New Roots for Sustainable Development: Bamboo Resources and Triple Bottom Line Performance in Alabama's Black Belt Region

By Jonathan M. Scherch.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Like never before, our world faces serious converging social, economic, and ecological issues. Subsequent impacts to local and regional communities have resulted in a veritable call to action for government, business, academic, and community leaders to collaborate, innovate, and succeed. Accordingly, this paper will introduce a new and innovative partnership that brings together public, private, and academic partners with the goal of creating a robust, multi-sector bamboo industry as a catalyst for sustainable community and economic development within Alabama’s black belt region. Sectors could include: agriculture and agro-forestry products, renewable energies, building and textile products, water and air purification products, and transportation and aerospace components, among many others. Why the Black Belt? The Black Belt is a region of the State of Alabama and part of the larger Black Belt region of the southern United States which stretches from Texas to Maryland. Today, Alabama's black belt includes some of the poorest counties in the United States. Along with high rates of poverty, the area is typified by declining populations, a primarily agricultural landscape with low density settlement, high unemployment, poor access to education and medical care, substandard housing, and high rates of crime. The partnership is positioned to facilitate the development of key support mechanisms required to create a new regional bamboo resource industry, such as workforce training, investment and technology infrastructures, community, and organizational collaborations. Although a new crop to regional agricultural portfolios, bamboo already supports multibillion dollar global industries whose products are popularly consumed by millions of Americans (among other internationals), though until now, not produced in the United States. Implications and recommendations for further research will be provided.

Keywords: Scherch, Bamboo, Sustainable Development, Alabama, Black Belt, Social Work, Business Innovation, Industrial Ecology, Education

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.61-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.238MB).

Dr. Jonathan M. Scherch

Core Faculty, Graduate Program in Environment and Community, Center for Creative Change, Antioch University, Seattle, Washington, USA

Since 1998, Jonathan M. Scherch has served as Core Faculty and presently as Dean of the B.A. Liberal Studies - Degree Completion Program at Antioch University, Seattle. A social worker, returned Peace Corps volunteer, and entrepreneur, his teaching and fieldwork involves local and global themes of social change, ecological design, business / economic innovation, and sustainable communities. He speaks regularly with business, government and academic leaders, and professional groups on topics of sustainability innovation, and consults for high performing teams. In 2006 - 2007, he completed a 7 month sabbatical in China, teaching and conducting collaborative inquiries on bamboo resource systems for sustainable development at Zhejiang Agricultural & Forestry University. He currently collaborates with regional and international partners via Pacific Bamboo Resources, focusing on innovative programs of food and economic security, climate recovery, eco-restoration and sustainable futures.