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2049 on Mars, Episode 2 - Dispute Resolution Unit 2
Keith had recently arrived on Mars
A new coordinator arrived at the DRU2
Steve was Lead Coordinator at the Dispute Resolution Unit 2 (DRU2). A key provision of the Martian Federation Operating Procedures was Dispute Resolution. There were no weapons of any kind allowed anywhere on the Mars settlement. Everyone migrating from Earth to the Mars settlement had agreed to abide by the Dispute Resolution processes of the Martian Federation. In spite of human nature being what it was, fifteen years into the Mars settlement, the processes were working. A multi-level resolution process was in place that was strictly adhered to, with everyone being involved in the execution of the process. One of Steve’s primary responsibilities involved assuring equitable involvement of as many residents as possible in his sector.
Keith had been a new arrival on Flight 068 and was assigned to DRU2 to work as a coordinator with Steve. After they had first chatted for a bit, to get to know each other better, before they got down to business, Steve asked a key question, “What was the spark that caused you to decide to come to Mars?” Steve was mildly surprised that Keith had a very specific answer.
Keith: My grandpa, Peter Bevins, lived ‘off-the-grid’ in the southern Missouri Ozark Mountains. Though he had gone into our hometown, Oak Springs, to work most of his adult life, he took great pride in the self-sufficiency he had in his geodesic dome style home on the hillside, ‘off-the-grid,’ with his wife, Sheila, and my dad, Jeremy. He was in his seventies, when I visited him as a boy. He was so proud of that accomplishment. Part of my motivation came from that pride he felt at doing something special. It seems that it motivated me to ‘be special’ as well. The other part seemed to be that I was ‘outside the norm’ from the time of my birth. Mom and Dad were nearly forty when they had me. My older brother and two sisters were about fifteen years older than me. They were already getting involved in the family business, the ‘Homeplace,’ when I was born. My dad, Jeremy, said I could do anything I wanted to do when I grew up. The first Mars flights began when I was nine or ten. I just decided I wanted to do that, and I did.
They essential lived underground
Steve responded to Keith
Steve: I continue to be amazed how many of us have so much the same story, even with the many variations they take. The call of a new life in a new place is very strong, it seems. It goes back hundreds of years, at least, perhaps thousands, I suppose.
Keith: An interesting twist to that was that in 2033, my family had celebrated 200 years living on the same farm, that ‘Homeplace,’ in that same valley. It was shortly after that that I made the decision not to stay there, but to come here, if I could. Action and reaction, perhaps. Life does provide strange twists, sometimes.
Steve: You can say that again. Which gets us to our work here. Here in Dispute Resolution, we hear all kinds of stories, and must be prepared to respond in a positive way to however our ‘clients’ are reacting to them. We work to keep lines of communications open between the disputing parts, so that a resolution can be found. Usually we can find one. That is our goal. Much of the time they find one themselves, when they realize the consequences of not finding a solution. If not, it usually means someone gets sent back to earth, never to return. That is the last thing we want to see happen here. At that point, if that happened, we ‘lost’ that one. We must then learn from it, and do better with the next one.
With that, Steve and Keith set about reviewing the next case file to be handled. They would identify the key elements of the dispute, and choose a small group of people, usually either three or five, peers of the disputants, to hear the disputants and make recommendations to settle the dispute. They would do this over and over, for however many cases were on the docket for them to handle. Peer review of cases, as one element of the process, was partially to involve everyone, over time. By seeing cases resolved, people were more likely to solve issues on their own rather than needing to involve others in their resolution. It was a process that had been demonstrated successfully over and over again. Cases ranged from major work issues to minor personal issues, but followed the same general process in each individual case.
Near the end of their work day
Steve found that he and Keith worked very well together. Keith was very knowledgeable about the rules and expectations. Steve was reminded, again, how thorough both the selection process was and how well training was done before folks were assigned to a Flight. Steve found that as soon as he familiarized Keith with their particular files, Keith was pretty much able to move ahead processing each one, with Steve simply reviewing each one, with a simple comment, from time to time. As they were wrapping up the day:
Steve: I’d like to have you meet my sister, Sharon, Keith. Could you come over to Pod WLS for a couple of hours after dinner, tonight?
Keith: Yes, I’d be able to do that. Are you sure she’ll be there, and not have other plans?
Steve: Yes, this is routine with us, actually. She knew I had a new coordinator today. We’ll both look forward to seeing you then.
Keith: I really appreciate the invitation. I enjoyed working with you, but it will be nice to spend some time with you away from all this as well.
Steve: Agreed. We find it very useful, as well. See you then!
Days and nights on Mars were very similar to those on Earth, except that each day on Mars is actually about 24 hours and 40 minutes. Therefore, the daily routine cycle didn’t change much. Most folks in the Mars settlement, however, rarely actually looked outside their habitats, which had no windows to the outside. Observation areas were available, but there was really not that much to see outside. One exception, of course, would be when there were dust storms. The storms were not always pleasant to witness, but they did provide variety, when they were such that one could see anything at all. Sunrise and sunset, of course was an exception, which was when most folks used the observation areas.
Keith had arrived on Flight 068
Note from the author
This story is purely a work of fiction, created from the mind of the author. I’ve read a few articles to get some background, but beyond that, the stories and people are figments of my imagination.
I always welcome comments and feedback to any of my writing. I look forward to that in this case, as well.
This episode created a tie-in with my earlier family saga stories based in Oak Springs, Missouri, “The Homeplace Saga,” in the late twentieth century. Peter Bevins was one of four siblings at the heart of the novel, “Back to the Homeplace,” and subsequent books and stories.
If you wish to see any of my prior writing, please follow the link below, which leads to all of it. Again, feedback and positive comments are always welcomed.