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Clifford J. Thompson
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 2:57 pm:   

Village Profile Status Checklist?

Dear Peace Corps,

I wonder if you would help me track down a Peace Corps resource, if it exists. Is there such a thing as (what I would call) a "Village Profile Status Checklist" that the Peace Corps has developed over the years, so that when you enter a new village, you have a regular procedure for determining the initial overall status of a village, what's working, what's not, what's lacking, is their health hazard, illness, is there school, hospital, etc. I'm visualizing something like a "structured checklist" where you assess the village & it's "eco/urban environment" using a kind of (hierarchical?) "Systems approach", maybe starting with the buildings/dwellings, then the water system, then any power systems, etc", that you would first use to get an overall picture of what needs doing, before you the start figuring what the project(s) will be. If there is such a "Checklist", what's it called and has the Peace Corps put it on the web somewhere or can it be obtained by mail?

I've been doing a bit of Internet exploration to try and find an answer and have found the "Peace Corps Online Library Volunteer Resources and Support" website
which comes close to what I'm looking for, (is the "Checklist" there but I haven't seen it?) - the various manuals & guides there offer impressive instruction of what you would do once such a checklist-like determination has been made.

As an exact example of what I'm looking for, while Internet searching I ran across a Newsgroup Q&A that read…

Q. Peace Corps Low-Tech Survival Kit - 11/30/97...Years ago, I heard the Peace Corps had developed a 'survival kit' that contained information in the form of microfilms and a manual microfilm viewer that could be illuminated by candles or sunlight, all in a single portable case... These microfilms provided various methods for purifying water, basic agriculture, basic health, housing construction and other life sustaining technologies, … as low-tech as possible…It seems like something that every community or group should have…

A. From: David Book…To: Jerry Decker…Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 17:16:32 -0500 …Subject: your info request…Here it IS!!…This might be what you are looking for: ...Appropriate Technology Library...An AT Library for your desktop!...The most comprehensive, practical, and economical Appropriate Technology reference collection ever compiled. 138,650 pages from 1000 books and documents on microfiche at 5% of the original book cost. At the tip of your fingers information on agricultural tools and techniques, crop storage, water supply, forestry, aqua-culture, improved cookstoves, solar/wind/water power, biogas, transportation, health care, communications, small industries, and all other small scale technology topics. "If you work overseas, you need this book and the library." - Whole Earth Catalog...Respectfully, David Book (Note: the webpage for this Q&A is at

…so, this would be the kind of thing I'm looking for, (though I imagine the "checklist" would be a lot smaller ;), & this would make a perfect companion for such a checklist.

The reason I'm asking for this checklist, and hoping you'll be encouraged to help me locate it is, I have a Nigerian friend, Horgan, who, with his wife, Judah, run the "African Outlet" store in San Francisco ( I am Cliff Thompson, "Mediameister", San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA, and I spent some time in Ghana (in Tema, my engineering family worked on the Alumina Reduction Plant there, '64-'67). Various Peace Corps teachers made a big difference in Horgan's life, teaching him at his village school as he grew up. Recently he went back to Nigeria (his Mom's a schoolteacher there) and was very saddened to learn the village hospital had no wheelchairs and the school students had no pencils and books. He is really moved to try and help personally, and I join him, for I've seen similar problems in Ghana as well as India, where my Mom was born (her side of our family built 2 schools there & they could use help also). Horgan & us "Friends of Africa" have formed an African Community Group that meets monthly the 1st Sunday at African Outlet at 4pm (all welcome) and we're finding from amongst our dozen (& growing) mostly African members, similar problems with villages "back home". We want to do "peace corps-like" work, but as community member volunteers helping their folks back home.

We are very inspired by the book "Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World"
Among us are a growing number of folks with various construction/engineering skills of the sort pioneered by the Whole Earth Company/Catalog & now carried forward by the Real Goods Company
( and other groups like "Bagelhole"
(, as well as Nepal's
"Sustainable Options for the Mountains Best Practices and Appropriate Technologies"
( and Phil Rowe's Low-Tech Inventions (
Further, Horgan's wife has just gotten Non-profit status for a new group she formed and we're looking at writing proposals for project grants to organizations like Hewlett-Packard's "World e-Inclusion" program
(, with story at...
and Silicon Valley's Center for Venture Philanthropy

We are finding solutions to problems coming over from the villages but would like to take a more organized, comprehensive, proactive approach to problem determination - suffering folk are often too ashamed/embarassed to ask for help or too humiliated to go begging - hence the "checklist". Our feeling is, rather than reinvent wheels, why not learn from the "masters" at this, the Peace Corps, if they have methods, procedures, and such awesome resources as the "Appropriate Technology Library" already developed, and these tools might already be available in paper/online libraries, then why not use these to model our own efforts on, to achieve a much more efficient and effective delivery system, so we can stay focused on our current area of expertise, matching problems to appropriate technology solutions.

For example, for Horgan's wheelchairs, my wife, a Web Producer, is co-developing a Nurses Continuing Education Units on-line training website, "Wild Iris Medical Education"
(, which has a course "How to Build a Wheelchair" (,
which the nurses (friends of ours) developed from training they received from Whirlwind Wheelchair International Wheelchair Program
So what we're wondering now is, to paraphrase, if we were using "Peace Corp-like" methodology, what would we be doing for the next steps? Can we in general develop a basic methodology for (a) determining the problem set (the "checklist"), (b) finding a solution (our current specialty), and (c) implementing the delivery, setup, installation, maintenance and development in a consistent, reliable, dependable manner?

So, if you could help us find the equivalent of a Peace Corps "Village Profile Status Checklist", or whatever it's called, we would be most grateful. If fact, looking over what we're about, if any other relevant, useful resources come to your mind, we would greatly appreciate any recommendations and guidance you have to offer.

Thank you very much in advance for your time and consideration.


Cliff Thompson
San Francisco
Robotics Society of America (RSA)
RSA Legacy Website Creator
NorCal Mobile Computing SIG
San Francisco Bay Area
& Silicon Valley
(650) 954-6070 (mobile)

3978 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

(after April 1st '03)
812 Red Leaf Ct
San Francisco, CA 94112
415 333 1031 (home, after April 1st)

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