POV

Mr. Bertrand: Eco-Inventor

Mr.Bertrand is a real character who has made his Super Atelier an exceptional place…

Story, photo and videos Alessandro Magi - magialex@hotmail.com

Mr. Bertrand Eco Inventor from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.

As is often the case, those who have nothing find alternative ways, by means of luck, to improve their situation. This is Mr.Bertrand’s story, a man with a great talent who lives in a magnificent rainforest on the island of Nosy Be in Madagascar. Unfortunately, he lives about twenty kilometers from the nearest civilian settlements, which can only be reached through small and often inaccessible paths that become full on rivers during the rainy season.

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Photo © Alessandro Magi

To find him, I had to travel three hours by quad, losing myself several times in the forest and finding myself stuck in fresh mud from the previous day’s rain. I was able to free myself thanks to the help of some guys I met who promptly came to the rescue me, amazed to find a white man, a “Vasa”, alone in the forest in Malagasy. I would reach The Super Atelier.

Mr.Bertrand introduced himself to me. He was a person of small stature, thin and with a big, genuine smile. The main problem for Mr.Bertrand has always been the lack of electricity, a dream for him… Until he decided to find alternative methods to power useful tools to improve his life and the lives of the people of the forest. This is how he became an “inventor”, turning his hut in the village of Andilamavo into what he calls his “Super Atelier”.

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Here, he collects and accumulates pieces of equipment retrieved from the garbage and recycles them, giving new life to these objects that otherwise would serve only to pollute the environment. All this is made possible only by long and arduous journeys undertaken with a cart pulled by a Zebù. The six hour trip takes him to the landfill in Hell Ville, the main town of Nosy Be, where recovers items that he considers most useful.

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Photo © Alessandro Magi

In the Super Atelier, everything is power by bicycles. In fact, Betrand modifies the bikes, connecting them to levers and pulleys in order to power real hardware without using electricity. This system is able to function thanks to the work of his eight children, who, in turn, give him a hand in his work, pedaling to turn on the machines.

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Through this method, he was able to create fully functional machines such as a circular saw, a grinder, a lathe, and a forge to melt iron, all powered by one of his sons. He can even charge a cell phone. Moreover, he recently developed an antenna connected to a phone, which he calls the phone booth, with which he can communicate across the country using radio waves.

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Photo © Alessandro Magi

Mr.Bertrand is a real character who has made his Super Atelier an exceptional place, full of waste and scrap that in his hands find new identities and uses. A true example of primordial sustainability, which inserted in a global context is even more ingenious and relevant. It just goes to show that you don’t need anything more than your wits to find solutions in life. “Less is more” is the lesson I learned from Mr. Bertand.

5 Responses to “Mr. Bertrand: Eco-Inventor”

  1. Surfer girl says:

    You know those stupid hypothetical questions that are asked at dinner partys? Like ‘if u would die tomorrow what would be the last meal you would eat?’ Or ‘what would u rather lose your sight or your hearing?’ Well I would answer Mr. Bertand to the question ‘who would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?’ (And his 8 little helpers that it, I’m not one for cycling.)

    • Alessandro Magi says:

      …mah..in Madagascar people live day by day..they find some difficulties try to forecasting their live.. and probably it would be an hard question to answer for Bertrand.
      Ciaoooo!

  2. La phénix malgasce says:

    I strongly believe that his separateness is not due to the miles of mud that keep him apart fom the civiized world. It is a lifestyle that he has chosen for himself. His proud smile is the proof.
    By owning and using much less than in our world, one can live simply and in an emotionally satisfying way.
    Everyone should own a Super Atelier. At least, inside theirselves…

    • Alessandro Magi says:

      Yes…is become his lifestyle..but, forced to his condition..Bertrand told me that during rainy season is complete isolated and even he has accepted is condition he desire to live in a much affordable condition.
      But, finally I agree with you..anyone should own a “Super Atelier”!:))

  3. Dani says:

    This man is so smart and creative. WOW!

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