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Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Photo: PD Rearick.
Sarah Rose Sharp’s “Avolare A Alveare (Fly Away from the Hive),” 2016, wool, salvage quilt fragment, found embroidery, printed cotton, iron-on letters, silk, hem binding.

You and your friends have probably already speculated about how many lockdown adaptations will survive the pandemic. Working from home, FaceTime and Zoom calls with distant family, increased handwashing and awareness of aerosols, paying for entertainment online, etc.

In today’s article, an artist praises the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to freelancers and imagines a world in which basic income could provide a kind of at-home residency for creatives.

Sarah Rose Sharp writes at Hyperallergic that government payments allowed her to create without worry about money during the pandemic.

She says, “One of the basic truisms of freelancing is: You can have time, or you can have resources, but you will almost never have both simultaneously. A foundational lesson of this workflow is doing the work when it’s available and saving as much as possible for the slow times. But its counterpart is this: When times are slow, that’s the opportunity to do your own (uncompensated) thing, and you should not waste this time wallowing in anxiety about the next paid gig.

“I truly never expected the government to identify freelancers as a vulnerable population needing to be covered by unemployment. Mostly 1099 workers pay disproportionately into public benefit systems without being able to access them. Imagine my complete surprise when I discovered that freelancers were being offered unprecedented unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. In other words: every 1099 worker is being offered a paid artist residency. …

“In pre-pandemic times, artists competed tooth and nail for residency opportunities. Even when you get them, they tend to conceal sunken costs, such as requiring travel away from your life and home, thus necessitating use of resources you’re granted just to maintain your permanent homestead. You may have to pay to board pets. You may have to ship supplies or buy new ones when you get to New Hampshire or Maine or Houston or a tiny remote island and realize you left the perfect thing back in your studio.

“There are arguably many benefits of destination residencies, from offering new social connections, to providing bucolic surroundings, to the stimulation of a change of scene, but

In my experience, the best conditions for making art involve getting paid to make art where I’ve already built the infrastructure that enables me to make art.

“Since March of 2020, that’s what I’ve done, and it’s been a productive year.

“And it’s a terrific moment to have creative people collectively on paid residency, because this past year has otherwise been hell, with many of the things that inform and structure quotidian existence shaken to their foundations. Because artists make meaning out of chaos the pre-COVID world that others inhabited so effortlessly didn’t actually make all that much sense to us to begin with. During this time I find myself and other creative people asking a lot of questions about how necessary nine-to-five workdays were in the first place (or conversely, understanding how utterly crucial and underpaid teachers are), and dreaming about new ways we might approach what is to come — ways that centralize, value, and hold people when our labels peel back or entirely fall away.

“The work I’ve seen artists doing this year in lockdown, the solace and continuity the creative community has offered to a population scared, grieving, uncertain, and bored, the ways people have found a way to stay connected through distance, difficulty, and estrangement from social norms — all of these are testaments to the creative spirit. And on a policy level, they also make a strong case for Universal Basic Income. [Read three of Suzanne’s Mom’s posts on that concept here, here, and here.]

“I haven’t seen anyone working less, I’ve just seen them directing their efforts into things that feel meaningful, instead of clock punching.

“The French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote: ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.’ While this year has made it clear that some of humanity’s problems stem from bats, it’s definitely given some of us the opportunity to attempt to live in the solution to our other problems — which is to say, there are worse things we could practice than sitting quietly in a room alone. There are lots of things that I will never see in the same way again, but personally, I no longer see the artist residency as an away-game activity, but one to be cultivated as thoroughly as possible on the home field.”

Pascal’s words are worth thinking about. As Maria Popova at Brain Pickings likes to remind us (quoting Ruth Krauss), “Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.”

More at Hyperallergic, here.

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Shelter

America, January 12, 2020

At a time of year that many communities around the world are telling the story of finding shelter in a stable, it feels ironic that even in a pandemic wealthy countries can’t find it in their hearts to protect people from being evicted.

In America, if the December rescue bill is signed, renters will be protected until the end of January 2021, about a month.

Coronavirus shut down businesses, and people lost jobs and couldn’t pay rent. Have we no collective will to protect the most vulnerable? Landlords, especially small landlords, need protection, too. It’s not just up to them.

The burden of pandemic losses must fall on us as a group. As a taxpayer, that would be my priority. I can do without more bombers and military aid to Saudi Arabia. As a people, many of us celebrating Christmas today, what are our priorities? What does Christmas mean?

At the Washington Post, Heather Long and Rachel Siegel interviewed Americans who are in danger at this season.

“Most told The Post they are ‘not political people’ and are struggling to understand why Congress and the president would be able to celebrate Christmas when 14 million Americans are slated to lose unemployment aid on Saturday, the government is set to shut down on Tuesday, and an eviction moratorium that has prevented millions from losing their homes during a pandemic ends on New Year’s Eve.

“Waitress Robyn Saban summed up the sentiment of many: ‘I’ve worked for 18 years at a diner under very hard conditions. I never called in sick except when my husband died. And now Congress is just leaving town. It makes me furious because they are leaving people hanging.’ …

“Tony Bowens, 31, spent nine days in a hospital in March fighting for his life against the deadly coronavirus. In many ways, he’s just grateful this Christmas to be home with his wife and two kids, even though very little is the same. As his family struggles to pay rent, he can’t believe [there’s no] agreement on aid. …

“Bowens has ongoing complications from covid: Headaches, temperatures that spike for a day, crippling leg pains and trouble breathing. He lost his IT job in March and has not been able to work since. He received $65 a week in unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created this year to assist independent contractors and gig workers like him, but it will end the day after Christmas unless a relief bill gets enacted.

“His family is barely getting by on his wife’s job as a state government worker in Illinois. They are behind on rent and the electric bill, and they worry about more layoffs for state workers.

“Bowens said extending unemployment is ‘one of the most important things’ in the relief package because a $600 one-time check won’t last long, ‘but unemployment would go for 11 weeks. I was going to be able to get that again.’ ”

More on evictions at the News and Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina, here, at US News, here, at the Washington Post, here, and at CNBC, here. Eviction Lab is worth checking, too, here.

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Readers know I’m a fan of the Providence Granola Project, a social enterprise that, by training refugees to make a product, acclimates them to US employment norms and aids their transition to self-sufficiency.

Recently, the organization produced an annual report that explained how it developed a different sort of model for small business, a model they hope others will use or adapt.

Founder Keith Cooper says, “The Providence Granola Project started as an experiment to explore what might help refugees enter the job market. Building a small business seemed like a logical place to start. But what a revelation it has been to discover how nearly every aspect of a small business—from capital to product—can serve a higher purpose.”

The organization’s Big Idea tweaks all the traditional elements of a business.

New hires: workers who are the least prepared, workers the training could really help.

Customers: frequently people who not only like granola but share the mission.

Investors: people whose desired return on investment is the ability to benefit immigrants on their path to becoming contributing members of their new nation.

Work: “repurposed as hands-on education. Making granola is transformed into an experiential classroom.”

Products: delicious foods that are simultaneously tools for raising awareness.

Check out the remarkable variety of granola flavors, granola bars and snacking nuts at the website. You can also sign up for a Granola of the Month package here if you’re up for giving this worthy cause a bit more predictability about resources.

Infographic: Providence Granola Project

Our Big Idea

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The Boston Private Industry Council is made up of employers who pulled together in 1982 to commit to helping Boston Public School students get summer jobs, internships, training — and eventually full-time jobs. They get the experience of working, earning money, and adapting to the soft skills needed in a workplace.

I went to the PIC annual event today to see a young friend who was receiving an award along with 17 other students, employers, and mentors.

I had no idea what a big event it would be. Boston Mayor Menino spoke, as did presidents of community colleges and companies. There were great success stories, several seen in this PBS video feature by Paul Solman.

In 2006, my young friend had been rescued by mentors who worked for a PIC program designed for out-of-school youth. After much hard work, he is now attending a highly regarded local college and expecting to graduate in 2014.

Here’s a description of the out-of-school program, one of the PIC’s offerings:

“Young people who are neither in school nor working have few prospects in today’s economy. That is why the PIC works with those who have dropped out of school and those who finished high school without passing MCAS.

“PIC dropout recovery specialists and career center counselors work with these young people to help get them back on track to education and employment. They help young people take the next step by enrolling them in school, GED programs, training programs and jobs.”

Read more.

Photo: http://www.bostonpic.org/programs/out-school-youth

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Some recent grads seem more serious than their predecessors, perhaps the result of having to face tough realities in the Great Recession.

Martha Irvine writes for the Associated Press, “The full effect won’t be known for a while, of course. But a new analysis of a long-term survey of high school students provides an early glimpse at ways their attitudes shifted in the first years of this most recent economic downturn.

“Among the findings: Young people showed signs of being more interested in conserving resources and a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings.

“Compared with youths who were surveyed a few years before the recession hit, more of the Great Recession group also was less interested in big-ticket items such as vacation homes and new cars — though they still placed more importance on them than young people who were surveyed in the latter half of the 1970s, an era with its own economic challenges.

“Either way, it appears this latest recession ‘’has caused a lot of young people to stop in their tracks and think about what’s important in life,’’ says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who co-authored the study with researchers from UCLA.

“The analysis, released Thursday, is published in the online edition of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.” More.

One would never say that the Great Recession was a good thing. And it may be that some young people are too serious at too early an age. But it never hurts to start thinking early about what matters in life.

Photo: AP/Alex Brandon
Drew Miller at a building under construction in Silver Spring, Md. Miller quit a steady government contract job to take a chance on a company that’s using “smart technologies” to help big corporations cut lighting costs. Though it meant taking a small pay cut, he says having a job that helps the environment was a ‘‘huge’’ motivator.

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