Working with RAFT

I never had this problem before.

When I worked for the US Coast Guard, a newspaper in Hong Kong, the Thames Valley Police – even at a feng shui magazine - nobody ever gave me a completely blanked looked when I said where I worked.

But then I started writing for RAFT.

“RAFT? Is that some sort of lifeboat organisation?”

“No, it’s the Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust, you know, RAFT.”

“Oh yeah…RAFT…Hey, I’d like to stay and talk about it but I need to find the cheese dip.”

No, it’s not always easy being a Rafter.

One of RAFT’s selling points is that it is unique when it comes to charities; unlike most research charities which then fund others to do their work, RAFT’s funds stay in-house and supports its own team of scientists.

Working for RAFT is unique as well.

The world of science and research is a very different world from most other jobs. There is no clock-in/ clock-out mentality, with someone on high dictating each day what you do. Work is project/grant driven and it is up to each to figure out what they do and where they fit in. As a writer, my job is similar.

Unlike working for a newspaper where you basically fill white space with ink every day, at RAFT it is up to me to figure out needed projects, get approval, and get writing. If I don’t, then I don’t work.

If you require constant supervision or a clear vision of your goals, then RAFT would not be your place. Scientists work in a world where everything is viewed through a murky glass; there are no clear, cut answers. It’s up to them to find the solutions and this philosophy is throughout RAFT.

For a writer, however, ‘murky’ is one of the best possible worlds to be in because one of the prime requirements of writing is to have a strong sense of curiosity.  If something is interesting to me, then that’s what I write about.

Oddly enough, working for RAFT reminds me very much of my Coast Guard days. Unlike the big services, the Coast Guard is small and so is its budget. While in the US Air Force $100 dollars screws are the norm, that could never happen in the Guard where a bag of gold-plated screws fit for a general would destroy its entire budget for the year. RAFT works under the same principal of frugality.

The Coast Guard is the smallest service in the States, with people working in small, close-knit teams; the same too is at RAFT. Everyone knows each other; their strengths and weakness and when the call goes out for ‘all hands on deck’; everyone responds.

What I find funny is that while RAFT is so small, it gets under your skin and seems to become a part of you. At times I’ve contacted plastic surgeons who did research here years ago; they still feel a part of the RAFT team.

Now let me go find that guy looking for the cheese dip. I’m sure he wants to hear more about RAFT.

Velo Mitrovich