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Re: GSBN: International Conference for Africa

Andy -

Thanks very much for your report of the status of straw bale building in
South Africa, both in general and relative to a future ISBBC.  Your
description of the attitudes of those in "undeveloped" countries towards
indigenous ways of building compared to the ways of the industrialized
"first world" countries, is a major problem in many parts of the world.  It
is equally a problem from inside "first world" countries, where ways of
building in the "third world" (I really have a hard time using that term)
are viewed as backward and inferior, even though many have been successfully
utilized for centuries.

David Eisenberg's detailed and thoughtful e-mail preceding mine said a lot,
and said it well.  Given the reality that so many look to the west (and
especially the U.S.) it has become increasingly important that we get all of
these "natural" and sustainable materials and building systems into our
codes, lest the rest of the world follow us off the approaching cliff.  In
the meantime I'm happy that people in South Africa (and other places) so
readily change their attitude about straw bale construction once they see an
exemplary straw bale building from the U.S., Europe, or down under.

Keep up the good work, and best of luck melting those bureaucratic road
blocks.  It's good to hear from you.

Martin Hammer

> Dear all,
> just to say that unfortunately I would say South Africa is far from ready to
> host the next or near future SB International conference. At present there
> is no real unified network of Straw balers here....just a bunch of inspired
> individuals building inspite of all the odds. The expansion of the SB
> movement is being increasingly stymied by a tightening of inappropriate
> government/bank leglislation when it comes to building new homes in natural
> building materials (though ironically not when it comes to other types of
> buildings). With home builder pioneers being at the mainstay of the SB
> building movement, I don't see a conference being viable here until we
> overcome this hurdle..... so that SB and other forms of natural building can
> take their rightful place in addressing some of the huge inequalities we are
> faced with in this country.
> I so wish to be able to afford the cash and time to attend one of your
> conferences within the next few years.....as I would find it invaluable to
> be able to see, understand and photograph a range of quality SB buildings in
> a first world country....particularly the States.....to bring back here to
> showcase.
> To explain.(could write a thesis on this topic)..... Ironically most South
> Africans are not easily impressed by what is done locally, but show someone
> what is being done in a first world country and you gain almost immediate
> respect/status. Basically what you have to understand is that South Africa
> is still dogged by a 3rd world mentality (even though many parts and peoples
> of South Africa are also very much first world). Thus there is this momentum
> that drives 3rd world countries (certainly in Southern Africa) to strive for
> what the 1st world nations have achieved.and turn their backs or look down
> on what is local and what is percieved as backward or undeveloped. So when I
> show a government person an example of one of my SB buildings, they remain
> highly sceptical, that is until expalin how rich folk in America are
> building them.
> looking forward to attending a future conference
> with respect
> Andy Horn
> Eco Design Architects
> tel/fax: 07 21 4621614 /  4613198
> www.ecodesignarchitects.co.za
> 160 Sir Lowry Rd. Zonnebloem,
> 7925, Cape Town
> South Africa
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Martin Hammer" mfhammer@...
> To: "GSBN" GSBN@...
> Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 1:26 AM
> Subject: Re: GSBN:Next International Conference
>> Laura, thanks for bringing up the important subject of the location of
>> 2008.  I have very strong feelings about this.
>> First, however, without going into detail, I want to say I thought the
>> recent ISBBC in Ontario was an extraordinary success, and I thank all of
>> those in Ontario who did such great work making it so, as well as everyone
>> who attended and contributed.  Truly amazing, diversely informative, and
>> routinely inspiring.  Maybe in a future e-mail (or TLS article) I or
>> others
>> could share more about this.  And without diminishing the enormous work
>> that
>> many in the Ontario SB Coalition did, a special thanks to Chris Magwood
>> for
>> his steady presence throughout and for his inspired closing address.
>> OK.  ISBBC 2008.  Two offers to host ISBBC 2008 were expressed at the
>> Ontario conference.  One from Maurice Bennett of CASBA (for California)
>> and
>> one, as Laura has stated for Colorado.  Of course any offer to host and
>> take
>> on the large task of making it happen is greatly appreciated.  Both
>> California and Colorado have been fertile ground in the evolution of straw
>> bale building.  But I feel strongly that, if at all possible, the ISBBC
>> 2008
>> should not be in North America  (I also think the U.S. should get out of
>> North America, but that is a different matter).
>> 3 of the first 5 ISBBCs have been in North America (California '99,
>> Nebraska
>> '00, Ontario '06).  '02 was in Australia, and '04 was in Denmark.  Without
>> knowing if anyone or group is willing/able to take this on, it seems to me
>> that having the '08 conference on the continent of Asia (e.g., China) or
>> Africa (e.g., South Africa) would keep the conference on an expanding
>> course
>> instead of a shrinking one.  If that is not possible, then maybe somewhere
>> in Europe (e.g., Germany, France, the U.K., Spain) or New Zealand.
>> Belarus,
>> also seems like a possible candidate.  In addition to the obvious
>> importance
>> of the willingness of the host, there may be other considerations, such as
>> native language, and ease (including cost) of people in the worldwide
>> community getting there.
>> After '08, I could see the conference accepting the kind offer of those
>> from
>> Colorado (which certainly has a lot to show), or wherever else seems
>> appropriate.
>> So those are my thoughts on the subject, and without knowing how this
>> decision gets made, I hope this stimulates productive discussion.
>> Martin Hammer
>> California, USA
>>> Dear International Community,
>>> At the end of the great international conference in Canada recently, the
>>> Colorado contingent stood up and offered to have the next int'l
>>> conference ('08?) in Colorado, where we have several locations to choose
>>> from with high concentrations of straw bale homes, schools and other
>>> structures as well as a very active state association. There were also
>>> conversations among other folks about whether the next conference should
>>> be moved off the North American continent. Being new to this int'l
>>> conference scene, I thought I would represent the CO folks and write to
>>> all of you asking for your comments. Does it really come down to who is
>>> willing and able to host such an event or is there some more meaningful
>>> way to navigate this choice? We would be honored to have the chance to
>>> host such an event, but are very sensitive to the global needs.
>>> Thanks for your thoughts on this,
>>> Laura