Monday Funday

It was so nice out today I didn’t even need to wear a coat to work! And we haven’t had weather like that in Milwaukee since… wait… last summer! The distinct shift in the weather pattern has also shifted people’s moods dramatically. More folks are out and about, moving around, enjoying the green grass and the breeze that doesn’t feel like a glacier’s sneeze.

Today’s a rest day in my training schedule so naturally, I rested, made a fantastic dinner, budgeted, planned my month and did some reading.

Since YPWeek I’ve made a concerted effort to really read more. 

Jobs Aren't Enough: Toward a New Economic Mobility for Low-Income Families

I’ve joined GoodReads at a coworker’s recommendation (psst… be my friend!) and I’m really looking forward to chewing through my list of 35 books! So in true college student fashion yesterday I sat in a coffee shop and did some reading. Here are some take aways from Jobs Aren’t Enough.

It’s my second time through this one, but I wanted to come back to it because part of the data focuses on Milwaukee specifically, something that was irrelevant at the time I read it. Now that I’m planning on being in Milwaukee for a while, I’m considering taking on a side project of writing my own ethnography (see: bucket list item #12). 

Takeaway #1: “We ultimately suggest reframing the notion of individual (personal) responsibility as “responsibility for persons” or “relational responsibility,” an action that forces attention to the interdependence and mutuality of purpose that can improve conditions for individuals, families and institutions alike in today’s world.” (Iverson, 12) 

I think this mentality is easier for a Millenial like myself to get behind because we’re already stewed in the brine of working together to fix a problem. This seems a harder thing for folks raised in a mindset of meritocracy to accept about the public at large. Or maybe it’s even more localized than that, perhaps it has something to do with cities that don’t have innate civic pride like the behemoths of New York, Chicago and LA. I can only speak for Milwaukee when I say this, but improving our civic pride and changing the way we talk about Milwaukee is something at the forefront of the Mayor’s agenda, let alone other key thinkers in the city. This passage from Iverson’s book really made me consider how personal attitudes and civic attitudes were interlinked and I don’t think I would have made this connection if one of the large tenants of YPWeek wasn’t investing in our city and our neighborhoods.

Takeaway #2: “In the United States, a person’s education epitomizes his or her “initiative” and is considered the key to moving up economically. For example, standard human capital theory predicts that wages increase with experience and time on the job, largely a function of accumulated education and training.” (Iverson, 15)

In 2005, when Jobs Aren’t Enough was published, I had zero grasp on the state of the job market. Z.E.R.O. Now that I’ve graduated not once but twice, been working a little while I can safely say that in my personal experience this holds true. It’s generally accepted that to break into the professional field (read: office jobs/corporate culture) you MUST have a degree of some kind. However, what the degree is actually in isn’t of special importance, you just have to have one. Everything else that goes along with it is fluid. So I wonder if we’re not doing ourselves a blanket disservice by ignoring areas of specialization if culturally we ignore what our degrees are in, or conversely, are we redefining our roles and the potential we have as contributors to the workforce by diversifying our skill sets. Either way, the workforce is not what it was 50 years ago, or heck, even 10, but I think the value we place in college degrees will continue to shift further away from our areas of expertise and inch closer to where our true talents lay. 


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