When I left school, like most other people I had to go out and get a job so that I could contribute towards the running of the family home. My first experiences of working after my secondary education was in a local food shop where I packed stuff and cleaned the shop from top to bottom every day, I continued on this path until I was 19 years old, drifting in an out of various food outlets until I eventually decided that enough was enough and that the work ethic that had been instilled in me was a joke, I needed to do something different, and something that was related to what I was into so I began travelling the free festival circuit. Once I had managed to wriggle myself free from work I was being questioned from all angles, from the point of view of my family I was a ‘lazy dole bum’ my mates who were hard at work at various construction jobs also thought the same but were less in my face about it. I began to question the whole idea of not working, firstly I wasn’t a lazy person as I was up at the crack of dawn everyday and seldom had a lye in, secondly, once I was awake I was almost always busy doing something.
I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t a dole bum, I certainly wasn’t lazy, it all boiled down to the fact that the Market dictated the types of work that people did, but since the market wasn’t basing this on need, and instead basing it on the foolish idea of endless economic growth propped up by consumerism, this was something that I didn’t want to be part of. So now I was faced with not wanting to work my life away in some wasteful industry that was detrimental to both the planet and myself
It wasn’t until almost two decades after I’d had these thoughts about work that I read Nowtopia by Chris Carlsson, this piece of work made me realise that there was a huge need for work to be redefined and adapted to meet the needs of people and planet as opposed to the private interests and profit gains of a handful of business individuals. In Nowtopia Carlsson gives many examples of communities in the States who have redefined what they know as work and how they work.
Work for a permanent culture
As there are more and more people redefining what we know as work due to poor ecological practices and the effects of the credit crunch and the long terms economic inequality that comes with it, the chances of taking control of our time and our input have never been greater. In a future where there is a lack of vital resources and energy there is a need for people to create their work in a local setting using locally sourced sustainable resources. The battle that is currently waging is on the one hand the all pervading Neoliberal approach of infinite growth, low pay and ill health, on the other side of the battle field are the permaculture practitioners, organic growers, and crafts people. It is simply not possible to carry on down the Neoliberal road, we need to connect with and support people who are trying to work in a low impact way, forming cooperatives and associations is a good way of pooling resources and skills, and creating resilient work based communities.