Just last week a team of inspiring designers began to ride their hand-built bamboo bikes across America to share the story of the Alabamboo initiative. Alabamboo is a collaborative effort by non-profits and businesses that recently shot up to bring sustainable bamboo production to Alabama. Centered in Greensboro, Alabama, home of Rural Studio, one of the initiative’s many branches is the Alabamboo Bike Lab. Inspired by Brooklyn’s Bamboo Bike Studio, the lab works fast-growing bamboo into stylish, sustainable and sturdy rides. It simultaneously brings clean, affordable transportation and green employment opportunities to the rural area’s low-income population.
The bike lab has received newfound publicity as the first initiative of COMMON, a new initiative from radical designers John Bielenberg and Alex Bogusky that is part business incubator, part creative community. COMMON helped brand the bike lab and other state-wide bamboo programs “Alabamboo” as the first step toward making Alabama mean bamboo the way Florida means oranges and Idaho means potatoes. Now members of COMMON and Project M, another Bielenberg initiative, are leading the cross-country bamboo bike ride, raising awareness at each stop along their trail.
However, the bike lab is only one of the many initiatives that are branded Alabamboo. The larger collaboration aims to strengthen Alabama’s flagging rural economy and society by introducing the rapidly renewable agricultural product to the area through a number of methods. Ideally this will lead to more jobs, more localized production and cleaner air. Considering that bamboo is such an efficient carbon-sequestering plant, we think any move to popularize it is a good one. What’s your opinion? Will your next bike be Alabamboo?