OUR FAIR on the Mall will be well protected, at least. This morning I learned at a meeting with the National Park Service that it's going to cost us around $25,000 for Park Police protection of our model community, displaying "appropriate community technology." That's going to be our costliest budget item.
I hope ACT '79 is safer than my regular home back in Keyser, W.Va. I just learned that, while I am camped in Washington arranging for the fair, robbers have cleaned out my house in Keyser - taking, among other things, my 500-pound wood stove.
With all the anger about Keyser, the next meetings aren't easy. First, up to the Hill for a go-ahead on House District Committee hearings on urban applications of appropriate technology.
Then, the Forrestal Building and our regular interagency task force meeting on ACT '79. It's leaden. There isn't much to say or ask at this late date, with the fair only five weeks away. Since the bureaucracy moves so slowly on seemingly simple tasks, it'd be futile to ask anything more from them. With a raging migraine, I chair the meeting. Mary Ann Mackenzie of Community Services Administration - who's supposed to - is late when Metro stalls in a tunnel.
Next, our weekly programming session. An immediate hassle erupts over design of tent facades. ACT '79 will simulate a model community, with tents representing dwellings, schools, a health center, city hall and so on. The scheme's always been that facades would look like a preserved village, but tonight our design staff wants instead to employ super graphics.
Maybe it was the burglary, maybe the migraine, but I'm not in much of a compromising mood tonight.
One reason I left the Hill, after nearly a decade with Rep. Ron Dellums and others, was that the work became too abstract. Single pieces of paper dealt with billions of dollars and affected thousands of people - yeat they remained just paper, dehumanized, intangible. Now, as I put together proposal after proposal for ACT '79 - over 10 pages for a $10,000 grant - I understand why it's called the "art" of grantsmanship. And why I'm still an apprentice.
Take my initial attempt to write a proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency. ACT would bring leaders in the community-technology movement here for the fair; they would then hold a series of regional mini-conferences. The package was rejected by a contract officer, who supposedly said that he wasn't going to give money so a bunch of hippies can fly to Washington. He didn't turn it down, just sent it back to be rewritten, and it's due at EPA today. Which means another Arthur Teacher lunch at my dest.
Fair participants are asking their senators and representatives to visit their displays on the Mall. This is our way of exposing many policymakes to the range of community based technologies. I'm amazed at the turnover rate in the House since I departed in 1976; obviously, the Rayburn Building isn't a geriatric ward any more.
This things is going to be the strangest, most amazing, hyperbolic event this city has seen in a long time. We're bringing people with ideas and programs totally unknown to this city's conventional wisdom. Most participants come from the grassroots and are unable to pay their way here.
Six federal agencies are chipping in funds to bring them to Washington, but we need allocation guidelines. Some decisions are easy: $30 fro a blacksmith, $15 for a woodworker, $250 for a busload of junior high students from Delaware who have built a solar greenhouse. But how about a Syracuse group that wants nearly $5,000 to bring a van demonstration on weatherization? Or a $4,000 request from the guy in New Mexico who's reputedly the best solar greenhouse designer in the country?
The word filters back from EPA that the revised grant proposal is on target, that they'll rush it through. What's the next step up from apprentice?
Tonight I head for a Dellums staff dinner at Barbara Lee's house. And in its midst, an epiphany. In 1970, when I first met Ron's Kids, I picked up the nickname Captain Video." Two of the three, Erik and Piper, are here tonight and they're young adults. And so when Piper says "captain Video is dead," I assume she means our relationship has shifted away from the kid approach. Well, at least they're not kids any more. The Roscoe Dellums says it: "Hey, they've buried Captain Video," and I realize that Al Hodge has died. Two eras pass: The kids aren't kids any longer, and another vestige of my own childhoold fades.
Later, Ron and I reminisce about his early days on the Hill. "The first two years were the best", he says. "We were really out there. Hasn't been the same since."
The Thursday syndrome. Every Thursday for the past seven weeks - except last week when I was home with the flu - has been a financial crisis for ACT '79. The pattern holds.
Calls this morning from the tent company saying they need $4,000 early next week. From our technical staff that facade construction starts next week and materials will cost $5,000 right off. And I need $1,000 also next week to start printing ACT '79 T-shirts. ACT has $10,000 in the bank, but only that. If I spend it all, we won't be able to pay the staff the end of next week. A bunch of federal money is inching toward us. However, I can't pay with promises.
Another lesson. Through regular channels I tried to interest the White House in participating, mainly through the Office of Science and Technology Policy. An answering letter - addressed "Dear Dave" - says there is "expressed interest" but a further White House role "is not appropriate."
If the front door closes, try the back J.B.Bleckley at Appalachian Regional Commission. With one call, sets up a meeting with Jane Wales of Anne Wexler's staff for this morning. It turns out very well.
There will be an alternative energy production center on site - windmills, an alcohol distillation unit, engines and generators running on alcohol, methane and wood gasification, solar devices - which, combined, should attain partial energy self-sufficiency. Many of the participants were contacted by one of our key "angels," Bill Holmberg of Department of Energy's Office of Citizen Participation.
I meet with him this afternoon to nail down details. Bill's tired and hassled. I'm tired and hassled. Instead of working with each other, for 45 minutes we glare at each other, speak at the walls, cajole and threaten. Useless argument. Off the point. Good therapy.
It's hard for me to stay upset long with Bill and soon it's resolved. I'll have the information Monday. While I need the information, the money situation is where Bill can really clear the path. He thinks we should try and get the lumber donated to us instead of buying it, calls Tina Hobson, another key DOE "angel." She agrees to contact John Hechinger to ask for his help.
Back at the K Street office, it's been another 12-hour day. I've been at my desk about an hour, still can't figure what to do about the burglary in Keyser. I haven't got ACT budget money in sight and next week's sure to be another string of these long, long days. This is the most fun I've had in years.