Living the New Economy: A Learning Journey

The City Repair Calgary guild of 2014, (l-r): Alla Guelber (Meaningful Work Project); Lindsay Meads (reGenerate Design); Kym Chi (Giggling Chi Tree); Natalia Zoldak (Great Public Spaces).

The City Repair Calgary guild of 2014, (l-r): Alla Guelber (Meaningful Work Project); Lindsay Meads (reGenerate Design); Kym Chi (Giggling Chi Tree); Natalia Zoldak (Great Public Spaces).

Living the New Economy: A Learning Journey to Victoria and beyond

Every once in a while, there comes a time and a necessity to break away from the day-to-day and step into a space of wandering in the halls of creativity and inspiration. As we take in the gallery of ideas and possibilities, rub shoulders, share hugs and open our hearts to the wide spectrum of social, cultural and economic transformation, we let go of the reality as we know it, and can dream a new world into being.

Every couple of months, I feel the need to slide out my routine of feet-on-the-pavement, doing-the-work to yet again step back into the space of visioning and exploring.

This summer, by creating a new guild with my friends and colleagues coming with our own projects and organizations, but all sharing the dream of engaging Calgarians in a creative re-imagining of public space, we planted the seeds for new projects to spur on the culture of innovation and creativity that is rapidly taking shape in Calgary by revitalizing the group City Repair Calgary.

DSC_0214 DSC_0219From July 17-20, 2014, City Repair Calgary hosted four separate learning events that brought out more than 400 Calgarians with hands-on, interactive learning opportunities with Mark Lakeman and Mighk Simpson, and linking that with current initiatives and future opportunities in Calgary. Mark is a visionary architect and permaculture teacher and instigator of City Repair Project and Communitecture in Portland, Oregon who we had the honour of hosting along with Mighk for five intensive days of teaching and presentations in Calgary this past July.

Following the  successes of our summer engagements, we had to take some much needed time to rest, regroup and focus on other things moving forward…but now it’s time to dive in again!

For the next two weeks, Lindsay Meads, founder of the urban design, permaculture, and placemaking firm reGenerate Design and I are stepping out of our day-to-day to tour around the West Coast, meet with friends and colleagues, share ideas and document the inspirations we encounter along the way. We will continue to build on the various projects we have spear-headed and continue to envision what is our place within this emerging new economy that we so eagerly want to contribute to.

LivingNewEconomyThe Itinerary

To start our trip, we will arrive to Victoria, BC, where we’ll be reconnecting with our dear friend Mighk Simpson. Following five years of living and learning in Portland at the Planet Repair Institute, Mighk recently started a PhD at the University of Victoria. He makes his new home at Mason Street Farm, where their motto is “education through cultivation.”

Starting on Monday morning, we’ll be joining in to Living the New Economy (the LNE), a week-long gathering focused on breathing the new economy into life.

“LNE Global Live is your access point to creating a new economic reality. It’s a conversation and exploration of new ideas, new ways of living to create abundance, equality and sustainability.”

Mark Lakeman will be presenting on the final “Integration” day of the conference while Edmonton-based Tad Hargrave, owner of Marketing for Hippies, will offer a full day of interactive workshops on Marketing the New Economy.

Tad has been innovating in the domain of ethical marketing and communications, and we’ve learned a great deal from his practical yet deeply thoughtful and intuitive approach. Finally, we are excitedly looking forward to finally meeting and hearing from Charles Eisenstein, one of North America’s leading authors and philosophers who is helping shape the vision for the “More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.”

That’s just part 1. Following our time in Victoria, we will venture to the charming village of Roberts Creek to spend time with our colleague, permaculture educator and artist Kym Chi, founder of education company Giggling Chi Tree, as we dive deeper into strategic planning and visioning on future projects into 2015.

Finally, we’ll end our trip in Vancouver, visiting innovative places such as the Hive, Sole Food Street Farms , the Vancouver Tool Library and City Commons, and interacting with our community-change counterparts.

Follow our adventures through the Meaningful Work Project Blog, on Facebook through City Repair Calgary, The Meaningful Work Project and reGenerate Design, and through Twitter: @MeaningfulWkPrj and @reGenerateDesgn.

New imagineCALGARY Partner Redefining Meaningful Work

The Meaningful Work Project recently joined ImagineCALGARY as a partner. This profile was written by Patricia Marcoccia from Axiom News. The original article is posted here.

Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, joined the 2011 Meaningful Work Retreat to offer his insights on running the largest environmental non-profit organization in Canada, and his personal journey toward meaningful work.

Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, joined the 2011 Meaningful Work Retreat to offer his insights on running the largest environmental non-profit organization in Canada, and his personal journey toward meaningful work. Photo by Mark Unrau.

Alla Guelber knew after she completed her undergraduate degree in applied communications that a traditional PR career was not in the cards for her. But she didn’t know where or how to find the kind of meaningful work she was looking for.

What she did know was that she was passionate about the growing movement of the emerging “green” economy. While studying a master of arts degree in environmental education and communication, Alla saw many opportunities for employment in the environmental sector, but many of these jobs consisted of merely accounting for gaps in current systems as opposed to being truly innovative.

Alla opted to merge her interests into a master’s thesis called The Quest for Meaningful Work: Personal Journeys in Creating Occupations for People and the Planet. She has since expanded her inquiry into a grassroots initiative called the Meaningful Work Project (MWP).

“Meaningful work is a universal human desire,” she says. “I wanted to expand the definition of meaningful work so that it’s not only about that personal satisfaction and that sense of being of service to others but also being of service to the planet.”

MWP is a new imagineCALGARY partner. In its early stages, the MWP team is still figuring out what form the initiative will take. One of its most successful aspects to date has been an intimate, multidisciplinary retreat that brings together people on various legs of their own journeys to find meaningful work.

People often feel a sense of relief in the workshops, Alla explains, because they have the opportunity to share with others who are experiencing the trials and tribulations of this challenging transition.

“You’re going through a transition where your world feels upside down and nothing seems to make sense anymore, and you feel like you want meaningful work but you don’t know what that looks like,” she says.

“With the topic of meaningful work, people are reluctant to share what they’re really experiencing. There’s a stigma against people who challenge the status quo,” she adds.

Alla is compiling many of the stories she is encountering of people who are creating new paths to fulfill their personal and “planetary” ambitions. Danielle Carruthers, who completed the workshop in 2010, transitioned from her job in banking to starting a social business incubator called the Sedge. The team is currently spending the year working on incubation in Chile.

“What is it going to take to be able to transition all aspects of our society away from dependence on fossil fuels? It’s going to mean a massive reconfiguration of all that we do and the way we live our lives,” she says.

For more information on the upcoming retreat, Aligning Passion and Purpose for the New Economy running Oct. 25 – 27 in Canmore, AB, visit

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