending gracefully under the swaying weight of its great height, forming naturally arched cathedrals of green rustling shade - The spring wind in a grove is a sound like no other.


It is also incredible for other reasons. Bamboo possesses, in some ways, all of the strength of steel (although it is much weaker under twisting). Its abundance and the ease with which it is grown makes it a perfect low-cost material for building. It only takes one trip to Hong Kong (or one Jackie Chan movie) to be bewildered by the amazing scaffolding constructed solely with bamboo.


This strength and suitability has led to another unique use, which is very much tied to my current university exploits. One of my professors, seeing that mobility in Africa was a huge issue, decided upon a project.


The thinking is thus - a person walking can cover only a few miles in a day. The extra distance that can be covered by providing that person with a bike is immense. The leap from foot to pedal is much greater than that from pedal to engine. This allows for much more economic freedom to trade and build livelihoods. He also noticed that all bikes in Africa were colonial-era design heavy steel contraptions made in China. There was no incentive to provide durable, light-weight bikes to people, because they simply could not afford them.


The idea, to help with development by allowing for the creation of a native industry providing bicycles at low cost with local knowledge allowing them to be rebuilt and reused as necessary, using recycled parts of old bicycles on a light-weight bamboo frame, is almost too simple.


He buiilt the first bike that had ever been built in Sub-Saharan Africa. Out of bamboo.


Please check the website - Bamboo Bike Project.


The title of the picture alludes to the Akutagawa story upon which Rashomon was based - which I also recommend.

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Taken on August 2, 2008