Community Service

Civil Works Administration improved roads, constructed bridges, upgraded airports and repaired pipelines.

“Musing”, in Rogerspeak, means that I have some idea, but nothing nailed down yet.

I spent part of Mother’s Day musing over this kernel of a thought. It was fed by the dire needs of this country, plus noticing that an increasing number of students are taking a “gap year, either right after high school or during their college years.

Also, there’s a bill in Congress that would require women to sign up for the military draft. Yet, it seemed unfortunate that the only area that seems of value culturally in the United States is military service.

So why not have some sort of community service? Perhaps it’d be fashioned, in part, on some of those programs in the 1930s during the Great Depression under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. .

The goal of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was to preserve the country’s natural resources. This meant working in the parks and forests performing tasks such as “planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires, and maintaining roads and trails.” It seems that fires and floods have become ubiquitous each season, stretching local resources thin.

The Civil Works Administration (CWA) improved roads, constructed bridges, upgraded airports, and restored pipelines. EVERY SINGLE ONE of those tasks is needed. The aging infrastructure is in dire need. External security at airports needs to be built up. And Flint, Michigan is hardly the only place that needs pipes replaced.

Perhaps more assistants to teachers could be found, more arts and music, as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Older people given companions – I’m sure there’s more.

And surely it should include support for the tragedy that there are homeless veterans. There are models n the country – in Utah, for instance – of alleviating this problem by providing housing for all, not just more dignified but much CHEAPER than leaving them on the streets, without access to proper medical care and benefits. It could be a source of employment for them as well.

Yes, as Jon Stewart alludes to, having a public service component might add to that sense of the collective. It feels that many of us are in our little electronic pods.

Any thoughts on other projects and how this all might work? I know some will say we cannot afford it. We also cannot afford bridge collapses and levees being breached, homeless warriors, and overtested yet undereducated children.

“Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.” — Howard Zinn (Boston Globe, 1976)

Michael Rivest on Vietnam

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