community Research And Development LABoratories
(a proposal)

radlabs propose to provide community-based services. They are inspired by European community 'science shops'; newly developing tele-community centers and networks; university extension services and the evolution of local public service organizations. They are motivated by the real and growing local needs of diverse peoples. radlabs may occupy Main Street storefront facilities, suburban mall spaces or rural farm buildings. They would employ and provide on the job training for recent college graduates, professionals on leave, retired senior citizens or grassroots champions with specific skills and dedication. Such staff, contractors and volunteers, self-selected to match community needs, may include biologists, mechanical engineers, hydrologists, environmental designers, economists, writers and artists, or computer professionals.

In this age of increasingly expensive 'big science', radlabs are ventures in 'small science', serving an increasingly complex world at the ground level, with a human face and rolled up sleeves. They make science, technology, creative thinking and learning a community activity. radlabs may become community centers, providing public access connection to the Internet; consulting services; technical support; fabrication and production; business development; conferencing and publishing; education or training facilities. They would be economic incubators working to build a sustainable society from the bottom up.

radlabs could be initiated as a subscriber based, nationwide pilot project, realized with committed support from national and state government agencies, corporate partners, universities and local communities.

An international movement and funding mechanism could be developed by participating communities of interest, nations and international organizations. The Internet would be the 'tie that binds', growing a global network of radlabs, sharing accumulating knowledge and experience.

radlabs are provocatively named, focusing attention upon a most critical social challenge: the building of 'communities of learning' in an 'information society'.