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 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

Bamboo Happenings  

05/07/2013

Saturday was a beautiful day and we walked to the Ideas City Festival at and around Sara Delano Roosevelt Park. To be fair we mostly went in search of stuff to keep my son entertained, but there is always something for grownups. The key attraction for us is the crafts and building project for young people. And this year amid some cool stuff, drawing booths, an inflatable dome, truly awesome costumes, and a piece examining the limits of performance art, was one of the coolest construction projects I have seen since the mid 1960's.
That's right. Burned in my brain from fifty years ago is a happening event in Central Park. At a time when people were fleeing to the suburbs the parks commissioner (Thomas Hoving) and mayor (John Lindsay) wanted to create events in Central Park to get people back connected to that giant public space. This was when closing the park to cars on weekends was just being tested.
So the park held a "happening" and all around Belvedere Castle groups of young and old people, hippies and princesses, gathered to build their own castles out of found materials. If you want to get young people to imagine what can be done with their own two hands, and how much fun it can be, maybe even, as in my case, burn an indelible image on my brain and help turn me into a maker, let kids make real stuff with real materials.

Back to Saturday. Sub Rosa, a NYC based advertising and promotion company decided to exhibit in the fair for no reason other than it is a good cause, a good idea, and fun. Their booth wasn't some big advert for their company, I doubt if many adults knew what they were about as a company, but it didn't matter. Their booth was a pile of bamboo, some sticks as long as 10 feet, a huge number of kids,
Adults and kids of all ages wandered in grabbed as much bamboo as they wanted, cable ties and built something. House skeletons, ladders, teepee poles, swings, or just more poles on poles. The rules were few, the imagination was massive. By the time we got there the structure was substantial and very very cool.
Blake Dain the organizer of the Bamboo city, said that in addition to doing something fun, they wanted to encourage experimentation with bamboo which in this country (not in Asia) is a very underutilized renewable resource. Sub Rosa originally thought adults would do more of the building, but it was the kids who really seized the day. The exhibit also show how much building is in our nature. We didn't have to tell these kids to build something, they had sticks and cable times, they easily figured out what to do on their own.
Long term what will be the result of this exhibit? Trust me, The more we let kids play with real tools and real materials in a free form way the more we will create makers and woodworkers in the future.
Congratulations Sub Rosa for an inspiring exhibition and a job really, really well done.

Tags:Historical Subjects
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