Diving in Oregon with “(a)provecho”

After our last talk in Macau, I have been writing scientific papers on experiences of household wood burning for cooking and heating I have seen around the places i visited, trying to elaborate a review of what has been being done across this millennium.

Today, I would like to write my experience in a remote part of the United States where the hippies went to create grassroots movements and environmentalists work on development around the world! The state of Oregon is still green receiving 8 months of rain per year, a relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful place to raise children and live in touch with nature…

Last week, I had the chance to visit a tiny little town called Cottage Grove with about 10,000 people, situated near Eugene. In Cottage Grove there is a remaining hippie movement where the local community knows each other, where there is a local radio playing folk music and where there is a research center that produces knowledge about clean cookstoves for the developing world!

According to the WHO more than 40% of the world population might exposed to harmful wood smoke, namely women and children living in developing countries…
By the 70s Dr. Larry Winiarski met people from an non-profit organization in Guatemala working on the Lorena stoves and then he was inspired to use his engineering skills to help communities around the world!

rocket vortex

rocket vortex

Last week I had the unique opportunity to meet wonderful and inspiring people with an immense desire to contribute to change something in the world by using their talents to design cookstoves with communities… Dean Still from Aprovecho has dedicated a part of his life to develop new stoves that can be adopted by people, based on proper scienfic methods developed by people at “Apro”…

rocket stoves

In a small town in Oregon there is motion and people from around the world is coming to experience a research center in the woods, surrounded by tiny rivers where the light crosses the leafs of the tall trees that embrace them, reproducing different colors on the local forest that still resists to the invaders – the lambering industry who have been exploring such a region for many decades…

Last week, I had the pleasure to meet this place and nice people with similar interests on contributing to sustainability and development, some of them with a vast experience in working in remote developing communities by the adoption of rocket stoves and other types of stoves…

mass rocket

mass rocket

To understand the stove performance and impacts of burning solid-fuels for cooking and heating in a scientific way, aprovecho developed testing methods that are now becoming part of international guidelines for cookstove design, indoor air quality and health. The traditional cookstoves are still popular in many countries and this fact has enormous consequences for people´s health!

2015-07-31 11.14.06

A group of young researchers have been working on new methods to measure efficiency and emissions from cookstoves, such as Sam has been doing by creating a low cost gravimetric sampling method, Alex has been developing new measurements instruments and Mike developing and applying field measurements through a bunch of testing methods designed by them…

On the start of my experience in Oregon, Lee picked me up at the Eugene airport on a Sunday bringing me to join the camp located in a old school some miles way from Cottage Grouve. It was great I could get a lift after a long trip from the other side of the Atlantic… The first participants to arrive on that Sunday to “Apro” had the first dinner together with some of the “Apro” family where had the chance to have a first talk about where we were coming from and our specific goals for the week… I was more feeling like an observer, since i did not bring any stoves to test, feeling more in a mood to share facts about my region and learn about cookstoves and testing methods (a part of my research interests in Europe)… For someone coming from Portugal, this was a remarkable experience in the US, something we only see in certain kind of country or folk music movies in remote parts the country…

2015-07-31 10.46.45

The stove camp was an amazing opportunity to learn and share ideas about different stove technologies, cooking practices and development in general. There was people at the camp from different parts, there was even fellows from Bhutan, France, Myanmar and (me) Portugal! As an holistic human experience, around the stove designing experiences in the at Aprovecho center there was interesting chats about “pinot noir” wine making  on the margins of the Columbia Georges river, travelling experiences on the desert in Arizona, field studies in Congo, super clean stoves, Permaculture and the work with farmers from Bruma and improvements for mud mass heaters in Bhutan!

bhutanese mud stove

bhutanese mud stove

At the end of the camp there was a “cat pee award” for the cleanest invention where different types of cookstoves were built by some of the participants who had the opportunity to use the lab facilities to construct and test their stoves for a week. Among them were the double air-intake “canary rocket” who won the competition!

“building cannary”

After such a week of learning experiences I leave Cottage Grove with positive vibes and new ideas on how to improve the performance of heating stoves in Europe using low cost materials with an increasing desire to contribute to work in developing regions of northeast Brazil where a part of family is coming from 🙂

I would like to thank (through this channel) everyone for the nice week, hoping to see you in the future!

Warm regards from the author of this blog



About divingincommunities

Low cost traveler and engineer learning and working with commuties around the world; Enjoy very much to meet different people and cultural exchange!
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