Greenstar Field Report
A very pleasant and productive day in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
The two computer systems were released by Customs and delivered
to PEA Headquarters in Ramallah, no duty or taxes due, free and
clear to go to Al-Kaabneh. Our Dr. Fuad Abulfotuh, fresh in from
Cairo, made this happen through gentle persuasion with Federal
Met at length with Gideon Bromberg of EcoPeace at their East
Jerusalem offices. Also at the meeting was Samar Husary of the
Palestinian Hydrology Group.
They are giving us a prime spot in the Village Centers conference
program to present the Greenstar award to the PEA, and will distribute
our press release to the attendees. They are assisting us in
translating the release into Arabic as well.
We have scheduled a followup meeting on Monday to discuss
how products from the Al-Kaabneh area can be identified and put
on the Web. They may bring some other NGO representatives, and
business people, to the lunch.
Dr. Fuad also contacted a source in Haifa for deep-discharge
lead gel batteries, 24 2-volt units which have been used for
one year in a desalination project. He negotiated a great price
for them, a total of $1560, including delivery and a 1-year warranty;
considering that their advanced design gives them a projected
life of 10-12 years, we are satisfied that this is a good choice.
The batteries will be delivered to Al-Kaabneh on Saturday.
We visited at length with PEA representatives at their headquarters
in Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian Authority. Ahmad Abu-Sabha
gave us a lot of time; we discussed local products available
in the Hebron-Yatta-Carmel-Al Kaabneh area; since he grew up
there, he knows a lot about the pottery, carvings, wool carpets
and other textiles unique to the area, and will introduce us
next week to business people. This is the foundation of "www.alkaabneh.com",
a website to be run by the villagers. I will get extensive photographs
and product samples.
Ramallah is like a wild-west town; raw, unfinished, construction
and rocks everywhere, full of energy, happy people going somewhere
fast. Some areas quite well-off, with homes and condos that would
look natural in Sherman Oaks. Everything is changing fast, and
the pioneer excitement of the Palestinians is infectious. In
five years, we won't even recognize this place.
We also discussed procuring selected, approved CD-ROM software
for use by the school in Al-Kaabneh, and Ahmad is contacting
the Education Ministry for appropriate sources.
We reviewed topographical maps of the region, which suggest
that line-of-sight connection across about 15 straight-line kilometers
between Hebron and Al-Kaabneh may be possible. We'll see when
we do a site survey, but this offers hope that the spread-spectrum
FreeWave radio telecommunications solution may work.
Also met at length with Director-General Omar Kittaneh, gave
him a complete update on the project, and he was very pleased.
We got him thinking hard about the ecommerce aspects of Greenstar,
and he responded well to the Greenstar economic model -- create
a center of income based on local initiative, and many of the
funding problems that hold back solar/health/education projects
in the developing world begin to dissolve. He will be eager to
provide connections in the PA Trade Ministry to facilitate this
Dr.Kittaneh took us out to a wonderful oasis restaurant in
Ramallah, where the four of us reflected at length on the meaning
of life, the origin of the universe, the unity of religions,
the roots of peace and other issues (no kidding). I had my first
taste of an apple-flavored Turkish waterpipe, and a unique local
Taboon chicken dish.
We also discussed the Palestinian Strategic Plan, which lays
out the needs for development assistance from Europe, the US
and others for the next ten years. Dr. Kittaneh is interested
in seeing support for Greenstar-type local initiatives and ecommerce
activities, and may include them in future revisions of the plan
and funding requests to DOE, USAID and others.
All in all, a good start. Tomorrow we'll be in Al-Kaabneh
all day, seeing first-hand what needs to be done to complete
mounting, wiring and casing of the equipment. We have a local
man lined up to build wooden cases for the inverter and battery
array, and hope to test and connect all elements, and flip the
"on" switch, by the end of the day Saturday.