We had major flooding here in Paducah in the Spring of 2011. It happened during the Quilt Show, one of our biggest tourist events, and shook us all up. We have a flood wall and it worked, keeping at bay waters from the Ohio River that would have certainly come all the way to my house and destroyed everything I own. It made me think about what to do, where to go, how to save my animals…
Every year people think about these things all around the world and millions have lived through or perished from natural disasters. Bangladesh, especially, has to live with these fears in a crowded country where most people have nowhere to go. Nowhere except up, over the water.
Creative thinking has led to inventive solutions! Practical Action works to alleviate poverty around the world through technology. They have helped Bangladeshis continue to grow food during the monsoon season by teaching them how to make floating gardens: “The floating garden is a clever solution that employs the use of water hyacinth, which is collected to construct a raft. This is then covered with soil and cow dung, in which vegetables can be planted. A new raft needs to be built every year, but the old one can be used as fertiliser during the dry season.” (Practical Action)
Pretty cool, eh? When I see things like this I applaud our ingenuity as a species in problem-solving. But, then I also see all of the destruction that same brain can employ. With one hand we build, with the other we knock down. Still, there are so many great groups out there trying so hard to make this world livable for us all and it is wonderful to see and support.
What can we do?
Hopefully, most of us will not have to build our own floating gardens, but maybe simple solutions like these can help us look around our own neighborhood and think of ways in which we can live a sustainable life.
Bangladesh has a rich textile history and those of us who like to shop fair trade can also help by purchasing their products, ensuring the employment of many of these same people who face these awful floods on a yearly basis. SERRV is one of the many fair trade groups who works in Bangladesh. See a list of their Bangladeshi artisan groups.
Here is one of their pillows, which they sell online: