How to change the world? First, let’s rethink value.

Automation will drastically change the work that we do. In a matter of time, humans will no longer have to engage in repetitive, manual tasks. We have all heard that we should be tapping onto human values that are irreplaceable by machines to create future work. Values like empathy, relational skills, kindness and creativity will open up potential work in areas like community building, human connection, communication, social care. But here’s the thing. These jobs cannot be created until we are willing to pay for such services.

Value shifting

I have an idea that it is possible to pay people to engage in community building and care. But in order to create these jobs, people must first value these services. This requires a rewiring of the way we see value. Often people are willing to pay for a $6 Starbucks coffee (thanks to large scale advertising and branding) but not necessarily for a community project. I think in there is also the way that socially engaged projects express their value and impact, that needs to be vocalised better. But if we can work on creating a model in which communities invest in community trust funds that will be used to pay people in the community to work on community building, facilitation, community care and also for environmental projects that will help with ecosystem restoration and regeneration, perhaps this is going to be the future of sustainable jobs.

Image from Barrett Values Centre valuescentre.com
Theory U taken from presencing.org

Communities

Communities are important. Do you feel connected to communities? Do you know people in your local area? How do you connect with people?

Improvised Theatre Project ‘Generations’ I did with seniors from Claremont Project, photographed by Monica Alcazar-Duarte

In the project ‘Generations’, I saw how the seniors gained confidence over the weeks. We brought in all sorts of materials and there was a whole lot of creativity, fun and laughter during the improvisation workshops. Some were timid and shy at the start but at the end, all stood confident and proud on stage when we were applauded. There was something powerful about being seen on stage. The performance was beautiful because it showed our teamwork, chemistry and fun — all of which were built during the development process and because all of us were invested in building genuine relationships with each other.

Socially engaged art is a beautiful art form. It is not about the product. It is about the process. It is about being genuine, honest and emotionally present. It is about purpose and intention, often to service a community. It is about co-creation. If there is an art that requires you to put aside your ego, this is it. My experiences organising and starting socially engaged art have been nothing short of amazing. Each project brought people together in a way that was so human and sincere, you’d leave the project with a family. But the process is not always easy. The artist or facilitator has to be equipped with various soft skills, not just organisation and administrations skills, but also skills like mediation, facilitation and communication. This is the person who will ease tension, bring people together, actively listen and make sure that everyone is heard, ensure the wellbeing of every participant, create a safe space and be able to navigate vulnerability. It is a bit of a social worker, a bit of a therapist but really, more like a friend who will be there for you.

If we want to change the world, we first need a change in mindset. If we can change our purchasing habits, we can create new jobs.

Demand and supply — the price we are willing to pay indicates the value we give to a product or service. So, if collectively, as a society, we begin to value personal development more, we will be more willing to spend on services and trainings that teach empathy, kindness, social awareness, therapy, mindfulness…

What can you do to change the world?

Here is my humble opinion and little urge to everyone out there reading this: Rethink value. The more we are able to shift away from purchasing products that come at an environmental cost into paying for services that benefit the environment and society, be it contributing into community trust funds or paying for self development courses or purchasing organic food, the faster we will be able to transition into more sustainable futures.

Fié Neo is an interdisciplinary artist and intersectional thinker. Instagram @feeyeh_neo | Podcast: OnionsTalk

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