Caesar let it be know that “the die has been cast” after crossing the Rubicon River in northern Italy in 49 BC. For the Rubicon Foundation, that point of no return was established when three divers walked into a bar. It sounds like the start of a good joke and with all the smiles we have shared on this journey, maybe it has been. Many a great idea in undersea medicine started at a bar. I mean, what diver has not heard of “Martini’s law”? This method for describing inert gas narcosis to divers began at the Key West “O” club.(Reference)
The night started innocently enough… One of our founding board members asked what we would do if we “had a million dollars”? In typical fashion, we proceeded to talk about all the dive gear we wanted and places we would go. This does not seem so far out there and “The Barenaked Ladies” even wrote a song about what they would do with theirs.
The following week*, our discussion evolved to the more serious the need for access to information was becoming increasingly more difficult. The ever popular “AquaCorps” magazine had disappeared and the gap it filled between the technical diving community and the diving scientists was largely unfilled. We pondered whether or not many of the questions we still had about trimix and evolving decompression theories would ever get answered.
Was this something we could do with our theoretical million dollars? What would it take to get something like that started? Over the next few weeks we researched what it would take to build a non-profit around this idea of answering our questions. If you have ever seen all the paperwork it requires to start a business and then apply for non-profit status, it is easy to understand why that process became our own point of no return or Rubicon. For three divers that spent all of our free time, energy and money diving, this was going to be a huge undertaking.
So with no money, intrinsic motivation, and an overpowering desire to learn more; our die had been cast.
Starting in 2014 we will be beginning our next experiment. So far all of our projects have focussed on answering scientific questions related to our own interests. Over the next few weeks we will be starting to test a method to ensure our long term sustainability and growth. The path for growth within small non-profit organizations is hard and there are not many models to follow. It is our goal to lay out these methods and test this model in such a way that it could be followed by other organizations. Please check our blog as we start to outline the organization’s goals and model our future.
–The Rubicon Team
* Yes, we were at the same bar the next week. We are divers and I am sure the development of groundbreaking work in our field like the previously mentioned “Martini’s law” took more than one week to come to fruition.
Gene Hobbs is a technical diver and founding board member of the non-profit Rubicon Foundation. Hobbs has served as medical officer for the Woodville Karst Plain Project since 2004 and was named the 2010 Divers Alert Network/ Rolex Diver of the year. Hobbs is the medical simulation coordinator for a simulation and patient safety laboratory at a major university medical center.
–Photo by Amanda Cotton