Gallery: Oracle Beater: Bike-Powered Paper Mill Turns Invasive Plants I...

Image © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat
What does paper-making have to do with design beyond the obvious? When the whole process is done thoughtfully, it can have a profound impact on all those involved. At this year’s A Better World by Design conference, Mary Hark, professor at the Design Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of HARK! Handmade Paper Studio, presented her latest paper-making venture. She has implemented a program in Ghana that promises to bring amazing change to the Asante region. With the help of the bicycle-powered Oracle Beater, designed by Lee McDonald, fine art papers are produced from an invasive plant species making the process ecologically sound and allowing production to be unaffected by regular power outages.

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  1. travelmore December 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    That’s all fine and good for the economy, but if local farmers are now expanding the range of invasive mulberry (as noted in the article), then what’s the point? If the goal is to get rid of invasives, then it’s clear that this approach DOESN’T WORK. Turning invasive species into a commodity only encourages people to grow more of it. Whoops. Who saw that coming?

  2. mjthompso October 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Brilliant! This project exemplifies the synergy born of authentic collaborations. Brava, Mary and all!

  3. lazyreader October 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Free market environmentalism……It’s an expensive process to remove all the invasive weeds, unless it’s just a labor cost. Africa also has a problem with another invasive plant, Water Hyacinth. It’s thick tough fibers make it all but impossible to remove from water ways which choke due to lack of sunlight which kills other water plants and starves dissolved oxygen. Some local industries have harvested the material and converted the tough fibers into a similar wicker material to make furniture out of it.

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