In mid-September I found myself traveling to South Korea representing New Zealand on behalf of the International Straw Building Conference (ISBC) at the World Bamboo Congress (WBC). Tourism New Zealand, as part of their sponsorship for the ISBC, gave us the opportunity to try to garner overseas interest in our conference.
Damyang, the host city in South Korea, for both the World Bamboo Congress & the World Bamboo Fair, was clearly passionate about bamboo and bringing its benefits to it’s guests.
Everywhere you walked, there was evidence in the city welcoming us... Bamboo growing in beautiful ceramic pottery, bamboo crafts & artwork, bamboo structures (both temporary and permanent), the large bamboo forest (some of it in flower), the food, and most importantly the local people that greeted us so warmly during our stay with them.
The WBC was organized by the World Bamboo Organization, which has a history of holding its conferences all over the world every 3-4 years, all in the common interest of BAMBOO.
Representatives from 40 countries attended the WBC and many of the people that I met hadn’t heard of straw bale design and construction. I shared my story and why I was there. During my 10 minute presentation on the benefits of straw bale design and construction and the ISBC, I invited them to open the doors to collaboration and connection with all natural building systems. The intention of encouraging collaboration of the bamboo communtiy with the international natural building community will hopefully be evident during the ISBC.
I may have been to only one of the 320 delegates at the WBC not specifically working with bamboo, but I clearly began to understand it’s benefits as well as the potential over the course of the 5- day congress.
However, I quickly began to realize with any material that has such great potential, the risks of mis-management practices of the bamboo forests (a mono-culture) and the social processes (workers safety) increases. But as I listened to a wide variety of presentations, it was comforting to hear such passionate & committed people currently working with bamboo to create an industry that aims to better our communities and natural environment.
As I left Damyang, with new friendships and connections made and the hope of collaboration, the spirit of the bamboo continues to resonate with me.
(Thank you, in Korean)
For more information on the WBO www.worldbamboo.net
For more information on the New Zealand Bamboo Society bamboo.org.nz