As the much credited, or hated, private sector struggles with recession and doesn't seem to have much job creation spunk, the volunteer sector is overlooked.
Volunteering isn't as likely to help us put food on the table, or maybe it can. There's volunteer gardening communities and the barter system. What volunteering does do well is allow people to follow their bliss path. Folks tend to volunteer for what they enjoy most and often it's the best fit for their skill sets.
In the marketplace of the business world, folks are often trapped in jobs they don't really like as they can't find what they really want to do.
An ideal world would seek the balance between private enterprise, volunteer efforts and the public sector.
I know that some folks are starving, loosing their homes and so forth, but high unemployment can also create some opportunities, if basic needs are still met. More time for participating in the volunteer sector. It's time for a paradigm shift and a rethinking of our entire economy.
Future generations may even enjoy a shorter workweek with more time for volunteering, among other joys of life.
Many people in Bellingham do seem to have a fairly healthy mindset of balance between the various sectors. Folks who live here often work at jobs that are way below their skill levels, but are the jobs they can find. We have folks with masters degrees and even PHDs who are waiting tables. At the same time, many of these people turn their skills loose volunteering. Volunteering in the community as well as on the internet.
Doing things like waiting tables isn't all bad anyway.
These trends seem to be happening nationwide. On the internet, and elsewhere, there are concepts like "crowd sourcing," and being a "prosumer." Prosumer derived from mixing the words producer and consumer. Think booking your own trips on-line rather than paying for a travel agency.
Healthy volunteerism can have feedback into the private sector. For instance, artists can add color to life in a town even though their crafts often go unpaid. That color can promote tourism and other economic activity where things like restaurants can thrive. It all kind of works together and the public sector is part of that equation as well.