Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zoning for Scouting

How might scouting relate to the local and global problem of refugee camps.  In Portland, we have R2D2 (R2Dtoo), an efficiently run protected area for tent users.  Tents in the city are considered "bad for business" by business owners, at least those not involved in the camping business.  Some of ours, such as REI, are, and urban chic does include the ninja sub-branch, with people living in trees if necessary, while the city planners pass them by, no zoning imagined, except perhaps by the airport.

Public facilities, the world around, are a hallmark of a society's willingness to support itself with public spaces.  Sanitation duty is a "dirty job" (one of many) though may be connected to jobs of high repute, such as sanitation engineer.  Lew Scholl of our Quaker meeting is a sanitation engineer and joined the team to Managua.  Much was learned of peoples needs and some collaborative achievements were engaged in.  My daughter went on that trip and helped mix concrete.

Teresina Havens, whose work I've been reading in the meetinghouse library, served on clean up crews for Tokyo's public restrooms.  Some Buddhist trainings involve taking on civic duty with gusto and learning humble tasks.  That's not unlike scouting, with its ethic of cheerfulness and helpfulness to others.  All without some Nazi / KKK pledge to "racial purity" or other dogma to weigh it down -- Buddhism has lasted thousands of years for a reason.

Scouts on snazzy bikes complement the ones in crew carts or bike carts, peddling warez (wares).  These might be non-commercial, like Freedom Toasters (a hybrid -- branded / sponsored open source CD / DVD copiers).  Helmet cams?  GPS?  I'd expect the chapters to work out their own best practices in response to actual conditions, as Food Not Bombs must.  Like our leadership is currently split on whether Buckman has enough relevance, given the siege at R2Dtoo and its "bad for business" tents.  At least there's a common front line.  Which is not to suggest tents in Colonel Summers.

In fact, people need ways to recycle and reinvent themselves, even within the space of a physical lifetime, more than once maybe.  Christians use "rebirth" talk, as in "born again", which should be enough of a hint that life changes are involved.  Tokyo currently has maybe 6K people living full time in "Internet Cafe" shared facility booth motels.  These are not a result of optimum planning.

Camp grounds with decorum, like scouting camps, with sanitation and organization, were what US tourists wanted to find in Germany after the war, and did.  Tourism means sharing the camps, what my own family did, especially in summers, the car's rooftop (a station wagon) crammed with gear, including a family-sized tent from Stronmeyer, the German manufacturer.

Yes, things are different in the winter.  The idea of a giant dome, with tents in it, is cliche in science fiction, but then there's a reason people migrate, north to south, south to north.  I'm suggesting we don't all have roots.  As Bucky Fuller pointed out, humans are not trees (though I bet others have noticed that too).

One summer, between jobs, we had given up the apartment and were in transition back to Florida, with a stint in the Middle East as AFSC camp leaders, working with Palestinian "boy scouts" (a rough translation as they could easily be fully grown men).  We drilled a swimming pool in the rock crust, hauling boulders to the dumping space, mostly in the morning hours when it was cool enough for such work.  But we camped in Rome that same summer, Camp Monte Antenna I think they called it. By the end of the summer we were living in a mobile home estate in Florida (mom's parents).  Next stop:  the Philippines.

The government already has a network of public lands and campgrounds it tends, but you need a motor vehicle and lots of gas, or lots of time on a bicycle, to get to them.  We are finding more and more youth with more and more time for the bicycles, which have improved in their design.  But the destinations need to be near cities or in them, as often as far away.

But then US cities are afraid of those "shanty towns" of sheet metal and no sanitation service, unplanned communities (like unplanned pregnancies).  Which is why I'm suggesting a planning style or zoning solution which raises expectations for these camps, and in some cases commits them to civilian service, and not just "dirty jobs".

You could have a mayor's family in such a camp even, or at least immediate offspring.  People in tents have responsibilities.  Many of them are idealistic and study science.  Some help place eco-sensors at leaky sites, places where potentially dangerous gases are emitted.  They're trained in the use of safety gear.  Important work.  Monitoring, advising, comparing notes, publishing findings.

Activists don't want sprawling mansions with a pool.  They want adventure and improved prospects for those with few.  You don't need to call it "missionary work" to make it worthy.  Nor must you call it "a pilgrimage".  But if you do use such religious language, and maybe manage to rope in Burning Man, that's not to your detriment either.

Wandering troupes of troubadours, sharing a bus, is an old meme in this ecosystem, pioneered by the Grateful Dead in the electric guitar era.

You don't need to burn a lot of biofuel and if you share cultivation in rotation, tending the crops in your care, as you travel, then you have access to a rotating cafeteria, year round.  You farm and you travel and enjoy your good health.

This does not make you a "threat to society" so much as a "strand of glue" in keeping humans informed and up to date, with time to plan rather than panic and freak out ("future shock" should be thrilling more than chilling, an opportunity to heal from something).

Will freeways get a bicycle lane?  That sounds horrific to truckers.  More likely are smaller single user electrical solutions, more solar power stations.  With an electric cycle with paniers, you've got something to get you around.

Trade for a fuel powered hog at the station or share a van, or follow the cyclists and their special high energy diets, ultra light gear.  That's certainly an athletic lifestyle and a great way to see the world.

Leave the freeways to buses and trucks that take both the travelers and their gear for longer hops, wheels up in Portland, wheels down in Salem.  People take their bicycles back and forth, to ride on either end.

Some have lightweight tents and are hopping from city to city, sometimes as troupes (as in scouting).