Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding Meaningful Work

"Take a brilliant person working on weapons design at a high salary. This is negative work, no matter how high the quality. You, on the other hand, in making a garden have contributed more toward building a better world, even though that contribution may go unrecognized." -- A Handmade Life by Wm. S. Coperthwaite

Compare the green beans above (with flowers) to how they looked a few weeks ago!

I sometimes feel less than useful. Since having my first child (15 years ago) I have not held a full time job that earns meaningful money for my family. I have worked at Barnes and Noble and as the primary school librarian at my kids' Montessori school. Since moving to Boston almost 2 years ago, I have done no paid work.

My husband and I are so lucky that his job alone can provide for our family. He makes enough that we can have a lovely house, healthful food (even grassfed beef from the farm across the street and organic veggies from a CSA membership), the ability to save for retirement and college, and health care. All our needs are met... and more.

So my job has been caring for the family. Choosing and preparing our food, being a caregiver, manager, encourager, teacher, planner, cleaner. I have also been heading out into the community to do volunteer work. I have joined 3 groups that are environment related.

The Green Team is a committee trying to increase environmental stewardship in our local schools. Our main projects this year have been encouraging composting and gardening projects at the schools, promoting the use of reusable bottles and water fountains instead of one-time-use bottled water, and getting rid of the polystyrene trays used in our cafeterias (220,000/year)!

I've recently gotten involved with a new group Transition Wayland. This group was started by a woman I've met in town who is a real inspiration. Here's a blog post she did about a "barn raising" to move her hoop house. She's lived in her home with her husband and daughter for 3 years. In that time they have covered the yard with gardening beds watered from their rain barrels, installed a wood stove, and are now putting up solar panels. In short, she's increasing her family's resilience. If the power goes out she'll have electricity, if there's a disruption in oil supplies or prices skyrocket she'll have an alternative heat source. She can rely on her garden for a portion of her food. That's what Transition is about but at the community level. The group seeks to educate about climate change and peak oil. But not in a frightening way. Rather the group seeks to move the entire community to work together to build resilience in the whole town... neighbors helping neighbors, sharing resources, planting trees, learning skills, growing gardens. It is a long term project that is just getting under way, but it is a hopeful way to look at the future.

I've also joined the green sanctuary committee in church. The group works to green the church building and activities, does presentations to the congregation and Sunday school on environmental topics, and grows a garden to donate vegetables to a local food pantry.

For the moment, I'll try to make this type of work (increasing the resilience of my family and community) work for me, my family and community.


Kaat at MamaStories said...

It's important as we work for strength and resilience for our family that we don't feel alone. Usually there is one in the household (usually the wife) who does this work. By entering a community of others doing it, she can feel supported and *at home*. And it's important also to speak about it, among friends, in the blog.

I'm so glad to have met you and to have you for my friend! We inspire each other!

heather said...

i have a sense of you, and you are doing so good hard work at home. finding confidence in being a non~wage earner in a partnership is tricky. we have done a few therapy sessions about it. but i still question it all here and there. i suck at the laundry.