GNL number 98

a report on doings at meeting #98, Sunday, September 13, 2015

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

It often happens that when a fellow gets a job, he stops looking for work. —–Standard Democrat (Missouri newspaper, 1940s)

Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow. —–Don Herold

I like to call in sick at places I’ve never held a job. Then when the manager tells me I don’t work there, I tell them I’d like to. But not today, as I’m sick. —–Jarod Kintz: This Book is Not For Sale


THEME

First, a word about our topic, JOBS We’ve Had: By all accounts this trip back into forgotten history was a very fruitful one that made us so more appreciative of each other’s, and our own, fuller story.

Nancy opened the conversation by recalling the jobs paid and unpaid, of her youth— babysitting, waitressing, but more formatively, the editing of her college news weekly (many other newsletters would follow in 50+ years). And then, married with six kids, doing some tutoring, childcare, and subbing, but also in the late 60’s, a wonderful, more important experience, (on her brother’s dare) starting the EarthAlive recycling and environmental action program. Then, with the kids in school came a series of paid jobs—a year at Planned Parenthood, then the 11+ years at Catholic Charities’ CMS Adolescent Pregnancy program as family life educator, incredibly variegated, stimulating work with a wide range of people—kids, parents, teachers, support groups. After that, a year at Liberty Partnership’s teen program, and then 12+ years at HeadStart as educator, another rich learning experience with the little guys and their families. The memory trip gave her revelations, for which see AFTERWORDS.

Cynthia said she and Ron had married and started their family young; but after the kids were in school, she worked at the sportswear factory in town for a time (hard on the body but fun talking with the other women).Then she went back to school, studied nutrition, and worked under her dear mentor Mickey. Later her interest in the Natural Food Coop in East Cobleskill led to her managing that, and when it moved into town and wasn’t able to sustain itself, she and Gail became owner-managers of the now famous and much missed Natural Foods and More Store, work she deeply loved. Now retired for several years, her work is her art, some of which is currently on display at the Hive in Schoharie. She said another kind of work, painful but good, she’d done several years ago, was caring for her mother in her last months.

Sue first spoke of really appreciating how the topic made us do that long,stock-taking look that recalled steps we’d forgotten but that counted. Then she told us about her own work life, which like most of us, had begun with short-term or part-time jobs, e.g..,in her dad’s lab. After coming to Cobleskill, she worked with the local librarian Tim, who asked her to pick children’s books and do story circles with kids. In the meantime, she and some friends became wonderful storytellers for adults too, good work they have done for years and still do. Sue also recalled much other voluntary work she’s done that has been very satisfying—like the stories program with veterans, the ACCORD program against bigotry, and efforts for peace and justice, as toward the closing of Guantanamo. And she, as always, gave us more good quotes (for which see AW.)

It had been a long time since we’d had Gail’s mom, Ginny, with us, so it was great to see her again, and of course she had much great history to tell. In fact, she regaled us with stories of her wild youth, when she boldly and creatively faked her age at 14 for16, then at 15 for18, to get work at department stores and a bar (the smokes and bravado helped), even living on her own for part of that time. Then meeting her husband while both were finishing high school, and having two babies by the time she was 21. And later, after the three children were grown, still the strong, independent woman, how she went back to get her nurses’ training, and very much liked the work she did after that for years in hospital emergency rooms and cancer units.

Gail said right off the top that in her mind she’d divided the jobs she’d had into those she liked and those she didn’t. She preferred the outdoor/plant-related jobs, like the apple orchard and grading the apples, the Agway store, and of course her farm/gardening life; and said she wasn’t so happy doing the desk/record-keeping types of jobs. And she said growing up with her mom’s example of daring to do challenging things had no doubt helped her learn to take risks too, like doing that wonderful crazy team-up with Cynthia all those years ago, to start the Natural Foods and More store that became such a community center. She spoke of thinking of it not as a “job”, but as a great adventure, one that she clearly loved. (And though now retired from the store life, we notice she’s still doing “adventures”.)

Ann was another who felt amazed at all the forgotten jobs and volunteer work this topic recalled. One of the first things she remembered was back in Connecticut where she grew up, taking part in the Museum Youth Staff Program, a very valuable experience where the kids learned to run everything and how things work in a big system. And she remembered warmly too her work at the book bindery/printers, where one also could see how a whole process, book-making, happened. She said she and Ell met while quite young out west and came back east to forestry work she took part in too, driving a big truck. Later she got her bus driver license and did that cool-and-patience-needing job for school kids 26 years. She’s also all these years enjoyed much voluntary work, like LVA tutoring, EMT work, and civic service on boards for the village and organizations (and then there’s Peacemakers too).

We agreed now is a good time to send our offering to the Schoharie County HeadStart program.


BENEDICTION

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. —–Aristotle

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. —–Mary Oliver


NEXT TIME

Sunday, October 11, 2015 (1030), at Nancy’s, Parkway Drive, Cobleskill. The topic is CULTURE (e.g..,how affects us, for good or bad/what would you change about ours?)


AFTERWORDS

from Nancy

This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you’re doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. —-Alan Watts

and a footnote to her comment:

Doing this remembering, also timed as it was soon after talks with my daughter Julie about her interest in the FLE type work, took me not only into forgotten history, but new conclusions. I found I was very glad for all of it, especially the two long-term jobs, for all I learned from the kids, parents, all sorts of people, life in the two beautiful counties, and ultimately, getting to better know myself. Had always at some level known I was kind of an outlier, who couldn’t think of herself as a “teacher”—but maybe a partner to learning? That’s something that was reinforced for me with such cooperative education experiences as in the Catholic Charities FLE program, especially the Teen Group and its Slice of Life Theatre roleplays (and the way their associate group Teens and Parents Together started a suicide prevention Helpline in that county.) And later, was also reinforced by experience with HS’s little kids, who of course were powerfully curious play-learners, and even able to “get” advanced social skills like empathy (role plays and puppets help there too); that was something I was so happy to also be able to bring to the SUNY Conflict Resolution class for years, visits called Teaching Peace in Pre-K. Am glad for all of that. And finally too, knowing it was good to have trusted the outlier feelings, glad I ended up doing things I really wasn’t confident of doing, was even afraid to do, but believed in. Made me re-find creativity, a bit of courage, that little seed of Yes. We can still reach back for that, can’t we?

from Sue

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. —-Confucius

Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. —-Adam Smith

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results. —-Albert Einstein

People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up. —-Ogden Nash

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. —-James Matthew Barrie

I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. —-Toni Morrison

Links:

  1. Here’s the site for The Southland Education and Health Initiative that my cousins Audrey Soglin Kihm, and Dr. David Soglin are working on together–with a video interview of them.

  2. Here’s a short bio for Jesus Gerena the community worker in Boston I mentioned, and here’s the link to a short youtube talk he gave in 2011 about the neighborhood community programs he helped organize in Boston.

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