It's fascinating to watch a whole culture re-compile on the fly, and if I want some encouragement during these downer times, it helps me to look at how good we Americans are at re-inventing ourselves while re-shaping our environments. For that kind of encouragement, I can already find many points of light in the blogosphere where new forms of creativity are blooming left and right. Below some recent examples:
1. Creative Perspective
This week I stumbled on a wonderful visualization site, WallStats.com, the creative overflow stack of graphic artist, Jess Bachman. At left is a thumbnail corner of the vivid graphic that first put him on my own radar -- a diagram of what the bailout might mean to you and me, Jane and Joe Taxpayer. If you go there, click around. He has a number of interesting messages and data sets that show his point as much as tell it. If we can't fix this mess anytime soon, perhaps it's a bit of comfort to gain more perspective.
2. Creative Frugality
Have you begun to wonder yet how extended hard times might effect younger Boomers and their sibs who grew up accustomed to "living large" in better times? A number of younger bloggers are thinking about that too, and what you might call "creative frugality" is already gaining buzz among the Twittering and Thumb-texting set who are joining the ranks of the newly unemployed (see also item 3 below). One example is the "Nate's Cents" blog on making the switch to living lean without giving up all pleasure. We oldsters may smile to see so many of our own former life themes re-framed, but hey, at least the kids were listening. Perhaps we can tune into them ourselves and learn a few new things. Meanwhile, since I am not so far past parenting teens, I got a good grin from this post which gives a sense of how some 20-somethings might coach each other when they think the 'rents aren't listening.
3. Creative Unemployment
Of course our gen thought it invented everything it experienced, and so we should not be surprised when our youngers repeat it today.The head-spin is that change happens so fast now, you can compare more than one "epoch" side by side within a single lifespan, like how Middle-Agers experience layoffs compared to their adult kids. In that vein, I got another grin from a site aimed at helping the newly unemployed, beginning with those near the tech centers of Silicon Valley. For most of our younger siblings, and most of our adult kids, involuntary unemployment is an entirely new experience. Before if you switched jobs, it was to jump into a better ship, and there always seemed to be a better ship steaming around the bend. You could afford to take your time. You could afford to take a break and come back. No shame and no panic attached. Now, people with jobs they like are holding on for dear life, hoping not to be sent to Exile Island at the next round of layoffs. But some hip young castaways are already finding each other and learning how to network in the classic way. As Wired reported recently, one enterprising startup is trying to be the new collection point for the young and jobless, putting their own twists on "our" old tools. Example: Employers attending the first LaidOff Camp looking for hires were given bright blue t-shirts with "I'm Hiring" printed on the front. On the back, there was a blank white square and reps were told to use a Sharpie to fill in the titles of their openings. How well this translates to real opportunies remains to be seen; last I checked, the entire site had only 10 job listings and few of the groups in other cities seem to be up yet. But the network has gotten a lot of buzz this week, and its Twitter streams seem to be happening, so it could turn into a nifty network, especially for young techies near hotspot cities.
4. Creative Un-Retirement
If what you really came here hoping to see is what the older-but-still-happening folks are doing to keep afloat now that their homes or their portfolios are under water, stay tuned. That is what I am researching now to post here real soon.