Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Telecommuting Model for Rural Communities

I have an idea, not completely original but with my own personal take, that I think might be successful.  There are many rural communities that need ideas for development.  One idea is to build the “mini Silicon Valley.” 

But I think this is too much and a smaller approach might work better.  After all, tech workers can work from pretty much anywhere these days and there is a pretty sizable population that would love to live in the mountains of Vermont or the forests of Appalachia.  But to achieve a Richard Florida type Creative City, you can’t just take a “build it and they will come” attitude.

So here is my idea.  Let’s say a community creates work/live/play spaces customized for the telecommuting tech worker instead of trying to attract the startup itself.  I am imagining small, cozy developments that have mixed housing types (to accommodate single, married, married with kids) and in the center there would be a co-working space complete with receptionist/secretarial support, cafĂ©, food trucks, and play area.  A town center in the middle of several developments there would have the larger retail and the fun stuff – movies, clubs, or whatever the market demands.  But smaller footprints because the community is not trying to attract a large population.  The downside would be it may be impossible to have the venues that require volume – concerts, sports teams, and that kind of thing.  And there would be no industrial, no office park-sized development, no high rise, nothing that would detract from the rural-ness. 

But the tech support would have to be high end.  A community-wide high bandwidth wi-fi and fiber to the home in all the developments.  The higher income residents should be able to support this. 

If they have spouses that are not also telecommuters, there would still be jobs in the retail, the outdoors (ski instructor, forest ranger), government (police), health care (perhaps specialist doctor offices in small buildings and a community hospital with heli-pad to transport the tough cases), and leisure (every brewpub needs a good brewmeister).  Perhaps artisanal farm businesses could fill the local farmers’ market.

It seems pretty self-contained – which means that it wouldn’t need to grow in order to thrive.  So it wouldn’t ruin the mystique of the rural, out of the way, idyll.  And the idea could be customized for each landscape.  Maybe a beach version.  A plains version.  A desert version.  There aren’t for everyone.  Some people would still want to live in Manhattan, San Francisco, or Boston.  But I would imagine a lot of people who would thrive here.

Studio Journal Episode 3 – Daily Packing Quirks

It has been a while since I posted to my studio journal.  It is only 2 weeks until moving day.  I have to admit feeling some anxiety about it, not because I am worried about the small space, but because of what happens between now and then. 

Getting rid of things is turning out to be harder than I thought.  In three ways actually.  First, I am having trouble giving away the heavy furniture for which I need a pickup.  Every organization that does pickups has a month-long lead time. I guess I waited too long to call.  Who would have thought?  I would have called months ago had I known!!!  So now I have to figure out what to do with my gorgeous white leather couch (hint hint if you live close) and my antique and also gorgeous dresser.  I can’t just throw them away!!!! Their original purchase prices were in the four digit range.

The second reason is my hoarding tendency.  I packed my shoes last night.  I have three pairs of almost identical black dress shoes.  I only need one.  But because these are the kind I like, I will eventually wear them out.  And my foot is not growing.  So I will eventually need all three pairs.  I can give them away and get something like a $5-10 tax break (35% of a $20 value – ish) or I can save all three and save myself future purchases of $100 or so.  But then I have to figure out where to put them in the meanwhile. I packed them, but didn’t seal the box so I can change my mind.

Then there is the silly category.  I used to collect baseball caps.  When I lived in Miami I had over 300 and they were all pretty cool.  When I moved to Boston I saved my 50 favorite and gave the rest to a homeless shelter.  They were much more popular than I expected, since the residents could pick one that actually resonated with them (some favorite sports team, brand logo, funny statement or whatever).  It would be nice to do that again with the 50 I have left.  But . . . .  I packed them, but didn’t seal the box so I can change my mind.  See a trend emerging here?

I found another Goodwill collection site (remember what happened to the old one) and brought over a load.  Today was kitchen goods.  Pots, pans, food containers and that kind of thing.  When I got back, I packed up a load for next time.  Foreman grill, steamer, books – even the solar powered and rechargeable lantern I got in Miami in case of power outages from hurricanes. Then for next weekend I have a color printer with a year’s worth of color toner cartridges and all kinds of office supplies.  

I got rid of some things too.  I tossed two old umbrellas.  I finished my good tequila and tossed the bottle (hey, that counts!!) and the jar from the salsa I had with it.  I also got rid of tons of old tax records.  1993-2003 went out the door, somewhat partially shredded because I was a little too lazy to do them all carefully.  I don’t have any of the associated bank accounts, jobs, utility accounts, blah blah blah any more so I think I am OK.