Companies and organizations in the development community do some pretty cool things to grab people’s attention. They host flash mobs, hunger fasts, concerts, protests, marathons…you get the idea. But never have I seen a organization host a television-style video series to get the word out.
So, when I first heard of “Stove Man,” I thought it was a funny reality show — something along the lines of “Pregnant in Heels,” “Real Housewives” and “Kate Plus 8.” But actually, it’s a series of webisodes that follow two dudes from a company called the Paradigm Project as they travel the world to implement five million cook stoves in poor countries by 2020.
Five million may seem like a lot, but not compared with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s goal of implementing 100 million clean-burning stoves by 2020. The US is providing about $50 million over five years for this effort, in a project called the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Companies like Paradigm Project are doing their part to get their fuel-efficient stoves out there into the world.
Greg Spencer and Austin Mann, the charming, Ray Ban-wearing, PinkBerry-craving hosts of “Stove Man,” are serious about this mission. A shocking 2.5 billion people in the world cook their meals over an open fire — and although that sounds somewhat cozy and romantic, it hurts their environment and health big time. It destroys trees, puts a huge financial burden on families and kills millions of women and children each year due to upper-respiratory disease.
The first video, “Woodwalk,” aired recently — and I was surprised to see that it was just as entertaining and high-quality as reality TV. Greg and Austin travel to Kenya and follow a group of women as they venture far, far away from their homes to chop wood for their cooking fires and tote the 60- to 70-pound sacks of wood back to their villages.
The women are troopers and find ways to make the experience a little less of a burden. They stop for tea, sing songs and laugh and joke the whole way through — but a simple $40 “rocket stove” can help them burn and control fuel more efficiently while reducing harmful exposure to smoke and improving air quality.
Go to the Paradigm Project’s website to watch the “Stove Man” trailer and learn more facts about cooking fires.