Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Appropriate technology

Via Reynolds, I read this article by Megan McArdle about a bizarre new form of assuaging one's eco-conscience: Turning the locals into human gerbils, during your adventure tour.

The bit about the treadle pump reminds me of something I heard long ago, during a visit to the Southern Institute for Appropriate Technology. Seems that there was once an idea to help some village mechanize their agriculture without bringing in expensive, high-maintenance First World machinery. So they rigged up a contraption whereby the villagers could grind their grain with millstones connected to bicycles. But, the initiative failed, due to cultural ignorance. In their society, only women ground grain, and only men rode bikes. This was supposed to be the classic example of well-meaning NGO ignorance, I was told.

Update: Welcome, to readers of Andrea Harris! Be sure to click back, if you didn't come there, and catch her funny post there. It reminded me of one time in south Georgia, strolling around a neighborhood with some suburban kids from Michigan, down South for a mission trip. They looked at the laundry on the lines, and I heard one kid say, "How do the clothes get dry hanging out here?

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