Monday, January 31, 2011

Fordlandia: What Happens When We Work Against Nature? (Part I)

In 1927, Henry Ford negotiated the purchase of 2.5 million acres of lush tropical land in the Brazilian jungles. That land became the home site of a massive Ford Motor Company rubber plantation aptly named “Fordlandia.”

Thousands of fertile acres of rich rainforest land were slashed and razed as the first step in creating Fordlandia. Since time was of the essence, rubber tree saplings were immediately planted. But, they were unwisely crammed together in neat (but extremely narrow) little rows in the now-barren stretches of rich soil. To maximize production yields, the customary planting distances between trees were abandoned so space usage could be maximized.

In their native surroundings, rubber (heveas brasilis) trees thrive best in wide patches of roomy green terrain. However, the production techniques utilized in carefully-controlled, crowded, man-made, factory-like conditions were forced upon Mother Nature with a less than comparable success to put it mildly.

The assembly-line models, which were effective for automobile production, were met with an extremely hostile reaction by the biological principles governing rainforest environments.These models were no match when put to a test of wills with Mother Nature.

What do you think happened to Fordlandia? Do you see any parallels with our schools?

Fordlandia: What Happens When We Work Against Nature? Part II will appear tomorrow.

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