Friday, October 27, 2006

Shifting Sands

Kirk began to talk about Kosovo more and more - not about what happened during the war, but about what was going on now. We have such a short attention span sometimes - and of course there is always the next crisis looming to draw the world's eyes. Hardly anyone stops to wonder what a country does after the planes have stopped dropping bombs, after the troops have (mostly) gone home.

It's messy of course. There is all the physical damage from years of smaller scale destruction as well as the shorter, more efficient demolition efforts of the NATO forces. But there is also the problem of living with a community that has been violently divided, of finding places in the new world for the things said and done, for the people everyone has become.

All of that was on his mind, and we began to talk about it. He talked about the beauty of the Balkans, about the people he had met and seen, and about rebuilding. He had done so much that was destructive - important, yes, vital even, but destructive. Now, in the post 9-11 world, he urgently wanted to build instead.

So we began to look around, to put out feelers. He started to contact friends in Europe who might know someone contracting in the Balkans. But it was all very nebulous and undefined.

At the same time he and C were talking about starting a company together. They went through a few ideas, once meeting with a mentor of C's from Stanford. I was there that night, and remember the guy listening to their business model, then bluntly turning to C and saying 'well, it sounds like a viable model, I just don't see what this guy needs you for.'

Kirk knew he needed C though - Kirk had the expertise, C had the contacts and the business sense. So they talked and planned and mulled things over for several weeks, never really finalizing anything beyond the desire to work together, to do something that they cared about, to make something for themselves.

Eventually C got a job out of town and moved away, but he and Kirk kept very close contact, still trying to find just the right thing to do. C was restless and ambitious, and even in the new job he wasn't happy. Finally one day he gave Kirk a call. He'd been offered a job by a friend, he said, something risky but with a lot of possibilities. It was a very small company, American, but headquartered in Turkey. They built temporary buildings for the military and for reconstruction in post-war zones, and they were going into Iraq.

He wanted Kirk's advice.


Anonymous said...

How old was C?

For Kirk said...

Um... thinking... I believe around 25 at the time? He was pretty fresh out of grad school I think (MBA). Of course, while typing this I've downgraded his age twice so it's clear I honestly don't know!