I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do with LivingSmall. While the practical posts on cooking, gardening and chickens will, by no means be going away, the focus will be shifting a little bit.
There’s been a lot of discussion chez LivingSmall about the recession/depression, and how it’s not going away. Every morning, the newspapers are full of stories about “recovery” and no one seems to be discussing the fact that we can’t go back, we can’t have a recovery that is predicated on the same boom-and-bust cycles fueled by easy credit and that aren’t backed by anything real, in particular, by jobs that pay a living wage. It’s not just manufacturing jobs that are disappearing anymore. At Cisco, all of us in tech writing were watching our jobs go to India, or Ireland, or Israel, or anyplace else where people had decent English skills and lower wages (and usually government health care).
I’m also interested in the national conversation about what exactly constitutes work. I’ve wanted to freelance for ages, so I’m pretty excited about not having a “job” anymore. However, I find the national discussion about what constitutes work, and what constitutes a job very disturbing. You would think if we’re trying to reboot our economy, we’d want to create an environment that’s hospitible to small businesses and entrepreneurs, but in fact, we’ve done just the opposite. With the Democrats caving on health care reform, and leaving all of us who are self-employed or working for small businesses hung out to dry, we’re all at greater risk of medical bankruptcy. We can’t buy into unemployment insurance even if we wanted to, and without “employers” we pay 15% Social Security tax instead of the 7.5% one pays when working for an “employer.” All of which was enough to keep me out of the freelancer pool until I was forcibly thrown into it.
And so now what? The big corporations are steadily throwing more and more American workers overboard, credit is tightening, and no one is addressing the reality of what a real recovery might look like. There’s a big opportunity here. We could actually start to rebuild along more sustainable lines. And what intrigues me, and what we’re going to be exploring here some at LivingSmall is — what might that sustainable recovery look like? Is there a real chance for us to think about our lives and livelihoods in a more creative way? Can we create a discussion about changing our lifestyles that posits a world in which less stuff leads to more freedom for us all? Readers? What’s your experience been? How has the recession inspired you to make changes you’d maybe resisted, but that you’re finding fulfilling?