Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | October 24, 2019 | By: Jessica Becker
In the years since we launched the Working Lives Project, a lot has changed in the economy and even in the nature of work itself. I’m so happy that we were able to help people across the state reflect with one another on the past, present, and future of work.
Today, I want to give a special shout-out to the two dozen presenters who made the ShopTalk speaker program such a success. This month, we’re celebrating the completion of the program, which brought over 200 presentations and lively conversations about work to communities from Bayfield to Milwaukee, from Rice Lake to Cross Plains.
“ShopTalk topics were timely and timeless, and seemed designed to spark discussion and foster connections among humans,” said one library host.
Space doesn’t permit me to list every speaker and talk, but among our most popular were Corey Saffold on the paradox of being African American and a police officer, Jim Leary sharing the folksong traditions of Wisconsin workers, Rachel Monaco-Wilcox educating audiences about human trafficking, Alan Anderson on the forgotten craftsmen who build Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture, and Jesus Salas on migrant workers in Wisconsin.
As we celebrate the end of the Working Lives Project, I want to offer my thanks as we say good-bye to Carmelo Dávila, who directed the project and brought his passion to the sparking of great humanities conversations.
PS: We are so excited that Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed October Arts and Humanities Month in Wisconsin! Thanks to our partners at the Wisconsin Arts Board for their great work around the state. And thanks to all of you for being part of this work, every month of the year!
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | February 23, 2018 | By: Jessica Becker
News articles, studies, and personal experience together paint a complex picture of women’s lives in 2018. Women face unique obstacles in their lives and careers. They are also leading the way, redefining the norms, taking risks and confidently re-imagining the world.
Both modern and historical factors shape the ongoing conversation about women’s working lives. All of us are affected, no matter our gender.
And that is where ShopTalk comes in. Read More
Our Working Lives Project | January 12, 2017 | By: Guest Contributor
by Katherine Sanders, PhD
The New Year is a season of promises. Many of us pledge to make improvements in our lives. And, of course, many of our promises are about health. (I’m procrastinating even as I write this – I should be on my way to the gym!)
Your health promises might be like mine, focused on something you know directly impacts your well-being, such as what you eat and how often you move.
But there is another area of life that also has a direct impact on health – work. Most of us spend the majority of our waking lives working. That work experience shapes our mental and physical health. It either supports or erodes our self-esteem and sense of belonging. If you’ve worked in an unhealthy work system, you’ve lived this. It can be a visceral experience.
What most people don’t realize is that we can design work to promote health. There are decades of research on work’s impact on health. We know how. So when the WHC invited me to refresh this article from last year, I jumped at the chance. I’m eager to reach as many people as I can with this message: Work can be healthy for you. And you deserve healthy work.
It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Shop Talk speaker series. I’ve enjoyed talking with people from diverse professions and career stages. What unites us is our interest in creating healthier working lives for ourselves and our colleagues.
What would 2017 be like for you if one of your resolutions was to increase the health of your working life? Read More
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | November 17, 2016 | By: Dena Wortzel
What is it like to be a cop, and black?
When a white state trooper pulled over a black off-duty Madison police officer, Corey Saffold, what did the trooper assume about the man with dreadlocks and a gun – officer Saffold’s service pistol – on the passenger seat? What did the trooper do next? Read More
Our Working Lives Project | May 12, 2016 | By: Carmelo Dávila
The painting is used with permission from The Grohmann Museum Collection at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Painting by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, the younger; German (1781-1853); Entitled ‘Cooper Shop,’ ca.1816; Oil on canvas; 16 3/4 x 21 3/4 in.
by Carmelo Dávila
“A mother’s work is never done.”
Whether you are a mother or not, you have certainly heard some of the many expressions about the work of motherhood. They point to the complexity of the ‘job’ and allude to the lack of recognition for this work in society.
May is the month when Mother’s Day is celebrated, so as part of our ongoing fascination with, and examination of, the subject of work, we turn our humanities lens on the work of motherhood. ShopTalk presentations such as ‘Workplace Equity for Mothers’ and ‘Work-Life Balance: Is it an Option for Mothers?’ provide some historical and modern context within which to think about and discuss what mothering entails. We hope you will consider hosting one of these, or any of the more than forty ShopTalk presentations, in your community! Read More
Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 21, 2015 | By: Guest Contributor
Katherine Sanders is a human factors engineer. She specializes in sociotechnical systems, essentially what makes work meaningful and healthy for people. She explains, “It’s a small, specialized field that most folks, even other engineers, have never heard of.” We met Katherine as part of our Working Lives Project. She runs workshops and consults in workplaces to help organizations and individuals learn how work either supports health or leads people toward illness. Ergonomics is part of her background, the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. But instead of designing physical work places or products, she focuses on the psychological and social aspects of work, and the impacts work has on personal health. She is passionate about what she does: “I care about how the work gets done and its quality, and I care just as much about the health and well-being of the people doing the work.”
In this essay, Katherine gives us a glimpse into her world, what motivates her, and her Top 5 list for creating work systems that promote health and meaning, as well as productivity and efficiency. Read More
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | August 26, 2015 | By: Jessica Becker
People think about and talk about work all the time. We always have, and we probably always will.
A year ago, we launched our Working Lives Project. What we hope to add to the conversation is a humanities approach that is inclusive, reflective, and that considers how we individually and collectively are ‘making a living and making a life’ through our work. Why do we work? What combination of economics, politics, ambition, and tradition pushes us to get up and do what we do every day?
These are the questions that drive our efforts to build ShopTalk, a speaker/discussion program of the Working Lives Project. Read More
Voices from the Field | July 15, 2015 | By: Guest Contributor
Alison Staudinger is interested in how we understand and value our work. Based on her research, she sees that societal and personal values about work shape how individuals feel about what kind of power they have in daily life, and the world. She is working on a book about how the 18th Amendment, which made it illegal to consume, produce or sell alcohol, was in part an attempt to give women more equal power in household economies. For her research, she depends on sources, like oral histories, that shed light on the lives of less powerful players in history, such as women. She says, “Democratic theory asks us to reconsider power, especially the power to have one’s voice heard. If democracy requires many empowered voices, then [we] should work on projects like oral histories that look for more voices. We should also work with students and other non-experts to advance the communal production of knowledge and memory.”
Staudinger teaches for Democracy and Justice Studies, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay that is devoted to exploring the history and future of social change and justice. She specializes in democratic theory, but also teaches law, gender, and political science courses.
We are happy to announce that Alison Staudinger will be available for speaking engagements as part of “Shop Talk: Conversations About Work in Wisconsin” starting this fall. Using our Shop Talk catalog and online application, groups such as libraries and historical societies can host Staudinger (and others!) as part of our Working Lives Project. Staudinger will be offering a number of different talks, including one that discusses her classroom project, “Life’s Work,” detailed below.
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As I was growing up, I learned about the railroads from my Grandpa Staudinger’s stories. From my Grandpa Schalppi, I learned about dairy farming. I know that railroad union brothers are like family and that you come home from the yard covered in dust. I know that dairy farmers get up very early and, long before the research proved it, that cows prefer to be called by name.