The Black Belt region of Alabama’s history is steeped in agriculture. It is also a part of the history of the greater American South that includes religion, slavery, and a struggle to define its legacy as well as its future. How do we use the positive and relevant aspects of its past as a primary influencer to define it’s future? Increasing bamboo production and usage can give Alabama’s Black Belt region an undeniable advantage of becoming a model for the future of sustainable economic development.
Cultivating bamboo in the region will allow it to become a large producer of homegrown material usable in a multitude of products. Utilizing this pathway toward innovative industry, we think it makes sense to focus on using bamboo in the places that matter to us most. Bamboo-made products can become a part of our public and private lives. Reconnecting to the powerful images and positive stories of the American South, we can present bamboo as a viable material for life. In the process, we will create the opportunity to develop, strengthen and integrate Alabama’s Black Belt region.
We invite accomplished architects and designers to use bamboo as the primary material in telling the story of the American South. During the height of cotton production, plantations were widespread throughout the region. Central spaces defined this culture’s traditions: oral storytelling, singing, and dancing traversed the struggles faced daily. In fact, communal spaces were protagonists in their own right. The exhibit will showcase bamboo as a new material, evoking its power to blend space and time. Through this medium, designers will herald bamboo as a serious material from which a new modern, luxurious and ultimately accessible era will be created.