Jeremy Hiebert

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Reality Check

Via the Work Less Party comes this excellent newsletter: Reality Check: The Canadian Review of Wellbeing. The November '04 issue (1.6mb PDF) has four simple pages covering a bunch of issues around work: Troubling Trends Overwork, Underwork, Insecure Work, Canada’s blueprint for more jobs & more leisure, and Whatever happened to ‘the leisure society’?. All worth taking a look at.

The work-and-spend treadmill is very short, but it outlines one fascinating indicator of our collective values: "In 1943, the average Canadian house was 800 square feet. Today, the average house has more than doubled in size, to 1,800 square feet. Yet the decline in family size means that these large houses are occupied by fewer people than ever before." Apparently we consume almost twice as much stuff as average people did in the 1960s. Of course the implication is that we're having to work a lot more to maintain this new standard.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Work Less

Via Chris Corrigan comes news of the Work Less Party: "Work less, consume less, live more. By doing this we will have a better quality of life, and at the same time preserve something of our planet for future generations."

At last, a political party I can believe in, and in my own province! They've even got a blog, covering things like the 35-hour workweek in France with intelligence. Worth following...

43 Things

I'm loving 43 Things. It's a web site that lets you record what you'd like to do (goals, dreams, resolutions) and then connects the people who share those to-dos. So you could potentially help each other achieve something, or if you've already done something that someone else wants to do, you can give them advice on it.

They originally launced Twinkler as an earlier version of it, and it still shows the basic concept. The new one still requires an invite, but you can sign up to check it out (I can also invite you if you're interested). It's fascinating to see the kinds of things that people would like to do.

Buy Nothing

'Buy Nothing' campaign aims for different style of giving
I always found the Adbusters version of Buy Nothing Day interesting as a way to get people to reflect on what they buy and why, but I didn't realize there was a movement associated with my Mennonite roots.

Buying piles of stuff at Christmas seems to be one of those unassailable traditions. When I tell people that we do a very low-key version of the present exchange, it's almost as if I've told them that they I don't like puppies or teddy bears or happy children. But think of how much more we have to work to pay for all that stuff nobody needs, which means we're spending less time and money on the things we really value throughout the year.

Two and a Half Things

I met Doug in the lunch room at work last week and we had a fantastic conversation about parenting and values. He talked about how he learned that he could only ever do two-and-a-half things well at any given time, and he's written it up this week:
"When my kids were still young, I wanted to be a good father, a good husband, a good worker, a good rugby player, a good rugby coach, a good friend, a well-read person, a musical person, and a person who was physically fit. I tried to do ALL these things for a period of time. I did not feel fulfilled. I felt tired.

That's when I learned that you can only do 2 1/2 things well. So, I made some tough choices. I focused on being a good Dad, focused on excelling in my work, and any remaining time (whatever there was) was dedicated to continuously building my great relationship with my wife. My rugby playing/coaching went out the window. Our social life virtually disappeared. Reading, music and exercise - gone. But I loved and was energized by the vast majority of my days."
Of course he's generalizing, but I thought it really captured the essence of the tradeoffs we make with our time (and money). Every challenge I've felt as a new parent has been related to this truth -- you can't do it all.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Different Like You

I like Gwen's connection between Different Like You, a wonderful photographic collection about identity (related to this book by Hal Niedzviecki), and The Rebel Sell. Great food for thought that raises some questions about how we perceive ourselves in relation to those around us, and how we spend money to differentiate ourselves...Adbusters territory, for sure. A quote from Hello I'm Special:
"Individuality is now the new conformity. In contemporary society, it is now considered 'normal' to be 'an individual' above and beyond all other concerns. Though the traditional notion of conformity – earning a modest daily wage, regularly attending the religious institution predominant in your community, raising a family – still remains the model we seek to rebel against, strict adherence to traditional conformist structures is now the aberration, rather than the norm."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Entrepreneur's Paradox

I've had this sitting here for a while already, thinking I was going to turn it into a real post with some thoughtful additions, but I'll just let it stand on its own. Jory frames entrepreurial ventures as almost necessary risks in moving toward self-actualization and personal freedom...which I found inspiring.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Well Said

From some Adbusters coverage of The Play Ethic:
"It's about helping individuals and societies to step back from free market frenzy and create new more creative, independent, appropriate ways of living."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Legacy Matters

The Experience Designer made a great find, called Legacy Matters. Interesting tagline to the category of 'personal legacy archives': "Because your life counts and what you leave behind is the evidence of the life you lived. Why not tell it your way." I'm still not totally sure how this stuff ties into lifestylism, but the connection seems to be through reflection, the idea that a reflective life will be more balanced and meaningful. There's also something compelling about leaving a legacy -- it implies that you've made choices you're proud of and lived your life to its fullest.