Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fixing the Future

Bill Fenson and I presented Wellness at Work in the 21st Century: Roadmap to Making Money for Economic Resilience, at the NECA Day of Learning within the ACA Conference in Cincinatti
The bad news is that clearly we are still suffering from the recession. The good news is that career and employment counselors are in a job demand occupation. Many people remain unemployed. We shared graphics from the Heldrich Center  pdf,  Diminished Lives and Futures: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era , depicting the pessimism of the vast majority of the labor force and those who have just stopped looking.   We discussed advancing technology and the impact on the workforce citing publications (NY Times for example) that suggest there are increasingly fewer jobs for humans.  Other major trends included an aging population, the growth of the illness and wellness industries and increased service industry employment, unfortunately at lower overall wages. 
In the search for jobs we distinguished between the Global Economy and Local Economy. Everyone agreed with internet access, the talented group in attendance was fully capable of planning a joint venture, doing the research, setting up a web site, paying all the necessary fees and entering into business within a matter of hours. We also agreed that any similar group anywhere in the world with access to the web, was capable of doing the same thing and of course, they are! To explain the Local Economy we made reference to the construction happening around downtown Cincinnati. They cannot fix our roads and do renovations from India and China. That requires the presence of a labor force. And yes there are many businesses that are in both arenas. The local merchants compete over sales of products with each other and sales over the internet. 
The second half of the presentation became quite lively with discussion of the documentary Fixing the Future highlighting a growing shift in consciousness.  The film is about sustainable employment, focusing on community and business networking. The filmmaker asks.  “ Do we want a system where people serve the economy or a place where the economy serves people?”  Currently we measure our economy using GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which measures the total output of entities within our borders. It has been argued that our system thrives on consumption with most profits going to corporations or their shareholders with little regard for the health of the planet or people (Zeitgeist the Movie  by Peter Joseph one chilling example).  Pedaling your bicycle to the local farm market, drinking water  you took from your tap and buying a fresh local apple or two for lunch, does little for the GDP. Driving your car to the supermarket and purchasing imported fruit and bottled water adds significantly more (think about packaging and transportation) and if you get into an auto accident, you really boost the GDP!
Fixing the Future explores local banks investing in their community, worker cooperatives, time banking and a growing number of US businesses dedicated to sustainability. One of our handouts further expanded the discussion offering links for more information.
It is a gift to be in a helping, healing profession and possess the ability to influence those we serve.
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  ― Robert F. Kennedy

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