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The Green Life: "Woodwalk" to Bring Kenya to California

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September 19, 2011

"Woodwalk" to Bring Kenya to California

Paradigm project photo Think backpackers are tough? At least they get cushy shoulder straps. A few months ago, we spotted the Paradigm Project’s Greg Spencer, who calls himself "Stoveman." His upcoming fifth webisode will document the Woodwalk: Starting on Oct. 4, a group will trek 105 miles over 11 days while hauling 60-pound bundles of wood on their backs. According to Spencer, that feels like someone is “standing on your shoulders with butter knives on the soles of their feet.”

Three billion people still cook over open-pit fires. Debilitating respiratory illness, excessive carbon pollution, and wood-collecting odysseys through muggy jungles and harsh deserts are just a few of the repercussions. The Paradigm Project aims to alleviate the problem by distributing rocket stoves around the world. Spencer documented these issues in his web series' early installments. Buoyed by its initial success, he wants to do more.

His engagement with the issue began during a trip to Africa, when he saw these problems up close. He wants you to see them too. With an idyllic but arduous journey up California's coast, he hopes to amplify America’s awareness of this unnecessary adversity that stands between half the planet's population and their daily meals. He will bring the problem home.

Spencer is building an “authentic” Kenyan hut on his back deck. A trailer will move the hut between the Woodwalk’s checkpoints, allowing Spencer and company to perform demonstrations at their various stops along the route. The primary exhibit shows the difference in smoke and efficiency between open-pit fires and rocket stoves. You are invited to stand in the hut until the water boils, but you probably won’t last that long. Spencer likens the aftereffects to a three-day flu.

The journey, which starts in San Diego, ends on Oct. 13 at Space15Twenty, a chic outdoor venue in Los Angeles. It begins whenever the sweaty trekkers get there (probably around noon) and continues into the evening. There’ll be the aforesaid Kenyan hut demo, followed by a concert (talks with a popular indie band are in the works).

Of course, attendees are encouraged to give. Even small donations have a serious impact. One rocket stove improves fuel efficiency by up to 70%, reduces harmful smoke, and costs only $40. People can spend more time with their families, decrease their environmental footprint, and protect their health. The Paradigm Project aims to distribute nearly half a million by 2015. Who knows? Maybe you’ll want one for your own kitchen.

--Jake Abrahamson / image by Rodney Rascona courtesey of the Paradigm Project

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