Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Simon Velez Has a Mom, too ...

Last night Cesar, Amelia and I were invited to an event in which Simon Velez, one of the world's most prestigious architects that specializes in bamboo buildings (from Manizales ,Colombia), was given an award.

We were invited by one of my best friends who is one of Simon Velez's best friend's friends. (That's how things work here, you know??) Anyway, we didn't want to miss the opportunity because
1. I am always fascinated by artists, architects, authors ... thinkers -- who mold shape the way we view the world.
2. Simon Velez's name is HUGE here in Colombia, and I figured it would be cool just to get a glimpse of him. (Kind of that gawking, rock-star thing).
3. I'm not one to pass up any kind of party invitation on general principle.

So we went, and we found ourselves seated in a small room with twenty or thirty people -- a very intimate setting. There was no press. There were no frills. Amelia spent half the time we were there waving at people (because, I think she might have thought the party was for her). And after the awards ceremony -- which was very short and sweet -- they served us each a glass of wine.

Simon Velez struck me as being such a humble, generous person. He didn't even give his own acceptance speech because he said words weren't his thing, bamboo was. So he asked a friend to help him out. And when Amelia and I approached him to congratulate him, he gave us a big hug of gratitude. Absolutely gracious!

That said, it was a lovely event. Simple. Like him. And he's a master. But what most struck me is that after everything, when everybody disbanded, his mother came up to me and gave me a hug, saying, "Thank you for coming."

And I thought, "Simon Velez has a mom, too." Obviously. But the thing is a mom is a mom. She's proud of her son and happy that people came to be proud of him, too. And I realized that as much as we blow people up to be super-humans, they're just out there, like us, with parents who wish them well, parents who are happy that people look up to and admire the children they raised. Parents who are happy their kids are happy. Period.

I hugged her back and was just as proud that she commented on how well behaved Amelia was, and I thought, "In fifty years, maybe I'll be at an event like this, giving a perfect stranger a hug, thanking her for appreciating my daughter."

Of course, I'll have a glass of wine in hand!

FACTS: Who is Simon Velez? (Info from Wikipedia and last night's event)

VĂ©lez has designed bamboo buildings in Germany, France, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and India.

He recently participated in designing Crosswaters Ecolodge, the first ecotourism destination in China in the forests of Nankun Shan Mountain Reserve, in the Guangdong Province.

For Expo Hanover 2000, he designed and constructed a 2000-square-meter bamboo pavilion for ZERI (Zero Emissions Research Initiative). The structure utilized bamboo, recycled cement, copper, and a mixture of terracotta, cement and bamboo fiber panels.

In December 2009 he received The Principal Prince Claus Award for his contribution to a positive interaction between culture and development. This prestigious Dutch award, founded by the Royal Prince Claus(†), has a price of 100.000 Euro.


  1. Heidi I jsut love your posts! All of them are so interesting! Looking forward to read more and more :)
    Also, I hope we will see each other soon, let me know when you can spare some time, we can arrange something to meet for looking at the pictures and talk for a while.

  2. Hi, Pablo!! Yes! I REALLY want to see your pics. You're really busy with the university, so call when you have time. I can't wait to hear all of your stories!

  3. I live in Goa, India. Could you send me the contact for Simon? I am looking to do a school for the kids in my village with Bamboo and also create low cost housing for the people, and am hoping he could help me. I appreciate your help.
    Best regards,

  4. Hi Unicorn. I JUST read your post today. Unfortunately, Simon Velez isn't a friend of mine and I have no contact information. GOOD LUCK!


There was an error in this gadget