A Bamboo Bike Designed to Lift People From Poverty
AUGUST 28, 2013Joseph Flaherty, WiredThe Semester Bicycle is the product of a consortium of design-focused organizations trying to bring sustainable businesses and job training to Greensboro, Alabama. Greensboro is part of the so-called southern “Black Belt,” originally named for its rich soils, but more recently reflecting the gloomy economic reality brought about by factory closings, agricultural migration, and the erosion of human capital.
Design professor Lance Rake and community organizer Pam Dorr believe they can help provide training wheels to youths looking to enter the workforce by ramping up production of their hand-built bikes. In 2012 Rake traveled to India where he worked with Professor A.G. Rao at the Indian Institute of Technology, who had created a pioneering program that taught the rural poor to build bamboo baskets to earn money. This experience gave Rake the confidence that the model could work in the U.S., and he set out to design a product, and production process, that would fill a market need while creating jobs in the community.Read more: Wired