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The Design Corps: Rural America

The Design Corps for Rural America is modeled after John
Kennedy’s Peace Corps in 1960. It is a network of local Design
Studios organized and led by the 3% to 5% “gifted and talented”
teens that exist in every rural community. However, many have
gone underground by 3rd grade.

Dr. Bill Wilkie’s initial network of five Design Studios will

1. Identify inventors and technology
2. Complete a proof of concept process
3. Develop a business plan for investors
4. Incorporate “reproductive” headquarters (HDQ) led by professional managers that
create higher paying jobs for rural town as well as a sustainable economic engine.

Our Vision The recent U.S. financial crisis and its have set the
stage for rapid and radical opportunities for new organizations and structures. Startup costs and
barriers to entry diminish; opportunities for creating new value increase; transactions are not bound
by time, distance, or size; and something intangible - a better idea - can massively increase global
welfare. This pattern is not merely about incremental improvements. It's about a revolution in how
we create, share, and refine anything. It's RippleEffects 6.0

Secondly, the Internet operates in a manner fundamentally unlike anything that has ever preceded
it. In particular, it promotes "democratization" of information, tools, and resources that combine to
empower ordinary people with increasing capabilities. Therefore, it can be used to collaborate in
an “open source” environment across long distances and encouraging networking among youth.

Charter & Mission In line with our charter, the Design Corps of Rural America’s near-term
goal is to bootstrap a positive cycle in Michigan as a proof of concept project:

• Create a process and place where towns can create a new innovative future.
• Identify and empower young professionals to serve for two years in rural towns in a
support and encouragement role. (83 total Michigan counties and 60+ rural counties)
• Create “reproductive” headquarters in rural Michigan towns with ten million plus in annual
sales and 15+% net after tax profits.
• Foster a collaborative community of people and projects which will inspire other towns to
join us in vision for rural America.

The long-term mission of The Design Corps is far more ambitious, may take decades to realize,
and necessitates that we extensively partner outside of The Design Corps. We wish to generalize
the inventive and innovation cycle around principles that can be applied to the design process by

• Empowering rural towns to become cultures of innovation and design,
• Facilitating the exchange of ideas among inventors, towns and investors, and
• Creating high paying jobs and reproductive headquarters as an economic engine.
Philosophy & Strategy The charter of The Design Corps suggests a dilemma: How can we
simultaneously be small and agile but also influential enough to have a meaningful impact?
Indeed, this is a dilemma that all organizations face as they grow and mature. Our answer is
embarrassingly simple: We see ourselves as a perpetual startup.

First, The Design Corps will deliberately not do many things that are already well-established.
Instead we will seek to fill existing voids. Our bias will be to focus at BRIDGES: between theory
& practice, the strategic & tactics, but above all - between inventions & commercial products.
Each studio is a community-based “PROOF OF CONCEPT” center. It is the “missing link.”

Second, all of our local Design Corps teams in a Design Studio will be small, but with sufficient
resources to achieve a modest level of success.

Third, when appropriate, we will opportunistically partner with other groups to amplify their
efforts as well as the Design Studio Network.

We can be agents of change between rural towns, helping to break down barriers, and expediting
innovations - but on a scale that can only be realized by multiple teams working in concert.

Structure & Function The Design Corps is a confederation made up of many Design Studios
loosely coupled, but united by a single cause - to enable rapid design and redesign of inventions to
create locally owned headquarters with high value added products and profits.

The Design Corps focuses on:

• Sandbox Design - networks that allow for rapid data gathering, redesign and deployment
without great risk—proof of concept processes.
• Neutral Platforms – creative application of existing inventions and materials that reduce
the incremental costs for performing more ambitious development.
• Rapid Prototyping - small teams/networks that produce functional and conceptual
prototypes that are potentially DISRUPTIVE.
• Creative Application - self-directed “open source” teams with a mandate to connect ideas
to users and businesses in many,
varied and creative ways.

A Call to Action As we launch, expand,
and evolve The Design Corps, we will need
many partners to succeed. Whether you are
a student, graduate, laborer, young
professional, inventor, or are merely just
curious, there will be ample opportunity to
collaborate. If our vision for The Design
Corps and its impact on America resonates
with you, then please join us in what we
believe is a historic time for our world…

DesignCORPS 1.0
© 2009 William Wilkie 989.339-4998
Adapted from Gary Flake’s “The Live Labs Manifesto”