Rural System's

Q-Nexus: Creating the Cybernetic Core of Emerging Enterprises

Contents:

Objectives:

  1. To create a computer-based decision-support core for a system of small emerging rural-resource-based enterprises, a unit that provides economies and exploits synergism. (The unit is called Q-Nexus.)
  2. To develop strategic and tactical plans for using Q-Nexus for improving rural resource products and services from rural businesses for the western Virginia region

Overview

The Radford Small Business Development Center seeks funds to gain technical assistance for a complex procedure or system for supporting and aiding a group of small, emerging, private business enterprises exclusively for rural areas. The unit to be developed will be made available to a start-up enterprise called Rural System, Inc. and they, with the Center will promote the uses of the developed system. This is a small business that will be working to promote and assist existing and new profitable natural-resource businesses for the entire western-Virginia region. These funds are (1) for developing a hardware and software assembly to create a working system that can be used by a currently-emerging small business (and that may be emulated or sold to similar developing groups serving rural populations), and (2) for professional services for planning and developing a marketing strategy for this developed Q-Nexus.

System Overview:

This document requests funds for assistance in developing a system to serve developing and emerging small rural businesses. The funds will be used to develop the "brains and endocrine system" of the new complex enterprise. One emerging enterprise, Rural System, Inc., described below; will house and operate the developed system that gives new meaning to the conventional work of small business development. The proposal is to develop a major "tool" that helps provide assistance to developing businesses. After more than 30 years of experience, one of the project co-directors (Giles) has developed applications of computer simulation and modeling in natural resources. These along with computer optimization, natural resource data bases and geographic information systems (GIS), applications of expert system technology, and heuristic programming have lead to startling value-adding strategies, risk avoidance, and scale efficiencies. They have shown potential environmental impacts and ways to avoid them and their costs. They have led to dynamic planning systems that produce decision-aiding or guidance "documents" on the Internet. This analytical and descriptive power has been poorly exploited among small private landowners and the host of businesses that serve them. The other co-director (Garland) has marketing, environmental, and small-business-development experience and knowledge of business-person needs. We need to unify existing computer hardware and software capabilities and meld them with unique programming into a practical system that works on producing lasting profitable solutions for the people and lands and waters of western Virginia. As Baden said, "Good intentions, scientific and business knowhow, and dedicated people are necessary but not sufficient conditions for promoting the rational sustainable use of land The critical factor often ignored by policy-makers is getting the incentives right through careful institutional design…..It is time to rediscover the virtues of the market, to decentralize political management and rule-making, and to experiment with novel institutional designs. It is these reforms, aligning action with accountability, that can lead us to a sustainable future." (Baden 1996:327).

The created Q-Nexus (the rural decision-assistance core) will be housed within an emerging small company called Rural System, Inc. within its proposed unit called System Central. This division has been called an "incubator" but it is the central administrative and service unit for a set of divisions of a diverse new company. It provides to the divisions accounting, legal, marketing, security, information, publication, Internet, transportation and other services and functions. The main relevant function of System Central will be providing staffing, housing, stabilizing, and managerial services from the Q-Nexus.

The details of the proposed Q-Nexus are provided below. First, we present the needs to which the system is responsive.

The System in Need:


"What is at stake is not a splinter market, but virtually all goods manufactured for almost all purposes. Producers of goods ranging from yogurt cartons to cars must increasingly respond to the new environmental imperatives. In a global economy, no nation can successfully isolate itself from the policies and demands of others. A nation that attempts to do so will find itself with a dwindling share of the international trade in manufactured goods and, as a consequence, with a shrinking standard of living….There is no good reason that limitless profits should flow to Japanese and German investors for technologies that were developed with American sacrifice and dollars." (Moore and Miller 1994:15)


…Of the world's industrial nations, only the United States has yet to fully appreciate the lasting significance of the change being wrought by burgeoning environmental concerns….virtually all of America's primary industrial competitors have adopted a wide range of policies designed to coax or compel the development and commercialization of technologies, practices, and industries that do their jobs as well or better than in the past while producing less pollution." (Moore and Miller 1994:5)


Our proposed project and the enterprises we seek to support and enhance addresses a market of need in a region of western Virginia, generally, Roanoke westward. It seeks to be aware of and creatively responsive to the above quotations. We are fully aware of counter opinions such as those of Beaton and Maser (1999:103)\ that "…if viewed as alternative criteria for directing the philosophy of a local economy, a seriously pursued notion of sustainability is the virtual opposite of full and eager participation in the global economy." We are of the view that sustained profits can only be achieved from a system of goods and services produced from within very well managed regional resources, nested within the global economy. Such management requires sophisticated computer power united with a major knowledge base. Gaining these is the purpose of this project.

While there are major public lands of the state and federal forests, we address private landowners usually served by the Extension Service and others. The reported needs for improved land management after years of advice and recommendations persist. The Governor's Natural Resource Summit (2003) noted needs for regulations as well as incentives for improving water and land conservation and outdoor recreation. The economic resources of the region are very diverse and counties there are among those with the lowest unemployment and below-poverty levels. In the Coalfield Progress, Oct 14, 2003, Sen. Chichester, R-Stafford said "W are way overdue to begin the conversation about what we want Virginia to look like 10 or 15 years from now." Rural System, including Q-Nexus, is designed to seek for-profit solutions to the problems of the people, communities, as well as the natural resources of the region, working within the law with willing land owners to provide new employment options, information for improved but lasting productivity, value-added strategies, economies of scale, and synergism. With Q-Nexus it will provide the prognostics and analyses that press decisions to the positive side of the "margin" where so many people of the region now live.

We concur with Forest Service chief Bosworth (2003) that the major problems of the public forests (and many private forests) are forest health, invasive animals and plants, off-road vehicle use, and fragmentation resulting from urban and residential expansion. A book was issued in October, 2003 on Human Influences on Forest Ecosystems: the Southern Wildland-Urban Interface Assessment, which examines the urban and rural fringes in the Southern US where multiple land uses meet forested lands. It is noted that urbanization will have the "most direct, immediate, and permanent effects on the extent, condition, and health of forests." In this context, the proposal examines these effects and assists enterprises in responding positively to them. The enterprises to be served by Q-Nexus provide a framework for addressing issues of sustaining healthy and productive forests in the forests of the region. We are concerned with human migration out of the region, the resulting loss of tax base, and the resulting difficulties of educational support. In areas of the region 50% of the children are living in poverty. There are fewer children now, the population ages, and the tax burden increase for those that remain.

About 53% of the population of the region lives in area classified as rural. Depending on where the lines are drawn, there are over 700,000 acres of land in the region owned by private citizens that live outside of the state. The land are unmanaged, trespass is evident. The potential financial productivity, now and for the planned future, is lost. Agricultural land remains the largest contributor of sediment to streams. Poorly designed forest roads are a major problem for the stream fishery and rare mussel populations. State and federal employment for advisors is being reduced, needs seem to increase. Lands are put under easements to assure their future beauty but unless they are managed (e.g., modern grazing), the expected present pastoral beauty will not persist. The expertise and workforce for such management action is not now available (but may be met by the proposed enterprise).

The project director worked to initiate the Powell River Project initially to solve "what will we do with our land when the coal is gone?" Many of the solutions proposed years ago and not implemented are included in the Rural System and Q-Nexus design. People in the coalfield (e.g., Wise and Dickenson counties) have recently expressed trough EDAC processes the needs for businesses, employment, non-polluting industry, involvement with the Internet and high-technology, and improved education. These are noted in the design of Rural System.

The Mid-Atlantic Highlands Action Program (Canaan Valley Institute (2002) was developed to foster local decision making in support of sustainable highland communities, to empower stakeholders and increase their ability to improve their quality of life. It saw the current situation as "forged by past decisions" with a legacy of problems (Caudill 1962; Gaventa 1980). Environmental problems noted included habitat loss, stream sedimentation, forest fragmentation, acid rain, acid mine drainage, flooding, and invasive non-native species.

While that Highlands Program highlighted the skills and resources of the region " that cannot be duplicated anywhere" - its people, history and cultural heritage, institutions, climate, scenic beauty, open space, biological diversity, and globally significant forests - there is little in he list of evident financial importance. The challenge of designers of Rural System has been to develop a profitable system to begin to meet the needs of the people and communities … and while carefully protecting the special places, improve natural resources, the productive base, for a very long planning period. We can intertwine the economic concerns and values of communities of the region with classical environmental stewardship. With the proposed system we believe we can add meaning to the old definition of "conservation" as "wise use," providing decision-making power for the analyses, valuations, tradeoffs, and predictions needed behind perceptions of "wise." Maser (1994:281) went so far as to claim that we need " a new paradigm for our trusteeship of the land based on a sense of place and permanence, a sense of creation and landscape artistry, a sense of ecological health and sustainability, and a sense of humility and humanity." Elements of such a paradigm we shall attempt to include.

Fishery

In Frontiers in Ecology (2003) Poff and eight coauthors said that the ecological sustainability of river ecosystems is threatened by the extensive hydrological alternations carried out by humans, that the challenge is to define ecosystem needs so that balances can be made among competing demands, and that " innovative funding partnerships between government agencies, not-for-profit foundations, and the private sector" need to advance the scientific basis of water management. Within past work we have developed novel procedures for goal formation and needs assessment and seek to implement these in a modern fishery and "ranging system" (diverse outdoor recreation including ecotourism). The computer output is to be designed to guide policy formation as well action in the field as we work with existing groups, diversify and expand activities, and develop a comprehensive modern fishery linked to the 20 other parts of the Rural System work. We do not seek research funding (but will do so later) for we know of the results of excellent research and development projects that needs to be implemented now. We see major economic opportunities that can enhance, not further despoil the magnificent New River as well as smaller waterways of the far-western counties.

Wildlife

Wild animal species were the "first resource" during settlement and the first 99 percent of human history. Gray (1993:134) observed that in the past 100 years "…the human economy has been so thoroughly altered by mechanized agriculture, fossil fuels, and industrial development that wild plants and animals have been relegated to decidedly lesser roles. Wild species have become the forgotten resource." Surrounded by the difficulties with threatened and endangered species, hunting and trapping conflicts, poaching, new pest and damage problems, invasive species (starlings, wild boar), re-introduced species (elk, coyote, even the eastern cougar), and growing and almost unlimited interest in songbirds…the state agency struggles for an adequate funding base. Past support from hunting license and equipment sales has diminished. Staff is inadequate to meet the needs on private lands. Staff for managing available public lands consumes most available financial resources. One of the project co-directors has taught wildlife management in Idaho and at Virginia Tech for 35 years and now teaches an international distance-learning course via the Northern Virginia Graduate Center. This is to be made available within the region. He has devised a set of for-profit wildlife-related enterprises, all described within his web site www.RuralSystem.com. Gray 1993) said "…we must bring economic principles to bear in the management of the nation's fish and wildlife resources or they will continue to be considered as marginal luxury products."

Forestry

Clearly linked but rarely within the same private, for-profit company, fisheries, wildlife recreation and forestry need to be managed as a whole singular system. Forest systems can be managed for improved profitability, recreation and ecotourism and this has been called for by many including O'Toole in Reforming the Forest Service(1988) and Bolgiano (1998) in The Appalachian Forest. The director has experience as a Smartwood consultant. That company studies private lands, determines whether they are managed in a sustainable fashion (complex official criteria), and (if so) certifies the land as properly managed. The certification brings instant increase in wood value! Exported woods bring premium prices and Lowes and Home Depot (among others) participate. We propose to cooperate with Foresters, Inc., advocate certification throughout the area, and provide cost-effective means for owners to have their lands certified…for increased profits …and enhanced quality of life for the long-range future.

Soil

The rate of soil loss remains astonishing. More importantly, the rate of nutrient loss so fundamental to future productivity is astonishing. We have developed GIS maps of soil erosion potentials and these can be used to help public and private efforts to slow nutrient loss and increase land productivity. We have created pseudosoil maps of counties and have devised a new suitable-use-oriented mapping system that will be used by all of the above major resource sectors of Rural System. Improved pasture management depends upon careful analyses of soils, topography, and evapotranspiration (for which we now have preliminary computer maps) avoiding over-generalizing, and paying careful attention to the financial margin for profitability.

Garden, Pasture, and Livestock

Drastic change in demand for tobacco products from the land, limited flat lands and flash flooding, past overgrazing, and fluctuating cattle prices have produced conditions in need of "repair." The region has a complex geology (now computer mapped), some dated soil maps, and abundant soils management research from within Virginia Tech. Extensive research exists on reclaiming strip-mined lands. Students of the director have developed county-level pseudosoil maps and have done linear programming analyses of optimum cattle herds for the strip-mined benches of Wise County. That study showed the positive financial advantages of several managed, distributed herds in the region. Computer programs now exist but are inadequately used for managing pastures and producing profits from managed livestock herds. New potentials abound for small home-owner gardens… but with value added to items produced by careful marketing, pooled stocks, and distribution to urban markets.

A Description of the Proposed Rural System Enterprise, Home of Q-Nexus

Q-Nexus when developed and its uses promoted by The Center, it will be housed within and maintained and developed by Rural System, Inc. Rural System, Inc. is a proposed corporation, an emerging conglomerate of many small natural-resource-related enterprises. It has been designed to be responsive to the above listed needs. Some of the enterprises, subsystems, are new, some very old. It is a system doing modern, sophisticated, computer-aided management of the lands and waters of an eastern US region in order to sustain long-term profits and quality of life for citizens. Concentrating on superior resource management, it includes outdoor recreation, specialized tourism and rural development, forest and wildlife management and works on restoration, enhancement, and production from the rural land resource.

The umbrella entity is for-profit conglomerate with its own conservation and education foundation It may use national and state lands and waters but, most importantly, it provides opportunities for the owners of private lands and waters (often for absentee owners and those within forestry cooperatives) to experience profits related to superior land management. While managing the assets of such lands, Rural System, Inc. provides related services and products from the unified business units. Half of these units work from the managed lands that are under contract. A central unit called System Central provides services and allows the corporation to harvest public research investments, to achieve economies of scale and division of labor, to gain synergism, and to stabilize employment.

The enterprise proposes to lead the region in computer-aided, year-around, private land management. It shares projects and funds with citizens and investors. It links citizens as well as visitors to the land and its long-term potentials for profits. It provides an alternative town and regional identity, one of a place for modern regional rural resource development and management. It links buyers and users with producers of certified forest products and wildland resource opportunities from well-managed rural land and water resources. Successes are achieved via diligent work with personal incentives, diverse enterprises and products, and computer optimization of a total system. It overcomes the old failures of natural resource management, i.e., diseconomies of small-scale operations, mixed objectives, lack of diversity, seasonal work, lack of annual income, and failure to add value to products and efforts. It capitalizes on innovative uses of optimization, the Internet, global positioning satellites, and computer mapping throughout the region. The system is described at www.RuralSystem.com.

The vision for the enterprise is that its success in improving the social, economic, and environmental health of the region can allow the enterprise to become effective and expand. Thus, similar influences can be transferred, years later, throughout a region near western Virginia, then internationally. The work will be recognized as the product of a special paradigm in rural resource and wildland management. As such, Rural System, Inc. will become a profitable conglomerate operating well past this century, given its 150-year planning horizon sliding forward annually.

The needs for Rural System are clear and oft-repeated and, while the ideas herein are not new, the application is new. The newness includes:

Development of System Central as the Location of Q-Nexus:

A major part of Rural System, Inc. is System Central where Q-Nexus will be housed and maintained after it is developed by The Radford Small Business Development Center. System Central provides the needs of each division of Rural System that no one of them is likely to afford alone. The unit provides office space, accounting, payrolls, insurance and benefits, legal service, wholesale buying, deeds and records maintenance, marketing, and transportation. (Rural System, Inc. has many field units but all with irregular vehicle use. There may be some permanently assigned vehicles.). Computers are typically located with each division but Q-Nexus will provide the massive, diverse, and irregularly used computational needs and continually improve them.

Objectives are stressed and clarified, coordination encouraged and maintained, progress is monitored, and feedback stressed and applied. The major strategic functions within System Central for which Q-Nexus is to be developed include:

E-Business

E-business work is a mainstay and includes:

Internet Strategy

Related to the above, we provide:

Our web site(s) (www.RuralSystem.com) will provide major communication links among all members of Rural System, Inc. and open the gates to users, buyers, and members. Innovations in wireless communication (e.g., the Dickenson County's DCWIN) will be sought out and used. The group will provide an e-commerce catalog, access to land, services, and products, and serve several memberships within Rural System, Inc. It provides a creative space for presenting ideas, but also one for listening to the ideas, interests, and needs of potential customers. Much of Giles' web site may be wrapped into the site. Distance learning will be conducted from the site.

With competent work from an aggressive sales staff, this may become a major site for coordinated forestry, fisheries, wildlife, and wildland-related equipment, products, and services. It will link successful hunters and anglers, suggest "hot spots" for activities and provide "bragging space" for some outdoor users who have been very successful. It will provide links to land purchase and sales to sophisticated analyses (for the realtor as well as the potential owners) (e.g., virtual (photo) tours with services) and sets the stage for cost-effective future land management involving the diverse units of Rural System, Inc. Advertising contracts will be sought, but major efforts will be to acquire a percentage of sales resulting from orders originating from this site.

Education Strategy

Within System Central, The Behavioral Change Group, a for-profit educational space and working group may exist for youth and adults to deal with a variety of corporate interests. Youth tutoring and classes will be highlighted but adult education will be integrated with paid group activities in the area. A major role for The Radford Center will be for educating people about the power and potentials of Q-Nexus, once it is developed. A field museum and workshop in a high technology educational space will provide potentials for special markets.

The novel criterion of the strategy for production effectiveness is maximum units of pre-specified behavioral change per dollar (or unit of energy) per hour. The strategy includes:

Programs will be developed to bring citizens into an advanced educational status about natural resource total systems. A key element of the program is to teach the teachers about optimal rural and wildland conditions. There are major educational aspects to all parts of Rural System, Inc., and all employees must understand the system. Programs bring experts to improve performance within each division. A course on advanced course called "Modern Wildlife Resource Management Systems" (Distance learning, taught by Giles in 1999 and 2003, Northern Virginia Graduate Center) is profitable activities within the group.

The Consequence Strategy At the political borderline, but not crossing it, a Consequence Strategy is developed. Within System Central, augmented by Q-Nexus, is the capability to do high quality environmental impact analyses, thus to cut the costs to citizens of these documents and the work to produce them for public projects that are desired ... and for projects that are not desired and groups wish to fight. Under contract, Rural System, Inc. could produce via Q-Nexus the best available information on the consequences of a range of projects proposed within a county, classes of action such as

This unique ability comes from knowledge of ecological modeling and systems building and use of transition tables or ecological succession. Over many years with graduate students a set of resources has been developed that deal with "…accepted principles of integrated environmental management which call for systematic, integrated, and comprehensive approaches to compliance with environmental regulations, especially those mandated by NEPA"(Lemons and Malone 1994). We have developed statewide GIS maps and served the legal staff of the Virginia State Corporation Commission in providing powerline and airport impact analyses. We have access to significant databases of the Conservation Management Institute of Virginia Tech, to the Southern Forest Resource Assessment, and to growing relevant databases for the region including those of EPA and the US Census Bureau. Only presenting the best data for others to use, the enterprise does not "take stands" and is available for either (or both) side of often-difficult environmental decisions. Previously, the mere presence of such a system has deterred people from presenting questionable proposals that would impact county or private ownerships.

System Central is responsible for the financial analyses and decisions about start-up performance and initiatives. It will contract for office space, develop a communication system and procedures related to field work, establish the transportation policies (the "motor pool"), arrange for insurance, health, and retirement, develop the contacts for efficient contract reviews and approvals, and in the first year play a major role in recruiting staff. Safety programs will be implemented early, especially with staff of The Safety and Security Group. The novelty and advancement potentials of Rural System, Inc., the current recession, and looming political pressures should make it very attractive and some of the best university natural resource program graduates and agency professionals may be easily recruited.

System Central promotes the feedforward concept within each enterprise but collective work on estimating the future (e.g., statistical regression) and preparing for the conditions that has been estimated is one of the functions to be aided by Q-Nexus.

Scope of Work:

The funds requested are to support developing the computer hardware and software needed for a set of analytical and managerial systems to make the above-described system profitable and useful in the lives of the communities of the region. When the difference in successful and unsuccessful businesses and even whether people can continue to live on the land is a mere few dollars, it is critical that when living in such "marginal environments" that work "at the economic margin" be done very carefully. We propose to design carefully the needed software systems, select carefully from those available, and unify them for ease of use, stability (transitional staff employment as well as data and hardware), and develop staff training to create a useful, functional, stable hardware-software-human system called Q-Nexus.

Benefits from the Assistance

Rural System and its essential Q-Nexus is being developed:

  1. To test a "personal profit paradigm," financial incentives for improved conservation and natural resource management
  2. To provide new employment opportunities for the people of the region so that the rural areas will remain populated (the estimated direct employment after 10 years is 400 people.
  3. To provide improved financial conditions for people, especially families of the region (for the families directly affected, the estimated increase is 10%)
  4. To improve the quality of life of the people of the region (description available; 80% of the people by an increase of >5%).
  5. To "get the good out of" the results from millions of tax-payer dollars spent on rural area research (preventing loss of at least a 7-million dollar investment in forest, wildlife, soil, outdoor recreation, tourism, pasture, range management, and livestock research in a 3-year period)

A high-technology, Internet-related, satellite-using system is needed to "get it all together" for very-difficult, dispersed rural-resource decision making. Q-Nexus is required to exploit the design elements of the emerging business, Rural System. The notable incentives are: All people may be members; members receive part of profits; county governments benefit; land owners receive part of profits; individuals make salaries in relation to profits made by their groups; staff benefit for themselves as well as through the corporation, the land productivity improves, the erosion, pollution and nutrient losses decline.

Design of Q-Nexus

While we have much experience with the elements needed, applications within the university and government as well as technology changes rapidly. We shall seek advice from within the universities and from contractors. We have an approximate list of our needs based on design of Rural System and its divisions outlined at ../aRuralBusiness/businessplanbase.htm. The elements we propose to acquire and develop include the software for a conventional e-business, business office software, statistical analytic tools (e.g., SAS), small business economic analyses, GIS delivery (with innovations from the Conservation Management Institute of Va Tech), linear programming, organization and concept display (The Brain software), ColdFusion for dynamic planning system inputs, computations, and return of information via the Internet to decision makers an array of agriculture and natural-resource programs from Extension Service, agencies, and vendors. Development includes Excel simulation of a rural business, aids to new approaches to agricultural, wildlife, and fisheries model building (Burnham and Anderson 1998), and re-packaging outputs of programs (e.g. in javascript for the Internet) to make them understandable in decision- making situations.

Proposed Budget

The preliminary and basic needs for software to be unified include functions of

  1. Customer and member web sites (preliminary) $5,000
  2. E-books and related publications 5,000
  3. Conventional office support equipment (e.g., lamination), and camera for Internet and Trevey inputs $700
  4. Business, accounting, and economic analysis system and software 10,000
  5. Simulation of the Rural System itself 2,000
  6. Advanced office and email software (Microsoft small business; The Brain, etc.) 5,000
  7. Membership software 10,000
  8. Linear programming (e.g., Lindo.com) 5,000
  9. Expert systems (e.g., CRITERIUM) 2,000
  10. Dynamic planning system unit (e.g., COLDFUSION base) 10,000
  11. Elementary GIS map production unit 10,000 *
  12. 2 computer units with printers and software @$2500 5,000
  13. 1 digitizer or rural area "map-maker" 10,000 *

Staff

Divisions and Businesses to be Served

The following list is of the emerging divisions of and affiliates of Rural System that will be promoted and managed as a single small enterprise. These will be strengthened, virtually allowed to be profitable by Q-Nexus. System Central is the administrative, management, education, and leadership unit that provides the major economies for the other enterprises. By centralizing many services and functions (marketing, accounting, legal, computer service, library, insurance, transportation, rentals, etc.) this group overcomes major reasons why similar enterprise-efforts have failed. It includes: The Q-Nexus Group, and the Energy Group because of its universal importance in conserving energy, gaining production from alternative sources, and investing in embodied energy. Tracts are private lands under contract (e.g., forest Cooperative, gardens, goats) with absentee owners and others, managed for them and used as appropriate for the activities of the groups of Rural System, Inc.

Office-Based Divisions 1. Dogwood Inns - inns developed in older homes, cabins, and lodges nearby 2. The Realtor Group - automated property analyses for assisting in sale or purchase 3. Camps - existing camps, and new ones; youth and adult, and writers' camps 4. The Memorials Group - providing a variety of awards and memorial services 5. Pivots - an organization for everyone in the communities and all of their activities 6. Nature Folks - organization for people interested in nature (with the following units) 7. Coyote - interest in the wild dogs of the world, particularly the coyote, all aspects 8. The Owls Group - night tours, publications, research, general interests 9. Prospectors - tours, publications, web site, geology and mineral interests 10. The Plant People - plant collection, wildflower gardens, seasonal-change maps 11. The Butterfly Band - insect identification, collections, field trips; bee keeping 12. The Rural Knowledge Base - commercial library searches on natural resources, scanning services 13. The Foresters - an organization for people interested in all aspects of modern forestry 14. The Tours Group -local, regional, and international field trips, commercial tours 15. Fog Drip - original rural music and associated CD 16. Floats - E-chapbook, poems by and about rural people and conditions 17. The Products Group - arranges for production and sale of products (see list below) including Outfits, a group designing and testing outdoor clothing 18. Sculptors - primarily a woodcarvers' group 19. GPSence - geocashing sport, sales, training and service of GPS and related units 20. Inquire: The Unified Laboratory - a multi-purpose laboratory serving many enterprises 21. The Safety and Security Group - rural security patrols, security equipment, safety inspections and services 22. Belles and Whistles - auto mechanical education, primarily for women and youths 23. Fire Force -landscape analyses, computer analyses, "hotshot" fire crew 24. Competency - field-based performance-assurance for natural resource specialists 25. System Base - system promotion and extension of services to corporate and other members; part of System Central 26. The Market - a market place where trading of products, services, equipment, handicrafts, and garden produce is encouraged. . continual auctions... a tourist attraction 27. Brown Bags - unique healthful lunches with delivery for groups 28. Rural Challenge - an annual health-related "fair" or regional "party" 29. The Rural Dynamic Group - a TV program production group, nature and resource "shorts," and advertising Most of the above divisions can be operated without Rural System Tracts. While recruiting private landowners and developing their lands for profitable uses is an important activity of Rural System, the enterprise will offer services to any landowner. Products Home aquarium systems (native fish species) with support Sourdough starts with supporting documents Species-specific bird and mammal houses and feeders Bird-food mixes (linear programming) Specialty hiker foods Walking staff (with booklet of 40 ecosystem interpretation applications) Ecorods (ecosystem health analysis devices) Soil test solution Soil tests (contractual; with computer-generated interpretations) Deer forage analysis device with software Leaf pickup cloth with compo sting aids Spinning/angling fishing lures (aerodynamics tested) "Seckey" (devices for evaluating pond waters) New out-rigger deer fence for garden protection Drums (ruffed grouse courtship/mating aids) Products for Worldball and related new sports and games GPSlips (fields markers of use with GPS units) GPS sales and support (within the GPSence group) CD (distance learning - Modern Wildlife Resource Management - and other units) Temperature maps of the state (planting zones) Local GIS maps for realtors and others E-chapbook (web site for poets) "NatureSeen" (website for nature observations) Computer-produced garden prescriptions Some of the activities of the groups will first be conducted on National Forest and state land, then others on private lands under contract. Outdoor-Based Divisions Private lands of the region (many lands of absentee owners) that are brought under a specialized contract and used for profitable developments of the enterprise are called Rural System Tracts. The related enterprises for these lands as well as work on other lands and projects are: 1. The Forest Group - a total forestry system 2. The Certification Group - which develops Smartwood certification of lands and 3. products as sustained forest 4. The Trevey - a dynamic land use planning system 5. Walnut Vales - wood, nutmeats, and other products 6. The Arborist Group - residential and landscape tree systems 7. The Deer Group - total deer management system, guides, damage controls 8. The Fishery - total system with ponds, lakes, wetlands, and streams divisions 9. The Raccoon Group - single species system, fur management 10. The Black Bear Group - tours, management, research system 11. The Bobcat Group - monitoring, tours, fur, organization within Nature Folks 12. Official Avi - the new sport of bird watching (with golf-like courses) 13. The Wild Turkey Group - hunting, life-list building, total system 14. The Covey - a bobwhite quail system 15. The Dog Group - shows, dog training, field trials, wild-dogs of the world interest 16. The Pest Force - vertebrate pest damage management 17. The Wildland Crew - adult good work on good projects for fun and fitness 18. The 4 x 4 Group - vehicle interest, education, community service 19. Wildland Walkers - hiking and camping group 20. The River Runners - a group relating watersheds and rivers 21. Tree Tops - an organization and activities for the sport of tree climbing 22. Novosports - development and promotion of new outdoor games and sports 23. The Wilderness Group - using and studying ancient forests 24. Stoneworms - a trail-building and maintenance group 25. The Stables - pastures, rentals, trail rides, horse health, wildlife and horses 26. The Fence Group - production of specialized local fences; fencing systems 27. The Pasture and Range Group - pasture and range management systems 28. The Gardens Group - system of many homesite gardens 29. The Vineyards - grapes grown on computer-selected areas 30. Viewscapes - scenic analyses and viewscape management 31. Earshot: The Soundscape Group - analyses of noise and environmental sounds 32. The Goats System - dairy goat system, milk, cheese, hides, services, health 33. The Rabbit Group- dispersed rabbit raising units; centralized marketing 34. The Goose Flock- a system of many goose flocks 35. The Blueberry Patch - total blueberry system on acid soils. First Divisions Developed Rural System as a small emerging business has been developing relations with people who are interested or involved with the above divisions and products. The emphasis for the near future (and uses of Q-Nexus) is on the related emerging enterprises or products or services sold within them: Ecorods (a plastic device for monitoring the rate of decomposition in forest soils) NatureSeen (an Internet depository for nature observations) The Trevey (a dynamic planning or land-use guidance system) A Bakery Product (marketing an antique sourdough) An urban forestry and general forestry group The Gardens Group (with the Daylilly Group) marketed products from "victory-garden-like" home garden) Distance Learning Units with the new distance-learning consortium (Virginia Tech, BLM, NR CS, USDA Forest Service, Corps of Engineers) Time Table with Monthly Milestones Ø Purchase first components when the award is announced. Ø Month 6 - Programmer will be sought and the design document completed for study by all concerned Ø Month 8 -Equipment information will be available by month 8 and bids accepted through the University of Radford purchasing offices. Ø Month 9 - Simulation complete (Excel-based system) for financial status of the proposed Rural System. Accounting system designed. Ø Month 12 - Priorities developed for essential software units Ø Month 13 - Major legal documents drafted Ø Month 14 - First-cut GIS data bases assembled for the region Ø Month 15 - Four organizational web sites completed Ø Month 16 - Analyses complete of insurance and health care needs of staff and assistants Ø Month 17 - Staff training unit (introductory with distance-learning component) complete Ø Month 18 - Marketing plan complete, including international relations Ø Month19 - Preliminary ColdFusion (server software) applications made for the dynamic planning system Ø Month 20 - Completion of design of security system, consequence system, and summit. Ø Month 21 - Completion of e-business design including contract relations with units similar to Ebay, Amazon.com Ø Month 22 - Completion of contracts with Foresters Inc. and private landowners (Rural System Tracts); sponsor public introductory or "out-reach" program describing Q-Nexus Ø Month 23 - Complete description of Q-Nexus with lessons learned from preliminary computer applications and seek publication Ø Month 24 - Continue software development and deliver final project report. Names and Experience of Major Project Personnel Co-Directors - Tracy Garland … Robert H. Giles Jr., PhD. - Professor emeritus, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia (Curriculum vitae is at ../Appendices/curricvitae.htm)…or attached???? Other staff will be those on short-term contracts, temporary hires, and graduate students in computer science and operations research. Vendors will be asked to supply essential information on potential purchases. Other Funds There are limited personal funds of the Director available. He is dedicating his salary, half-time equivalents, of about $400,000 for a 5-year period. Other contracts and grants will be sought for start-up. Hopefully, with demonstrated success, the funding for Q-Nexus can be renewed. Sustaining the Investment in Q-Nexus The one-time investment in this unit is made reasonable for the future for we propose to move this unit to other regions where the developing Rural System or related organizations will be a franchise or the software and its service itself will become a component of the Rural System sales. Evaluating Effectiveness The objectives are clear: 1. To create a computer-based decision-support core for a system of small emerging rural-resource-based enterprises, a unit that provides economies and exploits synergism. (The unit is called Q-Nexus.) 2. To develop strategic and tactical plans for using Q-Nexus for improving rural resource products and services from rural businesses for the western Virginia region To assure achievement of objective 1, we shall demonstrate its major services in a report and in personal demonstrations. We shall deliver for the Grantor's inspection a document describing Q-Nexus and how it may be marketed, and an analysis of expressed interest following a public information meeting. The system effectiveness will be in whether Q-Nexus operates to make (or allow) Rural System and other small, emerging enterprises to become operational and profitable. The ultimate measures are whether (1) they become profitable, (2) improve the quality of life of people within the region, and (3) if it can be expanded and revised to form "franchises" in other regions of the world. Such evaluation cannot be done soon. References Baden, J.A. 1996. An economic perspective on the sustainable use of land, p.339-330 in Diamond, H.L. and P.F. Noonan. Eds. Land use in America, Island Press, Covelo, CA. 351pp. Beaton, R. and C. Maser. 1999. Reuniting economy and ecology in sustainable development, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL 107pp. Burnham, K.P. and D.R. Anderson. 1998. Model selection and inference: a practical information theoretic approach, Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 353pp. Caudill, H. 1962. Night comes to the Cumberlands: a biography of a depressed area, Little Brown and Co., Boston, MA 394pp. Chichester, J. 2003 a speech before the Virginia Federation for Research and Education (reported in the Coalfield Progress newspaper (VA) by David Jarman, October 14, 2003. Gaventa, J. 1980. Power and powerlessness: Quiescence and rebellion in a Appalachian valley, Univ. Illinois Press, Urbana, IL 267pp. Gray, G.G. 1993. Wildlife and people: the human dimensions of wildlife ecology, Univ. Illinois Press, Urbana, IL 260pp. Lemons, J. and C. Malone. 1994. Integrated environmental management and assessment of the environmental program at the potential high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, p. 41-59, in Cairns, J., T.V. Crawford, H. Salwasser, eds., Implementing integrated environmental management, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA 137pp. Maser, C. 1994. Sustainable forestry: philosophy, science, and economics, St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL 373pp. Moore, C. and A Miller. 1994. Green gold: Japan, Germany, the United States and the race for environmental technology, Beacon Press, Boston, MA 279pp. Poff, N.L., J.D. Allan, M.A. Palmer, D.D. Hart. B.R. Richter, A.H. Arthington, K.H. Rogers, J.L. Meyers, and J.A. Stanford. 2003. River flows and water wars: emerging science for environmental decision making. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1(6):298-306




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Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005