Appropriate technology villages
Appropriate technology villages are places where people live with, make and demonstrate appropriate technology, i.e. technology for sustainability, affordability and appropriateness to its setting. They have similarities with ecovillages and some sustainability-oriented communes, and all these concepts overlap to a degree.
Real world examples:
- The Smoke-Free Village in Andhra Pradesh, India
- AurovilleW in India (though the emphasis is broader, and there is a spiritual basis).
Australia and Oceania
- CAT - Centre for Alternative TechnologyW in Machynlleth Mid-Wales - an old slate quarry which has been a centre for demonstrating and teaching appropriate technology since 1974.
- Monte Cerro Solar Power Village - A project of the Tamera Community
- Arboricoli A highly sophisticated Experiment of the Damanhur Community in Italy
See also the Directory of European eco-centres http://www.cat.org.uk/links/links.tmpl?subdir=links&sku=LINKS_EECSR
- Vinay Gupta, Smári McCarthy and Chriswaterguy have speculated about setting one up, possibly in the South of India or elsewhere in Asia. (We could live in Hexayurts.)
- A similar concept is Living Co-laboratories, developed by Marcin Jakubowski and Richard Schulte
- ApTech Village, Bangladesh, "a supportive measure that plans to “show-case” technology to enable transfer of necessary know-how as well as building up of economic, technical, and managerial capabilities for the efficient use and further development of the transferred technology."
- The Self-help Corporation  or Community Investment Enterprise is a way to organize people and resources that are excess to the market - allowing integrated production for consumption by the participants. Such an organization is uniquely suited to employ appropriate technologies as it solicits contributions of labor instead of contributions of capital. David Braden
So here's the idea in a nutshell: take a patch of land in some low-cost-of-living area, probably a developing world country, and set up a profusion of different OSAT (open source appropriate technology), permaculture and other innovative living systems side by side. The idea is to have a place where a person can come to see not one working system in each category ("pumps",) but as many systems as can practically be installed and maintained running beside each other to enable comparison and cross training.
People can then come to the village for a year or so, live using the systems, learn their ins and outs, participate in operation and maintainance , install test systems, and generally get a first-class, year-round, fair-and-foul conditions education right across the board. They key is that this education is cheap. People without heavy external financial commitments could spend a year at the village for a few hundred dollars a month, making it an ideal opportunity for local subject matter experts, college students, development workers and similar groups who don't have much money, but may have time.
Land is cheap. We won't worry too much about the land.
Individual technologies - a given well technology, a given growing system - often have dedicated NGOs or academic institutions which support and back that technology. The idea is to approach a profusion of such groups and attempt to cook "stone soup" where each group participates given the participation of other groups. If three or four water groups are each willing to fund the set up of one system on site, it's a lot easier to get the remaining technology groups to participate. And the price of digging one well, in an area with decent infrastructure and other activities along those lines, is not huge. Nor is the cost of putting one volunteer or student in the field for a year to maintain that system, and to learn / teach everything that can be gleaned from the other experts who are their teaching about and maintaining their own systems.
This model: essentially a giant "teach in" among appropriate technology charity representatives, has two unique features.
1> Everybody is going to be living using the systems they are advocating. 2> Everybody gets time to learn about, critique, improve and cross-train on other people's systems.
This element, of "eating one's own dogfood" by using the systems one promotes is a key factor in open source software development. Innovation is said to come from software developers "scratching an itch" - looking at something that they want to work differently, and then writing the software to make it work that way. In a similar manner, a group of fifty to two hundred appropriate technology experts, living together in a village, for a year or two, sharing ideas, using each other's systems, and discussing lessons learned over the history of their technology, could easily become a global resource.
In future years, a mixture of students, locals, NGO workers from further afield, volunteers and those who are curious could come to the village, live for some extended period as a training course, and then return, taking their newfound expertise and sense of potential with them, to spread the news about what works around the globe.
Possible? For each organization, we would be asking them to fund development of one of "whatever they do" in the village. One well, one solar cooker per hut, one solar hot water system, whatever it takes. Given that they are already specialized in deployment of these systems, the marginal cost is probably small compared to the likely global benefit. We would also commit to documenting and publicizing the technologies deployed on the ground to help people clearly comprehend how much technological diversity there is in the field. I think a deal like this has a good chance of being attractive enough to individual charities to get participation.
The land is another question, but land is cheap in many locales.
That leaves operating funds for documenting the work, organizing, and perhaps some travel to conferences etc. A few members of staff would be required also, but they'd live at the village, and that would keep costs very, very low.
Vinay Gupta thinks this idea (described here) is entirely plausible and feasible. What do you think?
A proposal is posted at ChangeMakers.com: A Village To Heal The Planet: A Practical Whole-Systems Showcase Village
- Community needs to work well and be sustainable
- Communities need to be vibrant during times of peace and resilient during times of crisis
- The solution must be cost effective for it to be a real solution
- "In 1997 (Rus Alit) came to Kona to attend the Crossroads Discipleship Training School and the Project Development Leadership School. During his stay he helped develop U of N’s Appropriate Technology Village, putting in water systems, terraced gardens and aquaculture facilities"
This page contains content by Vinay Gupta and Larahna at A Village To Heal The Planet: A Practical Whole-Systems Showcase Village - discussion at GlobalSwadeshi.net, licensed under (CC-BY-SA 3.0? Need confirmation from Vinay.)