Gardens for Tomorrow


barney_icon.gif valerie_icon.gif

Scene Title Gardens for Tomorrow
Synopsis An excited Valerie pays Barney a visit to talk about his proposal.
Date March 11, 2018

The research labs at Raytech Industries New York Branch.

Barney is currently hovering. Not really hovering hovering but he's hanging over a workstation browsing through the work of one of the many scientists at Raytech, looking over their research notes, and materials and what not. He's checking up on the scientists. It consumes a good portion of his time. There may have been mention from Richard about making sure the scientists weren't working up any doomsday devices. Barney is pretty sure he was kidding. Richard was most definitely not kidding. But Barney doesn't know that. Yet. Currently the big ginger is sitting, sifting through notes and reports and lab results and all sorts of stuff, making notes, a clipboard in hand. A fancy clipboard, one of the metal ones that serves as a case as well for papers.

Without even walking, or in her usual case rolling, into the room, Valerie just suddenly seems to be beside him. Almost all of Raytech knows of her ability, and how most of the time she prefers to interact with people as a projection of herself rather than rolling around in her chair. She's still short, but she feels more… there sometimes when she's not actually there. "Mister Barney! I was looking for you." Obviously.

She's appears dressed in a colorful flowing dress, green and yellow in color, and as usual has a big smile on her face, causing a dimple to appear. "Do you have a minute? If you're busy I can always stop in later." She could literally appear in his room in the middle of the night, but she's polite enough not to do that.

Everyone in Raytech likes to surprise him. It must be a Ray thing. Because suddenly there's a voice! His clipboard goes up in the air, and his pen hits the desk. Last time he caught the clipboard but dropped the pen, this time he drops both. The pen hits the desk, the clipboard clatters to the ground a few feet away as Barney gives a surprised start and turns wide eyed towards the source of the sound. Ghosts? Nope, Valeries. There's a few big owlish looking blinks from him as he assesses what is going on.

"Oh. Hello Miss Ray. I umm didn't see you there." Then he pauses, seeing the lack of a wheelchair and realization dawns. He's heard about her projection thing but hadn't seen it as of yet. "Oh? Oh! No I always have time. Not that I'm not busy or doing my job, but I always have time for anyone that needs some of it." He moves to stand, stepping over and stooping down to pick up his clipboard, and then retrieves his pen from the desk. "I was done with my review. I was more interested in the science of what was going on." He offers a broad smile. "What did you need to discuss Miss Ray?"

The wheelchair isn't exactly comfortable, and neither is the exosuit that her brother made her. But Valerie doesn't need either to walk around for a couple hours a day. Even if she can't really feel it all that well, still. "I just got here," she explains to his apology, not bothering to apologize for just appearing. It's a location she's allowed, and he shouldn't be working on anything top secret, so… "Richard told me about your idea— the one with the gardens and growing things. I wanted to talk to you about it. Thought I could add it to my projects."

She works mostly in buildings, but she this kind of project would require some time and effort. "I had a few ideas I'd like to suggest, see if we can get this going and help feed people down the line if the shortage keeps happening."

Barney nods his head a little bit to the comment about just getting here, a small smile pulling at his lips. "Yes so I noticed." The smile pulls into a full grin as he gathers his things and tucks the pen into the little space in the clip at the top. "Oh he did? He did! That is exciting. He said he would run it by everyone to see if it was an idea Raytech wanted to get involved in. I did some preliminary research on operating costs, developing costs and real estate where we could establish the building. I'm not a scientist myself, but I studied into it enough in college that I can keep up with them." Hence why Richard has him running around as the scientist's morality police.

"I would love to discuss your ideas Miss Ray. I wasn't sure who would be heading up the project, but I was already working on the idea before the food thefts, then that prompted me to hurry up and finish out a basic writeup of it. I thought that making advances in hydroponic technology could do a lot of good. It would be excellent PR if we were to help feed the safezone. And the technology should generate substantial income given the need for food around the country."

"I was thinking we could draw inspiration from our own rooftop garden," Valerie responds with a big smile, practically bouncing where she 'stands'. Her body moves, but it moves too slow for a real body, as if she's thinking about doing it and the image doesn't quite follow the proper laws of motion. It's a little disconcerting.

"There's a limited greenspace area that's available, and I know any kind of land is at a premium for costs. Even the uninhabited area— buying land from the government isn't easy. I know Mister Harrison did a lot of work just to secure this space for us." At a reasonable cost. "But perhaps if we utilize pre existing buildings or even just make the technology to allow those within the Safe Zone to add it to their own rooftops, we could save space and money."

"I had thought about that, but with all the food thefts going on I'm pretty sure that people would just steal the equipment being used. Or the food. Or both. They could just steal the equipment, set up their own garden and then sell the food to people at an exorbitant rate. As much as I try to think the best of people I know that people are not always at their best. Especially in times of need and strife. And while the strife might have settled this is definitely a time of need." Barney frowns a bit, his lower jaw working around a little as he thinks, causing the beard to wiggle a little back and forth. "I think making a full facility or something would be the better route." Barney's shoulders lift up, and then fall in a slow shrug. "But, I am not the one funding and directing the research so that opinion only goes so far."

Valerie hadn’t actually thought of the thieves stealing from the gardens. “We could include surveillance equipment, or even just put one of those… tracking thingies… on them so that if they were stolen it would lead us to where they went!” She trusts her brother to be able to come up with something well hidden so that thieves would get caught if they did strike. “We also don’t think we have the manpower to maintain a full facility, and automating it would be difficult.” But possible, considering her brother. “And it would probably be better to hire people anyway.” No one liked losing potential jobs to robots. “We’d have to get Kaylee on board to hire extra people. But it’s the building that worries me. Those would be a very expensive investment. Like. Millions of dollars. Just for the land or building.”

And she doesn’t want to say it, but she’s not sure they have the capital right now for such a huge investment, not for something that won’t get any return till much later. “It would be far more cost efficient if we made the equipment and had people maintain their own gardens in spaces they already own.” She tilts her head to the side, suddenly flickering as she’s too distracted to maintain her projection constantly. If she were actually standing there, she’d probably be pacing. “Maybe we could get the Co-Op to lend us the land on a temporary basis, rather than own it, or possibly rent it.”

“That would still require someone to monitor that and then report it, and people to go handle the issue. And with the police force so strained at the moment I don’t believe they’d be up to the task. Perhaps the personalized rooftop version is something we could look at introducing once things have calmed a little and more order has been restored to the safe zone? But initially I think we very much need to focus on the bigger picture and helping the struggling safe zone and it’s inhabitants with the immediate hunger shortage. Also the rooftop versions would mean teaching people how to work and run the equipment. Definitely more of a long term project in my mind.” Barney lifts a hand, fingers stroking through his beard a little bit as he thinks on the issue.

“The building I think would be less than everyone is thinking. I think that if the purpose of the building is made clear to the government that we could negotiate a very good price for the land or building, perhaps even be given it for free if it means aiding with the hunger problems. “That’s the thing though, most don’t own their own spaces, and those that do wouldn’t spend all the money and time to set up a hydroponics garden and then just give the food away or sell it at a reasonable price. They’d charge top dollar for the fresh vegetables and fruit and we’d not be much better off as they try to squeeze people for their money. I like to think the best of people I do. But people are not always at their best. And while we can’t control what people do, we can plan for it. And perhaps the Co Op would have the land to lend us. Something that could be looked into. But I really do not think putting the equipment in the hands of private citizens is the answer at this time. Not if we truly want to help anyone.”

Yeah, this idea is getting complicated. “I’m not sure that will work. You underestimate how much buildings and land cost in the safe zone, even for legitimate businesses that will help people. The government owns the land, not the co-op.” They didn’t exactly want to give it away. Valerie frowns, projection shifting back and forth as if to show she’s wanting to pace, but not having the body to do it with easily. There’s a lot of flaws with her projection when she’s distracted. “We’ll need to get Jared on board. If anyone can negotiate with the government, it’d be him.”

He already did a lot of negotiations as it was.

“We might be able to get something in an area they’re not planning to develop anytime soon, the downside is it won’t have water or electricity— we’d have to supply that. That adds to the time and investment cost, though. It would take months to get it up and running. The rooftop idea would allow us to use already placed piping and electricity. And yeah, they might not give it away, but they’d still be fed and that’s the point, right?”

“Nothing we do building or investment wise is going to mitigate the current problem, cause it would take too long to be ready to harvest… This is more a long term idea, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you want to give immediate relief, we’ll have to do shipments from outside. Buy the food and bring it in.”

"I actually did my research on the cost of several different properties that would fit our needs and I believe our means. If we're going to market the technology as well there will need to be proof of it's large scale viability. That way cities, towns and other safe zones will want to purchase the technology. If all we show is small scale like rooftop gardens it's not going to see widespread commercial use or purchase, in which case the project has no profit line for the company, and only helps a few people rather than helping the safe zone at large. I mean obviously we can't feed the whole safe zone, but we can help. Rooftop gardens aren't going to see any major impact on the foot shortage, and they'll only encourage price gouging and profiteering."

Barney's head tips in a slow nod. "I wouldn't know who would be best to negotiate with the government. I manage employees and scientists, not board members." Barney's smile is a wide one at that. "But I did do my due dilligence on the project idea before presenting it to Mister Ray. I didn't want to turn in a half baked idea that would just get thrown aside. Don't get me wrong I fully understand if the project is beyond Raytech's means. Since I am not privy to the extend of Raytech's means." A wink from Barney, his amusement still showing.

"Actually there are a number of fruits and vegetables that are quick to grow and harvest that could help quite quickly. Arugula grows in about 2 months, Spinach in four to six weeks, baby carrots only take about 30 days. There's actually a list… I may have forgotten that list when I gave Richard my proposal. I don't… think I did but I may have forgotten. I can bring the list up to your office, or email it whichever you'd prefer. Many of these vegetables would be growable and could be distributed within the next two months after commencement of operation. And I'm sure with the kind of technology Raytech could bring to bear those harvest times could be significantly shortened given the right growing environment and nutrient intake for the plants. I did do a great deal of research. I should just send you my whole file on all the research I did." Barney looks a bit sheepish at that. "What I submitted to Mister Ray was just a proposal after all."

“Jared would be best for that,” Valerie admits, knowing that if anyone could crack the government a little, it would be Jared. “I saw some of it, but I admit I got excited and came to see you before I read all of it.” And since she literally could appear to him from her desk— yeah, she did get excited. She continues to shift, that same sign she wants to pace, but is thinking. “Warren might be able to make some machines to help harvest, but he hasn’t built them yet and those would take time, too.” They won’t have a harvest in thirty days, though, that’s for sure. “We can definitely see about moving it forward as a long term project, I’m just afraid even after we get the building or land that it would take months before we got the right kind of dirt or water access. Or electricity for automation if that’s what you’re going for.”

Valerie has no doubt he’s capable, though, if they can get him to make one and if they can use their facilities to build them without losing time on any of their government and military contracts.

“The power situation could be rectified with solar panels and generators, but water. The only areas with running water are Bay Ridge, Red Hook, Williamsburg and parts of Elmhurst and Ferryman’s Bay. And we’d definitely need water for this project. The cheapest would be Ferryman’s, probably. If the project wasn’t so immediate we could even get land or a building in an area that isn’t piped yet and we could work with Yamagato to get the piping there.” Since Yamagato handles most the things. “Or Praxis.” Or even just act like they wanted to work with Praxis so Yamagato would be reasonable.

She minor in business for nothing.

“But I still think we could think about rooftop packages as a supplement. Cause— have you ever heard about Victory Gardens? In World War II? I read about them. When food was rationed people in cities built gardens on their rooftops and in their yards to supplement their own rations and trade with others in their neighborhood. It made them feel all patriotic and stuff, we could push it as a ‘support your community, feed yourself’ thing. Sure, some might be total assholes and sell their food at gouged prices, but a majority of people just want to eat.”

But she understands that’s not the project he wanted. “We could work on both as long term investments. I just think the mini-gardens would be quicker to implement. If Warren can make a folding TV, he can make an easy to use garden box.”

Barney nods his head to the talk of the locations with water, and opens his mouth to speak, but Valerie is on a roll, so he closes his mouth, a smile on his features as he settles in, his hands clasping together, fingers lacing as he watches her get animated again. "From what I have heard of your brother he is an absolute genius, and if given a project with a specific goal… he comes up with things like magic. And…"
Barney blinks a couple of times, then lifts a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Why not both. You know that is a phrase we learned when I took improvisation courses in college. Always say yes, and always do whatever includes the most ideas. Why not both? We are disagreeing over which application would be better but… why not both? It is not as if the technology would be any different. Just on a smaller scale." Barney lets out a soft sigh at himself and shakes his head, his fingers toying with his beard just below his chin as he thinks.

"I do know of the Victory Gardens. Not in any great detail mind, just the existence of them and the reason for their existence. So about what you just mentioned." He flashes her another wide grin, the big ginger leaning forwards in his seat with a question on his lips. "Is that you wanting to pace Miss Ray? When the image gets glitchy like that and shifts in place? It seems like it would be a pacing moment, just curious if I'm interpreting correctly."

His head dips forwards in a slow and maybe somewhat apologetic nod. "I am glad that you got excited about the idea. I am sorry for arguing with you. I got a little bit defensive of my idea. But I am not the one putting money and resources into the project other than my own personal time."

"He is a genius, certainly. He just— gets distracted by all the things in his head, like most geniuses." Valerie responds with a grin, reminded of their father a little, even if Barney never knew the man. "I have no doubt he could invent both, and even get them moving in production pretty fast. I'll make sure he gets a write up on it, see what he thinks. He'll probably be like 'this is easy', and want me to ask for something harder next time." Like that full exosuit that he keeps saying he'll make her—

And she keeps saying no too. The one he's already made is enough for her.

"Oh— yes, sorry. At least I'm not bouncing around like I did originally when I started using my ability. I would just appear in different parts of the room between thoughts. I had this poor kid convinced I was a ghost haunting him once."

That hadn't been so much fun. "I also don't concentrate on it as much as I should now, cause— everyone knows." Originally she put a lot of thought into keeping herself mostly solid, keeping the projection as realistic as possible— now she doesn't worry so much about that.

Her ability isn't a secret.

"Send part of your proposal to Jared. We can get him to work on land negotiations. I'll send the design ideas for gardening bots and makeshift garden boxes to Warren and see what he comes up with."

Barney tips his head at the mention of Warren being a genius. "I have heard some pretty incredible things from some of the scientists. I believe along the lines of 'how did he even?' and 'that's not possible' and other such exclamations of surprise. It's amusing." Barney adopts a quick smile before he nods his head once again. "Yes I would imagine he would say something like that if the stories are anything to go by. But lets hope he doesn't make extra improvements that he doesn't tell people about. I've also heard that is a thing for which we need to look out?" He raises a questioning brow, but seems more amused than anything.

There's a gentle laugh from the Barney when Valerie mentions scaring a kid. "Well I can understand why he would think that. But it's really just an adjustment. You have to realize that many things previously thought impossible, are now very much possible. Once you accept that it becomes much easier to handle the strange and wonderful when you come across it." Barney inclines his head to the mention of sending the proposal on to Jared. "I will certainly do so Miss Ray. And I very much look forwards to seeing what Mister Warren comes up with. I imagine it will be both interesting and probably exciting." Perhaps different sorts of exciting as well.

"I should go finish actually reading your original proposal, but I'll make notes on what we discussed too." Add those to her thoughts, as well as write up her own proposal. Valerie offers him a warm smile, no longer flickering slightly as she stands there. "If you have any additions we didn't talk about, just email them to me." Internet may not be reliable, but they had a small internal network that handled things like that. As long as it was sent inside the building to a computer on the network, it usually arrived safely.

And securely.

"Keep up the good work, Mister Sorenson!" Her image steps back and then, just as it had suddenly arrived, is gone. No doubt having returned to her body once again.

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