50 Years after the Peace Corps

May 26, 2021

Estab­lished by Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in 1961, the agency has sent more than 240,000 vol­un­teers to 141 nations around the world. Six decades on, its mis­sion remains large­ly the same – to work with local com­mu­ni­ties to devel­op sus­tain­able solu­tions for chal­lenges in the health­care, edu­ca­tion, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, agri­cul­ture, and envi­ron­men­tal sectors.”

Read more from Condé Nast Trav­el­er as they chron­i­cle the expe­ri­ence of six gen­er­a­tions of women who served in the Peace Corps.

After grad­u­at­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois Urbana Cham­paign in 1971, Car­ol enlist­ed in the Peace Corps. It was the sev­en­ties and we believed that we had to change the world. We had gifts that oth­er peo­ple didn’t have, so it was just the right thing to do” says Carol.

Peace Corps Carol Highlight

On assign­ment in Cos­ta Rica, Car­ol and her hus­band Alan Bar­ney (a botanist) worked for the fledg­ling Cos­ta Rican Nation­al Park Ser­vice. As an the only archi­tect in my group, we were select­ed to assist the nation­al parks sys­tem. They were already very cog­nizant that they had an incred­i­bly diverse envi­ron­ment. The park ser­vice didn’t have a staff or a bud­get, so they asked the Peace Corps to send staff. My oth­er Peace Corps group mem­bers were land­scape archi­tects, botanists, biol­o­gists, and park planners.”

The mis­sion of the Park Ser­vice was to pro­tect and pre­serve Cos­ta Rica’s amaz­ing­ly diverse and threat­ened ecol­o­gy. Carol’s projects includ­ed a mas­ter plan for coral reef pro­tec­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion at Par­que Nacional Cahui­ta, restora­tion of the his­toric hacien­da at Par­que Nacional San­ta Rosa and work­er hous­ing at Par­que Nacional Vol­can Poas.

The chal­lenge of today’s gen­er­a­tion of archi­tects is the envi­ron­ment. In Cos­ta Rica, I got an ear­ly wake­up call about that. We restored envi­ron­ments that had been trashed by farm­ing. In a way that’s what archi­tects need to do. We need to restore and pro­tect the entire sys­tem. You look at ener­gy use in the Unit­ed States and one third of it is auto­mo­tive or our trans­porta­tion sys­tem, one third of it is man­u­fac­tur­ing and one third of it is build­ings. That means archi­tects are respon­si­ble for one third of ener­gy by their designs. So not only is it dire, it’s also some­thing that we can do.”

Carol’s embrace of sus­tain­abil­i­ty is inspired by her time in the Peace Corps and has informed the foun­da­tion and ethos of Ross Bar­ney Archi­tects. No mat­ter the scope or scale, each project explores an inven­tive and inte­grat­ed approach to stew­ard­ship, whether that be to its neigh­bors or the envi­ron­ment; any­thing less is not an option.”

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