Adinkra are symbols used in a stamped cloth process in Ghana. The ink is created by soaking bark in water, straining out the bark and then boiling the remaining water in huge pots. The fire burns so long and hot that old engine blocks have to be used to prop up the pots, as you can see in this photo. Replacing fire with solar means less income loss, less deforestation, fewer carbon emissions. Kumasi Hive students above have worked with us to adapt a solar water heater, adding photovoltaic heat to the thermal to bring the temperature to boiling.
Sustainability is not a new idea in Ghana. The original adinkra economy, before colonialism, cycled value through the ecosystem in ways that did not create the kinds of pollution and labor alienation we see today (see flow chart below). Starting with the Badie tree, bark is soaked to create a medicine (well established anti-inflammatory activity in pharmacological testing), and further cooked down to a viscous ink. Processed bark and other refuse are cycled back to nature in gardens and sacred forests. Although small areas, those are biodiversity hotspots that feed larger ecosystems, such that the Badie tree benefits. By introducing solar energy, we are simply bringing back the original generative economy in ways that help it adapt to modern circumstances. Currently bark harvesters are protecting Badie tree forests against modern economic pressures. Making the ink more economically viable (solar is free, unlike fire wood) protects more forests as well as people.