Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dogwoods Unfolding

What a great season, SPRING, is here! Snapped a few pictures for no particular reason this evening.

At first glance, the mint and onion seemed incongruous, but then I remembered taboulli, harmonizing allium and mentha. And there are other ways, too:

Rice with Carrot, Lemon, Onion and Mint

Spring’s springing brings to mind the lines from Dylan Thomas:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The whole poem is a rewarding experience when read aloud, though I’d forgotten how disturbing it really is. (Hearing Thomas read the poem himself is to hear a sonorous tumble of words.) Well enough. Moving along, here's another take from Henri Nouwen:

"[There is] a time for mourning, a time for dancing" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their "times" do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their "times" may become one "time." Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts.

Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. We lose a beloved friend, and in the midst of our tears we discover an unknown joy. We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness - they belong together as the sad-faced clown and the happy-faced clown, who make us both cry and laugh. Let's trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.

Onions and mint, green age and wintry fever, mourning and dancing…it's a crazy, mixed-up existence on this planet.

Ooneekawy Mountain

March 29, 1730
They proceeded over the Mountains, drank some of the Water on the Top of the high Ooneekawy Mountain, near which was a large Tree called the Poison’d Pear; from the Top of this Mountain to great Telliquo, is a Descent about 12 Miles. They arrived at great Telliquo in the Afternoon, saw the petrifying Cave, a great many Enemies Scalps brought in and put upon Poles at the Warriors Doors, made a Friend of the great Moytoy, and Jacob the Conjurer: Moytoy told Sir Alexander that it was talked among the several Towns last Year; that they intended to make him Emperor over the Whole; but now it must be whatever Sir Alexander pleased.

This entry describes one day of Sir Alexander Cuming’s travels through Cherokee country and the Ooneekawy (Unicoi) Mountains. "Great Telliquo (Tellico)" was located near the current Tellico Plains, TN. And the petrifying cave refers to a nearby cavern containing stalctites and stalagmites. The 38 year old Scottish nobleman had left Charleston on March 13 to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokee. Cuming’s meeting with the Cherokee leaders would take place on April 3, at Nequesee (Nikwasi) in present-day Franklin, NC. Ultimately, seven Cherokees departed with Cuming to sail to England for an audience with the King on June 22, 1730.

Cuming had already been traveling along the Little Tennessee on March 26, 1730:
From Estoway they went to Nooulfkah, and made a Friend of Hercules, got the Secret of his several Roots for Distempers, met on the Road the Conjurer of Toogabow, and made a Friend of him; then went by Echvey to Nequassee, where they met Telloquoluftokay, and made a Friend of him, then to Jore, where he lay all Night: This Day he made several Discoveries, made a Friend of the second Warrior of Joree, spoke with Caesar’s Brother, who discovered the Indians Plot to murder the English, and found here a transparent Stone on the Ground.

Clearly, Sir Alexander had some busy days during his travels amongst the Cherokee villages.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Webster Bridge, Tuckasegee River

Waynesville, NC, ca. 1880

Jeff Biggers came to town tonight, reading at Osondu Booksellers. No less than Studs Terkel said of The United States of Appalachia (How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America), "Biggers’s inspiring book should be a best-seller immediately. It is a ‘how-to’ book—how to assert your fundamental rights and how to speak out in the manner of the American Revolution footsloggers, whose descendants they are. Read it and your faltering hopes will rise."

Biggers opened his reading with an account of Rebecca Harding, who in 1861 published "The Iron Mills". Her story, set in western Virginia, broke new ground for literary naturalism. In Biggers’ estimation, "Harding set the standard for a century of chroniclers in shattering the stereotypes of the mountaineers and hill folk. Her work reminded the country that Appalachia was not a foreign land, but a vital American crossroads of numerous immigrant groups, blacks, and courageous women, all of whom were playing a significant role in our nation’s industrial saga."

Rebecca Harding Davis was still writing when she visited Western North Carolina almost twenty years later, and she wrote of an incident that occurred in Webster. From The Providence of Nature, Chapter 8, we read of that trip:

The travellers had come South for a summer vacation. They were awed by the mountains' splendor, amused by the mountaineers' quaintness. Their escort for the passage from Waynesville to Franklin was familiar with the road, and stoked their curiosity.

"'We are half way now,' said Judge Hixley, when they reached the little town of Webster. 'There is a bridge hyah over the Tuckaseege, which I discovered five years ago, that I wish toh show you. It is built on square piers of logs, which have been filled in with earth. The wood has decayed, and out of the earth wild vines have grown; the red-leafed ivy, passion-flowers, pink sweet-brier, and feathery fern cover the piers and the bridge, and trail into the water. There are steep, quiet banks at either side, the river is crystal clear, and across it hangs this span of plumy leaves and flowers. It belongs to fairy-land. You will see it at the next turn. Ah-h!'

Over the river stretched a tight, solid bridge of bare new pine planks.

'Lookin' at our new improvement?' said a lank-jawed fellow sitting astride of the fence. 'Neatest thing in Jackson County, that bridge, I reckon.' "

In that one moment, Rebecca Harding Davis captured the essence of two very different world views, a difference still present today, as the ongoing disagreements over development in Jackson County so amply demonstrate. One’s improvement is another’s disappointment.

Maybe the authors of The United States of Appalachia and The Providence of Nature are saying the same thing: when we lose our true history, we lose our true future.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hip-Hop Incantation

"When you commit your life to being a vessel as an artist, you witness magic." – Saul Williams

This week, I observed something that surprised me. If you had told me a couple of months ago that a poet would visit the performing arts center at Cullowhee and the hall would be filled with knowing fans making requests and cheering him on with standing ovations, I would have said you had the wrong country. I mean the last poet to reach a mass audience in America, was what…Rod McKuen? Shheeesh…

Poetry has been important to me to different degrees and in different ways at different times. There’s a joy of discovery. I can still feel the sunshine from a summer that I was immersed in the British Romantic poets. And then, whether it’s from writing poetry, reading poetry, hearing poetry or reciting poetry…one result is a kind of sharing with other people. Despite all that, I haven’t kept up with the contemporary poetry scene. I didn’t know much about Saul Williams.

I had heard enough to expect a charismatic presence when Williams took the stage. I didn’t expect that there’d be such a devoted following. More than the poetry itself, the whole evening was a curious scene. I walked in to find a seat, and a jazz trio was seated to the right side of the stage, jamming along. The trumpeter sat and played a muted horn, sounding a little like Miles Davis, while the bass player and the drummer kept the groove going. Then, some high school poets from all around the mountains got up and read their stuff. It was an encouraging thing to see. I thought anything to do with poetry would be "un-cool". The boys spoke in obligatory mumbles, so it was hard to hear much they said. Then a young woman from Asheville took the stage and riveted everyone’s attention with a powerful performance of her poem about cinnamon men. After that, several WCU poets recited their works and added to the creative buzz. Then a half dozen folks took the stage to perform a "Prelude for Saul." They’d been looking forward to this night for a long time.

Saul stepped into the spotlight and performed a poem or two and then started taking questions from the audience. And with each question, he would launch into an extended rumination on growing up in the seventies and eighties, or gender, or the Tao, or the goddess, or consciousness. He had plenty of interesting things to say. He did mention that the current resurgence of poetry reflects a hunger for the ancient. For at its roots, poetry is a spoken art. Pre-literate. In some ways that's how Saul Williams approaches it, steeped in the contemporary movements of the poetry slam and rap music.

Various articles about him say things like, "he’s not a gangster and he doesn’t bling. Meet Saul Williams, the World’s Hottest Lyricist." And "he has been hailed by British music bible 'New Musical Express' as no less than the hottest lyricist in the world. By any measure, it's a big rap. The only question is whether to believe the hype. Saul Williams first success came in 1998 with the release of critically acclaimed film 'Slam'. A story of a smart young guy who gets caught in a cycle of crime." He’s created books and recordings and it would not surprise me if he’s sold more of the latter than the former.

Myself, I’m more accustomed to the literary tradition of the poem on the page. The poetry at the heart of the present-day revival is a different matter, though. Williams himself said that he has no great love of words or language, at least not in the way you might imagine the literary poets would. He was, after all, trained as stage actor, learning Shakespeare from an early age. According to Williams, "If you've studied acting you realize the essence of acting is not acting. When James Earl Jones or Jack Nicholson walks on the stage they're not applauded because of how well they portray their character; they're applauded because of their presence. A very strong actor has a very strong presence before they say anything. That resonates through the recitation of a poem."

His poetry relies heavily on incantation, rhythm, pitch, and a dynamic, rapid-fire delivery that brings to mind gospel preachers and auctioneers as much as rappers. He talked of learning how to become yourself, and of finding and following your calling.

Looking back on the evening, it was a hopeful scene. Here was the hip-hop generation desiring something just as primal as gathering around the ancient campfire to listen to tales and to tell tales, to chant, to sing, to dance. To express themselves. To share. A space in time where the hunger for that is manifest, is a space in time I celebrate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Water Barons

It's the first day of spring, and then March 22 is World Water Day. Considering how we’ve embarked on a new century of war to control the dwindling oil supplies, one can only imagine the impact of water scarcity.

Of course, it’s a luxury to "imagine" water scarcity. There are 1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world's population, who DO lack access to safe drinking water. About 2.6 billion people, or 42 per cent of the total, lack access to basic sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 40)

In parts of the United States, China and India, groundwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished, and groundwater tables are steadily falling. Some rivers, such as the Colorado River in the western United States and the Yellow River in China, often run dry before they reach the sea.

Freshwater ecosystems have been severely degraded: it is estimated that about half the world's wetlands have been lost, and more than 20 per cent of the world's 10,000 known freshwater species have become extinct, threatened or endangered.

Corporate privatization of the world’s water supplies is well underway, with multinationals jostling for position around the globe. And, as I am discovering, that monster is digging its tentacles into these hills around here. Well, why not?

From Jubilee South -
The Human Right to Water: Necessity for Action and Discourse
by Dr. D Roy Laifungbam, Posted on December 12 2003

"Access to a basic water requirement is a fundamental human right implicitly supported by international law, declarations, and State practice. Arguably, this right to water is even more basic and vital than some of the more explicit human rights already acknowledged by the international community, as can be seen by its recognition in many local customary laws, traditions or religious canon."

"... it is clear that "solving" the problem of equity in safe drinking water distribution is not simply a matter of building a wealthier country and "defeating poverty," with the assumption being this will ensure full coverage. Rather, it is more about building an ethic and changing frames in a way that respects concepts such as conservation, indigenous rights, and the importance of sustaining and sharing our "common" intergenerational water resources. At the heart of the case for a "human right to water" is the demand for not just action alone, but discourse in which equity is the core value. "

Monday, March 19, 2007

Concrete Countertops Revisited

The concrete countertop is done and installed on the kitchen island. Transporting the 220 pound slab was not easy, but encased in a framework of 2x4s, and moved in a vertical position to minimize the chance of cracking, the countertop was just fine. It was a pretty big project, but I wouldn’t hesitate to try it again, even to go so far as pouring countertops for an entire kitchen. I'd look into pouring the counters in-place to avoid transport. And I'd try to get a smoother finish without so much sanding. My skills at floating and troweling wet concrete could use some improvement, to get a smoother surface from the beginning. But the look and feel of the finished product are worth the labor required. And materials don't have to be expensive.

The Concrete Countertop Institute, based in Raleigh, is a source of information for anyone who wants to get serious about making these things on a regular basis.

Concrete is important, also, to the Full Belly Project. According to their website, it’s a non-profit organization that designs and delivers simple agricultural machines to people in developing countries around the world. This project teaches people how to build hand-operated machines with common materials. The material of choice for nut sheller parts is concrete because it is inexpensive, widely available, easy to work with and has a very long service life.

There’s a remarkable story behind this. [Full story here.]

In 2002, Jock Brandis visited Mali, Africa and saw that villagers were starting to raise cotton as cash crop, even though it robs the soil of fertility. Peanuts were a more sustainable crop, but shelling the nuts by hand was too slow to be practical.

When Brandis came home to Wilmington, NC, he intended to purchase a hand-operated peanut sheller and send it back to his friends in Africa. After a futile search, Brandis was informed by a peanut researcher that "such a machine was one of the as-yet unattained goals of sustainable agricultural development. Many had tried but all had failed to create such a machine."

Brandis himself took on the task. Following several months of study, design and experimentation, Brandis succeeded in creating an inexpensive, durable, hand-operated sheller that is 40 times faster than shelling nuts by hand. By packaging the metal parts along with molds for pouring the other sheller parts on-site, the technology is very transportable. And they’re now being used in Mali, the Philippines, Ghana, Zambia, and other countries.

The story is one of brilliant simplicity, ingenuity, generosity, harmony, sustainability, and at least one ironic twist: Jock Brandis says that he’s allergic to peanuts.

The vision of the Full Belly Project is "that the residents of rural communities in developing countries live lives of abundance - that they awake each morning to days of economic possibility and go to sleep each night with bellies that are full." This video shows how a simple machine can change the lives of as many as a half billion people throughout the world. Admirable work indeed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

King Creek Reflections

[Click on photo for larger view.]

Today we walked near the home of the black panther, east of Chattooga. Didn't see the cat, but we did see a mysterious and hidden waterfall, towering above the trail's end.

Blasts from Pasts

This 1940 photo was taken from Mount Mitchell looking toward the southwest. The Smokies, seventy miles away, are visible toward the horizon. UNCA has much more online.

The collection of 3,249 photographic prints documents the work of the U.S. Forest Service Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Asheville, NC. In its early years it was called the Appalachian Station and comprised region eight, or the forests in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, northern Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee. These photographs from the Experiment Station cover the years from 1897 through 1952.

One other blast from the past:
I saw this music video once and loved it, so thank goodness for YouTube. Fishbone’s 1985 song "Party at Ground Zero" screams EXUBERANT. The lively music, combined with the rapid-fire cold-war iconography of the video, is a disturbing mix. I can’t understand why this group wasn’t a bigger hit. Anybody who names an album "Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe" deserves a listen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sucked and Gutted

The great mountain slopes and forests had been ruinously detimbered; the farm-soil on hill sides had eroded and washed down…It was evident that a huge compulsive greed had been at work: the whole region had been sucked and gutted, milked dry, denuded of its rich primeval treasures: something blind and ruthless had been here, grasped, and gone. The blind scars on the hills, the denuded slopes, the empty mica pits were what was left.

And true, the hills were left – with these deteriorations; and all around, far-flung in their great barricades, the immense wild grandeur of the mountain wall, the great Blue Ridge across which they had come long, long ago; and which had held them from the world.

And the old formations of the earth were left: the boiling clamor of rocky streams, the cool slant darkness of the mountain hollows. Something wild, world-lost, and lyrical, and special to the place called Zebulon was somehow left: the sound of rock-bright waters, bird calls, and something swift and fleeting in a wood; the way light comes and goes; cloud shadows passing on a hill; the wind through the hill grasses, and the quality of light – something world-lost, far, and haunting in the quality of light; and little shacks and cabins stuck to hill or hollow, sunken, tiny, in the gap; the small, heart-piercing wisps of smoke that coiled into the clear immensity of weather from some mountain shack, with its poignant evidence that men fasten to a ledge, and draw their living from a patch of earth – because they have been here so long and love it and cannot be made to leave; together with lost voices of one’s kinsmen long ago – all this was left, but their inheritance was bare.

Something had come into the wilderness, and had left the barren land.

-Thomas Wolfe, The Hills Beyond

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tennessee Wellhouse

Highway Addiction and Permaculture

"A road over Little Frog Mountain using Kimsey highway could cost about $680 million."
Heard about the new highway from Asheville, NC to Cleveland, TN? I hadn’t either, so thanks to the Southern Appalachians Initiative for this. Back in 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission called for a big four-lane, Corridor K, to connect the two cities…to foster development and to relieve poverty. (Maybe those two things weren’t mutually exclusive back then?) Driven by that quaint vision, the movers and shakers still want to cut the ribbon on Corridor K. It follows US 64 much of the way, but an alternate path is proposed where 64 runs through the Ocoee River Gorge in Polk County, TN, home of the World Famous Maggie’s Mill Historic Site. (SAI has video and more.) I’ve been there, and it’s a refreshingly remote and rural part of the US of A. A four-lane tearing through there would about take care of that, though. You could kiss it goodbye. Fire up the dozers. On the other hand, this RFP for a Corridor K Development Plan makes it look like something that will never happen.

I want to be a permaculturalist when I grow up…

Maybe relieving poverty and fostering development can co-exist. Let’s try. Thanks to Permaculture Reflections for telling us about swales for drylands water catchment. Conventional agriculture has created large deserts in many parts of the world. "Almost 70% of the agricultural dryland is degraded by desertification." A swale is a level trench dug along a low point in the desert terrain, designed not to carry water away, but to catch water and eroded soil. Simple and cost effective, swales help provide favorable conditions to begin the process of desert reforestation.

And back to the Permaculture Kitchen for what might be the coolest news of the day, a post on Non-Timber Forest Products, quoting from "Working Paper: Exploring the Value of Urban Non-Timber Forest Products" -
"Over 103 products from 78 species are currently collected by individuals and organizations in Baltimore City. These 103 include edible products (43%), medicinal products (8%), horticultural or nursery products (31%), and craft and decorative products (18%). Products are collected by a wide diversity of ethnic and socio-economic groups including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Eastern European-Americans, and Anglo-Americans. Products are collected from street trees, park trees, yards, vacant lots, roadsides, and forested areas."
(More on Agroforestry)
If that many people are finding that many uses for materials from that many trees IN THE FREAKIN’ CITY OF BALTIMORE!!!!, it just makes you wonder what you’d find to be happening in these hills around about Cullowhee. Wow, I’d really like to know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

moon 'n' treez

Great American Family

March 13, 1816
Secretary of War William Crawford to Congress – [on tactics for displacing the Cherokees from Tennessee and Georgia]

When every effort to induce among them ideas of separate property, as well in things real as personal, shall fail, let intermarriages between them and the whites be encouraged by the government. This cannot fail to preserve the race, with the modifications necessary to the enjoyment of civil liberty and social happiness.

It is believed that the principles of humanity in this instance are in harmonious concert with the true interest of the nation. It will redound more to the national honor to incorporate by a humane and benevolent policy, the natives of our forest in the great American family of freemen than to receive with open arms the fugitives of the old world whether their flight has been the effect of their crimes or their virtues.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species.

A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these 'resources,' but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.

In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating. Why? Because it is implicit in such a role that the conqueror knows, ex cathedra, just what makes the community clock tick, and just what and who is valuable, and what and who is worth-less, in community life. It always turns out that he knows neither, and this is why his conquests eventually defeat themselves.

…No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis loyalties, affections, and convictions. The proof that conservation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct lies in the fact that philosophy and religion have not yet heard of it. In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial.

-Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic, 1948

Burning to Succeed

Sunday afternoon in Swain County a 200-acre brush fire burned through a Grassy Branch development, destroying nine homes and damaging 25 others. At this hour, it’s not yet contained. “You just have to stand here and watch it burn,” the sheriff said after he took the last family to safety. “There’s nothing you can do.” Last year, a fire burned out of control near the proposed quarry site in Tuckasegee. With greater density of development on steeper mountain slopes, more disasters are not just possible, but inevitable.

Who pays for things allowed to happen when government refuses to govern? Whose rights are injured, and who bears responsibility?

Local well drillers are reporting they have to go more than 100 feet deeper to reach water than they did ten years ago. The morning after a moderate rain, the Tuckasegee River looks like chocolate milk. The local water sewer authority is especially hard-pressed to expand capacity. Paved state roads leading to the new gated subdivisions are disintegrating under the weight of all the trucks associated with the new construction.

More people are starting to consider the idea that intensive development has costly impacts on local communities. The issue may not be quite as galvanizing as the moratorium episode just played out, but it needs to be investigated and reported. Landowners, like myself, would do well to learn how to mitigate the impact of our activities.

"Gated subdivisions" came up in a 3/11/07 Citizen-Times column by Joy Franklin, "Poor Need to Learn Society’s Rules But Have Much to Offer." Franklin discusses the writings of Ruby Payne, author of "A Framework for Understanding Poverty," and "Bridges Out of Poverty." Payne works with educators to help them understand how to relate to children from poverty…helping them understand the hidden rules that operate in different social classes.

Excerpts from the column follow:

There’s a chart in Payne’s "Understanding Poverty" that identifies the hidden rules among classes — or perhaps they might better be called hidden values. After reading the chart, I decided that on balance there’s much about the hidden rules or values of the poor that’s superior to either middle or wealthy class rules or values…if Payne’s assessment is more or less correct, there are lessons taught by poverty that people born into middle class or wealthy families struggle their whole lives to comprehend, and many never do.

For instance, in poverty, relationships are really important because they’re the only real possessions a person has. The social emphasis for poor people is on inclusion of people one truly likes. For the middle class, social emphasis is on self-governance and self-sufficiency — in other words, independence from other people. Social emphasis for the wealthy is on social exclusion — a phenomenon that can be witnessed by all the gated communities springing up in Western North Carolina.

Among the poor, a person is valued for an ability to entertain and for his or her sense of humor, both of which provide a distraction from the pain and trials of poverty. Among the middle class, achievement, acquisition and stability are highly valued in a person. Among the rich, financial, political and social connections top the list of desirable characteristics.

When it comes to time, the poor live in the present. They make decisions for the moment based on their feelings or what’s most likely to promote their survival. The middle class tends to look to the future and make decisions considering future ramifications. The rich tend to look to the past, making decisions based on tradition and decorum.

For the poor, driving forces are survival, relationships and entertainment. For the middle class, they are work and achievement; for the rich — financial, political and social connections.

From this short list of comparisons, it seems plain to me that while it may be important to teach poor children the hidden rules and values of the middle class so they can provide themselves and their families with financial security, the rest of society could learn some equally important life lessons from them.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grow Your Own House

Around Cullowhee these days, the hope is that they’ll stop building multi-million dollar houses on every side of every mountain. But the money hasn’t run out yet, even though it flows like water.

People in other places, suffering differently from this disease of affluence, are trying to find shelter. Our proposal to Grow Your Own Home was not entirely a lark. Let’s look at this from another angle.

The United Nations estimates that at least one hundred million (100,000,000) people in the world have no home. If those with poor quality housing are included, the number is more than one billion (1,000,000,000). And the news only gets worse, as the total number of homeless is growing (Worldwide housing needs are expected to double over the next 50 years. In Africa alone, they are expected to grow more than threefold.) While awareness about the critical need for more affordable housing has grown, the solutions have not.
…so begins Bamboo as a Construction Material:
It is a highly functional, beautiful, earthquake-indifferent material. Bamboo occurs in many sizes, many degrees of hardness, and many grades of color and occupies a wide range of habitats. It is possible to build multiple-storey buildings with bamboo. Whereas trees must be replanted when they are harvested, bamboo roots sprout up again quickly.

Colombian architect Simon Velez has designed a two-story, 65 square-meter bamboo home. This beautiful home requires only 100 pieces of five-meter long bamboo, which can be harvested in four to five years on 500 square meters of land. You can now „Grow your own house".
The problem of 100 million people living without homes could be met by planting bamboo on only 500,000 HA of land. The State of Rio de Janeiro alone, plagued by its bad image of favelas (slums), has an area sufficient for this.

A two-story house constructed by carpenters in Calarca, Colombia, on a cement foundation, costs only 8 million pesos (approximately US$ 5,300 dollar). Doing it yourself drops the costs to an estimated US$ 1,700.

Too much carbon in the atmosphere causes global warming and the greenhouse effect. Although one cubic meter of mature bamboo sequesters less carbon dioxide than one meter of pinewood, it grows exceptionally quickly and requires a relatively small amount of land.

The article goes on to provide more details about the ZERI Pavilion. At over 120 feet in diameter and over 50 feet high, it is one of the largest bamboo structures in the world. The book, Grow Your Own House, expands on the theme:

The highly visual and engaging Grow Your Own House will open your eyes to the beauty and lightness of bamboo structures and designs. Bamboo--a widely available and renewable resource almost as strong as steel, yet very light--lends itself to architectural experiments. Buckminster Fuller, Frei Otto, Renzo Piano, Shoei Yoh, and Arata Isozaki are a few of the millions of people worldwide using bamboo to create space and structure around them. Author and architect Simón Vélez pioneered bamboo construction in his home country of Colombia. …Grow Your Own House includes all the latest trends of this cutting-edge revival. The integration of the seeming dichotomies of high-tech and sustainability, global thinking and regional traditions definitely makes the future look brighter.

See Also:
ZERI – Zero emissions research initiative "The revolution of the farmhouse, hand in hand with the improvement of the livelihood of the farmer and his family, will stem the exodus from rural areas to the city, creating a future generation of farmers dedicated to living in co-evolution with nature."

World Bamboo Organization "New Delhi,India - A wonder product made of bamboo and jute natural fibre will now help schoolchildren in Kargil attend classes comfortably, even when its freezing outside..."

BOTA – Bamboo of the Americas "Your commitment to the future of our American bamboo will help rescue our favorite plant from the uncertainty of population growth in Mexico and Brazil and set the example for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Chile further down the road."

Bamboo Biodiversity "Communities in Africa, Madagascar and the Americas depend on bamboos for construction, cookery and agriculture. Bamboo also feeds and protects some of the world’s critically endangered species, such as the golden bamboo lemur and the giant panda. The report, compiled in association with INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan), shows that conservation and sustainable management of wild bamboos should be a priority in the regions assessed, and highlights the increasing threat to bamboos caused by deforestation."

Bamboo Living "It produces greater biomass and 30% more oxygen than a hardwood forest on the same area, while improving watersheds, preventing erosion, restoring soil, providing sweet edible shoots and removing toxins from contaminated soil. Bamboo produces structural beams, flooring, wall paneling, fencing and many more sustainable by-products of environmental restoration."

1000 things made of bamboo "Our goal is to collect 1000 items made of bamboo. This collection of pictures is an idea of Wolfgang Eberts."

Grow Your Second Home "Each house will take at least five years to grow, depending in the climate, but Joachim envisions the structures being grown and tended to on a farm."

Pictures are from Koolbamboo

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Change of Heart

March 8, 1812: . . . because there was another earthquake shock last night, Mother Vann [mother-in-law of Peggy Vann] talked with us another time about this occurrence; . . . she told us that new lies are being broadcast among the Nation. Namely, that it has been revealed to one Indian by God that there would be an intense darkness and that it would last three days; during which all the white people would be snatched away as well as all Indians who had any clothing or household articles of the white man’s kind, together with all their cattle. Therefore, they should put aside everything that is similar to the white people and that which they had learned from them, so that in the darkness God might not mistake them and snatch them away with the former. He who does not believe this will die at once together with all his stock. This had already happened to one Indian. Mother Vann added that in fact many are already doing away with their household articles and clothing, but she had offered to buy one item or another from them just to show them that she did not pay any attention to the lies.

We see only too clearly for what this evil enemy is aiming: this cunning spirit does not mean in any way the outward garb of the poor heathen but their change of heart. He wants to warn them against the teaching of the white people of Jesus, the crucified, their only rightful Lord and Master, in order that he might keep them securely fettered in his chains. We find for that reason much need to plead very urgently to our good Lord that He might destroy very soon this new strategem of the Devil and in general his work in this land.

In addition, the false prophets pretend to have seen ugly and terrifying appearances of God. Johnston [a pupil at the mission school] said that in his neighborhood there was also the talk that a new earth would come into being in the Spring, but he did not pay attention to their absurd talking and was glad that he had heard the truth here and knew now what to believe.
- From the Springplace Diaries. Springplace was a Moravian mission located in Cherokee territory just west of the present day town of Chatsworth, GA. The New Madrid Earthquake of December 1811 was felt in this region, and interpreted by some Native Americans as a message from God.

Mother Vann may have been referring to Tecumseh, a Shawnee. Starting around 1806, he gradually transformed his brother's religious following into a political movement. In an effort to form an Indian Confederacy, he traveled from the Ozarks to New York and from Iowa to Florida, attracting supporters of his vision. These words are attributed to Tecumseh:

When Jesus Christ came upon the Earth, you killed Him. The son of your own God. And only after He was dead did you worship Him and start killing those who would not.

Then listen to the voice of duty, of honor, of nature and of your endangered country. Let us form one body, one head, and defend to the last warrior, our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.

The way to stop this evil is for all redmen to unite in claiming a common and equal right to the land, never to be divided... it belongs to all of us for each use.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and Its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
- Tecumseh

During the War of 1812, on October 5, 1813 Tecumseh died at the hands of American forces in Ontario, Canada.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

FW: Fire Rainbow


Murphy, NC

A Glorious News

To Stand Watie
Boston, March 7, 1832
My Dear Brother,
You will, before this reaches you, have heard of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in favor of Mr. Worcester and Butler and against the State of Georgia. It is a glorious news. The laws of the State are declared by the highest judicial tribunal in the Country null and void. It is a great triumph on the part of the Cherokees so far as the question of their rights were concerned. The question is for ever settled as to who is right and who is wrong, and the controversy is exactly where it ought to be, and where we have all along been desirous it should be.

It is not now before the great state of Georgia and the poor Cherokees, but between the U.S. and the State of Georgia, or between the friends of the judiciary and the enemies of the judiciary. We can only look and see whoever prevails in this momentous crisis. . . .
- Elias Boudinot [Editor,Cherokee Phoenix]

President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce the court’s decision that would have protected the Cherokees in Georgia. By the end of 1832, Boudinot was out as editor, due to his advocacy of Cherokee accommodation to removal from Georgia; and the state of Georgia confiscated most of the Cherokee lands within its borders.

Years later, after going to Oklahoma, Boudinot was murdered in retaliation for his stance on removal.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Creasy Greens

It’s creasy season in the hills.
Wild upland cress.
Growing alongside the branches and in damp places.
The first greens of spring.
Wouldn’t have to go far to find someone cooking a mess of creasies and a pot of beans this time of year.

The Mountaineer Guide has a nice article on creasy greens, including recipes.

And another article tells even more.

And then, North Carolina State University has further details on growing it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bell on War

Mary Bell to Alfred W. Bell, March 5, 1862 -
Whilst some are made to mourn all the days of their lives on account of some dear one who had died whilst fighting for their country, others will be glorying in the wealth they have made by staying at home and speculating while the war was going on and other poor wretches were fighting for them. - (The Bells were from Macon County, NC. Alfred was serving as a captain in the Confederate army)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Waterrock Palindrome

Strangely disquieting in their utter detachment, their total gratuitousness, palindromes forbid access to all forms of interpretation. – Franklin Rosemount

Rats live on no evil star

Rail at a liar.
Name no one man.
Snug & raw was I ere I saw war & guns.
No lemons, no melon.
Stiff, O dairy-man, in a myriad of fits.
Too far, Edna, we wander afoot.
Draw pupil’s lip upward.

Emil asleep, Hannah peels a lime.
I roamed under it as a tired, nude Maori.
No sot nor Ottawa law at Toronto, son.
Desserts I desire not, so long no lost one rise distressed.
Paget saw an Irish tooth, Sir, in a waste gap.
Trash? Even interpret Nineveh’s art.
Dog as a devil deified lived as a god.

Stop, Syrian, I start at rats in airy spots.
No, it is opposed; art sees trade’s opposition.
Eureka! Till I pull up ill I take rue.
Wonders in Italy: Latin is "red" now.
Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.
‘Tis Ivan, on a visit.

Egad! A base tone denotes a bad age.
Marge lets Norah see Sharon’s telegram.
Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?
No mists reign at Tangier, St. Simon!
Deer flee freedom in Oregon? No, Geronimo, deer feel freed.
"Do nine men interpret?" "Nine men," I nod.

-Franklin Rosemount (?)