RPCV living in Oregon refuses to heat his house
Guatemala RPCV Dave Kaplowe and his roomate Stuart McDougall try to use as few resources as possible, such as keeping the heat off in their Portland Oregon house. Girlfriends Andrea Walter and Katy Daily do their best to humor them.
“We’re not burning fossil fuels,” Kaplowe says, “and we’re very efficient thermoregulators.” McDougall laughs at this. He’s wearing a T-shirt and is barefoot on the hardwood floor. “The no-heat thing started in college when we didn’t have the money for it and then realized we didn’t need it anyway,” Kaplowe says. The household heating bill from NW Natural arrived Nov. 1. The total due was $6.54. The men are so pleased they present a hard copy while Daily rolls her eyes. The women may wish for warmer digs, but Kaplowe says there can be no compromise.
Kaplowe manages fish and wildlife mitigation projects with the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland. The University of Oregon graduate was drawn to the BPA after serving nearly four years with the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. While in the Peace Corps he helped rural communities, nongovernmental organizations and trinational government organizations adopt sustainable forestry and watershed management practices. Instead of working on watershed management in three Central American countries, he now works with very similar issues in the four states that make up the Columbia Basin — Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. “I believe hydroelectric power is a renewable resource and a great alternative to the burning of fossil fuels or nuclear-derived power,” Kaplowe says. “The BPA demonstrates environmental stewardship and public responsibility.”
Bolivia RPCV plays Mozart concerto on a garden hose
Howard Pink learned of the unique musical instrument while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia in the late 1960s. At that time, he found a recording of noted horn player Dennis Brain playing a piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father, Leopold Mozart, on a garden hose. "A garden hose is nothing more that a French horn played in the technique used in Mozart's time when they didn't have valves. I thought it was a really good idea," he said. At that point, he ran out and bought a standard variety garden hose in a market and went on tour. He soon reached some level of regional acclaim on a South American television show — similar to The Ed Sullivan Show — as "the man who played the hose."
Pink was a French horn player for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for more than 25 years, where he continued his garden hose show for local school groups and libraries. His program, "Howard Pink and His Musical Garden Hoses," isn't just entertaining, it's also educational. Pink goes into the history of wind instruments and hopes to instill a love of music, if not creativity, with the younger members of the audience. "By the time I'm done, you should have a good idea of what it takes to play not only the French horn but members of the entire brass family. But if nothing else, I hope they learn to appreciate music and want to become a member of an audience. Maybe go to a symphony concert sometime," he said.
Costa Rica RPCV sells Coconut water imported from Brazil
Mark Rampolla decided to sell coconut water, imported from Brazil and marketed as a high-potassium, sugar-free alternative to Gatorade and other sugary sports drinks. The product, Zico, is now sold for $2 per 11-ounce container in yoga studios, health food stores (including Whole Foods) and other outlets.
Because the Rampollas want to support economic development in Latin America, Zico is produced and packaged in Brazil. That creates factory jobs, not just the agricultural work of harvesting the young coconuts. The company has also pledged to give 5 percent of its net profits to improve health and education in the communities where the product is produced. The marketing budget is small, so the approach is "grassroots and guerrilla" - no advertising, but a lot of free samples at health stores and athletic events. There have been anxieties and some scary moments, as in any new business. Soon after Zico got started, a paperwork problem with U.S. Customs halted shipment of the product from Brazil, a mess that took two months to untangle. And living without a reliable corporate paycheck has required some adjustments by the Rampollas, who have two young daughters. But the company is growing, and Rampolla hopes to hire five people, mostly in sales, in 2007.
Having lived as both a poor Peace Corps volunteer and an affluent executive in the Third World, Rampolla has a different perspective on business ups and downs. "We always know if things really go south, we'll wind up on a beach in South America, and as long as I have my wife and kids, I'll be happy," Rampolla says. "I just really enjoy everything that's involved in trying to make this happen."