I read that the invention of bicycles in France, way back when, added 6 inches of height to the average villager over the next several generations. Basically, the opportunity to marry outside the village one was born in, led to enlarging the gene pool and strengthening the stock. And of course, created the Tour de France many bicycle wheels later. So karma-wise it should be Lance Armstrong who is leading the cause for modernizing rural villages around the globe by creating bicycles that are more affordable and accessible. But he isn't. The Earth Institute at Columbia University here in NYC is initiating workshops and spreading the news that making your own bike out of bamboo is sustainable, do-able and very cool. They are starting this project in Ghana, testing local interest and investment possibilities for local production of bicycles on the continent. Presently Africa imports all of its' bicycles, which can make them costly and difficult to find, especially for those remote villagers and poor city folk who need them most.
On August 12 in downtown NYC, The American Craft Council Library is hosting a seminar with Marty Odlin, co-founder of the Bamboo Bike Studio along with Justin Aguinaldo, bike messenger and knowledgeable bike mechanic. They will be talking about how this project can have wider applications, mobilizing DIY skills, and utilizing green materials. Reservations are required.
In Beacon, NY, Doug and Mike Starn are using bamboo to a completely different end, or endless sort of end, really. They have set up shop in a huge old warehouse and with the help of local rock climbers are building a giant 'pick up sticks' of bamboo. The sculpture is open to the public every 2nd and 4th saturday in the month of August from 11am-4pm. Contact them if you want to swing by and check out what that looks like. No pandas allowed.