Posted by: adrienehill | February 23, 2009

Hard Working: Piecing Life Together

One and a half million people in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan were out of jobs at the end of 2008. They’re neighbors and friends, people we stand next to on the El, and walk past on the street. Their stories inspired a series we’re calling Hard Working –that’s all about jobs and joblessness, work and what it means when work is hard to find. Today, we have the story of one woman who’s doing everything she can think of to piece life together.

Listen here.



  1. Although I am gratefully employed, the current economic reckoning has led to some personal ponderings about what work really means.

    Here is an excerpt from a blog I recently posted (sorry if it’s a little out of context):

    -But- back to thinking about, as William Julius Wilson would say, “how work disappears”. Wilson’s analysis of the relationship between the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, the increase of service sector jobs, and the ill-effects on both inner-city America and society at large, is an interesting thing to think about given the current employment landscape. Now we’re seeing the jobs that replaced/displaced manufacturing work disappear. Is all work disappearing? Based on my current experience in government, I find that work in this sector is very thin primarily because Bush ordered all work that is not “inherently governmental” to be outsourced to consultants/contractors. So apparently I should have been a consultant, because this agency pays them an exorbitant amount to do work that govt employees could just as easily do. Meanwhile govt employees essentially watch (or in government speak “monitor/manage”) the progress of the consultants. But I guess we don’t make out too bad in the deal seeing as how we’re being paid to “babysit”…It makes me feel guilty, though, since so many people are out of work with families. There are so many other things that could be getting done to help people and it doesn’t necessarily have to take place between 9 and 5 .

    Real work deals with creating or sustaining life. What do you need to create or sustain life? Water, food, shelter, and community… Office work has meaning only in a world that requires additional things to create or sustain life…Namely, money- to buy water, food, shelter and increasingly community…Some days I want to run out and start a commune growing my own food and making my own stuff among people I care about. But in truth, I don’t know the first thing about living without buying the things I need to survive…and that scares me. So many people are being forced to make decisions about how they will survive in the absence of paid work. And yeah, I know how to live on the humble, but only by American standards. What if things got as bleak as they have perpetually been in other parts of the world?

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