What would you do with 7 Million volunteers?

I was reading through reports about Chrysler and GM. I also ran across this article:

It says that the new unemployment claims are slowing down. Good sign for the economy. It also got me thinking. There are almost 7 million people un-employed. If you could get them to do 1 hour of something productive a week, that would be around 350 Million man-hours. Using a 2000 hour/work week, that would equate to a 175,000 employee company working full time (bigger than the american workforce for GM and Chrysler combined).

What could we get them to do? In FIRST we often struggle with keeping our students emplyed with meaningful work towards the end of build season (not so much this year). I have a few ideas that I will post up after I get a few replies.

Please be respectful. I know that not every unemployed person wants to work, but that also goes the other way too. About 600K people file new claims each month which means they were working the month before. If you want to throw out an estimate of what percentage you feel you could motivate, that is fine, but save the derogitory remarks for someplace else.

What would happen if we could get all the unemployed people in a city to go out on the side of the highway (not actually on the highway) and into the uninhabited parts of their neighborhoods and for maybe one hour a week pick up trash. I don’t know if this goes for a lot of the other cities around the country, but it always disgusts me how much trash just seems to accumulate in random lots or on the side of the road. If you could get one thousand people per city cleaning up, that would mean cleaning up roughly 7000 cities. Not sure on the practicality, but it sounds like it might be cool.

I would have them plant trees everywhere possible.

Of course, a substantial budget would be needed, but we’ll ignore that for now. :cool:

Partner them in pairs, and let them tackle whatever they think is important, because #1, few good services to this world are done alone, and #2, one needs to be truly interested in the goal he/she is trying to achieve, or it becomes mindless work.

I would have them volunteer at a regular job. If that many people put in 2 hours a week for free to benefit a failing company, that could really jump-start the economy and save some really good companies. Then there might be a few less people without jobs when the recession is over.

Just a thought.

Have them work for a third party. The Libertarians would be my choice, but really I just want to see new blood in the political process. Politics effects everything else in one form or another, so reforming the system could lead to benefits in every other aspect of life.

If the 200 million or so employed people in the US would do one hour of volunteer work a week, that would be 10 billion person-hours in a year. Focusing on the unemployed is missing the point. Nearly every working person could afford an hour a week if they would make the effort.

Motivate, organize, empower.

Write letters to the editor in the local newspapers encouraging volunteers to look around their community and find the parts that are crumbling, that are weak, that are hidden in shadow, that are dying. Help provide opportunities for building, strengthening, casting light, and reviving. Pick an interest or a hobby or a dream and go from there, finding the need. We have a great many needs in our society and our communities.

What better way to dare to dream than to offer our services and put them to use. Many don’t have to look any further than their next door neighbor, the school around the corner, the nursing home down the block, or the creek that we cross, filled with garbage.

Motivate, organize, empower.

Great Ideas so far.

I like the ideas of getting everyone to volunteer and hour, but I would like to focus on those looking for work.

Lets look for some Win/Win. I like to do FIRST because it exercises my creativity and requires I learn new technologies while teaching (getting leadership experience).

Part of the reason I bring this up is our New President was proposing a “Year of Service” in exchange for assistance on getting a college education.

So my thoughts were some information related data mining surveys from the un-employed. You need to answer questions in order to get your unemployment check. Survey would be around 30 minutes. Companies could sponsor the surveys to get opinions. Like a shoe company could survey which types of shoes a person prefers (a series of which one do you like better). Just some thoughts.

P.S. I really like a lot of the ideas coming through please keep them coming.

So I saw a really cool use today.

CAPTCHA are those little security messages that spam bots have a tough time deciphering, and thus slow down spammers from maiking fake accounts. This does require users to spend a little time deciphering the puzzles too.

reCAPTCHA uses 2 word puzzles. One is knwon, and the second word is supplied from texts that are being digitized where the software has a difficult time recognizing the word.

The article says that this method is applying 12,000 manhours a day, or roughly the equivalent output of a 1,500 person company.

Now where is my check for $1.13…

Hahaha, I guess we were both watching NOVA, eh?:stuck_out_tongue: That was very cool though.

Sigh… Guilty! Those sorts of observations are why I started this thread. Some friends and I have had novel Ideas on how to utilize wasted time.

One of the more morally questionable ideas was based off of the 80’s movie where a kid playing a spacecraft battle game finds out he is actually auditioning for a fighter pilot spot. My friends idea was a video-game that was essentially border patrol…

Personally I would love to see someone do a data mining experiment that was a series of surveys that could be taken at the DMV or doctors office while waiting.