August 05, 2010

get windspired!

  • About the author EB

This was a good week for Harper Perennial on the New York Times bestseller list. Lit, Freakonomics, and lots of other great titles are hanging on, but we also had one debut: the paperback edition of William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is William’s story of his childhood in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was a mystery. Determined to ease the lives of his fellow villagers, even though he was just a teenager, William set out to build a windmill that could bring electricity and running water to their homes. Everyone thought he was crazy, but he persevered.

I read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind right around the same time I read The Poisonwood Bible. Though one is a true account of Africa in the present day, and the other is a fictional account of Africa in the 60s, there were so many similarities. In fact, you could say that both books are about people trying to improve the daily lives of Africans. The difference, of course, is that because William is African, he understands the struggle in a way the missionary family of Poisonwood never could.

Now at Dartmouth, William really is an inspiring young man. You might even say he’s “windspired.” (god, I love puns.) That term comes from the title of a new photography competition at California State University, Chico. Titled “Become Windspired,” the museum’s 26th annual National American Visions Juried Photograph Exhibition is looking for photographs that “harness the creative spirit in you, while telling the potent stories of wind in our world.” The entry form and more details about the competition can be found here. An anthropologist, a photographer/artist, and a community member will judge your image(s) during the exhibition, which will take place from September 29th – October 15th. Then the $500 Valene Smith Award for Excellence in Visual Anthropology, as well as three honorable mentions, will be announced.

They’d love to have your entries! To get even more “windspired,” watch William on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
William Kamkwamba
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