The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work  

Posted by Big Gav

TreeHugger recently had a book review on a tome called "The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work" which encourages people to do something useful with their lives. Considering the Dilbertian nightmare I'll be facing on Monday I should perhaps be reading it...

“What if you find yourself in a job with a useless company that makes useless or even harmful stuff, engaged in daily work that beaneath your potential, and beneath your own value system?” Then hopefully you’re out there, looking for employment, which might offer greater fulfillment. This book will lead you towards some of the elusive answers you're seeking. Very loosely paraphasing Dave Smith, author of the recently released To Be Of Use: The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work”, he believes you should be looking for a workplace which:

• provides something of value, that we all need
• is in harmony with natural systems
• offers a tangible learning environment
• is locally based, encouraging the co-operation of good neighbours
• contributes to the good health of society and surrounding ecosystems

Just like his preacher father, Dave Smith, is forthrightly evangelical in proposing that the template for such workplaces is already with us, mirrored in small farm, organic agriculture. He espouses, if more work environments could take a cabbage leaf from the book of organic farming, we’d be happier and more fulfilled.

“Where we see things in business we don’t like, we can be part of the solution, by choosing how and where we work,.... It is a choice.” A choice that Dave Smith made many years ago and continues today. Back in the distant past he co-founded the iconic garden hardware company, Smith and Hawken*. After leaving the company, he went on to work in various capacities for a whole raft of eco and socially based businesses. Many of which will be familiar to Treehugger readers, like Real Goods, Organic Bouquet and Organics To Go.


It is a quiet book, but that does not diminish its importance. Taking up the thoughts of great thinkers and doers like Gandhi and EF Schumacher Dave applies them to a modern context. And if ever there was time that requires us to be responsible, not only with the contents of our wallets, but also with our 40 hours a week, it is upon us. Dave Smith is saying with his heart. “We still have a chance to get it right if we start now.” He goes on to evoke Doris Haddock, who in her ninety-third birthday speech had this to say: “Aren’t we privileged to live in a time when everything is at stake, and when our efforts make a difference in the eternal contest between the forces of shadow and light, between togetherness and division? Between justice and exploitation?”

Everything is at stake and Dave want us not only to buy with our conscience, but to work with it too. Quoting a community organiser, “You’ve got one life. You’ve got say, sixty-five years. How on earth can blow forty five of that doing something you hate?”

On the subject of books, WorldChanging has asked readers to provide their suggestions for a list of "WorldChanging books" (to be included in the forthcoming WorldChanging book).

I've read a fairly good sample of the books recommended by the readers (and there were plenty of suggestions) - one which I haven't come across but which got a few plugs is Bill McDonough's "Cradle to Cradle" which looks interesting.

One reader suggested Masanobu Fukuoka's "The One Straw Revolution", which I've seen recommended in a few places, most notably in Jeff Vail's blogroll and in one of his posts on "farming links", which references a resource page on Masanobu Fukuoka along with one for John Jeavons' "Grow Biointensive" website.

Global Public Media had an interview with Jeavons a while back on peak oil's impact on traditional agriculture.


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