ENGLISH

After studying Permaculture in Australia, I decided to help nature create a litlle paradise back home.

It is a beautiful piece of land located in Santa Catarina State, south of Brazil, South America.

Sitio Vagalume is a small farm, where permaculture, eco construction and bamboo combine with education to offer sustainable and low cost solutions for a simple and happy life.

More information vagalume@sitiovagalume.com

Have a look at the pictures

Soon I hope to offer more information in english, meanwhile, I will be glad to answer your comments.

 New site from David Holmgren, co creator of Permaculture concept – Future Scenarios!

Bamboo: Remarkable Giant Grasses

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The Future of Sustainability, Shaped by Bamboo

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Federal Trade Commission settles bamboo fiber case

Bamboo Housing : on the Dream-World of Bamboo and “Crusoism”

I’ve been working in the field of bamboo for several years now.  During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to observe various sociological phenomena, practices, even expressions linked to this green grass and of course linked to everything attached to it: farming, transformation, lobbying, passion, etc.  Moreover, these observations drove me to start a dissertation on the subject at the Institute for Economic and Social Development at the Sorbonne in Paris.  There was one question which I continually came back to:  Why isn’t there more bamboo around us?  Or, in other words, considering the potential of bamboo, why so few products on the market?  So few achievements made by bamboo?  And more precisely, in the context of Bambou Habitat (BH), why so much passion yet so few homes, buildings, dwellings, cabins, bus stops…I’ll stop there.

Considering technology, the more we evolve, the more the results confirm the extraordinary mechanical potential of our bamboo.  And as for the treatment, wood has nothing on us.  On the environmental front, everyone knows today that bamboo has remained, despite several critical reviews, one of the most ecological materials of our era (CO2 absorption, type of farming and production…).  Consequently, what is the rub now that we’ve begun to live in a truly illuminated ecological period?

I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories.  In fact, the argument of anti-bamboo lobbying seems to me out of place today.  Simply because bamboo is no longer, at least in the Occident, among the highly coveted riches threatened by industry.  On the other hand, there’s very little territory left to explore in order to resolve the question.  After various exchanges with diverse interested parties, during which I acted as a researcher and also as the Director of Bambou Habitat; one factor finally emerged on its own:  the dream-world of bamboo.

Indeed, I was obliged, acting as a privileged researcher, to deduct that bamboo was an extraordinarily well-anchored symbol in our imaginations.  At the end of the day, it’s “power” was not only to have withstood the test of time, but also to have voyaged across social structures and most notably across borders.  Bamboo is a “border-crosser” in all fields and is truly found everywhere.  Spend a bit of time in an antique market and you’ll find bamboo objects; oftentimes imitations (seen as “chic” at the time), overly priced Chinese and Japanese bamboo furniture, all very sought-after by many collectors, just like old fishing-rods.  And yet, this “precious” image is not the symbol of bamboo.  What is working against bamboo, in some ways, is what makes it strong…its number one quality: naturalness.

All signs lead me to believe that bamboo is imagined as a wild and untamed resource, its farming basic, and its production archaic.  We all see ourselves cutting its stalks, assembling and building our bamboo home on an island lost in the middle of the tropics (sic).  With a little time on the internet, I think you’ll easily find some memoirs of this sort.  A part from a few exceptions, once confronted with reality, the “grow your own house” approach remains, quite so, based on the childish dream fed by the unconscious desire to reproduce one of the most beautiful stories in the history of literature: Robinson Crusoe.

I allow myself to call this, using the barbaric neologism : Crusoism.  It is in fact, in my opinion, this Crusoism which is at the origin of the emotional enthusiasm we feel regarding bamboo.  But it’s this same Crusoism which prohibits bamboo from developing, the master builder from building, bamboo environmentalists from affirming their environmentalism, planters from planting, exploitation from  producing; in short, it’s up to bamboo to leave it’s wild image behind in order to enter into the reality of the market, distribution, use, and every-day life.

It’s this same Crusoism which often feeds simplistic arguments such as “Yes, but bamboo isn’t expensive!”.  It is understood of course that bamboo is not considered a rare product, but as a wild weed growing out of control on the side of the road.  Those who take the time to read-up on the exploitation of bamboo, notably bamboo construction, often realize to what degree the production of one pole of bamboo can be complex and necessitate a significant investment.  Let others say that the majority of bamboo products come from Asia and are linked to underpaid laborers.  The I-Phone also comes from Asia but Apple has not necessarily lowered the price.  And like many bamboo products, mustn’t there be a technological factor hidden in the price of the I-Phone?  The difference between the two products is clear: Crusoism.  One is anchored in the contemporary world and its reality, while the other has one foot in the imaginary world which voyages across centuries; the dream-world of bamboo.

It must be said that the image of bamboo is beginning to change with the arrival of flooring, ply-board, furniture, fabrics and chic household objects such as kitchen utensils.  But in the arena of housing, Crusoism persists as each house must have its Robinson (sic).  Except that, our Robinson is a fictional character and shall forever remain so.  In the end, is the bamboo house condemned to stay in its dream-world?  The answer is obviously no, as many families have already made the choice to live in bamboo homes, for ecological and also aesthetic reasons.  Did they translate their dream into a reality, overcome or come to terms with their Crusoism?  Difficult to answer that question, but it’s clear that the choice of bamboo is also unique for its own reasons.  Lastly, is not the choice to live among bamboo, with all that it symbolizes (technological specificities, ecology, Buddhist beliefs (among others) and a variety of imaginary characteristics) a philosophical one?  And when I see that small bamboo pole which Mahatma Gandhi was never without, I ask myself if there is not even more there for us to take away?   

Xavier Dufrénot
Doctorant en sociologie ; Paris1 la Sorbonne
Translated from French by Jamie Turner
All right reserved

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