Gerry Atricks

grand puba, earthling

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Consider the Broom .

In my travels , it has come to my attention that the broom is a universal household tool. however it seems not all brooms are created equal. I have noticed within developed nations and societies of the world the broom has a full handle allowing the user to stand upright. While in most of the rest of the underdeveloped nations and societies the broom has a very short handle requiring the user to be stooped over to use it.This is not due to a lack of resorces.
I have often wondered has this simple act of sweeping with different lengths of broom handles led to the development or underdevelopment of a nation or society through some sort of collective consciousness .As a habit or tradition or is there something else behind it. what do you think.
Would the act of simply replacing the short handle for a longer handle advance these societies.Could something so simple be the answer to improving the lives of so many in underdeveloped countries. considering it is women in these societies who mostly take care of the sweeping in the household.
I would be really interested to see the opinions of more women on this subject as it relates more to them than men.As it is often not men who perform these menial tasks in the developing world.

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    Dec 11 2011: A brilliant hypothesis, Grand Puba. I'm not bragging when I say I've suspected a similar relationship, though you're clearly the first to publish. You've no doubt noted how folks in short-handled countries have adapted by becoming short, which should help in the long run.

    You didn't mention, though it's obvious enough, that it makes a great difference which end of the handle is lengthened. The handle must of course be lengthened on top, to have the desired effect. Add length on the bottom and it may reach further, but would clearly still leave the poor user stooped.

    I have some personal experience that has been helpful in understanding this point. We once had a new boss in my department who came in with a broom the likes of which had not been seen. Long both on top and bottom. Man, did that broom reach. Yet he stood tall, above the fray. Couldn't have reached him with a light pole.

    Yours for innovative thought,
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    Dec 15 2011: The broom has been considered. thank you.
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      Dec 15 2011: I too am a skilled artisan ,a carpenter. as for the shorter the handle the more skilled one is, I would leave you to argue that with a cement finisher who can lay a concrete floor so smooth and level .With just a 16ft 2 by 4 attached to a 1by6 inch board.without even the use of a level or short trowel.I dont think the length of tool is the quantifying feature here but the skill with which it is used . Just as the closer you are physically to your work the more care or precision you will use.As for the the symmetry or beauty of the handmade short broom over that of the industrial broom,beauty is in the eye of the beholder.Yes I would agree the old wood cookstoves of the past are very beautiful.But I doubt you could find a woman of today who would not prefer the ugly gas or electric range in helping her to prepare the family meals.Not having to find the fuel source and bring it to the stove and learn the skills to regulate the heat levels required to cook on it.As for the beauty of the short handmade broom , as a decoration it is beautiful . But as a practical tool it leaves a lot to be desired
      In my travels to a number of countries where they use the short handled broom on a daily basis ,not as a decoration. I asked the ladies how they felt about having to use such a broom .They invariably mentioned their task would be much easier indeed if the handle were longer. saving their backs was the most often reply. I asked the men the same question their reply was , it was tradition , when I enquired as to when this traditon was begun.They often cited the first use was under colonial rule . when it was not permmitted for anyone doing such menial tasks to stand higher than their masters or foremen. they figured this was the earlist use. I then decided as an experiment to purchase some brooms with a longer handle and presented them to some of the local ladies.
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      Dec 15 2011: They began to use the brooms, but soon found the neighbors who did not have brooms with long handles did not approve.Most often the reason was given that it was not tradition.No one seemed to complain about the lack of beauty or cemetry. Infact they seemed to like the look of it But that may be because they were not looking for its artistic beauty. the ladies continued to use their brooms but only after dark when the neighbors could not see them sweeping outside their homes at night.They even seemed to be willing to drop another tradition, which was not to do work outside their homes after dark. I took this experiment one step further in one village. and suggested to the local council member. That perhaps it would be a good idea to put some public garbage bins in and around the town.there was a horrific amount of refuse everywhere in the public areas. So they did so , well soon filled the bins with the garbage from the public areas not far from their homes.It became obvious to the council that they better get on this and get rid of the trash in the bins.So a local garbage collection began . and the village was looking so much better. About two years later I returned to the village and was surprised to see a large sign on the highway entering the village. Please Keep our Town Green and Clean. Buy now I noticed that 50 percent of the ladies in town were now sweeping with a long handled broom. Upon entering their homes I could see they had the beautiful short handmade brooms hanging in a prominent place in their homes as decoration. they also seemed to have time now to say hello and give a smile while standing upright, while still sweeping. Ofcourse most did not know of my interferrence in introducing the long handled broom to the village however the jsut seemed to me atleast to be a much happier bunch. The village was looking good and many new homes were under construction in the village.
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      Dec 15 2011: In my two year absence. I noticed many more towns and villages along the highway had public trash bins. I even noticed the local hardware store had lots of brooms with long handles
      Now as for anthropology. i think any good anthropologist would argue that the mere fact of homo sapiens being some of the first humaniods to stand upright was what allowed our species to survive and evolve. Being able to see over the long tall grass of the African savanah Probably was an advantage over the ones who could not see danger coming from a distance , and were able to flee to live and fight another day While I agree it is not always best to introduce modern tecnologies to some cultures. But I hardly think the introdution of 2 more feet of cylidical wood is a major technological advancement. But then again maybe it is. But if my observations are anything , they seemed on the surface to be a positive move. Now as for destroying a culture by introducing this simple advancement I dont know, only time will tell. But the people I met seemed to be enjoying their now clean town and village and seemed to have a different pride in themselves. and if that is what technology brings then I am all for the advancement of the human condition. Now if living in filth and deradation is a cultual choice ,which I think most people would agree is not. then sometimes it is right to introduce tecnologies to aid people to the opposite end.