No. 98: Discovering Degrowth

The degrowth movement is gaining traction in Europe, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona has started training graduates. Plus, Ukrainian winemakers head to Napa Valley to learn how to remove landmines and rehabilitate their farmlands.

No. 98: Discovering Degrowth
Photo by Nik / Unsplash

What if we need to go backwards to move forwards? There's a nascent movement in Europe advocating for degrowth of major economies in an effort to curb consumption of the planet's finite resources. You can even get a master's degree in the field now. Can we convince countries to abandon growth in favor of sustainability, and how does that impact the geopolitical realities we're faced with on a daily basis?

It's not all doom and gloom, I assure you. I've pulled what may be my favorite featured job to date, and with some cover letter advice, you'll be ready to tackle this week's job applications with style. Let's go!

~ Greg


What we're reading

The Autonomous University of Barcelona has started offering a Master's Degree in Degrowth as the degrowth movement gains traction in Europe and other Western nations. (Grist)

  • Degrowth is exactly what it sounds like: whereas growth is a key measure of success for most businesses – and economies more broadly – degrowth posits that industrialized countries should scale back consumption to help achieve sustainability goals.
    • I would argue that many of us who look to reduce our environmental impact are engaging in similar actions, just on a smaller scale.
  • I'm particularly interested in how we can reconcile degrowth with the realities of modern society.
    • We're competitive people, and size is one of the ways we measure our strength relative to others. How does a shrinking economy change our standing in the world?
    • Progress, too, is a key driver of happiness. If we can't reframe degrowth as progress, it will feel like a loss. Loss aversion has significant impacts on our decision-making; no one likes to go backwards.
  • It kind of feels like a natural evolution though, doesn't it? Sustainability implies equilibrium. The world is focused on reducing our environmental impact, but it's only a matter of time until the conversation shifts from low impact to no impact – and maybe degrowth becomes a contributing factor.

Ukrainian winemakers are receiving support to remove landmines from their fields and learn about regenerative farming from their Napa Valley counterparts. (Fast Company)

  • There's a lot to like about this story, but I'll start with the bad news: according to the founder of Roots of Peace, a nonprofit that helps communities turn war-ravaged land into farmland, around 30% of the land in Ukraine is covered in landmines.
  • Roots of Peace partnered with Rotary International to fly winemakers to Napa Valley to teach them about regenerative agriculture.
    • They also provided equipment and expertise to disarm landmines on the winemakers' property.
    • I'd like to take a moment to recognize how insane it is that a winemaker has to learn how to disarm landmines to do his job. It's stories like this that put a face to the realities of the war in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world.
  • This line in particular resonated with me:
“People in Ukraine are still alive,” said Svitlana Tsybak, Owner and CEO of Beykush Winery, also located in the Mykolaiv area. “Yes, war is in our soul, in our life, but we need...to live our lives so, of course, we need to work.”

Job of the week

Online education is ubiquitous these days, but one of the early pioneers was Khan Academy. They are a nonprofit that offers free online learning and supports teachers, so I'm pretty pumped about our featured opportunity this week – it's the kind of job I'd apply to myself.

You can find a handful of other opportunities on their careers page, but it's the Senior Engineering Manager, Districts role that caught my eye. They're looking for someone with seven years of experience managing teams of software engineers with product design literacy and strong communication skills. No need to relocate: they support remote work if you need it, and the starting salary ought to cover just about anywhere you'd like to live.


Community roundup

  • I'm always fascinated when two social impact efforts are at odds with each other – doing the right thing not always black and white.
    • Case in point: the Makah tribe, after decades of lobbying, has been granted a waiver that allows them to begin hunting gray whales off the Washington coast for the first time in 25 years. (The Guardian)
    • This upholds treaty rights from 1855 but puts them at odds with animal rights groups which aim to protect the whales and successfully prevented a whaling event in 1999.
  • Excited to see Blue Ocean Barns in the news this week – they're a company in Hawaii that is working on a seaweed-based feed for livestock that helps suppress methane burps. The World Bank is now predicting that the seaweed farming industry could be worth as much as $12 billion by 2030. (Grist)
    • Fun not-really-a-fact: cows that are less gassy are more resilient to tipping.
  • Mexico elected its first female President, Claudia Sheinbaum, earlier this month. Notably, she is also a climate scientist and former Secretary of the Environment. (AP)
  • TerraPower, a nuclear energy company co-founded by Bill Gates and backed by the Department of Energy, has broken ground on its first facility in Wyoming. The plant is expected to complete by 2030. (AP)
  • The Biden administration is considering protections for undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens that would prevent deportation and accelerate a path to citizenship. (NYT)
  • 3D-printed homes have come a long way since the last time I saw them build one. Most printers use concrete, but the University of Maine has unveiled a polymer 3D printer that uses wood residuals instead. (CNN)
    • Honestly, check out the pictures. You wouldn't know it was 3D printed unless I told you.
    • The premise is you can build homes a lot more quickly for a lot less money this way. Sounds like the perfect complement to last week's story about increasing housing supply.

Hot job opportunities

Hiring for mission-driven talent? Post a job for free on our job board.

Looking for a job? Submit your resume to our talent pool, and let social impact companies come to you.


Resource of the week

I'm going super practical for the resource this week: cover letter advice. If you're looking for a social impact job, you've probably come across a higher-than-average number of job postings that want a cover letter. The reality is that many social impact companies are just as interested in your mission and values as you are in theirs, and if you want to join a smaller company, it's even more likely to encounter a cover letter requirement.

Don't let the idea of a cover letter put you off though. After all, if you are conscientious in your applications, you're already tailoring your resume to the job description to ensure it's picking up the right keywords and experience.

Given the emphasis on cover letters at social impact companies, I'd encourage you to check out this guide – specifically for cover letters for social impact jobs – as a place to organize your thoughts and scrutinize your writing skills. You'll be landing that coveted dream job in no time.


Test your knowledge

Have you been keeping up with your COP 29 news? This year's event will be hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan. For the less geographically-minded among us – myself included – Azerbaijan shares borders with Turkey to the west, Iran to the south, and Russia to the north. As a result, COP 29 will undoubtedly feel the pull of major fossil fuel powers in November.

Juneteenth is this Wednesday, but it has only recently become a federal holiday. One activist in particular caught my attention when I was reading up on how Juneteenth became a holiday, and it's your job to find out who she is:

Whose activism has earned her the moniker "Grandmother of Juneteenth"?

Email me your guess, and I'll send one lucky winner a couple of One Work stickers!


I have mentioned I'm moving a few times in this newsletter, and now I've started the process of moving One Work to Vancouver, WA. If you have Portland-area recommendations for me to check out, I'm always up for a tip. You can find me on LinkedIn and Threads.


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Jamie Larson
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