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David Sands: Bamboo Living: Bettering Our Inner and Outer Worlds



Jun 25, 2016

David Sands
Host: Deven Shah
Moderator: Rish Sanghvi

Rish: So a little background on David before we get started.

David is a visionary architect who has made sustainable living his life's work. He is the co-founder and chief architect of an organization called Bamboo Living in Maui, Hawaii--a company that pioneered the use of bamboo as building materials as a way to protect and restore the planet.

He recently also founded Bamboo Ecologic which produces structural bamboo panels which yet another step in making sustainable living a possibility.

David is considered an international leader on structural bamboo, and he designs homes and prototypes for large scale constructions also.

When I was taking to him earlier this week, I got the sense that he is a believer in alternative modes, not just of living, but healing also. He is a lifelong yoga and pranayama practitioner. He was sharing with me that he once had a ruptured eardrum spontaneously heal after a few Ayurvedic sessions, and since then he has maintained a daily practice of 1,000 Kapalbhati pranayams everyday upon the advice of his Ayurvedic doctor.

Let's welcome this very versatile individual to the call. Welcome David. Looking forward to our conversation.

David: Thank you, Rish, so much. It is wonderful to be here.

Rish: Thank you. Now, David, you are hailed as an international leader in your field. Can you give us a sense of what is the scope of your work with bamboo? What do you have to do? What have you done? And how many homes do you have to build in order to become an international leader in the field?

David: Sure, I think the biggest reason why I'm considered that is because of getting, with my team here, bamboo through the United States Building Code, which is actually an international code; it is used in other places as well. That was an extended seven year process to do that since there was no real reference point for it.

Actually, what was really helpful was that India had a bamboo building code standard and there were engineers already familiar with the material that could help the US engineers.

Rish: And how did you find your calling for bamboo initially?

D: Sure, so the piece for me was that I built a house maybe 25 years ago for myself on Maui and was really trying to be as sustainable as i could. It was off the grid, photovoltaic, which was something really significant at that time. I used a lot of recycled material. One of the big hotels on Maui had remodeled and I bought 50 of these very large mahogany levered doors and turned those into all the walls.

But when they delivered the lumber it was just...Oh boy, so many trees get used in conventional construction in the US. And i was just looking for a better way. A friend who was the builder for me for the project had just come back from the World Bamboo Congress in Bali, said let's do this. A friend of ours was willing to be the first client, so that was essentially it.


R: You said something earlier, David. You said, "When I was building my home 25 years ago, I tried to be as sustainable as possible." Where did that desire for you come from? Because many of do many things and to have that so front and center where you are willing to actually change something as large as building your house differently. That is a pretty big deal.

D: Sure, I could say it really comes from my parents. My mom was a very environmentally engaged. She took on the lake and water quality for central Florida where I grew up as a project and ended up on the Governor's Task Force for the environment for Florida as a result of her number of years of work.

And then my dad was a lover of nature. We were out a lot as kids in nature, camping almost every month.

And then the bald cypress had all been cut in our area and he took it on for himself as a replanting program. The whole area where I grew up has maybe thousands and thousands of these beautiful cypress trees that are the results of these seeds and plants that my dad spread through the area.

R: Wow, that is amazing. Do you ever go back to Florida and visit these places?

D: I do. My mother is still there and my younger brother still lives there on the lake where I grew up which is now surrounded by cypress trees.

R: That is beautiful. David, could you tell us a little about your prior life. I read that you spent a lot of time studying yoga at the Kripalu Center. Could you share a little about that?

D: Sure, it is funny how we start things never for quite the right reasons or often that's the case. It certainly was for me. I started transcendental meditation in college because the captain of the swimming team which I was on said it was helping him swim better and do better at school.
I thought, "Ok, that sounds good." I started meditation, and I realized what a phenomenal thing I had stumbled upon. Before that, my mind was pretty hypercritical. And the meditation would give me these quiet periods of time without the attacking criticism of my mind. I flourished. I was proselityzing for TM right away. This is the best thing ever.

I got a lot of people to start. What happened was the people that came to me because they saw that I was being different and was somehow changed by what I was doing were the ones that really stuck with it.

R: What kind of changes are we really talking about?
Are we talking about just more calm or what is it that people noticed?


D: Yeah, I think that was a big one, was more calm and self confidence. Those are two big ones. I think that we see that with little kids. They're naturally self confident, and it is only when the mind learns to criticize it kind of erodes self confidence. So really giving it a chance to rebuild itself.

R: Yeah, kind of relearning confidence as well. How does that take you to the Kripalu Center?

D: So I've been doing TM pretty much twice a day everyday for about 5 years and two things had happened. One is that my roommate in college had wanted to go see Muktananda was in Gainsville, so it was the first time I had met an Indian teacher. And the first time I had chanted, and I just loved it.
Then Ram Das came through and he said if you are serious about this you'll take some time in an ashram. I was definitely serious about it and a couple of months later Yogi Desai was there in Gainsville, and I went to a retreat he was putting on and had a very powerful spiritual experience during that retreat which was really an eye-opener for me. And I just decided that is what I am doing. I had just graduated. It was within a month of my graduation  and was trying to figure out what I would do next.
I looked at Vista, Peace Corp, things like that, and this just felt like the right thing. I moved there fairly quickly.

R: You stayed there for a while, right?

D: Yeah, the first time for about a year and a half. And it was the most rapid change in my life. What I experienced is that they had created safe and sacred space. My theory behind that is that all the dysfunction that we develop in our lives, the patterns that are not helpful in living a fulfilled life are the result of defense mechanisms. So essentially we experience an unsafe or traumatic environment in our childhood and then we develop these mechanisms for coping with that.

Those mechanisms tend to have side effects basically. Originally, they are designed to keep us safe, but ultimately they keep us stunted from actually fulfilling our potential. So I experienced this safe place for first time really in my life. I mean I had incredible loving parents. I grew up with wonderful friends. But the environment was very competitive. There was a sense of kind of watch your back. I had an older brother who was abusive when i was a kid. So I developed these mechanisms that weren't useful.

I just saw them unravel within that year and a half. I was a different person. I was really someone that I really wanted to be. It was phenomenal. And the level of mastery. The ability to direct my mind and have it follow my directions was a phenomenal discovery and that took practice.

R: Wow, there is a lot there in what you just said. A couple of threads I'd like to follow up on. The Kripalu Center sounded like an amazing group, period for you. What made you want to leave this cocoon of safe space? I feel like if I found something like that I would never want to leave.

D: Right. So one of the pieces was that I was in a relationship in college. And I didn't feel like I could make it work with my disfunctions. And after a year and a half of really working to develop some self mastery, I felt like I could do this. I could make this work. So I went back to pick up on that relationship. But it didn't work that way because they had moved on in their life. But that was the motivation.

Then I was there in Florida. And I realized that I am here. I should spend some time working and getting to know the real world. Going back to grad school. i ended up doing that to get my architectural degree which allowed me to get licensed. So there was a period of time where I was not at the ashram, but I was continuing my practices.

The interesting thing behind that was that I kind of assumed that one of my mother's friends who headed up one of the largest architectural firms in the US at the time. I thought, "Ok, when I graduate from grad school, I'll go work for that firm to get my chops down and really get to know what being an architect is all about."

As I was approaching graduation, I mentioned that to my dad, and he pretty much floored me by saying, "Is that what you really want to do?" And I had just never conceived that I wouldn't do what was expected. And I thought about it. And I thought, "You know, the happiest I ever was was living at Kripalu living at the ashram." Why would I not want to go back there. So basically that is what I did for another six years.

R: Wow, so you stayed almost 8 years at the ashram?

D: I did. Yeah.

R: David, at one level you said that the immediate factor leading to the involvement in bamboo was you were building this home and then the Bamboo Congress came around, but in the larger sense what if any connections do you see between this deep time of self growth that you had--the time studying yoga and being at the ashram--and the work that you do now? What seeds in retrospect were planted then if any?

D: Sure. I think the biggest one is the sense of seva. Your growth through action/karma yoga. And really using our lives to make a difference. That was one of the things that was so fulfilling about life at Kripalu at that time. We supported ourselves by running a yoga center. So folks from around the country and other places would come and do yoga retreats there. And were having their lives bettered and changed because of that. Being a part of that process was very fulfilling.

So the piece that I got from that is that it is really in the service that the fulfillment comes. So when I left the ashram for the second time and I was looking to take the next steps in my life and looking to do something that I felt like really mattered to me. I tried for a while just being a green architect and just bring sustainability to my projects, but that wasn't fulfilling enough. That wasn't working for me in giving me the level of fulfillment I was seeking. So I took some months off and wrote an environmental screenplay, an eco-thriller that was really bad, but I learned a lot in the process.

And I applied for a professorship in teaching architecture because I had been very fulfilled when I was teaching as a grad student and teaching yoga. So I thought, "Ok, that is something where I could really contribute."

I didn't get the professorship, but what ended up happening during that time is that Kripalul called and asked me to come onto their board. The founder had recently resigned and they were having a tough time economically. And then the friend who had been the builder for my house called, and he had just come back from the World Bamboo Congress,
and said, "Let's do this together."


I said, "Yes to both."


R:  Beautiful. So turning our attention to your initial foray into bamboo, at one point you had mentioned that when you started working with Jeffrey, that it was really a labor of love in the beginning. It was in many ways quite an uphill path. Can you share a little bit about, what was the initial process of discovery and learning like for you when you entered the field? Where did you face challenges and where did you find grace and guidance?

D:  Sure. What was really fun to get started was that we had a friend of ours who was willing to be the first client and we turned it into basically a weekend project. So I had my day job with my normal architectural clients and then on the weekends we would design and then prototype and onsite prefabs the first bamboo building that we worked on together. And it was a blast.  It felt like, this is really fun.

It's something that's making a significant difference in that it was the first permitted building structure in the US that was bamboo where we had actually gotten a building permit to build it. And we were doing something that was really a cutting edge for long-term potential transformation in terms of the way construction is done in the US.

So that part was really very, very fulfilling. I was very naive about it. I thought within a year I'll be just working on just bamboo projects and we'll have gotten this new business up and running. That ended up turning out to be, like I said, it was naive, and it took us about ten years until we had a real business. And the reason for that was initially each permit was a very onerous process because there was no building code standard in the US for bamboo. So permits took public hearings and extended periods of time. So it was very difficult to run it with any kind of efficiency.

So we realized very quickly we needed a building code standard. That whole next experience was quite a bit of grace involved, in terms of the timing and the way all the pieces fell together. But it did take seven years of work with the organization that writes the building code before we had a building code standard established for the bamboo.

R: You mentioned a couple of times, David, that the building code and getting bamboo structures to be part of the Western building code is a very big deal. Can you tell us a little bit more in the technical terms and lay terms, why that is such a big deal and has been such a blessing for the bamboo movement, if you will?

D:  Sure.  So bamboo was really unknown as a building material in the US prior to our developing the building code standards. So there were a lack of engineering information, a lack of experienced engineers having worked with the material.  And the building codes, again, it had just never been introduced so it was an unknown material to the building officials. The process for getting it known is quite extensive testing, a series of hearings, additional tests, you're looking at structural performance, fire performance, connections, structural performance in a fire, all the different combinations that might be a health a safety issue with it.

And then once you've done the initial testing you have to develop a protocol for manufacturing in such a way that you can assure that the product you're going to be building with meets the requirements that were initially set for the material.  So it's an extensive process and it took years of work getting it done. And we actually were really blessed. We did it relatively inexpensively. It was probably a half a million dollars on our part, but for a building standard that is considered very, very inexpensive.

The wonderful thing about it was that there was an international code-writing organization that had been started by a professor from The Netherlands called Jules Jonson under the auspices of INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan). I learned about the committee and I thought this is where I need to be and this is where we need to take ICC (International Code Council), who writes the building code. ICC didn't know anything about the material, so they said, well, we need to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can. And I got the vice president of code-writing organization invited on to that international committee with me. And here we were with engineers from around the world who were already familiar with the material, who had been working with it for years, and knew its properties and the issues and were working on an ISO (International Standards Organization) standard. So that saved years of work and lots of money by doing that.

R:  Therein lies the grace.

D: Absolutely.


R: Beautiful. I think now might be a good time to remind all of us, so why is bamboo such a big deal? You have said that your focus has been on replacing timer and steel, concrete wherever possible with bamboo.  Will you share with us some of the benefits of bamboo? And you've talked about this extensively elsewhere, but just to remind listeners.

D:  Sure, you bet. The fascinating thing about bamboo is it's a giant grass, and it's the fastest growing woody plant. The bamboo shoots and a good description of it is basically within a couple of months it's reached its full height and diameter.

 Then over the next couple of years it will leaf out and build structure.  So within three to four years you have a phenomenally strong material.  The bamboo that we use, one square inch on average would hold up fourteen thousand pounds before failure.  That's seven tons of weight on a square inch of material.


The other thing about it, well the first piece was that it grows so much faster than trees do.  There's a significant land-use savings in producing building material from bamboo as opposed to wood.  It varies based on the species of wood, but from three to thirteen times less land area is required to grow the same amount of building material.  And that's a huge deal in terms of the future of the planet.  
So the fascinating thing about it is that for every acre of bamboo that we put into production, we're saving around ten acres of trees from being cut because we're replacing that building material that would have come from cutting the trees.

The other piece was back in 2009, well even before that, I knew that bamboo sequestered a lot of carbon.  In 2009, I was asked to speak at the World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok that year.  As my speech and paper I had come across in the National Resource Defense Council magazine the quantity of carbon put into the atmosphere by human activity on an annual basis, both in the US and in the world.  And I had seen some numbers for the sequestration rates of bamboo.  I thought, okay this would be really interesting to look at creating a carbon sequestration strategy using bamboo. So I started working on that.

Ahead of the conference, Walter Lesay, a German professor and research scientist, circulated a paper to the other speakers of why bamboo would not work for carbon sequestration and he's pretty much the most highly respected bamboo researcher in the world.  So I read Walter's paper and I thought, okay, if I can address each one of the issues that Walter has brought up, I'll have a really solid sequestration strategy.  So I outlined that, sketched it out, and sent a draft to Walter and he said, yeah, that would work.  Because essentially what he was looking at was bamboo in the wild and the current uses of bamboo.
The issues there were that a bamboo grove or clump or forest will basically grow incredibly fast until the canopy is complete, and then it pretty much levels off to where it's replacing, as a culm dies, it will replace that piece of the canopy.  So it ends up hitting a steady state.  But if you're actually harvesting the bamboo on an annual cycle, you're opening up a third of the sun space of the canopy every year, and that sun space is filled by the next year's growths of bamboo.  

So you've got quite a high rate of carbon uptake that you're able to maintain over an extended period of time since you're not killing the bamboo plant by harvesting, you're basically mowing the lawn--it just keeps popping back up.

R: It's almost like a hybrid, treating it like a crop instead of a forest.

D: Yeah, exactly.  The other piece is the plant itself.  Normally when you harvest trees, you're killing the tree and you have to start from seedlings again to reforest.  So you might have a fairly high level of carbon uptake when the forest is mature, but then you're knocking it down and then those first number of years when there are these tiny little seedlings that you can't see much growth in, and you've got a lot of missing canopy at that point.  You don't have that issue with the bamboo.  

So he was very kind and agreed to meet me ahead of the conference in Bangkok and spend some days with me, working out and flushing out the strategy. 

So that's what I did and presented it in '09.

The bamboo living company that I started is really a niche business in that it's bamboo in the round, it's the natural bamboo culms being used for a structural material in construction--very beautiful.

 The houses and buildings have a wonderful feel to them, but it's not going to replace wood in terms of construction, or concrete or steel at any kind of scale.  It's a niche business.  There are a certain percentage of clients who are willing to do something completely out of the box and willing to do it for sustainable motives, but to really make a long-term, significant difference in the way that building material is produced, we need to be producing a material that's basically a replacement to something that's already prevalent in the market, which is dimensional material and composites, that sort of thing--panels.



R: And that's where Bamboo Ecologic comes in, right?

D: Exactly.  That project is really--we're just in the beginning stages of it, it looks like we'll be funded by the end of the summer and we will be in production early next year with our first facility. We're very excited about that.  The material right from the get go will be Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance certified, which are two of the best forest management certifications. We're very pleased to be able to introduce that.

R: And, David, shifting to the realm of possibilities, you have also, in addition to the sustainable aspects of bamboo, you've also written and talked about the possibility of developing low-cost housing solutions.  Could you tell us more about aspects like that?

D:  Sure.  If you look at the population curve in the world, there's a huge need for affordable housing that continues to grow, year after year.  One of the huge goals in the world that we're going to need to deal with is population growth, but in terms of the actual growth of the population, the housing need is going to be there for sure.

Having an affordable alternative, when you look at bamboo and the fact that it's the fastest growing woody plant--so it's the fastest way to get a woody building material, the most efficient in terms of land use because it is the fastest growing--it just makes sense to develop it to its full capabilities.  There are some pieces that need to be put in place to get to that level of efficiency in terms of production at some level of scale.

There are a number of pieces that need to be in place for that to happen.  One of those, in terms of creating truly affordable housing is creating panel products that are really easy to use, they have all of the qualities of a really great building material in terms of weather ability, structural stability, ease of working with them, ease of assembly, and, again, that there's a modularity to it so the buildings can grow over time as needs grow.  I had worked out a strategy for doing that.

We're not yet near being able to implement that, but it's something on my horizon and my interests and I'll continue pursuing it.  The first step is to get the structural panels into the market, and then the next step will be developing all the different aspects.  It's part of the bigger project.

R: What other possibilities are you seeing out there that may not be here today, but are in the future or imminent or where you're imagining this is a world of possibilities that can come to fruition?

D:  There's significant advancements in ceramics and the potential there is to have a polymerization process or things like cylica, readily prevalent materials that would and could provide the level of weather protection that's really needed for the highest quality in building materials.

Again, as glass is used for curtain walls, because of its brittle nature it's not typically structural of a roofing material.  If a glass could be developed to create ductility with it, then it has huge potential in terms of being an affordable component in a composite material, where bamboo would be the fiber.  That's something that I'm going to continue to pursue.

R:  I think we'll close--I have one final question for you and then we'll open it up to folks to see if they have any questions.  It's an amazing journey that you've been through, David. The question I have is what personal lessons have you learned from your hands-on work with bamboo that you'd like to share with us.

D:  I would say that the biggest thing is do everything you can do to bring your vision into reality and at the same time surrender it, because, in terms of being useful for our own personal growth, there needs to be growth in commitment and detachment at the same time.  The whole principal behind Karma Yoga is you do everything as if it matters and then you turn it over and recognize that, ultimately, none of it matters.  But it's important that you do it.

R:  That duality, sure.

D:  Exactly.

R:  Let me see if we have any questions--let's give a moment for the questions to start trickling in.


Deven Shah: How fascinating.  I learned so much about bamboo, how the growth rate and its ability to....and so the technology and the research breakthrough that you mentioned.  It seems like a very powerful tool I would say, or powerful way of cultivating sustainability.

While we are waiting for our callers, if I may, to all of our callers, when you press *6 on your phone, you get in the queue, and you share your call or ask your question at that time.  And for all of those streaming today, we understood there is a little discontinuity in the voice stream and our apologies for that.  If you have a question to ask or a thought to share, you are welcome to complete the contact form or simply email us at ask@servicespace.org and we will read your question.  For all of our callers dialing in via telephone, we always love to hear your voice so you are welcome to press *6 and get in the queue.
While we are waiting for the callers, David and Rish, if I may ask a question, being the host here.  David, you mentioned the process of...meaning that you do what you think you wanted to do and then you let it go, basically.  I always had this dilemma myself, and maybe you can help me a little bit, David.  It's like, when I'm passionate, when I'm putting my heart into it, that's when I'm burning so much energy and I'm making things happen.  But then how do I really put my heart in and not worry about the outcome?

 How do you achieve that?  Maybe we learn from you here.


David:  Sure, I believe that's really the practice itself.  Certainly, a regular practice of meditation really helps because you have some time when you recognize that we have a mind and we have these lives, but we're not our mind and we're not our circumstances and I think that's an essential realization to have.  The other piece is that no matter what we do, life happens.  Again, no matter what our best efforts are, it's not always going to be an easy road.  So you say you want to do this, I'm passionate about it, but ultimately you can be coming up against roadblocks.  For us it was no building code standards, so, well, I guess we have to develop one.  It's really about taking what shows up as fodder to support your passion, rather than obstacles to stop you from moving ahead.
Deven:  The passion for your mission and your vision and the process and not passion for the end or the outcome.  So enjoy the process and then....that as well.  Be happy that you have done all that you could...satisfaction.

We have one caller in the queue here, David.  And for all of our callers, when you press *6, it will get you in the queue and then review the prompt.  As you get your prompt, if you would please share with us your name and from where you are calling, we would really appreciate it.  We get to our next question.


Michelle:  Hi David, thank you so, so, so much for joining us and for sharing your visions and your past.  I'm really excited about you being on the call today because I've been involved in what I call transformational global leadership, and exploring that, and what it takes to fulfill a vision for every human being.  And it sounds to me that you're very much on that path and I would like to acknowledge you and thank you for having such big vision and being so diligent in following through despite paths that it takes and you just talked about.

David:  Thank you.

Michelle:  Thank you.  A question I have for you is--I've been involved with the sustainable development goals and the fulfilling of that, and what you're doing is very much in alignment with that.  The sustainable development goals is a vision for 15 years out or an engagement for 15 years.  I'm wondering what you see for 100 years out, 200 years out in the realm of ecologically sustainable building and the impact on the environment and on humanity.

David:  Sure.  So some of the pieces that are already being put into place for that--again, having affordable building materials for affordable housing is going to be a huge deal for that.  And I think bamboo can play a significant role in that.
And then the other side of that is that--what is interesting with bamboo is that--I was at IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) in Delhi some years ago, and, basically when we took bamboo through the building code in the US, we took it to initial failure and then developed working stresses based on that initial failure.  At IIT, they were looking at performance after initial failure.  And, whereas failure with concrete and steel are catastrophic, the failure with Bamboo was not.  So it would fail slightly.  It would hit another plateau, it would fail slightly again.  It would hit another plateau.  So the safety factors for a building in an earthquake could be tremendously, significantly better for tall buildings than with concrete and steel.
The fire issue with bamboo is addressable.  We've been able to attain a Class A level of fire rating with the pressure treatment process that we use for our bamboo.  So there's a movement afoot to develop tall timber buildings from mid-rise to high-rise--they call them "mass timber."  The potential there is that instead of our buildings having such a big negative impact in terms of the resource extraction--concrete is incredibly energy-intensive, cement is energy-intensive to make, steel is an extractive industry and uses quite a bit of energy as well.  You could have these very tall, mass timber buildings that were essentially carbon sinks, or where the CO2 in the atmosphere wasn't being tied up for centuries.  So, that's one piece.

The other was, in terms of land use, the ability to get bamboo up to scale in terms of its contribution to building material--the avoided deforestation that happens has a huge impact as well, because the forests that are currently being cut and essentially knocked down to close to zero to start again, in terms of their carbon sequestration, could be held at significant levels and the carbon that's stored in the trees stays in the trees.

It could be a very significant impact and I would say within that 100-year cycle, to where we might see that bamboo is sort of the go-to, default building material, rather than concrete, steel or wood.  The impact on the planet that that would have is very, very significant.  Again, a lot of research needs to be done and a lot of pieces need to be put in place, but you start from where you are and have a vision of where you want to go.

Michelle:  Great.  I'd love to talk to you further about that vision, if you're up for that.

David:  Sure.  I'd be glad to.  That would be wonderful.

Michelle:  Thank you so much for what you're doing.

David:  Thank you.  Thanks very much.

Deven:  Thank you, Michelle, for your call.  How fascinating that bamboo can be--should be--the primary building material and there's so much potential around it.  I love how you put the carbon footprint in such a holistic and simple way, actually, that...find it fascinating.  We have a couple more callers in the queue, so I'll get your next caller.  If you get a chance, please share your name and where you are calling from.  Let's get to our next caller here.


Wendy:  Hi, this is Wendy in Halfmoon Bay calling.  I'm curious--this may not be your area--but are there other uses for bamboo besides building? Or maybe the parts that don't get use for building, are the any other uses for the leaves, the branches?  Can it be used for medicinal uses or any other uses?  I'm kind of looking at the whole picture of the bamboo.  Are there any other uses for the bamboo.

David:  Sure.  There are a lot, actually.  In China, it was called "the plant of 1,000 uses."  In terms of technologically, the carbon from the bamboo is considered second only to the coconut shells, in terms of the quality of the activated carbon that you can get from it.  There's a soil amendment called Biochar.  In terms of tropical soil, there's a huge benefit that can be made from the bamboo waste.
The leaves are actually good fodder, in terms of running cattle, that sort of thing.  One of the biggest losses of rain forest in South America has been the cutting of the forest and conversion to pasturage for cattle.  The potential for bamboo to help with that, in terms of providing a three-dimensional lawn and getting much more bio mass out of an acre of land, as well as being able to maintain a source for the fodder is another piece.

And in terms of energy production, the bamboo has significant potential there, in terms of biomass energy-generation.  I do know that bamboo is used in some Eastern medicine formulations.  There's quite a few uses.  A lot of them are already known, but certainly when you start working with the material, and the technological research is tied to it, then you begin to find increasing uses.  Just like George Washington Carver and the peanut.
Wendy:  Thank you so much, and I so much appreciate the work your doing for sustainability of the planet.  Thank you.

David:  Thank you very much.

Deven:  Thank you, Wendy.  I'm always happy to hear your voice.  It's just fascinating, it just comes to me over and over, David.  It's so fascinating that bamboo is such a versatile plant, and there is so much...into that.

We have one more caller in the queue and let me get right to your next caller.  And again, if you please share your name and where you are calling from, we'd appreciate it.

Bob:  Hi, this is Bob McKee.  I'm an environmental trial lawyer in South Florida and considering a new project at one of my nurseries.  I'm a breeder of Desert Roses and I going to build my law offices and a resort-style item for healthy mind and body--Yoga, Pilates, so on and so forth--considering the different options that are available, and also a substantial activist on the legalization of hemp.  I'm wondering if you consider, David, aligning bamboo aspects of construction with hemp aspects of construction, and also whether or not you are amenable to designing a project in South Florida.

David:  Thank you.  I'm definitely very amenable to working in South Florida.  Florida is where I grew up and I would love to be involved in a project there.  And yes, definitely, what I would say is, in terms of medicine for the planet, the medicine kit contains a number of different plants.  Certainly, hemp is a very fast-growing, high-quality fiber and can be considered.  There's a material called hempcrete.  It's still using cement, but it's certainly a step in the right direction, in terms of the natural, recyclable, renewable fiber.

Deven:  Thank you for the question.  For all of our callers, if you would like to ask a question, if you press *6 on your phone, you get in the queue.  We always welcome your voice here.  If you have a thought to share, a reflection or a question, you are welcome to do so.


David, I am so inspired by your journey.  You have a strong foundation in Karma Yoga, your yogic practices and meditation and reflection.  Now you are using this call as a channel--with bamboo and sustainability and all the work you are doing--as a channel for really making a difference.
One question I have, while going through all this, what is the impact of the journey on you--how it's changing you from inside while doing all this?
David:  Sure.  It's been a phenomenal process for me in terms of the personal growth, the sense of commitment combined with detachment.  Again, there were several times in the early days of developing this company when the friend that I started it with and I would just look at each other and say, "Are we just crazy?"

And one of us would say, "No, let's keep going."

 Because we'd hit some sort of obstacle that just looked insurmountable, but you just keep moving through it.  There's kind of a strength of will that comes from that and a sense of essentially becoming unstoppable, to where if you say you're going to do something, you just do it, no matter what is going on around you.


That is very much, in terms of Tapas, in terms of Yoga, the heat of the commitment and the practice that ultimately comes with it.  And it has changed me.  I keep lifting my vision higher.

I've met several Yogis who have ultimate mastery.  I was back in Madras back in '85 and had the grace of meeting Swami Satchidananda Yogi.  It's not the Satchidananda from the West, but a phenomenal human being that really had mastery over life and death and he was one of the most incredible human beings I'd ever met.  When I met him, he had been in silence for 20 years.  He just wrote on a little slate.  But his lights were so bright and his level of self-mastery was just beyond this world, certainly.
Deven:  How inspiring, actually, to see you take it all in a perspective and continuing the homage and doing a journey and making a difference in the lives of so many people in such a beautiful way.  The more that I'm hearing from you, David, the more I feel like OMG, I know so little about bamboo.  And I grew up around bamboo and never really appreciated it in the light that I saw it today.
And so for all of the callers, what can we do or where can we go to learn more about bamboo and how it can help us?

David:  Sure.  Some of the pieces are--I look back to my original inspirations: Simón Vélez, an architect out of Colombia.  I came across some photos of his work where he had done these 90-foot three-span arches with 30-foot eaves on these beautiful, beautiful buildings and talked about the material and its potential.

And Linda Garland, she had had several covers of Architectural Digest the year I got started with her bamboo projects.  One of them was her bamboo home in Bali where she hosted the World Bamboo Congress.  She started the Environmental Bamboo Foundation there in Bali and her son continues that work, Arief.  Their certainly a resource for information.

INBAR, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan.  They're based in Beijing and they've done projects in bamboo around the world.  Again, they were the sponsors for that ISO committee that I was on.

Really, if you just dive in, doing the Google searches and all that, there's an amazing amount of material out there and, again, with some of the long-time researchers who have been working in bamboo for years--Walter Liese was really important for me.  Again, he really helped me develop the carbon sequestration strategy using bamboo.  There's a lot of resources, I'll say that.

Deven:  What we'll do for all our callers, we'll put all this in our transcript.  All on the call or on streaming, if you have any more questions or any more information you're looking for, you're welcome to email us after the call is out and we'll try to provide you the links and information that we have.  As we are approaching closer to our close, Rish, any thoughts from you, based on what you have heard from our callers and David today?


Rish:  I think this has been a really enlightening interview, like you said Deven.  David, we'd like to thank you on behalf of the community so very much for sharing your input and thoughts with us.  We really, really appreciate it.

David:  Thank you and thanks for the work that your community is doing.  It's such an essential piece.  I realize that our growth in consciousness will need to parallel the growth in technology to solve the issues.

Deven:  And that's such a beautiful thought:  thought and consciousness tying into technology you all maintain, so well embodied in your work and your message.  It's technology for the youth that is sustainable.  And that truly comes from the dialogue inside where you are really tuning into the right principles, the right ideas, and you're trying to do the right thing.

In ServiceSpace, we embody Mahatma Gandhi's principles, so when we try to pursue Mahatma Gandhi's principles, one of them is, "be the change you wish to see in the world."  And we could see you actually being the change that you are trying to achieve in the world.  And how inspiring.  We really appreciate it.

We always like to ask these questions to our callers and I'll ask you, David.  How can we, all of us--ServiceSpace, volunteers--can help you in such a beautiful journey that is making a difference in the lives of so many people?  How can we help you?
David:  Thank you.  A huge piece for me as we're going to have a proof of concept sometime next year, and I'm looking for future opportunities to be able to repeat that in other parts of the world that are bamboo-growing areas.  I would love, if there's folks that have those kinds of connections, it would be wonderful to be able to connect with them in that regard.

Again, around the political and governmental sustainability goals is if there are folks within your community that have those relationships--again, one of your callers had mentioned that--I would love to be able to reach out to them to present the strategy in such a way that we can gain some momentum quicker for being able to implement some of these changes in building material use.  So all of those pieces would be very, very helpful from our side in terms of what we are doing.

And I know that the intentionality is an important piece, so is holding a vision for a better world.  Holding a vision for humanity being able to rise to the occasion.  I think that's an essential piece--it chokes me up talking about it.

Deven:  How beautiful you say it.  You have a way to get to the essence of it so effectively.
What we'll be doing, David, is in the coming week or two, we'll publish the audio and transcript and blog.  And then we use the opportunity to spread the word on all of our other ServiceSpace channels as well.  So we get the word out.

I, for one, am your friend now and I want your project to be successful and I would love to see accelerated production of these amazing ideas that can really help us.  And your very last thing, in particular, this whole vision reminded me of one more Awakin caller, a guest we have about a year and a half ago.  She talked about compassion and the need for compassion.  Her name is Elizabeth Sartoris and she's like, we bring the humankind to civilization.  We are in such a pivotal moment in evolution where we are to embrace compassion, love each other in...ways to be sustainable in small ways where we are.  And we better do it sooner than later because the consequences actually could be disastrous for humankind.  It's a strong message from her, but it's so, so well captured.
I was relating it to your message, that vision for conscious change, and let's make it happen all together.

David:  That's so true.  There's a piece inside of that that is essentially, the source of the problems in the world are a misidentification and the source of compassion is recognizing that others and ourself are the same.  And that we share what I have.  The good we do for others is the good we do for ourselves.

And I think that learning that and actually implementing it is one of the biggest lessons that we can learn, in my opinion.  And the result of that is compassion and the commitment to action at the same time.  So thank you.

Deven:  Absolutely.  Thank you.  How grateful we are for today's call.  So many powerful stories and so many people joining us on the telephone line and also streaming.  Let's have a minute of gratitude, a minute of silence, please.  And after that we'll open up the queue and we thank David all of us all together.  So, one minute of silence, one minute of gratitude, please.

Thank you.  I'm going to unmute all of the callers, and then on my count of three, all of us say, Thank you, David.  One, two, three...

Callers:  Thank you, David.

David.  Thank you very much.  Namaste.

Deven:  Thank you very much and join us for our next Awakin call, next week at the same time.  Thank you so much to David and to all of our callers.
David:  Thank you.  I appreciate that so much.  Bye bye.