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On Dream Jobs
What do you love doing so much that you'd do it for free? Geoffrey Canada, founder of the pioneering urban school, the Harlem Children's Zone, wrote, "the perfect job is the one you would do without pay." He also said that he found that type of work from following his passion, and helping his community.
Echoing Green has been cultivating young leaders trying to tackle big social problems for decades with their social enterprise fellowship, and they just released a new book about merging passion and profession called Work On Purpose by Lara Galinsky. Lara will give a career coaching session to one winner who designed his/her dream job. Five runners-up will get a copy of her book. Winners to be announced soon.
For now, here's a sampling of some of our favorite dream jobs from the community.
Hells Kitchen Farm
Sitting at my desk at the food pantry as an AmeriCorps VISTA this past year, I was daydreaming, as usual, about how much I wanted to create an urban agriculture hub in the neighborhood. I imagined a collaborative of neighborhood organizations coming together to fight hunger in ways that put power back in the hands of residents. A rooftop farm where people could learn how to grow their own food, create new structures for food distribution in the neighborhood, and take back control of the food system while also growing food for the residents most in need.
By Anthony Reuter
The work I’d do for free is green burial. The current process of burial in this country is expensive, wasteful, and worst of all, designed to quickly separate the bereaved from their loved ones. Green burial offers choices that bring the dying and the bereaved closer together. I love this work.
Many years ago, I began a program in mortuary science, but dropped out close to its completion because suddenly everything about it felt wrong. I was learning how to clean up death; in essence, I was learning how to make death go away, at great expense not only to the bereaved but to our natural resources as well. The desire to help others at one of the worst times in anyone’s life still hasn’t left me. I’ve been out of it for so long, however, that I need a guiding hand to find my way back.
By Irene Hernandez
My dream job would be to curate a museum full of artifacts of people’s wonderlust. Doodles, lists, love notes, fine art works that never made it to another museum, song lyrics, spoken word, street art. All of the things that people put so much time and effort in to but never get appreciated. I would love to look at everyone’s creations and give them a chance to share their passions with the world. A physical “stumbleupon” in a museum format.
By Chistina Mooney
Post Revolutionary Eco-Tourism
At a relatively young age, I was intrigued with the beauty of cultural difference. I also had an insatiable thirst for traveling to places unknown, which sparked my decision to join the United States Air Force in June of 2001.
I am now ready to utilize the creativity that has built up after ten years within the confines of our impersonal bureaucratic government. My idea consists of founding an eco-tourism resort in Latin America. The resort will have a central focus on community development through sustainable tourism practices, sustainable agriculture, and fair trade.
I am beginning my doctoral studies this fall in Applied Anthropology with an interest in post-revolutionary countries like Cuba and Nicaragua. I would like to critically evaluate the effect of ecotourism and post-revolutionary tourism in Latin America and use the ecotourism project as a component of my dissertation research.
By Kiersten Downs
Preserving Sign Language
I have two passions: American Sign Language, and free education. There are plenty of non-native signers who publish their academic studies about ASL in written English, making it inaccessible to native signers. After seeing how this problem is widespread, I felt inspired to create a change. ASLized! focuses on ASL linguistics and literature making them available as signed videos.
I love doing it because ASL is my first language, and it needs further research and preservation through media. Upon learning more about ASLized!, native signers keep on saying the same message, “You’re doing what I have always wanted to do. Thank you!” That warms my heart because it is also their language, not just mine.
By Elsie Ritchie
My dream is to turn a large farm into a shelter/rescue/adoption agency for horses. The reason I would want horses is because they live so long and they’re harder to adopt out than dogs or cats. What I would do is take these animals in and have them evaluated on health and behavior, etc. My dream would be to later expand and take in other animals. I would want a large space, such as a farm where I could live and take care of all the pets that I was not able to adopt out in a healthy and safe environment.
The main reason I want to start this business is to help the helpless. Animals don’t have voices of their own, and humans need to speak for them. I have always been passionate about animals and wanted to base my career off of them but I just don’t know where to start. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
By Kelly Weigel
Albanian Culture Shifter
I am sure I know what I do not want to do. I do not want to be part of the corrupted system in my country, and get an easy, fine-paying job that has nothing to do with my background. I know my existence has no meaning unless I do something meaningful for the community. I have a restricted area of “intervention” with fellow Albanians.
I want to educate the younger generation of Albanians not to be like the older ones. I want the Albanian people to feel proud of their language, cultural heritage, and to know themselves. I want to put an end to the inferiority complex that haunts my peers and the younger children. I do this for free every day, but I am not effective…yet!
By Enida Bogdani
I want to be a traveling librarian and set up libraries in underserved communities and disaster-struck areas. I believe that reading has both educational and entertainment value, and content is not simply restricted to words. I think access to a library creates a portal to more resources, which enables people to enrich their own lives.
It is a shame that American libraries are being cut due budgetary reasons, but this is partially a reflection of how little libraries are valued. In other parts of the world, people don’t have the option to get information and services free of charge. A library need not be a brick and mortar building, but rather place of information that also acts as an arena for interaction and learning, and if it offers books and literature it’s all the better.
By Deeba Rehman
My dream is to be a coalition curator. Harnessing the technology of the Hunch API and social media websites, I would use algorithms to determine individuals that would benefit from meeting, and then bring them together to converse over a meal. The Hunch API would assess individuals based on their Facebook, LinkedIN, or Twitter account, and then create groups of five people that should meet.
The algorithms would function based on affinity rather than identity, bringing people together based on the degree that their ideas, beliefs and interests either collide or intersect. As a Coalition Curator, I would create inter-human interactions that would not otherwise happen, and in the process, encourage all participants to see the world differently—to sympathize, to emphasize, to dream together and to create together, and to achieve a better, more empathetic world.
By Jennifer Pearson
Art Gallery of Working Poor Artists
My dream job would combine my love of art and my desire to help people. In inner-city communities, art takes a back seat to other subjects. For example, my parents always said that a career in art wouldn’t put food on the table. I majored in chemistry in college, but that didn’t stop me from taking art history classes and hanging knock-off Salvador Dali paintings on my walls.
I haven’t pursued art as a career, but I would love to live out my dream. I would love to own an art gallery that would give people in need the opportunity to sell their art. I want to show inner-city communities that they can provide for their families while doing something they love. Not only would this be a fresh perspective for the art community, but it would also give these unsuspecting artists an opportunity to make money from their talent.
By Tania Torres-Delgado
New Wave Food Truck
My dream job is taking the hunger issue to the streets, literally, by operating a food pantry on wheels.
After volunteering weekly at a local pantry, I’ve seen how food really is the greatest equalizer. We all need it to survive, and yet in Los Angeles, one in six residents struggle to get enough to eat. Riding the street food trend makes perfect sense in a city as sprawling as LA.
I will procure donations from retailers, wholesalers and farmers markets, and distribute basic staples to those who fall into the inevitable service gaps. My mobile pantry truly moves me, as it allows me to feed others, and that in turn, feeds my soul.
By Heidi Weisman
Dream Jobs and Bloodstains
My father owned a print shop. When he came home early enough to tuck me into bed, I would press my face against his breast pocket, perpetually bloodstained by ink, and I have forever since associated ink with the heart.
Words are life. It isn’t that I love to write—I live to write. I write to live. As I travel farther away from that bedroom, my home, and the people I once knew, I know one thing for certain, if only that one—every place and every person tells a tale. Real travel writing explores worlds. It exposes places and persons and the stories pulsing through them as groundwater and lifeblood. To write evocatively and honestly is to leave a bloodstain on the page—an ink stain on the heart.
Ink, like water, like blood, champions life, carries stories and histories. Nothing connects us more.
By Alana Seldon