If there is any constant more dependable than change itself, we would see that work has always been in motion. Work can mean many things, but broadly we often find that work is the force that sparks change. For one, work is not only a human phenomenon. Work happens all around us.

We know work has been done when we plant seeds, and shortly thereafter, harvest crops. When we walk in nature, we appreciate the work, over much time, that molded gorges, mountains, and streams. Work is what brought forward the human species, whether by God, evolution, or a combination of both beliefs. Work knows no bounds and seeks only to fill voids with a steady hum.

On the flip side, work is very much human. We’ve created a type of work made by us, for us, and in service to our demands and desires. Work in our control is both infinite and limited – and it is work itself, the kind not in service to us, that will change our work forever.

Decades of misguided and manipulated human work has caused the planet to warm at unprecedented levels. And if our work doesn’t change, we’ll cook ourselves to death. In some cases, our war against the natural world cannot be reversed and we’ll be forced to change our long-held conceptions of work and life as we know it.

Despite the grim outlook presented to us and being deliberated now at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), we do ourselves no good to squall and squander away the opportunity to create a new framework of work – one that honors all the work around us – in our own backyards and local communities.

One way to kickstart the inevitable change of human work to come, is to ensure all of those that are willing and able to work are guaranteed a role. We need a new, brave world that honors work that both halts the continued exhaust of Earth-warming gases and draws down the excess gases into useful products, built to be continuously reused and never wasted. We need a New Work Deal that guarantees paid, livable work for our survival.

Creating a revamped Civilian Conservation Corps, or more boldly, a Federal Job Guarantee, is a worthy destination to reach. A new Corps, one focused on securing our future in a shifting global climate, is both urgent and necessary. What’s possible now is to highlight a vision for new work – and convince a stale Congress to pass a bill that offers, more or less, a blank check guarantee to provide good, honest work to anyone that signs up.

What we may call a New Work Deal will be harmonized with nature and towards a thriving society, despite a warming world. From better managing the land we occupy and the water that lubricates life, reforming and honoring the land to draw down warming gases into the soil, weatherizing and constructing homes and shelters, forming teams to hone vital homesteading skills, wiring resilient, self-sustaining systems for power and heat, crafting inspiring stories and tales of the time, and educating throughout the long journey today and in many years to come, we will rise.

To address the coming change locally, I invite you to dig deep into your community to learn about the state or work now and identify pathways to offer new work to come. One such opportunity now is to provide your input on a plan to expand Rural Action’s AmeriCorps program to focus on climate mitigation and resilience work: ruralaction.org/climatecorps

To participate with Rural Action, upcoming focus groups are being held:

  • Nov. 18, 9 —11 a.m. (In Person)
  • Nov. 22, 2 p.m. — 4 p.m. (Virtual)

Or email your ideas to: bryn@ruralaction.org

Mat Roberts

The Plains

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