This is a listing of various things on the topic of Honest Living that might (or might not) be useful to you. It seems that the main areas I’ve found where folks are talking about this stuff and trying to find solutions is around environmentalism/sustainability, folks who do life coaching, and folks coming from a religious/spiritual perspective, especially Buddhism and “right livelihood.” I would love to find more different kinds of perspectives, so let me know if you know of other items. If you have anything to add or want to write a longer review of any of them (or of something else you’ve come across) e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Processes for Figuring It Out
The Passions and Survival Blog by Matt Dineen is very similar to what I’m doing here. Lots of good stuff on Matt’s struggles trying to make an honest living. He says: “This is about the struggle of doing what you love to do while trying to get by. Beyond this dilemma is the challenge of creating a society in which everyone is free to pursue their passions. Even under the vast constraints of capitalism there are people making this vision a reality. This is inspiration for a new world.”
“Work Makes Life Sweet” is a chapter from bell hooks’ book Sisters of the Yam. In it she intertwines discussion of her own experience, that of black women she interviewed, how racism and sexism impact black women’s work lives, and advocates for an approach of “Right Livelihood” when thinking about work, even in the face of obstacles. See more of what I wrote about it.
Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer
is a series of essays by activist and educator Parker Palmer. He says that we all have a natural, true self inside us that we need to return to to get at our vocation. Something about the idea of a “natural” self creeps me out a bit — but I really appreciated his style of storytelling to get at larger questions. You can read an excerpt here.
Yes! Magazine has an issue called “Working for Life” about issues of vocation. It includes an interview with Danny Glover, and articles on people who started a restaurant, started a non-profit, and many other things. Doesn’t talk much about folks engaged in collective change work, movement building or organizing. They also have a listing of resources on their website.
Making a Living While Making a Difference by Melissa Everett
mostly focuses on environmentalism and self-employment. The part about creating a vibrant support system seemed the most helpful to me. Since my activist focus is not not he kinds of green development projects she mostly focuses on and since I may not be focusing on self-employment, it wasn’t as helpful to me, but it may be to you. An earlier edition is also available at google books.
Naked Idealism is a website and book by Dave Wheitner
It also mostly focuses on issues of environmentalism and sustainability and uses a somewhat clunky metaphor about getting naked in a rain barrel (!!!) throughout. The parts about challenging our own perfectionism, establishing vision, and building relationships and community seemed the most useful to me.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is about creativity and art making (of many types), from a spiritual perspective. It’s not specifically about social justice, but a lot of people I admire have found it useful. There’s also a website.
Other Related Resources
Enough is a website/blog project by Tyrone Boucher and Dean Spade. From their website: “about the personal politics of resisting capitalism. Its a space for conversations about how a commitment to wealth redistribution plays out in our lives: how we decide what to have, what to keep, what to give away; how we work together to build sustainable grassroots movements; how we challenge capitalism in daily, revolutionary ways.”
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex Edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence lays out a lot of issues and critiques with the non-profit mode of social change activism. The authors discuss how so much social change work currently take place inside non-profits — government regulated, professionalized organizations. Ultimately they aren’t simply saying “do away with foundations and non-profits” but they are asking that we be thoughtful and intentional about how we think about non-profits. Check out a review of the book here, and a bit more I wrote about it on this blog.
On Non-Profit and Organizing Jobs
Idealist.org is a website with information about non-profit jobs all around the world.