Today is Labor Day

In the US, the first Monday in September is a day dedicated to the celebration of labor, or the efforts of workers. Initiated in the late nineteenth century in recognition of the labor movement, it continues as a federal holiday even as labor and trade unions have evolved and changed in their missions.

I look forward to the time when it also celebrates the service oriented labor that is given without wages in the interest of the family or the community. At the national level there are formal service organizations like Teach for America or even the National Guard. But total hours put into formalized service structures are peanuts compared with those packed into a neighborhood.

Work as described in this blog (categories) is performed without intended recognition or accounting. And on an individual level, this is exactly the way it should be. But it would be useful to have a group accounting of labor hours necessary, for instance, to field a little league team, or girls scouts group. That way if an adjacent neighborhood would like to initiate such a program they would know what was required of them.

Or lets say the work is the type needed to care for the elderly, within a family. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know over x generations, x person hours of support is needed, in general, for a family member who ends up in need. That way, in a long term planning type of way, siblings and cousins can think ahead to who can play that role, who can take on that type of work, instead of hiring it out.

Our city keeps track of the number of volunteer hours that are used to run the numerous community get togethers throughout the year. That labor is counted on to pull off the events which draw in hundreds of residents and non-residents to events such as Music in Plymouth and Bark in the Park. After a number of years, the city volunteer coordinator can sense how many hours the community has to donate, a sense of what the capacity of the community is to provide these free services.

So for planning purposes, it would be nice if there was further tracking and celebration of service labor as well as paid labor. Instead of simply extending a nod to a certain culture of volunteerism, or institutions of community support, with actual numbers, one could plan with reasonable certainty.

There’s more of it around than one might think.