I need to share with you my feelings as I head home after the first World Bamboo Workshop held in Huatusco, Mexico. WATCH THE VIDEO. We've just experienced a wonderful event of sharing and growing. Sincere thanks go to World Bamboo Ambassadors (brothers) Guillermo and Martin Mortera of DICMA Trade, and Mauricio Guillaumin, CEO of Bambuver for coordinating and hosting this amazing experience. Immediately following, a devastating earthquake struck this region in Mexico. A thousand miles away, Hurriacane Maria is trashing the islands of the Caribbean.
I've come so far in so many ways. In the 1980's, I was drawn to bamboo as an ornamental plant. In 1992, I discovered an international community interested in the myriad of possibilities of bamboo. The past 25 years I have grown to realize more and more the human side of bamboo. First a horticulturist, a "wannabe" botanist, an avid environmentalist, a true naturalist, and now a fully committed humanist. WATCH THE VIDEO
As the communities in Mexico clean up the rubble, bury the dead, repair the homes, and count their blessings, the islands of the Caribbean do the same. Thousands, if not millions, around the world seek safe shelter, either temporary or permanent. Refugees who will never return to their dangerous homelands, or those exposed by natural disasters needing shelter from floods or hurricanes or earthquakes, need our help. It doesn't matter to them that bamboo is beautiful or that bamboo is sustainable or that bamboo is the food of the pandas. What matters to them is that bamboo can house them, protect them, keep them warm, give them shelter, and even provide them with food.
This past week the world celebrated World Bamboo Day. In 2009, WBO President Kamesh Salam proposed this idea to the Royal Forest Department of Thailand, and so it was proclaimed on September 18. I am so in awe of what this day has become. From its humble beginnings, it has gone "viral" among bambuseros and beyond. We all need to applaud the efforts of Kamesh and continue to #KeepBambooStrong with annual celebrations to expand bamboo's reach as a sustainable alternative to timber and fiber, as a plant with potential to improve communities and remedy environmental degradation.
In Paris, WBO President Michel Abadie celebrated World Bamboo Day by remembering the spirit of the <Damyang Call - Bamboo for Planet>. He says "We must collaborate to get an official designation from the United Nations to declare September 18th World Bamboo Day". He was joined by World Bamboo Ambassador Jean-Luc Kouyoumji at UNESCO with a document to open the way for international recognition of World Bamboo Organization and its 4.000 members, and to make clear the important role of World Bamboo Day as an international manifestation to promote the use of bamboo.
Another big milestone is our following on the World Bamboo group page on Facebook. We have over 5,000 followers! We do our best to keep posting news, events, and info on a few social media venues, and apparently it makes a difference! This collection of people, this network of joining and sharing, shows that people are seeing the potentials of bamboo, and are looking to learn more about bamboo. Like me, you share this appreciation and want to see bamboo be all that it can be to help others and our planet. Thank you.
People ask, "What does WBO do?" "Is WBO an NGO?" "How do I become a member?" "Can you help me?" over and over and over.
My answer is this: WBO strives to connect people wanting to live better with bamboo. It connects bamboo to humanity. We are non-governmental, sure. We work with businesses, sure. However,our strength is in our people. Our strength is in our team of World Bamboo Ambassadors, our World Bamboo Pioneers, our World Bamboo Partners. We are not dictated to working with national governments. Our hands are not tied. We are well aware of the plague of corruption and political tug-of-war. We cringe knowing that some projects pay the top, with little left for the people on the bottom. We aren't interested in "trickle-down". We want the best for those at the bottom. We want respect for the people who need bamboo the most, the vulnerable, the less fortunate.
We want to improve the natural environment of our planet. We want landscape restoration, not just more resources to exploit. We want to develop bamboo resources not just to see profits or riches, but for community development, for a better human condition, with safer housing, for cleaner air and water, for a wide variety of wildlife habitat, for nutritious food. We want the whole package of a better planet. WATCH THE VIDEO
Yes, we need international standards (i.e. ISO) and policies and economic investment. Bureaucracy takes patience. It swings one way and then the other. Change takes time. But in the past thirty years in which I have committed myself to learning about bamboo, I have seen positive change. We have come together and made things happen.
Let's please collaborate further to coordinate workshops and events that focus on how bamboo can make our collective lives better. For example, let's teach how to provide emergency housing, temporary shelter, build permanent healthy homes, schools and buildings.
Stay tuned for news about the next World Bamboo Workshop in Lima, Peru. If you have experience in disaster relief shelters, please contact me directly. We need your help.
Reminder: Call for Papers is on! If you want to be considered for an oral presentation or poster presentation at the 11th World Bamboo Congress in Xalapa, Mexico next August, please see the guidelines on the website, www.worldbamboocongress.org
And if you want to be a part of this global phenomena, register now for the Early Bird discount !
Thank you forever for your support.
Susanne Lucas, Executive Director WBO / firstname.lastname@example.org