In 1992, Susanne took part in the III International Bamboo Congress held in Minamata, Japan. By that time, the need for a non-governmental international body for bamboo collaboration was growing. A group of like-minded souls, some whom had met at previous events, began round-table discussions and formed the International Bamboo Association. Susanne emerged as the North American Coordinator. The days spent in Japan with new friends from around the world changed her life forever.
Without major funding support and before the days of the world-wide internet capabilities, the IBA survived as a group of committed volunteers. Susanne subsequently became the International Coordinator, and as her office became the headquarters, her commitment solidified into a life-long endeavor. Professionally and mentally, Susanne’s days are filled with bamboo. She manages 3 separate companies, in which one she is a horticultural consultant and landscape designer, in another she steers and promotes a commercial line of in-vitro bamboo clones for the U.S. nursery industry (BambooSelect), and last, but not least!, Susanne is the CEO of the World Bamboo Organization.
In 2003, Susanne developed an alliance with I.V. Ramanuja Rao, of India, and Karina Quintans, of Boston. Through many discussions of structure, of potential directors, of goals, the 3 agreed upon a mission statement and developed a platform and program for a World Bamboo Congress. In August of 2003, the 3 agreed upon an arrangement with India’s Ministry of Agriculture to host the VII WBC in February 2004 in New Delhi.
Soon, the World Bamboo Organization launched a website, established an administrative board, and applied for U.S. tax-exemption status. In 2005, corporate by-laws were adopted, and the WBO obtained U.S. 501-c-6 status as a United States trade association. This was all great progress, but there were no funds and no corporate sponsors. Again, committed volunteers kept WBO alive, and Kamesh Salam, of Assam, was appointed President to bring new energy to the World Bamboo Organization.
In November 2008, Susanne and Kamesh set their sights on Bangkok for the next World Bamboo Congress and through collaborations within Thailand, began coordinating this amazing global event.
The VIII World Bamboo Congress took place at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel on the 16-18 September, 2009. Over 400 people participated from over 40 countries. Stories and memories can be found elsewhere on the WBO website.
Susanne worked with Professor Walter Liese to see the review and edit of over 100 submitted papers from a vast array of subjects, which resulted in the presentations given in Bangkok, as well as the Official Proceedings. [ ISSN 2150-1165 (CD ROM) Watershed Media, media editors ]
The IX World Bamboo Congress was held in Antwerp, Belgium in April 2012. Hosted by IKEBANA and the University of Antwerp, the level of science was exemplary. The Official Proceedings (from both the VIII and IX WBCs) are available for download on this website.
Already planning is underway for the X WBC to be held in Damyang, South Korea: 27 June – 1 July 2015. Stay tuned! It will be an amazing event.
As 2012 comes to an end, Susanne feels stronger than ever that the time is right for bamboo. It has always been right, but particularly now, bamboo deserves a fresh perspective as a natural resource with tremendous potential.