For our souls and communities: why we need a work culture of regular sabbaticals

Hanging out with a goat and chickens while visiting a farm last year.

For the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of research into alternatives to the traditional job market that no longer offers much opportunity. Especially alternatives that involve either travel, farm work, or both–because I have both a terrible case of wanderlust and a strong urge to work with my hands close to the earth.

Last spring, I was seriously considering WWOOFing–volunteering on an organic farm in exchange for room and board–for the summer. I even visited a few potential farms, but in the end, I decided not to do it for two reasons: I didn’t want to be separated from Steve, and I didn’t want to come back to Boston in the fall with no job or way to pay rent.

Now that spring is around the corner, my dormant desire to sink my hands into mud and dirt is back. And are my fantasies about WWOOFing. But for the same reasons as last year, I don’t think I can make it work.

Through all of my research and yearning and fantasizing and facing hard realities, I’ve become more and more convinced that we need a national job culture of regular sabbaticals. Of stable, living-wage, permanent jobs that give employees the option to take a year off (ideally at a reduced pay rate, or unpaid) every x number of years, with the guarantee that their jobs would be waiting for them upon return.

The farm’s fruit trees and main buildings, not far from its solar panels.

This could solve so many disparate problems. Like reducing the workweek to 21 hours, it would spread out work among more people, thereby reducing unemployment. It would force employers to cross-train their workers more effectively, which would result in a more skilled and innovative workforce. It would have the potential to reduce carbon emissions.

Continue reading

Friday links 11/1/13

This jack-o-lantern partied a bit too hard.

Happy day-after-Halloween! I hope you all had a good time.  I spent the evening watching Cabin in the Woods with a group of friends, and although I don’t usually like horror movies, I loved it! It’s pretty much impossible for Joss Whedon to make anything bad, and it didn’t hurt that the cast was full of great actors.

I also had a Halloween party last weekend, where I dressed up as a steampunk Pikachu (in reference to this comic). I will post pictures soon! Now, on to the linky goodness…

Fa(t)shion
-I don’t mean to turn my blog into a complete advertisement for Domino Dollhouse, but their new skull-print babydoll dress and leggings are too awesome not to post about.
-This photo shoot of five fat babes is fabulous.
-The Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, a collective workspace focused on sustainable production, will be opening in 2014.
-John Scalzi writes about why he dresses the way he does, and how, as a middle-class white man, he faces less appearance-based judgment than most people.
-Jille Edge’s Flickr has plenty of old-school Delia*s nostalgia.
Politicizing plus size fashion with blogger Brooklyn Boobala.

Fat Acceptance
-There will be a Fat Justice Workshop here in Boston next weekend.
-This fat bellydance DVD looks great.
-Abigail Saguy talks about the history of the “obesity epidemic.”
Fat people need candy too.

Climate and Sustainability
-A must-read from Naomi Klein: how science is telling us all to revolt.
-The Transition Lab, which trains ordinary people to create a resilient future, sounds amazing. If any of my fellow Bostonians want to learn more, check out the presentations they will be giving in Cambridge next week.
-A great overview of what a post-growth economy means, and why we need one.

Continue reading

10 more ways to make a living in a green economy

Cupcakes: a vital part of any economy.

Jobs have been on my mind a lot lately…if by lately, you mean the past three years or so.  It’s a lot less depressing to envision what the job market would look like in a sustainable economy than to think about the shitty choices it offers now. And if we’re going to build a better economy, we have to start by imagining it, right?

So here are ten more ways that people could make a living in a new economy:

1.)  Delivering city freight by bike.

This would be a win-win all-around, as it would lower carbon emissions, decrease traffic, and provide exercise to the bike messengers.  Here in the US, we don’t have the necessary infrastructure for such wide-scale biking: but building it would create even more jobs in construction and urban planning.

2.)  Cupcake bakers. Because a revolution without cupcakes is not one worth having.

3.) Artists, writers, performers, and other creators of all stripes.

As my friend Bethany says, “The truth is, we don’t know what is possible. Which is why the pushers of envelopes, the stretchers of bodies and minds, the pioneers, the prophets, poets, and weirdoes are so vitally important.” See also this piece about why artists and designers are just as necessary as more “practical” jobs.

Continue reading

Friday Links, 10/25/13

An adorable puppy who lives in my neighborhood 🙂

Fa(t)shion
-The comments in this thread about exploring the friction between attention-seeking and impatience with regard to unusual fashion choices are so interesting. And the post led me to my new style crush, Lorena Cupcake! Her outfits remind me what I love about fashion: rainbows, bright and interesting color combinations, and the sheer playful fun of putting it all together.
-These unicorn slippers are the cutest thing.
-My mind is slightly blown by Domino Dollhouse’s ring pop ring. It looks like a ring pop! But it’s an actual ring! Whoa…
-Pure fatshion (and fat love adorableness) inspiration: this bride’s gorgeous frock. It’s so glamorous, and fantastically twirly.
Rock N’ Roll Bride’s fall/winter collection for Crown and Glory is now available. How gorgeous is the Sophie flower crown?
-Affatshionista reviews Gwynnie Bee. I keep meaning to do one of those free monthlong trials….

Fat Acceptance
Imagine if it was really about health.
-Marianne writes about her experience doing a 5K while fat.
-I’m glad to hear that Massachusetts will no longer send “fat letters” home to the parents of fat kids.

Climate and Sustainability
Inspiring actions from last weekend’s PowerShift, a convergence of young leaders from around the world working on social and environmental justice issues.
Back to no future: what use is playing the long game when the arc of the universe feels so frighteningly short?

Jobs and the Economy
How to democratize the US economy.
Amid government shutdown, “New Economy” events across US draw enthusiasts for sustainable alternatives.
Giving away food is great for business: the surprising benefits of local lending.
Why Iceland should be in the news, but is not.
-This puffin makes a very good point
“The world doesn’t need any more costume designers.”

Everything Else
-Jaclyn’s takedown of the misogynists who call themselves “men’s rights activists” is so important.
I am not going to pursue a PhD (I am tired).
Willow Smith and the curious case of the carefree black girl.
A yarn-bombed tree squid = !!
-I really like this piece exploring whether polyamory is a choice and whether it matters. I especially the like the author’s take on how to build a legal framework that serves all unconventional families without getting rid of marriage.
Shooter boys and at-risk girls: reflections on teenage anger and the ways adults respond to it based on gender, race, and class.