2 years ‘The Turning Wheel’ = 25 insights

In May 2011 I flew to Bali with my bicycle. Since September 2012 I am back in the Netherlands. On my way to Europe I conducted 32 workshop with over 600 participants, constructed 21 appropriate technologies, cycled 11329 km cycled and had 8 flat tires. Time for reflection. What did I learned? Here 25 new insights and lessons learned.

1. There is nothing more inspiring than inspiring people.

Workshop for young monks at the school for hope in the north of Thailand

Workshop for young monks at the school for hope in the north of Thailand

2. Development is about how people are connected to their social and natural environment – not about what kind of house, toilet or shower they have. However the kind of house, toilet or shower they have can connect people to their social and natural environment.

Women at an traditional celebration in a village in Laos

Women at an traditional celebration in a village in Laos

3. Cycling and conducting workshops is a cost-effective way to bridge local wisdom with modern know-how (and no multiple-management, administrative and bureaucratic layers in-between).

4. Everywhere around the world mobile internet is available however a much connection can be found with nature and local cultures.

Rice fields in Indonesia

Rice fields in Indonesia

5. Donations come in support of my efforts when I trust and don’t crave for them.

6. People everywhere around the world are amazingly friendly of which we can learn in Western Europe a lot. I couldn’t recognize anything what is shown in the the news everyday.

Kind family in Indonesia

Kind family in Indonesia

7. When local people cannot pay for the construction materials, the technology is not appropriate.

8. Children are smart: “Mister, What if solar water heaters would are installed everywhere would that cause global warming because all the collected heat?”

In an orphanage in Malaysia

In an orphanage in Malaysia

9. Riding a bicycle is like life: Environments are constantly changing, I have to keep moving in order to keep the balance in mind and on my path, it is only me who decide which direction I go.

10. It is about the road not the goal but in order to have a road we need a goal.

11. Almost every house in South-China has a solar collector. Autocracy can be very effective!

12. Poverty is very visible in urban areas but less so in rural areas even though they have less property.

13. It is not permitted to cross the border of China by bicycle but you can put the bicycle in a taxi.

14. Nomads, living in Gers, Mongolia do not need a toilet.

15. Solar water heaters are more popular than ecological toilets, even in tropical climates.

A urine diverting dry toilet constructed from local materials in Bali

A urine diverting dry toilet constructed from local materials in Bali

16. Self-made solar dryers can dry tomatoes in one day.

17. It is possible to heat water to 80oCelsius simply by using glass bottles, drinking tins, copper and screes.

A solar collector made from glass and drinking tins

A solar collector made from glass and drinking tins

18. As tourist, I pay 3 times the local price but, as a guest, I am not allowed to pay anything.

19. There are still remote villages where barter trade is the main survival strategy.

20. Zài nǎlǐ wǒ kěyǐ bǎ wǒ de zhàngpéng? Means: ‘Where can I put my tent?’ in Chinese.

21. After constructing many solar water heaters still the best warm shower is from the sky when cycling uphill near the equator.

After 5 hours climbing, the warm showers from the sky kept me going.

After 5 hours climbing, the warm showers from the sky kept me going.

22. A luxury resort is likely to give less financial support than an organic rice farmer.

23. It is good to stay calm when a drunk person threatens with a knife. Such a incident gives an amazing feeling of being alive.

24. Don’t put PVC pipe collectors in the sun without water.

A solar water heater made of PVC. Put in the sun without water.

A solar water heater made of PVC. Put in the sun without water.

25. It takes 3 hours to make a solar cooker. Using the solar cooker at noon produced a boiled egg within 2 hours, rice in 3 hours and bread in 4 hours. However, the rice did not fulfil the expectations of the refugees from Myanmar. 

A solar cooker made by Myanmar refugees

A solar cooker made by Myanmar refugees

P.s. I am still in contact most of with the people where objects are constructed. As far as I know almost all constructed objects are working. If I am mistaken I will be glad to hear this for further improvements.

Closing the loop in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is known as the country with horses, yurts and mountains. In the recent years another phenomena arose in this scenery country namely Urine diverting dry toilets. WECF and its local partners have been implementing over 500 ecological toilets in households, schools, water committees and other buildings. Fedde stayed for 4 years in Central Asia in order to facilitate the project ‘Empowerment and Local Action”. Last summer he returned to Kyrgyzstan on his bicycle trip “The Turning Wheel”.

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Inspired by a simple life-style

Gandhi said it so clear:

“There is enough for everyones need but not for everones greed”.

Watering plants with stunning sunset on the Pun Pun land. Photo by Pun Pun members

The current global monetary economy seems be highly driven by greed. One might argue that greed is the main cause of socially unjust, loss of cultural wisdom and ecological destruction. In many places people and communities are coming together to reclaim responsibility for creating their own living situations with local resources and needs.1 In the last four months Fedde had the chance to explore a simple life-style at Pun Pun (center for self-reliance) and learned about eco-villages in a four week course from Gaia Education at Wongsanit Ashram. Continue reading