Archives for the month of: August, 2010

Binikou has been given a nice little boost in the Global Giving Evoke challenge during August, and we’re in the last day of the challenge. We’ve won three of the funding bonuses, nearly doubling your personal donations!

Also, if you haven’t already donated, and you have any interest in donating money to the start up of Binikou~The Human Powered School’s website and traveling workshops, and you like the idea of having a bit of a tax write-off in a few months, then now is the time to donate, while we have a 501(c)3 non-profit acting as our sponsor.

And check out Binikou’s fellow Evoke projects to see how they are doing in the challenge, as well. A couple have made it to the coveted $3000 and 50 donors level and will be invited to stay on Global Giving as a long term fundraising option. While the rest of us have gotten at least a little boost in funding, and some sense that all the work we’ve been investing in our projects has been worth it. I, for one, am very, very grateful for the support Binikou has already gotten, in many different forms, and I’m truly excited about moving forward with much awesomeness for the world via Binikou!

So really, Thank You!

a little support goes a long way for kids


During the workshop this past weekend, one of the attendees said that he thought we should collect the energy of lightning to use as a power source, since lightning has so much electricity. And it turns out that he shared a dream with Nikola Tesla, inventor of the Telsa Coil machine that generates lightning.

And now, scientists at the University of Campinas in Brazil are testing out ways to harvest electrical build-up in the atmosphere. They discovered that when water particles in the air rub up against dust particles, it makes a static charge. And now they are looking to research ways to create “hygroelectric” panels that could be used on houses in areas with high humidity, to generate power, and possibly reduce the chance of a lightening strike, as well!

For more information see the news report on Electricity Collected from the Air Could Become the Newest Alternative Energy Source.

Finding ways to help humans get power for heat and light, and to help us more effectively express ourselves is a major goal for Binikou, and so this is an exciting development!

mmmmm... warmth

Our first workshop happened yesterday, and it was well attended for the circumstances (of having so many families heading out of town for their last-weeks-of-school-vacation adventures), with 9 curious and wise people showing up to check out what Binikou has to offer.

Those of us who did show up and stuck around for a while definitely had a lot of fun and learned a few things, too.

I think the kids most enjoyed playing with the human powered blender while we made green smoothies, as they found a very useful way to express their energy!

A couple of participants even teamed up to measure the gearing ratios of the blender’s two different gear options.

And nearly everyone experimented with creating simple, portable structures as models for what we could use as traveling Binikou classrooms. Some were very practical, others were very exciting! None were strong enough to support a large canteloupe, though, because the materials weren’t attached together very strongly. Which let us know that we need something especially strong to attach the materials together if we want to make these structures more stable and useful as shelters (warmth). Or at least we know we need to use something stronger than foam playdough. :-) Ideally, we’d be able to get materials that are not only strong and portable, but that could also be reconfigured into all kinds of different shapes so that whenever we set up the structure on a site, we could let the participants decide whether we needed something practical (for warmth, for example, when it’s cold and/or rainy) or more expressive, for using more of our physical energy and artistic energy.

So, have you got any suggestions for how we could create some kind of giant, life size Tinkertoys or Knex or something which would be structurally sound enough to function as a temporary Binikou shelter and be open to building a variety of different kinds of shapes?

And over in the food category of solutions, the fresh cantaloupe from The Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm (which I picked up at the Union Square Farmer’s Market in the morning just before the workshop) made the most amazing fruit addition to the green smoothies! We added some spinach (also from Drumlin), local chard, and woodsorrel (from our household garden), all blended up with some frozen (non-local) bananas and blueberries.

The kids at the workshop were a little suspicious of the smoothies, which was a surprise to me, as I’d never met a kid who didn’t like smoothies. So now we know that we need to look for even more ways to use fresh greens that will appeal to people who aren’t smoothie fans. In brainstorming ways to get more greens into their diet, one amusing and collaborative suggestion was to make mint jelly donuts (using fresh green mint leaves)!

This was a more casual workshop, as people were showing up all at different times, as they just happened to be at the library and wanted to see what we were up to. Future workshops will hopefully have more of a schedule, so that we can really do some collaboration with everyone there at the same time, with lots of brainstorming and experimenting in teams, with the different roles being well represented.

All in all it was a nice way to kick off Binikou, and I look forward to it getting even better, once we get the website up (after we get the funding money that’s been donated in the Global Giving challenge). With the wiki~encyclopedia of solutions live and ready for contributions, we’ll be really ready for some global action!

Kunchok shows off his fanciful, spaceship inspired structure

Rui made his "globe of the universe" which I'd love to see as a large sculpture!

Yay for greens!  Yay for fresh, local kale!  Yay for heart-shaped wood sorrell!

Binikou offers you a simple way to think about solutions to getting our needs met:

• What resources do we need to make this work?
• What are the different steps to make it work?
• What is the science of why it works?
• Where can people get even more information?

These will be the four main elements we will focus on in the workshops and for the online encyclopedia of solutions. With the diversity of people of all ages and cultures participating in Binikou, I imagine that the way people choose to share this information will be wonderfully creative and interesting, from kids’ drawings, to fairly detailed diagrams, to videos, to even songs. I’m really looking forward to seeing what amazing things the world comes up with to share with the world!

And, on another note, for those who can’t make it today to the workshop, you can take a look at the plan, if you are curious. You can download the PDF at Binikou ~ The Human Powered Workshop 8/2010.

express yourself for a better world!

After testing out the materials, and getting seriously high ratings on the funness and structural integrity of one of the projects in line for the very exciting Binikou Human Powered School Workshop coming up momentarily, Binikou has now invested in an impressive 1600 toothpicks!

These will accompany one or two hundred lovingly hand crafted florescent foamy balls, and kale chips. Not necessarily all at the same time.

Wanna come out and play with us?

Somerville Public Library
79 Highland Ave
August 21st

All ages!
Curious kids and teens age 4-19 especially encouraged!

if you build it and they will come...

Celebrate young people!

Today marks the first day of the United Nations International Year of Youth – Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. From the website:

The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society. We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society.

Binikou aims to play an exciting role in that mission! Especially the specific UN goals to increase health and education and participation for youth all over the planet. Let’s give young people a chance to show us what they can do…

And, if you are local to Somerville, Massachusetts, you can celebrate youth with Binikou at the first Human Powered Workshop at the Somerville Public Library on Saturday, August 21st, from 2-4pm.

determination and joy are powerful forces!

Binikou has been doing well in the Global Giving Evoke fundraising challenge. We’ve gotten one bonus award already, and should be able to get two more. We might not be at the top of the leaderboard, but we’re doing ok and have gotten more than enough to pay for a fully fledged website with an awesome wiki and forums, in addition to this blog, which is a great start.

And then to continue with the great start, $8600 will fully fund Binikou for a whole year, including investing in at least 5 traveling Binikou schools all over the world.

So if you are excited about the possibilities of a program like Binikou in the world, please consider supporting Binikou’s dreams, by:

  • making a tax-deductible donation at the Binikou page on Global Giving
  • commenting on one of the Binikou reports (you have to do a quick registration to comment) to help Binikou get at least 10 comments and a funding bonus!
  • coming to the free Binikou workshop at the Somerville Public Library, in Somerville Massachusetts, next week and really enjoy yourself as you explore how to be healthier, and help young people be more awesome!
  • promoting Binikou’s dreams to others who you believe support the idea of helping young people use their talents and skills and energy to help make the world a better place.


Binikou is exploding out into the world!

When it comes to the kind of things you like to do in the world, are you mostly a reporter? An innovator? A researcher? A professional? Or a wise leader?

Reporters ask everyone around them questions! How, why, what? And then they share with others the stories they discover.

Innovators work with others to come up with new ideas.

Researchers study and test the work that’s being done by others, to better understand what works and what doesn’t work.

Professionals integrate all their knowledge and skills and work within large teams on more complex and long term issues.

Wise leaders look at the big picture and find value in everything they experience.

Each of these types of people serves a valued role in Binikou. Of course, you can always try on a new role whenever you feel like it, but you will be able to help more effectively if you focus on playing one role at a time.

So, what position do you think you want to start with at Binikou?

it takes a mosiac to make the world grow

Binikou is based on the belief that the world will be better off when the idea of “health” is better defined to reflect the way our human brains and bodies work. We believe that health has many levels, and that each level is based on a level of complexity of the brain. We at Binikou consider it to be useful to look at the human brain as being composed of three basic parts of the brain plus one “higher level” function of consciousness. These levels are:

  • 1. The primitive “lizard brain” system governs the physical self. All animals have at least some form of this part of the nervous system.
  • 2. The slightly more complex limbic system governs our basic emotions. Social animals all have this part.
  • 3. The future-thinking, logical neocortex system gives us problem solving abilities. All primates, and even many birds and reptiles apparently, have at least some form of this.
  • 4. The collaborative effort of the whole brain working as a single unit gives us the ability to consciously be aware of ourselves within the larger system of the universe and life as a whole.

And this set of levels of complexity is matched with the following definitions of health:

  • Physical health comes from having enough whole food, clean water, fresh air, light and heat, and being reasonably free to express one’s body’s excess solids, liquids, gases, and energy.
  • Emotional health comes from experiencing one’s most intimate companion (parent, sibling, partner, or best friend) getting enough of these physical input and output needs.
  • Intellectual health comes from experiencing one’s self-defined group (family, community, or geographic region) as getting enough of these physical input and output needs.
  • Spiritual health comes from experiencing the whole planet, and all it’s Earthlings, flora and fauna, getting it’s physical input and output needs met.

Binikou is also founded on the idea that as humans mature, they focus their awareness and resources on increasing levels of health. Very young children are focused on emotional health. While older kids and teens and young adults are focused on intellectual health. And mature adults focus on spiritual health.

Binikou aims to support all of these levels!

In looking for ways to make it easier for humans all over the planet to get clean, drinkable water, a student named Timothy Whitehead, from England, invented a simple, human powered water filter and sterilizer that makes use of ultraviolet light. He’s been selected to compete for the James Dyson Award for inventions that make the world a better place.

Can we make it even better?

the Lawrence river

Also, we’re just one supporter away from winning a $100 bonus in the fundraising challenge on Global Giving! If we get a donation asap, that is… Wheeeee!