Criteria for Selection
of Digital Culture Sites
This document provides a high-level summary of the initial
criteria that Greenstar uses in selecting sites for digital culture
projects, in which the company makes a long-term investment in
the recording, professional production, documentation, marketing
and education about traditional world cultures.
The company's investments focus on music, artwork, photography
First, please refer to these documents, to give you an idea
of what we mean by "digital culture", with some samples
of two existing programs, in Jamaica and Palestine:
Cultural Ecology on the Edge
a survey of key ideas, issues and resources behind Greenstar
the principles behind the digital culture idea
the program in action, in the Middle
Ghana and India
complementary sample MP3 music, recording in
our pilot installation in Al-Kaabneh,
Parvatapur, Swift River and Patriensah
a complete music CD product, produced and documented
a complete original artwork product from Greenstar,
including free samples of village artwork
how the music program affects a community
Following are some of the attributes Greenstar looks for in
a village digital culture site. This is not a checklist but rather
a guide to our thinking about where to invest. If you have a
site in mind, please let us know how it relates to these criteria.
1. The village should be off-the-grid, with no central electricity
and no or limited phone service. We prefer to invest where need
is great but others will not invest.
2. The village should have strong participation, vision,
leadership, motivation for improved economic, social, educational
and health conditions and a willingness to inclusively embrace
the collective decision making process necessary for community
growth. A Greenstar investment is not a Greenstar project, it
is a village project in which Greenstar participates. The more
real energy we see from the village, the more we know our investment
is in the people, not ourselves.
3. The village should have strong and unique traditional
culture, arts, music, language, with commercial potential as
music, artwork, storytelling, photography products, etc. We assume
every remote village has these assets, though they may not realize
it. Some are more ready for market than others but we need to
know as much about the culture as possible. The products that
are created offer an immediate cash flow to the rural community.
The village members must understand, and accept, the essential
role licensing art plays in the Greenstar model. The products
will always be the property of the people. Greenstar respects
decisions to withhold sacred and other essential images from
4. There should be a secure, fixed central site in the village
for equipment, eg. school, clinic, community center.
5. There should be a local population within walking distance:
minimum 500 to maximum 5000 people.
6. There should be local government support, good communications
with relevant officials, alignment with regional/national development
priorities, NGO and UN activities, and a reasonable regulatory
7. There should be reasonably sound telecomm, banking, legal
and political systems in the host country.These must be open
to regulatory reform, competition, and innovation. Enforceable
contracts are essential.
8. There should be good diplomatic and security relations
with the US.
9. There should be qualified, motivated research, operations,
education, music and artwork resources and consultants to be
expert country project managers. It is also important to be able
to identify a team in the village that can provide day to day
management and support.
10. There should be local sources of high-quality solar and
related electrical equipment including manufacturers' distributors,
field service and parts depots for inverters, wiring, module
mounting, battery chargers, acid-gel batteries; preferred suppliers
in order are ASE Americas, Astropower, BP Solarex, Siemens.
11. There should be availability of high-speed wired or wireless
Internet connections and ISP service, with an idea of existing
cost. Each Greenstar center will ultimately receive a two-way
high-speed satellite connection, if local wired or wireless solutions
are not available. In such a case, we also evaluate the availability
of commercial C-band and Ku-band satellite footprints covering
the village. It is desirable if the host telecommunications authority
is willing to partner in innovative experiments, including VoIP
and village-based ISP businesses.
12. Greenstar prefers to work in locations where there are
at least two viable candidates for evaluation.
As it requires a sizeable investment to prepare a Greenstar project
in a new country, it is very desirable to evaluate the possibilities
of establishing multiple village partnerships if a pilot is successful.
A cluster of Greenstar sites may well allow the emergence of
a network effect where the whole is greater than the sum of the
If a multiple village project is possible, and well-justified
by experience in the pilot project, Greenstar evaluates the advantages
of establishing an in-country subsidiary to be in charge of all
Greenstar projects in the host country. Typically Greenstar
will subscribe for a 49% interest it its subsidiaries.
Other desirable qualities include a clinic within 25-50 miles,
which could provide local support for international telemedicine
projects. It would also be a plus if there were a computer users
group or club in the region, which could provide volunteers for
local support and education.
We initially travel to a site, spend several days in the potential
village, meet and talk with local leaders both formally and informally,
and meet all sectors of the community. During this time we engage
in a "Future Building" process to identity and align
the hopes, aspirations and key agendas of all of the stakeholders.
The result of this process is a written document that describes
the nature of the relationships and obligations between all of
the parties in the proposed Greenstar partnership. Also, during
this first visit, Greenstar representatives are required to meet
with the local artists, evaluate their willingness to participate
in international marketing, and to have first-hand experience
with their art works. If at all possible, samples will be videotaped
and scanned for further evaluation.
For more information on "Future Building", see http://www.greenstar.org/future-building.htm
Then, together with local consultants and appropriate government
representatives, we apply these criteria and confirm selection
of a village.
Since Greenstar is making an investment -- not a donation,
not a grant, not a loan or credit, but a real investment on behalf
of people who expect to see a reasonable profit over a space
of years -- our criteria are both easier in some ways, and harder
in other ways, than most "aid" programs. Investment
means that Greenstar could lose the entire sum of finance and
resources put forward if a village site doesn't work out for
ecommerce. So we are both cautious and aggressive in making decisions.
We hope this helps you understand how Greenstar works. A useful
general index to all resources on Greenstar's sites is available
You may contact Greenstar regarding the conception and execution
of the digital culture program through Michael North (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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