Commercial Industrial Hemp, Vancouver B.C. March 97
The Commercial Industrial Hemp Symposium was promoted by Wiseman Noble
sales and marketing, and their experience at this sort of work showed. They had a delicate balance to maintain and did that very well.
The Hempen Road was contracted to be the official, exclusive filmakers for the symposium which was a great chance for them and us.
The event was a mix of science, commerce, industry, agriculture, policy and controversy. Basically two parts to this event, the trade show and lecture series.
The main disadvantage was, it is difficult to be two places at once (though I often imagine I am). Most hemp business people were in the trade show tending to their business and weren’t able to see the lectures. Wiseman Noble took care of this by having transcripts available minutes after the final speaker as well as a RealAudio cyber-cast of the whole event.
The video footage we shot may be available at some point from Wiseman Noble but visually, it’s not very interesting. Information wise, it’s great but maybe a bit like watching church on TV, the spirit just ain’t as strong. We’ll be using plenty tasty bits from the lectures and discussions in the Vancouver segment of the Hempen Road film so look out for that.
Certainly some landmark speeches with researchers from around the world sharing their findings. Wiseman Noble did a great job of finding people coming from all sorts of industries and involvements and views on hemp. Especially noteworthy was the reports by the Canadian hemp farmers who were sharing their firsthand, dirty knuckle research findings with the world. Also speakers from Germany, Finland and UK who are growing hempen crops as well. It’s starting to seem that more countries than not are hopping on this hemp rocketship to sustainble industry.
It got a little intense for some speakers and the question and answer microphone became a powerful weapon as public servants were held to task. Yet the moderator kept it under control and maintained that delicate balance,
allowing people to have their say but sheltering the speakers from time to time.
Yeah, there is still a lot of different opinions and a lot of folks want to organize and regulate and register and create frameworks etc. I’m somewhat leery of groups as organizations seem to spend more time of organizing and maintaining the business of the group itself, and often the real work takes a back seat. Direct action speaks louder than words.
Another highlight was meeting the newly-elected Mayor of Grand Forks, BC and hemp farmer Brian Taylor. Here is a guy that stood up for his values and planted HEMP NOW or something on the side of the highway after being messed around about a government sanctioned license. He was arrested but challenged the case saying no 12 people in his community of underemployed former tobacco farmers and Russian hempfarmers would convict him for growing fiber.
Soon thereafter, Mr Taylor was elected mayor by a margin of 3:1 over a two decade incumbent. The town is encouraging hemp business and industry and is poised to launch into the legends of hemp farming and global change.
The trade show was packed full of goodies and folks. A lot of friends we’ve made along the Hempen Road were in attendance, showing their wares and having a good time. We showed off a clip of our Victoria Journey turning our subjects into instant celebrities, mobbed by fans. Well not quite, but we had a chance to show what it is that we are trying to pull off with our film.
The Hempen Road film/video is about showing the processes to take hemp from raw material to consumer. Including envisioning, developing, making, producing, distributing, marketing, retailing and using. It is also about the people who are doing this and the places where they are doing it and how those areas would change with hemp as a possible crop.
Making this film, we see a lot of wild new ideas and products. Clothes still seem to be the backbone of the industry which is a bit intense because it is the most labor intensive process you can put hemp through. The results are certainly worth it but there are dozens of steps to the process and hundreds of competitors in relating industries. Fortunately most people in the world wear clothes so a vast potential market remains.
The multiple tasks of production and textile shipping distances make hemp clothes still quite spendy (especially for me who shops 2nd hand) but if it will last forever, the cash is surely well spent.
The problem with some hemp and hemp/blend clothing and bags is the often mediocre quality of sewing and finishing. Sure the hemp cloth is strong, but the thread and sewing won’t hold up to a season of raging hard on the road. This make the sturdy hemp cloth into very nice patches and rags. Perhaps the price points to compete are so tight that corners are cut in sewing and hardware that are a bit sketchy. This consistent quality will come in time and the makers who quickly implement standards of durability that are as tough as the hemp, will carry on.
Backpacks and bags especially have to compete head to head with cordura nylon and national, experienced pack makers for market. If a synthetic bag stays out of the landfill longer, is it better? A well made hemp bag will last as long and perform as well as any pack but the garment has gotta be constructed tough, not just tough cloth. Lifetime guarantee is the only option worthy of hemp.
Well if your pack does blow out, grind it up and make it into paper like Mosse Mellish and Mark Bologna of Greenman Paper. These guys had a whole paper making process set up and going indoors at Canada Place. This was too cool. We filmed Mosse taking raw hemp fiber, hemp paper scraps and whatever else of hemp that was laying around, pulp it, lay it, dry it, decorate it, finish it and sell it in a 10’X10″ space. He is doing it with a mix of old-school technology and efficient process, using a set-up that would make (Canadian legend) MacGyver jealous.
Greenman is the original Canadian hemp paper maker and is turning out nice notebooks, journals, cards, stationary etc. Mosse is a laugh riot too, like Mr. Rogers after enlightenment. I’ve been reading Mark Bologna’s words and works in Cannabis Canada for a while and this guy gets a lot done.
Now if you can make 100% hemp paper in a 10 foot square space using a bunch of hardware store odds and ends, what’s stopping hemp from become large scale?
I talked with Mari Kane editor /publisher of Hemp World about this and other topics as we strolled outside in a bit of sunshine. In order to get from here to the next level of hemp as a normal part of everyday consumerism, the answer to be: money for capital and real substantial infastructure investment.
To ship a container of seeds across the ocean or refit a mill takes dollars. So does using the mainstream media to support and publicize hemp as a regular choice, not just a poor misunderstood cousin or a novelty. The thinking of people is starting to change fast, as the US saw in Nov. with medical Marijuana initiatives passing in two states, but dollars are neccessary to bring the products to every market niche.
Mari was a photographer and designer in San Francisco when she got into hemp scene. Her first idea was to make a video. Ms. Kane wisely chose to make a magazine instead. Hemp World is a quarterly magazine printed with a hemp cover (from CIHS sponsor Ecosource who we visited in Victoria).
HempWorld is really a trade journal with great articles to educate on the tricky points of business start-up, new product development and technical info on processing hemp to marketable product.
Another key point to Mari’s publishing endeavor is Hemp Pages which is like a yellow (actually beige) pages directory of hemp business worldwide. Hemp business people love this and use it as it is much easier then checking all you pockets for that phone number written on the back of a receipt or something.
In three years, Mari has watched the industry grow something like 6 fold and has no signs of slowing down at all. The question isn’t if it will happen or even when. The question is which country is going to take the lead and show the potential of large-scale hemp industry. Canada is poised if the sluggish government can figure the self-imposed paperwork maze out.
Stanley Park in the background, floating seaplane gas stations, flags, skyscrapers, buildings and trees. On to the Trade Show Floor. . .