This paper reports on recent developments in the rural-issue based research programmes of the Gandhigram Rural Institute (GRI) in Tamilnadu, India. This has involved the consolidation of its village community development programmes. Emphasis has shifted towards the needs of special groups, with whom PRA meetings have been held. Some problems with such meetings are noted, including time constraints, tendency for some individuals to dominate, constraints on multi-disciplinary team, problems in group formation and discussions, and little documentation. Three-day PRA workshops were held to derive an action plan by and for villagers. The programme of workshops is outlined, discussing the extent of community participation, the methods used, and the specific projects and proposals which emerged. Strategies to support these processes beyond the workshops are also considered, and some weaknesses acknowledged: little attitude and behaviour change, dependency syndrome and internal conflicts.