Sunday, January 17, 2010

Repatriation Facilities

I was yakking with Maria Droujkova (blog linked to the right) about our ecovillages idea, shared pretty much universally. Voters would have an easy time approving the storyboards, were our policymakers up to drawing them intelligently.

She'd just been reading Walden 2 and, though never a convert to Behaviorism, was willing to grant BF Skinner was on target with some of those suggestions for promoting both physical and mental well being. Fuller's Education Automation (1962) was similarly about "freeing the scholar to return to his studies" -- another idea for a safety net, based on yet-to-be-invented Internet technology (work/study programs create the backbone of a world class economy in this design science classic).

Civilizations need multiple incubators, with different memes in different ones.

This takes me back to the Project Earthala thread. Earthala is a paradigm ecovillage, suitable for use in simulations. Subclass it, to get various types of village: disaster relief, semi-permanent, research, traveling circus, school... place with a view. These are not mutually exclusive categories, obviously.

AimeƩ contributed the name, forwarding from Peter. Sure, it might be a child's name, like Moon Unit, or Moon. I took it for the name of a village, though the word "project" maybe disguises that fact. Camp Earthala then? Like Government Camp on Mt. Hood.

Camps help serve a rebooting function as well. When troops make the transition to civilian life, they may still need some camp time, some skills-building sessions. Just dumping men and women at a bus stop willy-nilly, with no families in some cases, is not really a wise policy.

When a unit makes the transition together, then personnel may be described as "an incoming unit" vis-a-vis some semi-permanent staging area that offers career placement services after retraining. The unit gradually disperses, with reunions planned.

This was our federally funded workflow at CUE, after a fashion. Quoting from my work history again:
Developed and led multiple retraining classes for eligible older workers in Apple and PC office applications (word processing, spreadsheet, database and desktop publishing) under contract with the Portland Private Industry Council. Visited job candidates at worksites for follow-up tutoring in employer applications during a federally-subsidized six week probationary period.
Say you're coming from base X in Iraq and want to join a new charter school in Mississippi. The school is staffing up as a government program, and offers a new kind of math class, as well as some GIS/GPS training. Military surplus equipment is a part of the equation. Several faculty positions are earmarked for vets, per whatever federal legislation.

The charters need not be eco-village based. We have many openings in urban areas. The goal is to find some fast track that provides some continuity, including for the single veteran in need of more skills. The camps themselves require design, building and maintenance, another source of employment.

Of course many voters will be asking themselves why existing military bases don't serve this transitional function. The most obvious answer is you need civilian management where transitioning to civilian lifestyles is concerned.

Presumably policymakers are busy developing screening criteria. Some camps are better equipped for vets with more serious cases of PTSD. These camps have more of a VA stamp on them. Other "camps" are little more than residential colleges within pre-existing academic facilities. The course work is customized but the flavor is more GI Bill than VA treatment center, with transfer a possibility on a case by case basis.

Finding ways to fast track large numbers of vets out of Iraq has been a goal for many a Pentagon planner (if we're to believe election results). Orderly staging, dis-assembly, shipping and handling... these are contracted services in some cases, but only in support of the chain of command.

Having the camps be 21st century in design, versus a clone from some 1900s blueprint, requires the services of some of the same aerospace players. What news stories might we tell? Is everything classified? Do any of these ideas break in to the media bubble? These are timing issues.

The blogosphere is more about peripheral vision. Looking at possibly positive futures directly, in newspaper centerfolds or on TV newscasts, is somewhat of a lost art since the 1950s or so. A renaissance in this area has a somewhat retro flavor, calling up images of the WPA.

One has little chance to plan for the future when taking it day by day. Having Uncle Sam express a willingness to invest in civilian repatriation programs is politically prudent. Will more initiative need to come from the private sector?

The will of the American people was clearly expressed in 2008, so it's not like I'm the only one supporting the relevant lobbies (e.g. FCNL). Iraqi voters have likewise elected to regain their sovereignty. The people of both nations see pretty much eye to eye.

Plans for an orderly withdrawal are necessarily a core focus of the bureaucracy these days. Let's hope the supervisors are being somewhat hawkish in making sure all this planning is really getting done. They're the ones who'll have to answer, if no storyboards were drawn. Consider mine duly submitted!