And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth
– Wendell Berry, Conservation is Good Work
Around the globe, but profoundly here in the USA, we have, through manipulation and force, ceded our democracy, our culture, and our biosphere to an economics that values endless financial growth above all else. This system was born from a mindset of greed and domination and architected to thrive by disconnecting us from the wisdom and truth of our interdependence with all living beings and places- Slickly convincing us to think and act as if our own individual success was somehow separate or worse still, part of a zero-sum relationship with the success of our neighbors (human or non-human). To that end, we are, on some level, both the abused and the abuser.
In our hearts we know and long for something radically different, but are often paralyzed to act by the fear and misgivings that this same system so perniciously sews in us. The consequences, of course, have been dire- with inequality, injustice, ecological destruction, and depression accelerating at alarming rates.
However, as we stand at the precipice of our planet’s and our economy’s ability to sustain us, we believe that people are more ready than ever to reconnect to their hearts, their communities, and the Earth, and to together build a future that works for all.
Unlike the old system, with its top-down control, the next will be built from the bottom up- person by person, place by place- all working together for their common good.
Founded in mid-2015, The Good Work Institute was created to support this movement in the Hudson Valley. Here we are committed to fostering resilience and regeneration by cultivating, supporting, and connecting local community members and organizations who are working for positive social, ecological, and economic impact.
The Good Work Institute finds inspiration for its name in Wendell Berry’s essay “Conservation is Good Work”. Like Mr. Berry, we believe that our connection to the people and places of the earth is best described “as work”, and our proper connection, “good work”.
For us, our work is not simply what we do for a living, but really the manifestation or enacting of all the choices we make as professionals, as parents, as volunteers, as citizens, and as consumers. In short, our work is what we do, and it is what we do that shapes the world. Ultimately, the shift away from the broken system to one that is regenerative and equitable will happen when networks of engaged, and inspired community members come together in their places and do the good work to make it so.
The Good Work Institute is a 501(c)(3), non profit organization.
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