Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits




Getting Started ...
One part of the answer

Please read and ponder The Strategy. Getting Started is offered reluctantly. It's probably like comments by Hercules discussing a type of shovel when given the task of cleaning the Aegean stables.

Alternative 1
The Garage Gang
Gates and several others have been said to have started their companies in their garages. Many people have told me to "start small" after hearing of the Rural System concept. I have limited time. "Small" is why so many firms and cottage industries have failed in the past. Starting is the key word and so I am setting out to see what this might mean, starting in my own shed and seeking cooperators.

The starting places, the members of the Garage Gang seem to be best for...

  • Bird houses and feeders
  • Bird watering devices (plumbing)
  • Specialized sales of bird foods (with local feed store)
  • Bandannas and mailing
  • Web site work
  • Earthworm systems
  • Rural Rounds - hiker cookies
  • Sourdough
  • Piots web site and news letter
  • Nature Folks organization
  • Gardens planning (with local garden clubs and others)
  • contacts with Tech and community colleges (student projects)
  • we shall see...

Alternative 2 ...

  1. Regional leadership needs to meet and to decide whether the concept is worth exploring further and that it should "get started." Assuming yes ...
  2. There need to be some open public meetings (at least three of them, and not only in the summer when some people are on vacation, etc.) to discuss the potentials of the Project. These should not be decision-oriented meetings, only for information and public comments. They might be presented by Giles and colleagues.
  3. We all have to see if there is a real need and what is possible and believe we're on the way. The Rural System Strategy is the way to get there. Only a few have to believe it. Everyone has to know what "those other guys" are doing. There is no schedule; delay and thoughtful preparation are justified.
  4. We need lengthy newspaper presentations before the meetings.
  5. There may be small business advice and loan assistance from the ARC.
  6. There needs to be a temporary project leader for coordinating and channeling information and meetings, and proposals. Giles can meet this need temporarily but a local person is needed.
  7. We need (1) a temporary office space
  8. Consideration of an initial grant from the County of $50,000 to be repaid within 6 years; and (3) release from taxes (since we pay them from our profits)...or work with me for equivalent foundation grants or state support
  9. We need letters of support and active participation to go with letters seeking grant funds
  10. There may be local investors and businesses who see the potentials of the enterprise and will want to create major units, one or more of the Groups. Such action will be very supportive.
  11. There may be people who know individuals, local organizations, companies, or foundations that will sponsor the concept or parts of it. These need to be communicated to a project leader.
  12. Efforts need to be made to gain projects with local newspapers and the TV with a weekly PBS or other series on things going on in the in the county.
  13. Throughout, I've assumed that people would be hired using the funds obtained as venture capital or loans. There will be people, like me, retired or otherwise supported, who can take on major tasks for a select group. Who is hired will depend on the rate of acquiring funds, and the limitations on each budget.
  14. We need to see an attorney to resolve proper corporate status for which and from which we can legally and safely work. I believe this may be formulated as a conservation and education project.
  15. We need to develop insights for leadership for the next 10 years (a first-principle of the systems approach, feedforward, working and investing some time and energy now to get ready for the predicted future).
  16. We need a gross idea of the number of people unemployed in the county or who might consider an alternative line of work within the area. Experimental and volunteer work will be needed at the beginning.
  17. If the project is approved, we need to have some bandannas made for sale at near-cost. Conspicuous is one of the bywords.
  18. We need someone who bakes to put some special yeast (I'll bring it) in a bowl and give out these sourdough "starts" to everyone who wants it. The symbolism can be strong. We'll market this as soon as possible (locally, then Cracker Barrel stores, etc.)
  19. We need to get a list of lands now under easements and begin planning a system of oversight and suggested management for them.Similarly, we need tax maps for contacting owners.
  20. We need 2 to 3 people to bake 50 " Rural Rounds " (once called "lumps" for taste-testing, cost analysis, and market analyses) a cookie for workers, school children, and hikers. It will take a little experimenting or maybe there is a better recipe for a hard cookie that can be carried afield. We can think about making Certified Forest wooden boxes for boxing the Crackers.
  21. We need to talk to local restaurant owners about commissions on meals and other product-sales that we generate.
  22. We need to discuss the Ranging concept with the local tourism director(s)
  23. I'll share a draft of a proposal to the Gates Foundation and others.
  24. We need to find the largest, prettiest pond on the area or to which we can have management access for the next contracted 150 years. A map with descriptions of each pond/wet area can be a project (maybe the soil people in the county already have such a map or notes). We need to discuss potentials and plans with Dr. Brian Murphy, Va Tech.
  25. We need to visit and see if 1-2 local funeral home owners/managers may be interested in some aspect of The Memorials Group.
  26. We need to find a person with a big-bed truck who is interested in foxes and coyotes and wants a night-shift job (see Coyote of Nature Folks)..
  27. We need to get youths and others hats or a bandana or Tee-shirts. The youth will be the future for the project. Tasks for youths or others:
    • Get a young person or two to bike around and visit people and make a list of all of the vegetables that have been raised successfully in local gardens.
    • Someone needs to select several good spots in the county for 6-foot-tall "thermometers" like those seen for charity giving and fire danger in the West. (We'll get it in later to report on progress; they can help pick spots. Mark it; leave a report on selection criteria.)
    • Where should beautiful stone "gateways" to the county or town be placed (if decided).
  28. Write to UVa and Va Tech get names and addresses of all students from the counties. Write a general letter to students and ask for help ( by working on one of more term-papers or senior or graduate projects that will payoff for them as well as their home counties - a list is available and open for suggestions). Much of the work needed for the System Central has been done or can be assembled and completed by a team of business management graduate students.
  29. We need someone ( maybe a church group) with a sewing machine to hem 10-20 triangular flags. We, the conglomerate, have to be evidently present and at work.
  30. We need someone who can start The Old Codgers.
  31. We need to contract with the Conservation Management Institute for 3 maps of the area and then print and sell them.
  32. We need to talk to a volunteer fire chief about starting to think about and to plan for The Fire Force and its potentials. New USFS policy suggests potentials in contract crews being formed for work on the Forests.
  33. We need to start the baseline for fires and fire prevention (numbers of calls, fires, estimated losses, local annual control budget).
  34. We need a meeting to get small business advice. It may be that we have to develop 50 business plans but because of System Central, none are likely to make sense to banks or reviewers of conventional plans.
  35. There's a great idea in The Products Group for a hiking staff. Maybe someone who does furniture or has a lathe might advise or help get this product (at least a prototype) into markets.
  36. We need someone who has a computer and some Internet skills and who is interested in Nature. He or she might head-up Nature Folks.
  37. We need to talk and plan with someone who has or now raises rabbits. Some person might fund construction and placement of 10 hutches with interested students (Scouts, 4-H or FFA, etc.).
  38. We need someone who has raised geese or someone who is very interested in doing so.
  39. We need to locate local youth and adult camps and get their addresses, phones, and dates of operation. Also an answer from each to: interested in cooperative, paid use later after the "normal season"?
  40. We can offer distance-learning courses (but the site from which it is sent is no longer relevant). One course on advanced wildlife resource management systems was offered out of the Northern Virginia Graduate Center 2 years ago. Such courses can work. We can have visitors who can see the Rural System principles in action ... in 2-3 days, but not year around. Distance-learning courses may be useful to fill this extended need. We may need specialized intensive youth and adult education with a strong natural resource base for realistic examples of the principles and for motivation. We need to teach about the Rural System and its principles.

    Recent and ongoing research strongly indicates that using the environment as a subject "integrator" across the curriculum can both improve student performance and contribute to the development of values such as community responsibility and persistence. In addition, environment-based education can lead to more effective methods of implementing standards-based education, can be a powerful school "turn-around" tool for severely under-performing schools, and can be a vehicle for improving teacher preparation and performance.

  41. We need to consider the potentials of and then how to implement youth programs with special math and science emphases within the Pivotal-Rig Project to meet standards-of-learning. We need to discuss the project with interested school faculty.
  42. Activities may already be underway, but parenting classes, for men and women seem especially needed given the new urban conditions, the divorce rate, and the small family sizes ...few seem to learn how "to do it well" any longer. Mentors are few. Some of this can be taught outdoors and in Pivotal facilities.
  43. Has anyone any experience with carving names, etc. in local rock? In cutting and carving small rock or coal (with fossil imprints) paper-weight objects? Is there are group of rockhounds? or special individuals known to be rock and mineral collectors?
  44. Is there an expert wood whittler who might be interested in forming a group (see The Sculptors).
  45. We need to know if anyone knows where there are fine clay deposits on the area that have been or might be processed and used in sculpting.
  46. We need to know if anyone in the region works with heat pumps. Putting pipes into deep wells, caverns near sinkholes, or compost heaps can harvest the Earth heat and provide summer cooling and Earth heat. (See The Energy Group; consider heating greenhouses for The Gardens Group.)
  47. Who now has experience or is interested in dairy goat work?
  48. Get a list of everyone interested in pond fishing. Another list for those interested in stream fishing (a Trout Unlimited project(s) ?)
  49. A guides training program might assist in meeting local as well as other needs of the Rural System, Inc. if it catches on. (One such program exists in the Virginia coalfield). There will be many guides needed and they need to be especially well trained for their specific tasks.
  50. I think we can have a writers' camp in an existing facility and it can concentrate on environmental and outdoor writing and photography, especially writing for the Internet.
  51. We need to talk to local bus operators, interests in serving local tours, and contacts with other bus and tour groups.
  52. We need to talk to the primary realtors to see if they might join in work on The Realtors and Dogwood Inns.
  53. Get a bookcase. I'll donate about 9 feet of books and pamphlets and reprints on natural resources, maybe for a Rural System section within a local library.
  54. Rent from the County for $1 all of the vacant lands and structures that they own or have under any kind of legal arrangements. Thus we manage them all as a single Pivotal Tract (possibly with sign, mowing, planting trees, garden, rabbit hutch sites, vineyard elements, hiking paths).
  55. A local person of influence may be able to communicate to Governor Warner and/or staff that this is a worthy, high-technology, intensive-computer-use project with the environment that he can assist and feature in his program.
  56. We need to pick a few enterprises (3-10) for the start-up design, but the above suggests that local conditions, individuals, and interest at the time will largely show the selection by their individual actions.

The above are questions and small projects that might help generate interest and get things moving. With evident interest (work and letters), and a selection of a small number of the enterprises, we can seek Foundation and other "venture capital" as needed. This effort can be exciting and of lasting value to the people of the counties, perhaps to others.

I'll welcome comments, revisions, and advice. Link to the Ideas Place and send email. I'll progressively change notes within The Ideas Place as additions and changes become available.


The following from Chip 1 qith Pivotal Rig


Chip off the New Block
Trying for a Practical Start-up

Please read and ponder The Rural System Strategy.

The Chip is offered reluctantly. It's probably like comments by Hercules discussing a type of shovel when given the task of cleaning the Aegean stables.

   

Here's what I'd do, several things at once, with a little help. The following can probably be done by August 1, 2003.

  1. We need to see an attorney to resolve 501(c)(3) topics, joint Trust and Rural System involvement, and proper corporate status for which and from which we can legally and safely work.
  2. We need to develop insights for leadership for the next 10 years (a first-principle of the systems approach, feedforward, working and investing some now to get ready for the predicted future).
  3. We need a meeting with the people in the vicinity - at least 4 miles east and west. We all have to see what is possible and believe we're on the way. Strategy is the way to get there. Only a few have to believe it. Everyone has to know what "those other guys" are doing.
  4. We need a gross idea of the number of people unemployed or who might consider an alternative line of work within the area. Experimental and volunteer work will be needed at the beginning.
  5. If the project is approved, we need to have some bandannas made for sale at cost. Conspicuous is one of the bywords.
  6. We need someone (Mrs. Hatfield?) who bakes to put some special yeast (I'll bring it) in a bowl and give out these sourdough "starts" to everyone who wants it. The symbolism can be strong. We'll market this as soon as possible (locally, then Cracker Barrel stores, etc.)
  7. We need 2 to 3 people to bake 50 " Eagan Eggs" (for taste-testing, cost analysis, and market analyses) a cookie for workers, school children, and hikers. It will take a little experimenting or maybe there is a better recipe for a hard cookie that can be carried afield.
  8. We need to talk to the local restaurant owner about commissions on meals and other product-sales that we generate.
  9. We need to see Fred Fields and see how we might relate to a Jubilee Center. Maybe they can provide us a loan (as described in The Pivotal Strategy).
  10. We need to see Joanne Watts of Jellico , tourism director, to discuss the Ranging concept.
  11. I'll start a draft of a proposal to the Gates Foundation if you and people to whom you report agree.(See my later comments about the draft.)
  12. I'll start a draft of a proposal to the Carter Foundation.
  13. We need to find the largest, prettiest pond on the area or to which we can have management access for the next contracted 150 years. A map with descriptions of each pond/wet area can be a project.
  14. We need to visit and see if 1-2 local funeral home owners/managers may be interested in some aspect of The Memorials Group.
  15. We need to find a person with a big-bed truck who is interested in foxes and coyotes and wants a night-shift job (see Coyote of Nature Folks)..
  16. We need to map and get records on as many of the mines as possible. These may be good for The Prospectors, cheese storage, safety zones, subsidence, ...
  17. We need to talk to the tent manufacturer in Caryville, Camel Manufacturing Company, to see if there are potential relations and advertising assistance we might provide.; also get estimates on costs of tent camps.
  18. The youth about to show up need to feel loved and want to return. We need to get them hats or a bandana or Tee-shirts and give them a special souvenir rock. They will be the future for the project. Tasks:
    • We'll do a soil experiment to find the best layers for making soil (start collecting gallon plastic milk cartons; we need 30). We'll fill these with hammered rocks from different layers and plant some legume seeds.
    • We need to borrow 5-10 fire rakes from the local state forest service DNR; we'll use them to clean trails. Return them sharp and oiled. (Have a mechanic save a quart of drained oil.)
    • Get a young person or two to walk around and visit people and make a list of all of the vegetables that have been raised successfully in local gardens.
    • If some young person is interested in insects, its time to start a collection for Nature Folks and The Butterfly Band. UT entomologists will visit and tell how to collect and mount insects. Maybe a building or office space can serve Nature Folks interests.
    • With Britt Boucher of Foresters, Inc., Blacksburg, VA., lets visit foresters of the adjacent mining-land owners (Huber?) to develop a (plans).
    • They need to "play in the creek." It needs little rock dams that they can make (rocks at least as big as a loaf of bread) so that the water ripples to begin adding oxygen.
    • They need to select a good spot for a 6-foot-tall thermometer like those seen for charity giving and fire danger in the West. (We'll get it in later to report on progress; they can help pick a spot. Mark it; leave a report on selection criteria.)
    • Have each pair of youths by willing participants build a 2 meter x 5 meter start-up for a Pivotal Garden. There will be nothing planted. Organics will be added (See the description.)
    • Many youth will have Internet skills. Have them build or add to web site, linkages, poems of residents, jokes by residents, any history available, scan in any pictures (have the students bike them back and forth to local folks for a few-minutes of copying) pictures of each person's house (with a date), scenic shots, pictures of the developed garden (part of the future plot).
  19. Write to UT and get names and addresses of all students from the 2 counties. Write them and ask for help (while at UT by working on one of more term-papers or senior or graduate projects that will payoff for them as well as their home counties - a list is available and open for suggestions).
  20. We need someone ( maybe a church group) with a sewing machine to hem 10-20 triangular flags. We, the conglomerate, have to be evidently present and at work.
  21. We need someone who can start The Old Codgers.
  22. We need to contract with Conservation Management Institute for 3 maps of the area and sell them.
  23. We need to talk to Ernie Hill about starting to think about and to plan for The Fire Force and its potentials.
  24. We need to start the baseline for fires and fire prevention (numbers of calls, fires, estimated losses, local annual control budget).
  25. We need a meeting with Joe Schmitt (784-5304)to get small business advice. It may be that we have to develop 40 business plans but because of System Central, none will make sense to banks or reviewers. Maybe Chuck Christiansen of Knoxville can meet with us.
  26. We need to talk to Robert Cox, Kenny Bartlet, or Kenny Pittman, or Tim Riddean about The 4x4 Group, planning, getting an early start, revising, etc.
  27. There's a great idea in The Products Group for a hiking staff. Maybe someone who does furniture or has a lathe might advise or help get this product into markets.
  28. We need to discuss marketing and other relations with staff of www.erocc.com and especially jrocc.com (The Jellico Rock Obstacle Challenge Course)
  29. We need someone who has a computer and some Internet skills and who is interested in Nature. He or she might head-up Nature Folks.
  30. We need to talk and plan with someone who has or now raises rabbits
  31. We need someone who has raised geese or someone who is very interested in doing so. The visiting youth may have such expertise and can advise.
  32. We need 2-3 really good places for a campfire the youth may help find, sketch-map, and clear for them before final selection.
  33. We need to locate local youth and adult camps and get their addresses, phones, and dates of operation. Also an answer to: interested in cooperative, paid use later after the season?
  34. Has anyone any experience with carving names, etc. in local rock?
  35. Is there an expert wood whittler who might be interested in forming a group (see The Sculptors).
  36. We need to know if anyone knows where there are fine clay deposits on the area that have been or might be processed and used in sculpting.
  37. We need to know if anyone in the region works with heat pumps. Putting pipes into deep wells can harvest the Earth heat and provide summer cooling.
  38. Who now has experience or is interested in dairy goat work?
  39. We need to discuss with a gas well expert the potentials for local use.
  40. Get a list of everyone interested in pond fishing. In stream fishing.
  41. We need to talk to Darrell Hopson about his bus, interests in serving local tours, and contacts with other busses and tour groups.
  42. We need to talk to the primary realtors to see if they might join in work on The Realtors
  43. We need to get Betty Graham King to think of materials for an Internet news letter (maybe a version of What on Earth that would serve The Pivots.
  44. We need to pick a few enterprises (3-10) for the start-up design.

The above are questions and small projects that might help generate interest and get things moving. With evidence interest (work and letters), and a selection of a small number of the enterprises, we can write to Carter and Gates Foundations.

Institute?

Get someone to build a rough wood bookcase. I'll donate about 9 feet of books and pamphlets and reprints on mined lands and their reclamation. That can be called the start. There may be people who love to do library work and they may see the potentials later of the WKB.

The problem is that we know how to do it, mined land reclamation, in general. We need the money to do the expensive reclamation. The state of Virginia knew it had 30,000 acres of abandoned surface mined lands and did little to influence them with great amounts of money. Half way through the project the coal price changed and new mining went in over the old seams and thus newly mined lands came under the new laws. The stopped reclamation work.

I've described an alternative land re-contouring and reclamation strategy but it is expensive and only suitable for mountain-top removals. In remaining pre-1977 mined areas, many of us believe that wildlife are best served with only minor changes in reshaping the land and fixing acid problems. We need to locate the acid problems and try to get OSM to work on them specifically.

Otherwise, we have to press the unpleasant premise: reclamation for "wildlife" is cheap, minimum reclamation, and almost meaningless (for pileated wood peckers or sparrows?; mice or deer?; for animals for which there is an abundance and no extra demand (thus no rational reason to spend money to produce more)?). It is a relatively inexpensive dodge by mining companies and a way to get a bond released quickly ... and with no follow-up or maintenance or management costs. Reclamation needs to be for land for its use and support of people over the long run. And it includes all of the reasons given for investing in the Pivotal Strategy - not just how to get a bond released quickly.

So if there is an Institute, what will it present to people that is not presented elsewhere? At what costs? How can we see a demand so clearly that people will spend much money and much time traveling to the site to get this special stuff with high probable payoff? How can we attract a "name" large enough who might draw people to hear or experience him (and pay the time, energy, and lost vacation time or donated work time). I got paid a lot by taxpayers, more than I ever expected, and it was less than many colleagues got. I don't think a troubled society can afford me; surely not them! I'm retired and still trying to payoff society.

Only a few people want to learn the techniques of reclamation. Big equipment, as on the farm, has reduced the need for many workers. We need to conduct field trips on busses out of major cities and help out local hotel/restaurant owners.Consider the "Institute" the arrangements and Tours Group working out of an office.

Recent and ongoing research strongly indicates that using the environment as a subject "integrator" across the curriculum can both improve student performance and contribute to the development of values such as community responsibility and persistence. In addition, environment-based education can lead to more effective methods of implementing standards-based education, can be a powerful school "turn-around" tool for severely under-performing schools, and can be a vehicle for improving teacher preparation and performance.

We can offer distance-learning courses (but the site from which it is sent is no longer relevant). I offered one on advanced wildlife resource management systems out of the Northern Virginia Graduate Center 2 years ago. It can work. We can have visitors, see the principles in action ... 2-3 days, but not year around? We may need specialized intensive youth and adult education with a strong land/ resource base for realistic examples of the principles and for motivation. That seems possible and a good effort.

I think we can have a writers camp as part of the Institute and it can concentrate on environmental and outdoor writing and photography, especially writing for the Internet.

We need to consider the potentials of youth programs with special math and science emphases to meet standards-of-learning might work. We might discuss this with Harry Chitwood of staff of the White Oak School.

It may be that the Institute can spend full-time in educating staff members of all aspects of the proposed conglomerate.

A guides program might assist in meeting local as well as other needs of the Pivotal-Rig, Inc. if it catches on. (One such program exists in the Virginia coalfield).There will be many needed and they need to be especially well trained for their specific tasks.

Activities may already be underway, but parenting classes, for men and women seem especially needed given the urban conditions, the divorce rate, and the small family sizes ...no one learns how to do it well any longer. Mentors are few. Some of this can be taught outdoors and in the facilities of an Institute.

I'll welcome comments, revisions, and advice. I'll progressively change this page as additions and changes become available. Go to the top

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Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

RHGiles@RuralSystem.com.

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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