To give you a taste of Why This Work Matters, here’s a few selections. I’ll add more and rotate them over the coming weeks, so subscribe to this page or check back every so often for a new tidbit.
Even as I looked at my charts, with their show of increased investment, buildings rehabbed, employees, etc…. the community still didn’t feel revitalized.
It turns out, with this type of work, the most meaningful progress isn’t measured in tables and graphs, or with dollar signs.
Real progress can only be felt.
-Jennifer Kime, “Community =/= Widget”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do. Writing proposals, meeting with neighborhood groups, collaborating with colleagues, bringing plans into reality, it’s is a real joy, at least most of the time. However, what I do is not a job.
It is, rather, a calling, and there is a huge difference.
Jobs occupy our time — we don’t have to have our heart in our jobs. We can take a job, we can leave a job. It’s a transaction. What I do is a calling — it is something that has deeper meaning.
A calling is something you do, even though you don’t want to always do it. A calling is something that resides deep inside your core.
You can’t shake a calling. No matter where you are, you are called. No matter what you feel, you are called. As much as you might want to fight it, the best you can do is simply accept it.
-William Lutz, “This Work Is Not a Job, It’s a Calling”
If we are engaged and empathetic, we can use our unique knowledge of urban and environmental systems to rebuild their communities and help them become resilient, while also embodying their deepest values. When we take a hand in digging out from the rubble, we can contribute to rebuilding while helping the community lay a new path, a brick at a time.
When we can build empathy into even routine work, it allows us to break down the unwieldy obstacles that arise from grief, strong beliefs and misunderstandings. Our professional skills, applied with an open heart and personal commitment, can help us mold the world in ways that ease the impacts of catastrophic events.
-Kimberly Miller, “Professional Detachment is Overrated”
So, you put your heart and soul into your work and your community, and you got nothing in return but heartache, grief, and trouble.
Your intentions were pure, your heart was in the right place, and your execution was spot-on. You had your proverbial shit together. And, yet, the end result was far from what you had hoped for.
You were a gold-medal gymnast out there, you just stuck a perfect landing, and the judges were too stupid, too blind, or too arrogant to see it.
It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out.
Why bother? Who cares? What’s the point?
We’ve all been there. I know that I have – more times than I can count. And so have you.
How do I find the strength to keep going in the teeth of adversity? Lean a bit closer so that I don’t have to say it too loud.
My dirty little secret: quite often, I don’t. I give up, instead.
But sometimes I do summon up the will to persevere. And on the occasions that I do, it always comes down to a conscious choice to remember, and act upon, these three things.
-Jason Segedy, “Why Bother? Musings on Faith, Hope and Love”
And then I heard the word.
Wait a second. Where did that come from?
Did Sean Connery just float in on a breached submarine?
I could tell from his tone that this person didn’t like communists at all. I didn’t really know why. Then again, the Berlin Wall fell when I was in middle school. The speaker looked as though he’d been a foot soldier in the Cold War.
-Rebecca Maclean, “Time to Make the Donuts”
One day in that first week, I remember overhearing two co-workers talking about the previous night’s football game — for over two hours. The game itself only lasted three hours. I also remember asking a co-worker how I could obtain a building access card so I could come in to work on nights and weekends. He said he didn’t know because he would never work overtime….
Hiring freezes and budget cuts took their toll as well. When I began in 2001, we had five full-time and three part-time employees. Eventually we were whittled down to three full-time staff.
Thankfully, after I got to know more of my co-workers and more of the programs, I discovered that I was merely focusing on the few bad apples. There were dozens upon dozens of hard-working, dedicated, passionate people in our division… Most of them knew their programs inside and out, were experts in their fields, and considered the people they worked with in the field to be friends and partners in community development.
None of them were in this for the money. They could have made far more in the private sector. They did it because they believed in what they do. …
I began following many of my co-workers’ leads, devoting my energies to serving the communities first and foremost. Making the communities happy rather than trying to appease management made sense, since management would only be there for a few years anyway. This took a huge weight off my shoulders, and gave me a newfound energy and motivation.
-Joe Lawnczak, “Who Am I Working For Again?”