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Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Photo: L’Artisan Café and Bakery
This Providence eatery, founded by immigrants, has created jobs in two Rhode Island cities. I especially love the tea at l’Artisan and the takeout food.

The idea that most immigrants take jobs away from other people in this country makes no sense to me. Some immigrants may take some jobs, but when you consider all the immigrant-founded companies, large and small, that create jobs for Americans, there is no comparison.

Here is an op-ed from an immigrant who, as an economist, has studied the issue in depth.

Dany Bahar writes at The Hill that calling the thousands of immigrants who, like him, have come here via the diversity visa lottery “the worst of the worst” shows a lack of understanding of the facts.

“I’ve been privileged enough to have accomplished many things since winning a green card, such as having completed doctoral studies at Harvard and joining a highly respected think tank. I did all of this while paying my fair share of taxes.

“My story is not unique, and, as a researcher on the economics benefits of migration, I can say that most other migrants actually are good people, work hard, pay taxes and often create jobs even at a higher rate than natives.

“Take David Tran, who in 1978 arrived in California as a refugee from Vietnam. Two years later, he founded Huy Fong, a company that produces and exports a highly popular version of Sriracha sauce.

“Huy Fong, named after the refugee vessel on which Tran came to the U.S., earns millions in sales year and employs hundreds. Tran’s tale is just one of many that illustrate how first- or second-generation migrants have shaped the U.S. economy. …

“For the most part, migrants (low- and high-skilled) compete with other incumbent migrants, not with natives. In fact, [one] study shows that, between 1990 and 2006, immigration had a small positive effect on the wages of American-born workers, as the presence of migrants encourage natives to specialize in better jobs. …

“Migrants are highly entrepreneurial and create jobs. While immigrants represent about 15 percent of the general U.S. workforce, they account for around a quarter of this country’s entrepreneurs and a quarter of inventors. …

“Immigration and diversity foster economic growth. More diverse countries perform better economically and migrants create business networks with their home countries that foster trade and investment. …

“Subsequent generations of migrants contribute considerably to the economy, thus offsetting the cost of absorbing first-time migrants. While the average fiscal burden of each immigrant is about $1,600, second- and third-generation migrants create a net positive fiscal contribution of $1,700 and $1,300, respectively.

“In addition, migrants and their families also eat, wear clothes, consume housing and all sorts of other goods and services, which contributes to economic growth.”

I know I’m biased. My daughter-in-law’s parents were immigrants from Egypt years ago, and my son-in-law is an immigrant who now holds citizenship in both the United States and his home country, Sweden. My husband and I feel lucky.

More at The Hill.

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Photo: Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Djennyfer Joseph, who is from Haiti, filled an order at the Shake Shack on Newbury Street.

One of the places I volunteer to help adults learn English is Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) in Boston. The students come from all over the world as JVS is a resettlement agency as well as a job-placement agency, but the majority that I have met are either Latino or Haitian.

Although my focus is on helping people learn English, I’ve come to appreciate the way JVS prepares students for the workplace. It actually finds the jobs for them and has many partnerships with companies that need entry-level workers whether or not they speak much English yet. As Boston’s labor market gets tighter, more businesses are seeking out these workers.

Katie Johnston at the Boston Globe provides a window on the phenomenon.

“The lunch rush was just beginning at Shake Shack on Newbury Street and the all-American tasks of grilling burgers and making milkshakes were being handled by a crew made up almost entirely of immigrants — from Haiti, Senegal, Morocco, El Salvador, and Ethiopia.

“But these weren’t just people who happened to apply for a job: All of them were actively recruited by the restaurant chain, including those who spoke little English — a marked difference from years past, when only workers with strong English skills made the cut.

“Like other employers struggling to fill jobs in a tight labor market, Shake Shack has started seeking out candidates it might not have considered before. Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is opening the door to those with criminal backgrounds, in partnership with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. CVS is bumping up its efforts to attract workers with disabilities, while other employers are lowering experience and education requirements. …

“As Northeastern University economist Alicia Sasser Modestino puts it: ‘We have gone through all the easy-to-employ people, and we’re down to the hard-to-employ people.’

“And, as it turns out, some of these ‘hard-to-employ’ people make excellent workers.

“Djennyfer Joseph, 22, was enrolled in an English class for just three weeks at Jewish Vocational Service when her case manager called to tell her she had an interview at Shake Shack. ‘I was like, what, already?’ said Joseph, who came to the United States from Haiti in 2016. ‘It was so fast.’

“Joseph, who studied English in Haiti and also speaks French and Haitian Creole, has been at the Newbury Street restaurant for less than a year and is working toward becoming a cross-trainer, a kind of jack-of-all-trades role that comes with a bump in pay from $12 to $14 an hour. Joseph also recently became a certified nursing assistant, a profession in high demand, but plans to keep working at Shake Shack even after she finds a job in health care.

“Shake Shack managers say [the] roughly two dozen immigrants — many of them refugees — that the restaurant has hired through Jewish Vocational Service over the past year are more than making up for the decrease in the number and quality of college students and American-born adults applying for jobs there. …

“Of course, hiring these nontraditional workers can present challenges for employers, who might have to make adjustments for someone who is blind or has a limited grasp of English.

“At Shake Shack, non-native English speakers are taught specific restaurant phrases, such as ’86’ (get rid of) or ‘drop a wave’ (cook eight burgers at once). Many of them speak French, and translations are posted in the walk-in cooler and kitchen: ‘Changez vos gants means change your gloves’ and ‘Bon travail means good job.’ ”

More at the Boston Globe, here. The article also covers “Triangle in Malden, which trains and supports people with disabilities and [is seeing an uptick in] requests for workers, largely from health care and retail companies.” And you can read about how the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department helps employers place promising ex-offenders.

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Photo: Homeboy Industries
The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

I recently heard Terry Gross interview this amazing priest, founder of the world’s largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program, on her radio show Fresh Air. This is a man who lives his religion, ministering to the outcasts of society.

“GROSS: My guest, Father Greg Boyle, has worked with former gang members in LA for over 30 years. He’s the founder of Homeboy Industries, which was created to help former gang members and people transitioning out of prison create stable lives and stay out of gangs. Instead of Father Greg trying to convince business owners to hire young people who are at risk, he created jobs for them through Homeboy Industries.

“Homeboy is a series of businesses including a restaurant, a bakery, cafe, farmers markets created with the purpose of hiring these young people so they can have on-the-job training. The employers come from rival gangs so they have to put aside their distrust and hatred of each other. Homeboy also provides other job training and social service programs. …

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Father Greg spent a lot of time on the streets. He’s witnessed shootings, he’s buried over 200 young people and he’s kept on with the work in spite of being diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia about 15 years ago. He started working with gangs in 1986 when he became the pastor of the Dolores Mission Church in East LA, which was then the city’s poorest Catholic parish. He’s just written his second book, called, Barking To The Choir: The Power Of Radical Kinship.

“Father Greg Boyle … you say that employment isn’t necessarily going to totally change someone’s life. They might end up back in prison. But if somebody’s healed, that will change their life possibly forever. What’s the distinction you make between [the employment] opportunity that you’re giving them and healing?

“BOYLE: Thirty years ago when we started Homeboy Industries, you know, the motto was nothing stops a bullet like a job, and that was a response to gang members saying if only we had work. And that was essential, but then when we discovered that, you know, we would dispatch gang members to jobs. But the minute any kind of monkey wrench was tossed into the mix, they would unravel, you know, that there was no resilience.

“There was no healing. And they would go right back to gang life or go back to prison. So it was then that we kind of, probably 15 years ago, we said, you know, healing is probably more necessary along with the fact that people need to have a reason to get up in the morning and a place to go and a reason not to gang bang. …

“So we altered our [stance] from just finding a job for every gang member or employing them with us but also trying to have them come to terms with whatever suffering they’ve been through and trauma. …

“GROSS: You talk about people whose parent would put their head in the toilet and flush the toilet and nearly drown them. … So when people have been brought up like this, and they’re also poor and they have no real future prospects, how do you heal them? …

“BOYLE: Well, part of what we have at Homeboy is this irresistible culture of tenderness, you know, where people kind of hold each other. …

“We don’t get tripped up so much by behavior. Even gang violence itself is a language. … What language is it speaking? You know, it’s not about the flying of bullets. It’s about a lethal absence of hope. So let’s address the despair. And the same thing is with behavior.

“I mean, we bring it up, and at some point we say, we think you’re telling us that you’re not ready to be here. We love you. We think you’re great. Come back when you’re ready. So that’s the thing we do often enough. And we drug test because we don’t want anyone to numb their pain as they do the work. …

“They’re not going to be able to transform their pain if they’re inebriated or if they’re constantly smoking marijuana. … They’re used to self-medicating. They’re used to escape. They want to find that place where they can’t see their pain from. And the antidote, really, is to hold them in a place where they feel cherished, and that’s really compelling.”

There’s so much food for thought in this long interview. Read it at NPR, here.

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Photo: Melissa Lyttle for The New York Times
Noreen McClendon, executive director of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, works to create affordable housing and job opportunities. A byproduct: crime reduction.

When people focus on getting “tough on crime,” crime can get worse. Emily Badger writes at the New York Times about research suggesting that people in communities where crime has gone way down since the 1990s “were working hard, with little credit, to address the problem themselves.

“Local nonprofit groups that responded to the violence by cleaning streets, building playgrounds, mentoring children and employing young men had a real effect on the crime rate. That’s what Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, argues in a new study and a forthcoming book. Mr. Sharkey doesn’t contend that community groups alone drove the national decline in crime, but rather that their impact is a major missing piece. …

“Between the early 1990s and 2015, the homicide rate in America fell by half. Rates of robbery, assault and theft tumbled in tandem. In New York, Washington and San Diego, murders dropped by more than 75 percent. Although violence has increased over the last two years in some cities, including Chicago and Baltimore, even those places remain safer than they were 25 years ago. …

“This long-term trend has fundamentally altered city life. It has transformed fear-inducing parks and subways into vibrant public spaces. It has lured wealthier whites back into cities. It has raised the life expectancies of black men. …

“The same communities were participating in another big shift that started in the 1990s: The number of nonprofits began to rise sharply across the country, particularly those addressing neighborhood and youth development. …

“Nonprofits were more likely to form in the communities with the gravest problems. But they also sprang up for reasons that had little to do with local crime trends, such as an expansion in philanthropic funding. …

“Comparing the growth of other kinds of nonprofits, the researchers believe they were able to identify the causal effect of these community groups. …

“The research also affirms some of the tenets of community policing: that neighborhoods are vital to policing themselves, and that they can address the complex roots of violence in ways that fall beyond traditional police work. …

“Many similar groups did not explicitly think of what they were doing as violence prevention. But in creating playgrounds, they enabled parents to better monitor their children. In connecting neighbors, they improved the capacity of residents to control their streets. In forming after-school programs, they offered alternatives to crime.

“In the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, the crime rate in the mid 1990s was 18 times the national average. …

“ ‘We knew we wanted to see violence and crime go down in the community,’ said Carol Naughton, who led the foundation for years and today is the president of a national group, Purpose Built Communities, that is trying to teach East Lake’s model in other cities. ‘But we’ve never had a crime-prevention program.’

“Today violent crime in East Lake is down 90 percent from 1995.”

One and one and 50 make a million. As solutions to the world’s problems fail to come top-down, ordinary folks are leading the way. More here.

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Photo: Rupa Shenoy
Mayor Betty Roppe oversaw Prineville’s transformation after data centers injected new life. “We can keep the small-town feel. I’m sure of it,” Roppe says. “We don’t want to be a big city.”

I’m not always a fan of today’s tech giants, but I have to admit that when they provide jobs where there were no jobs, they are saviors.

This story tells how a dying town proved it was worthy of a tech company’s investment. Rupa Shenoy at Public Radio International reports this episode of PRI’s “50 States: America’s place in a shrinking world.”

“Everything people post on Facebook actually lives somewhere in real life — like a small town in central Oregon that was once decimated by the loss of manufacturing industries. …

“Steve Forrester’s grandparents got here in 1902. When he was growing up in the 1970s, Prineville was idyllic.

“ ‘It was a magical, magical place to grow up,’ he remembers. … ‘And everybody had a job, and everyone did well.’ …

“But when the federal government restricted logging and increased protections for animals … the city’s milling industry was decimated … Forrester took a job with one of the few remaining mills, because he wanted to live in Prineville.

“Eric Klann was driven by the same devotion. He’s the seventh generation of his family to live here. Out of college, he also took a job in Prineville that he knew wouldn’t last. …

“A few years later, the nationwide housing bubble burst and demand declined for housing parts made by the last mills. Lots of people lost jobs and left. It felt like Prineville couldn’t catch a break.

“Both Forrester and Klann felt lucky to land jobs at the city — Forrester as city manager, Klann as city engineer. Their chance to save Prineville came in 2009, arriving in the form of a mysterious email from a company called Vitesse.

“ ‘For the longest time, we had no idea what Vitesse meant,’ he says. …

“Vitesse wanted to build a big warehouse and fill it with rows and rows of servers — servers that tend to get hot. Central Oregon’s cold nights could cool them naturally. Klann remembers the first in-person meeting with Vitesse, and how it felt like Prineville’s last chance. …

“Klann and Forrester decided to outperform the other cities Vitesse was considering. They showed the company their small town could move at big-city speed, by responding to Vitesse’s questions day and night. …

“Their strategy worked, and in 2010, Prineville finally learned who Vitesse actually is. Mayor Betty Roppe was at the new data center’s groundbreaking.

“ ‘They had the big finger with a thumb-up Facebook sign, and we all pressed the button and it lit up, et cetera,’ she recounts. ‘That was the big announcement — it was Facebook.’ ”

More at PRI, here.

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Pretty much every job I’ve had since the early 1990s came with a free mug. One day I decided to line up my job mugs and take a picture.

The one on the far left is from a Yankee Swap at either Harte-Hanks or Charlesbridge. I can’t remember which. The second is a stand-in for Harvard Business Review. I broke my HBR mug and didn’t love the job enough to replace the free one with a paid one.

The next two are from jobs I had in Minnesota. My husband was running a company in Maple Grove, so I moved to Minneapolis for a few years.

The two mugs after Minnesota represent 15 years of my life and two small pensions. My final paid job (the cute mug with attached spoon) lasted eight months before I decided all I wanted to do now was volunteer in ESL classes for immigrants.

If you have photos of your own job mugs, I’d love to share them.

I’m laughing at myself here.

101117-my-life-in-mugs

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Photo: DW/Bern Jutrczenka
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has welcomed people fleeing war.

Here’s another approach to finding jobs for migrants. This one involves a website started in Germany, where the nationwide employment rate is high.

Jona Kallgren writes at the Boston Globe, “A startup company in Berlin is trying to help integrate last year’s flood of migrants into the German workforce with a tailor-made online job market for new arrivals.

“The website Migrant Hire, was founded earlier this year by a mix of Germans and migrants, and operates with a staff of five volunteers out of a shared working space in a former industrial building in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district.

“More than 8,000 migrants have registered on the website — a fraction of the 890,000 asylum-seekers who arrived in Germany last year but a good sign that some are serious about finding employment.

“The website helps migrants create resumes that match German standards, then connects the applicants to companies. It’s free for the migrants and relies on donors and volunteers.

“MigrantHire cofounder Hussein Shaker has channeled his own experience trying to find work as a migrant into helping others. Back in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he studied information technology, but when he came to Germany he couldn’t find any work in the IT sector. Instead he ended up working in a call center while learning German.

“When he was approached with the idea of MigrantHire by Remi Mekki, a Norwegian entrepreneur living in Berlin, he immediately quit his job and threw himself into the project.

“On a normal workday he and others help migrants write resumes, answer questions about German employment law and help migrants apply for jobs that companies have posted on the website.” More here.

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Photo: STR/Reuters /Landov
Prisoners at Halden in Norway have private rooms, which all have a fridge, desk and flat-screen TV. Inmates who don’t follow the rules and attend classes and counseling are sent to conventional prisons. NPR story here.

A perhaps surprising finding: In Norway, spending time in prison, where there are intensive job-training opportunities, results in 27 percent less recidivism than being sentenced to something lighter, like community service or probation.

As reported last summer in Science Newsline, “The research project ‘The Social Costs of Incarceration’ is the largest study of imprisonment and return to a normal life that has ever been conducted in Europe.

“In the study, researchers looked at prison sentences linked to recidivism. In addition, the researchers looked at the extent to which former inmates have returned to work. What makes the project unique is linking large administrative data sets to data sets from the courts.

“They have done this to measure the effect of what happens when the criminals have received different penalties for the same offense because they randomly met different judges in court with different leniency towards incarcerating. In other words: if a judge incarcerates differently for the same offense, what will be the consequences for the offender in the long term?

” ‘The results show that the Norwegian prison model with extensive use of labour training while serving time, gives surprisingly good results,’ says Professor Katrine Løken at the Department of Economics, University of Bergen (UiB), who led the research project.

“The study shows: Five years after conviction, there is a 27 per cent lower risk that convicts who have been in prison have committed new crimes, compared to those who were given more lenient penalties, like probation and community service. For the 60 per cent of inmates who had not been employed for the last five years preceding the conviction, the decline in criminal activity is even bigger. … The study is published as a Working Paper in Economics at the University of Bergen.”

Løken doesn’t necessarily think the answer is sending more people to prison; providing more job training outside of prison might be.

” ‘A relevant question is whether we should aim for full package of job-training outside prison. But research shows that work training outside of prison is more difficult to enforce. It appears that a certain element of coercion is needed to get offenders on a new track.’

“Katrine Løken stresses that the research does not take a stand on the principle of imprisonment, but simply says something about how prison is perceived for the individual, and shows the effects of different sentencing.”

Many studies show that incarceration in the United States leads to more crime, not less. Different kinds of prisons, for sure.

More here.

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Photo: David Wells

A wonderful organization, the Providence Granola Project, has just received some well-deserved attention in the food magazine Edible Rhody. In fact the magazine has prepared a short video that says it all, here.

Nancy Kirsch writes, “Established in 2008, Providence Granola, now part of Beautiful Day (a nonprofit organization founded in 2012), has a three-fold mission, says Providence Granola co-founder Keith Cooper: Provide job training for immigrants in Rhode Island who are unlikely to otherwise find gainful employment, and educate community members about refugees and refugee resettlement, all by making and selling delicious artisanal granola.

“Cooper and his lean professional staff, including Anne Dombrofski, director of strategic partnerships, work out of the Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a co-working space in Davol Square in Providence. …

“Hand labor is done by a small team at Amos House, a soup kitchen and comprehensive social service agency in Providence. …

“The trainees are immigrants—often, but not always, refugees—who have come recently to the United States. They attend classes at the Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (Dorcas) and, through its assessment process, have been identified as less likely to find employment within the next year, given their lack of first-language literacy and absence of English skills.

“ ‘If we can speed up someone’s entry into the job market from a year or more to between three and six months … there’s a huge benefit,’ says Cooper.”

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I like this story about a couple of idealistic young men who have created fair-wage, environmentally sustainable textile jobs in the United States with the help of customers’ T-shirt collections. Their company, Project Repat, is “repatriating” some textile jobs lost overseas years ago.

From the website: “Project Repat story starts in Nairobi, Kenya, where Project Repat co-founder Ross Lohr was doing non-profit education work. After sitting in traffic for 2 hours, he discovered the cause of the jam: an overturned fruit and vegetable rickshaw pushed by a Kenyan man wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I Danced My Ass Off at Josh’s Bar Mitzvah.’

“Amazed by all the incredible t-shirts that get sold off and sent overseas by non-profit and for-profit companies in America, [Nathan Rothstein and I] began working with Kenyan artisans to design new products out of castaway t-shirts, including bags, scarves, and re-fabricated t-shirts. Those products were ‘repatriated’ (or returned to the country of origin) back to the United States and sold to raise money for non-profits working in East Africa.

“When trying to sell our upcycled products at markets in Boston, we quickly discovered the difference between a ‘good idea’ and a real business: while potential customers liked the idea of a repatriated upcycled t-shirt bag, they didn’t like it enough to actually buy it. What customers did ask for, time and time again, was an affordable t-shirt quilt.

“We had heard enough: instead of shipping goods all around the country, why not create fair wage jobs in the United States and create a product that has a lot of meaning for customers? As they say, the rest is history. Rather than ‘repatriating’ t-shirts back to the United States, Project Repat creates a high quality, affordable t-shirt quilt with minimal carbon impact.”

The factories are located in cities once-renowned for textiles: Fall River, Massachusetts (where “Precision Sportswear has been able to succeed by specializing in custom work and smaller production runs for made-in-USA. companies”), and Morgantown, North Carolina (where “each worker at Opportunity Threads is part of a collaborative working model, [and] each employee adds input to the production process and has the opportunity to earn an ownership stake in the company”).

I was not able to find on the website what happened to the artisans in Africa when the company’s focus changed. Ping @lunastellablog1 if you know.

On this Repat page, you tell the company what size quilt to make with your T-shirts, what size panels, and what color PolarTec backing you want.

Photo: Project Repat

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After work yesterday, I went with a colleague to observe a parent-engagement program organized by Lawrence Community Works (LCW) at the Oliver Partnership School, in Lawrence, Mass. I had long been interested in LCW’s use of circles to build a sense of community among strangers of very different backgrounds.

Lawrence is what is sometimes called a Gateway City, meaning it’s always been a gateway to the U.S. culture and experience for new waves of immigrants. It currently has a large Spanish-speaking Dominican population and foreign-born and native-born residents from all over.

The parent night was the third in a series. In the first two, facilitators had helped the participants to come up with agreed-upon ground rules (come on time, no cellphones, respectful attention to one another) and to choose an “obstacle” that they would like to address related to their children’s life at the school. They had selected recess, which is only 10 minutes. (Lunch is 15 minutes.)

Everything was conducted in both Spanish and English.

As the evening was getting going, Tony told me his children love school. He believes a good education is vital. He wishes he had more. He did learn Spanish and English in addition to his native Portuguese. The languages help him in his job working with troubled youth, a job he loves to go to every day.

In a warm-up exercise, we stood in a circle and stated our name, followed by our favorite fruit and the name and favorite fruit of everyone who spoke previously. It was fun and a great equalizing experience as anyone can be good at that and anyone can struggle with it. The people who went last had about 20 names and fruits to report and did really well despite language differences.

To discuss the recess issue, we separated into two groups — those who felt comfortable speaking English (which included the two teachers in attendance) and those who felt comfortable speaking Spanish. At the end we came together with the results of our investigation of three questions: why having a longer recess is important, why it might have been set up that way, and what parents themselves could do about it. (Asking the administration’s help was to wait for a joint meeting in June.)

I won’t make this post much longer, but I do want to say that I thought the way this was handled was very good. Parents appeared to feel that their opinions were welcome and that they could accomplish something. Continued engagement with them will be important as the work is a piece of a much bigger project by LCW that aims to help parents get skills for jobs. Unemployment is a serious issue in a city where many of the people are poor, have not had good educational opportunities, and are still learning English.

Photo: Family literacy night at the Oliver Partnership School in Lawrence, Mass.

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Maria Popova at Brain Pickings has wide-ranging interests, and one of her special strengths is finding charming children’s books. In a recent post, she wrote about an alphabet book you can get at the library.

“I was instantly taken with Work: An Occupational ABC (public library) by Toronto-based illustrator and designer Kellen Hatanaka — a compendium of imaginative, uncommon, stereotype-defying answers to the essential what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up question.

“With a sensibility between mid-century children’s books and Blexbolex [a French graphic artist described here], Hatanaka weaves bold graphics and soft shades into a tapestry of tender vignettes about people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. There is the K-9 officer (female) training her trusty dog on an obstacle course; the Butcher (heavy-set) chasing after a mischievous raccoon that got away with the sausage; the Naval Architect (female) oversees the construction of a large ship near the shore as the Oceanographer (female, dark-skinned) explores the marine world below the surface.”

Canadian independent children’s-book publisher Groundwood Books is to be commended for this little treasure. You can see most of the pictures in Popova’s blog post, here. They are completely delightful.

Art: Kellen Hatanaka
Vibraphonist from Work: An Occupational ABC

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I’ve heard of nonprofits like Dress for Success that provide women with business clothes for their job search. At work, we’ve had donation drives for Dress for Success.

Recently, I read that there are similar organizations for men. NY Times reporter Rachel Swarns interviewed several men who have benefited from such organizations.

Joseph Campbell, writes Swarns, “didn’t have a suit hanging in the homeless shelter where he lives. So he arrived at a job placement agency last week in a black T-shirt, green canvas shorts and Nike boots. He had a job interview scheduled for 3:30 p.m. — his first in months — and he was itching to get going.

“But the case managers at the agency told him he had one last appointment before he headed out, for something unexpected: a fitting, and a second chance. …

“When the job counselors directed him to the Suited for Work office last week, he felt as if he had stumbled into a new world. Brand-new suit jackets from designers like Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis and Michael Kors hung from the racks. A kaleidoscope of ties beckoned. Dress shirts sat neatly stacked on the shelves, their pearly buttons calling for nimble fingers.

“Mr. Campbell had landed at one of the few nonprofits that provide jobless men with free suits and business attire. …

“With his job interview less than two hours away, the Suited for Work helpers scrambled to hem his trousers with safety pins and to replace his Nikes with a pair of wingtips.

“And then he was out the door, on the subway and arriving at his job interview right on time. The company manager, who interviewed him, offered him a part-time position on the spot, for $8 an hour.

“The two men shook hands on it and Mr. Campbell said goodbye.

“ ‘Nice suit,’ the manager said.”

More here.

Photo: Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times
Joseph Campbell, 32, deciding on a tie as he prepared for a job interview.

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Never underestimate the ingenuity of a 20-something in a bad job market. Kids have no choice but to keep inventing things. With three entrepreneurs in the family, far be it from me to say that this inventing business has gone too far. But spray-can cupcakes?

Billy Baker has the story at the Boston Globe.

“It all started a little over a year ago, when John McCallum, one of the Harvard students, was sitting in the lab at his Science & Cooking class, trying to come up with ideas for his group’s final project. As he puts it, they were spitballing a bunch of possibilities that all followed the same theme: ‘ways to eat more cake.’

“[Joanne] Chang had appeared before the class earlier that semester and talked about the chemistry behind what makes cakes rise. As McCallum stared off into the distance, thinking about cake, he happened to notice someone spraying whipped cream from a can.

“That’s when the 20-year-old from Louisiana had his eureka moment: cake from a can.

“McCallum wondered if he could borrow the technology from the whipped cream can and create a similar delivery mechanism for cake batter, in which an accelerant releases air bubbles inside the batter, allowing the cake to rise without the need for baking soda and baking powder.

“To his surprise, it worked.” More here.

Maybe baking one cupcake at a time isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Photo: Essdras M. Suarez/Globe staff
Chef Joanne Chang of Flour bakeries fame tested the creation of Harvard students John McCallum and Brooke Nowakowski, and the verdict was a thumbs up.

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There is a constant drumbeat in the news these days about the cost of college. Of course, it’s not really news. Families have struggled to pay for generations, and there have always been students who worked their way through (Suzanne’s dad, for one). And there have always been a few institutions seeking ways to help them.

Lisa Rathke writes in the Boston Globe about today’s “work colleges,” which believe that working your way through has many advantages, especially if all students are in the same boat.

She writes, “After college, many students spend years working off tens of thousands of dollars in school debt. But at seven ‘Work Colleges’ around the country, students are required to work on campus as part of their studies — doing everything from landscaping and growing and cooking food to public relations and feeding farm animals — to pay off at least some of their tuition before they graduate.

“The arrangement not only makes college more affordable for students who otherwise might not be able to go to school, it also gives them real-life experience while teaching them responsibility and how to work together, officials said. …

“With rising college costs and a national student loan debt reaching more than $1 trillion, ‘earning while learning’ is becoming more appealing for some students. But the work-college program differs from the federal work-study program, which is an optional voluntary program that offers funds for part-time jobs for needy students.

“At the seven Work Colleges — Sterling College, Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky., Berea College in Berea, Ky., Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., College of the Ozarks in Lookout, Mo., Ecclesia College in Springdale, Ariz., and Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. — work is required and relied upon for the daily operation of the institution, no matter what the student’s background.” Read more.

Photo: Sterling College via Associated Press
At the seven Work Colleges, it’s not optional: Students must hold jobs during their undergraduate careers and pay off some of their tuition before they graduate.

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