So there it is. This concludes The History of Work Series on the Daily Gumboot. Godfrey and I have researched, analyzed, evaluated, and delivered results on, first, the nature of work as it relates to community and, second, the best and worst jobs of all time. Here is a re-cap:
The Five Best and Worst Jobs Ever!
- Number 5: Pirate and First World War Message Runner
- Number 4: University Professor and Fact Checker at Fox News
- Number 3: Singer and Searcher of the Dead
- Number 2: Person Born into Wealth & Title and Politician
- Best/Worst. Job. Ever. Explorer and Slave.
And you undoubtedly had a great time reading the series – or selections from it – and learning all about the different careers and job opportunities that have impacted humanity over the past, well, forever. If you didn’t have a great time reading it, please contact Godfrey and ask for a refund.
One – or two – cannot engage in a project like this without asking some key questions about what it all means. Without further ado, here are three of those questions:
What was your creative process like?
JOHN: Well, it involved a lot of yelling. Swearing in German (mostly Godfrey). Swearing at Germans (mostly me). And also lots of love. We also surveyed over 15,000 people to find out what you - the readers – thought were the best and worst jobs of all time. As Historians – engagers of the most noble academic discipline – Godfrey and I were well positioned to use Google to find the top seven websites dedicated to “the history of work”. I believe that we even used some stuff from the Discovery Channel’s “History of Work” series, which was cool, but, as with so much media, only focused on the negative parts of work. Here at the G’boot, we like to keep things positive. Collaborating with Godfrey is a pleasure, mostly because his brain works in a completely different way than mine does. For example, Godfrey thinks about things before he says them, whereas I just write stuff down, man.
GODFREY: It’s true, while the inter-web was a great resource, a lot of pensive thinking and dreaming and informal focus grouping when into our selection process. It’s amazing how readily people come up with an answer to, “What’s your favourite job?” whether in a coffee shop or while riding the bus. If people’s eyes lit up when they responded with “Explorer” or laughed uneasily when I pitched “plague collector” to them in a coffee shop line up, then these jobs made my final cut.
How does work inform community?
JOHN: In my humble opinion, work – paid, unpaid, volunteer, involuntary – is central to every community. To paraphrase Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest, I think a global emphasis on meaningful work that focuses on human beings, rather than technology or the goods it creates, will “return [sic] people to the heart of the world and of life.” Because sometime we lose site of the people that are wrapped up in our global economy. Hey, we’re the only species on the planet that suffers from unemployment! When it comes to work informing community, I think it’s telling that the typically first question someone asks a new acquaintance is “what to you do for a living?” Perhaps a better question would be “why do you do what you do for a living?” and, follow-up question, “how does this work feed your soul?” In fact, perhaps reflect on those questions yourself and think about what your work means to your community.
GODFREY: Engaging in fulfilling work is what lends so much meaning to our lives. So much of that fulfillment depends on touching the lives of others, working in a team, learning from your co-workers. In short, work means engaging with our world its people and building our connection to it. Even though it’s one of the worst jobs you can imagine, did the plague collector touch her communities and make them better? Arguably, yes. The same goes for the community transforming power of a King (see tomorrow’s Get to Know Your Community for details) or the enlightenment provided to the world community by the academic. In short a job doesn’t have to be “good” or “enjoyable” to positively affect community change.
How do your respective jobs measure up?
JOHN: Well, I have at least two jobs. Both feed my soul in different ways. As Herder of Cats Editor-in-Chief for this online magazine, I get to write, read and work with brilliant people and Kurt to create an interesting, entertaining and collaborative narrative about community. Writing, more than anything else except for cheese and, I guess, my lovely wife Michelle, feeds my soul. Perhaps my favourite part of the Daily Gumboot is the instructive/prescriptive part of it, where Correspondents like Katie Burns teach people how to grow, harvest and can tomatoes. One of my favourite things in life is what the kids call “clashing of worlds” and I love how lucky I am to bring strangers together as they interpret the idea of “community” from myriad perspectives. As a Career Manager at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, I love the professional diversity of my work. The students are awesome. The work is as diverse as it is interesting as it is challenging and, to quote S||A (aka Stewart Burgess) I love the audiences for which I am lucky enough to teach as well as present edutaining material. Hardship only comes up when co-workers make fun of my clothing and don’t invite me to meetings. So, it’s pretty tough sometimes…
GODFREY: Having recently moved into a communications job which puts me into constant contact with the world around me means I am growing to steadily enjoy my work after several years of boredom where I worked mostly in isolation . A great team of co-workers helps. In the end, people make my days great. Writing for the web and developing communication strategies is a bonus. I have a new job on the horizon as a father – an opportunity I am excited to get started on as well.
And that, as they say, is that. Everyone, on behalf of Godfrey and myself I’d just like to say you’re welcome! As you find something to feed your soul in 2011 be sure to think about the positive way in which it will build community, too. And have fun with it!
- Godfrey and John