Redefining Meaningful Work with the Planet in Mind

The Meaningful Work Project hosts retreats to explore what makes work meaningful for you and the planet. The next escape in Canmore, AB runs Oct. 25-27. Photo credit: Mark Unrau

Redefining Meaningful Work with the Planet in Mind

Oct. 25-27 retreat provides space for participants to share trials and tribulations
  Alla Guelber. Photo credit: Yuen-ying Carpenter

One of the most successful aspects of a grassroots initiative called the Meaningful Work Project (MWP) is an intimate, multidisciplinary retreat that brings together people on various legs of their own journeys to find meaningful work.

MWP was formed out of Alla Guelber’s inquiry into the subject for her master’s thesis.

“Meaningful work is a universal human desire,” she says. “I wanted to expand the definition of meaningful work so that it’s not only about that personal satisfaction and that sense of being of service to others but also being of service to the planet.”

MWP is hosting a retreat, Aligning Passion and Purpose for the New Economy, Oct. 25 to 27 in Canmore, AB.

People often feel a sense of relief in the workshops, says Alla, because they have the opportunity to share with others who are experiencing the trials and tribulations of this challenging transition.

  Retreat participants engaged in a creative process together, answering questions like: 'Where are the gaps?' And, 'what can you share?' Photo credit: Mark Unrau

“You’re going through a transition where your world feels upside down and nothing seems to make sense anymore, and you feel like you want meaningful work but you don’t know what that looks like,” she says.

“With the topic of meaningful work, people are reluctant to share what they’re really experiencing. There’s a stigma against people who challenge the status quo,” she adds.

Alla is compiling many of the stories she is encountering of people who are creating new paths to fulfill their personal and “planetary” ambitions. Danielle Carruthers, who completed the workshop in 2010, transitioned from her job in banking to starting a social business incubator called the Sedge. The team is currently spending the year working on incubation in Chile.

  An evening campfire and jam helped participants connect in an informal way. On guitar, Mike Unrau, Meaningful Work Project program director, and on fiddle, Adrian Buckley, founder of Big Sky Permaculture. Photo credit: Mark Unrau

“What is it going to take to be able to transition all aspects of our society away from dependence on fossil fuels? It’s going to mean a massive reconfiguration of all that we do and the way we live our lives,” she says.

The initiative is still determining what form it will take, and has recently joined the imagineCALGARY (iC) network as a partner. iC is one of the world’s largest community-visioning processes. Citizens identified 114 targets they hope to achieve in Calgary, amounting to a 100-year vision.

To learn more about the retreat, click here.

A version of this article was originally written for the imagineCALGARY news service. This repost, for which we received permission, follows the style guidelines of the original post. To learn more about generative newsroom options for your organization or community, please contact peter(at)

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