The Volunteer Economy – Podcast

Check out the latest podcast from Parliament. It’s a goodie.

Green Party MP and serial volunteer Catherine Delahunty recounts one of the most entertaining and impressive experiences of a coordinated volunteer programme.  It took a village of volunteers to support a community court case against a mine in the Coromandel, sustained over several months.

It’s worth thinking about the oft-overlooked importance of unpaid work, which is excluded from calculations of wealth and GDP, to supporting our economy. What do you think about the many non-monetary reasons humans have for chipping in and doing things for each other?

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15 thoughts on “The Volunteer Economy – Podcast

  1. Which begs the question – why did the Green Party reject this form of activism and opt for an increasingly professionalised political party model?

  2. Hi Sam,

    The stories I’ve heard, it tends to burn volunteers out, by having an endless supply of jobs, and achieving continuity was a problem.

    Do you have ideas about how an organisation with a well-defined purpose can continue to work toward it, in the face of continually changing members?

  3. Well, if you are suffering continuity issues due to burning people out and having continually changing members, you need to address those problems – not try and and work around them.

  4. The question is almost an oxymoron, but I’d say the people who make up the Green Party have in no way rejected this form of activism, but think it’s an essential part of the mix, just like Parliamentary politics is.

  5. The problem with saying ‘it’s an essential part of the mix’ is (a) there’s only so much time and energy about, and (b) the Green party seems to have rather voted with its feet in terms of choosing to champion professional MPs, a professional staff and professional methods.

  6. As long as they’re not bound to such things SB – agree; govt overbalanced the tax/service threshold when it introduced ‘user pays’ – in effect the NZ Government became illegal. ie; lack of services provided for taxes levied.
    If there is still an SFO, they ought to send the auditors thru…there is no choice vis-a-vis professionalism. Don’t over-rate it; there is a bigger collection of wisdom, right here, than any Gov’t should ever gather

  7. The problem with saying ‘it’s an essential part of the mix’ is (a) there’s only so much time and energy about, and (b) the Green party seems to have rather voted with its feet in terms of choosing to champion professional MPs, a professional staff and professional methods.

    Sam, you’re mixing two things its seems to me. One is whether or not a group of people decide to form a political party vs other things they could do with their time. The other is, if a political party is formed, does it take a professional approach or some other approach.

    I’m involved in this political party as I see it a useful way to help bring about change, though not the only useful way. I would not want to see a Parliament without Greens in it and I think it worth my efforts to help elect them. Others – I guess you – see things differently and I don’t really have a problem with that. I just think people will be interested in contributing in different ways and none are inherently wrong if they further the principles we support.

    Re the other question, I suppose I don’t know exactly what you mean by professional, since technically the Parliamentary wing of any party is professional by virtue of the fact that they are paid. In what way do you think the Green party should approach Parliamentary politics?

  8. “…In what way do you think the Green party should approach Parliamentary politics?..”

    how long have you got…?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  9. “you’re mixing two things its seems to me”

    Not really – it’s just that both the things you mention are completely contrary to the form of activism the Green party is praising here. It’s kind of a case of “do as I say, not as I do”. I often here Greens giving rhetorical support to community activism, but I see little real support offered.

  10. Can only say that almost all active Greens I know also contribute in other ways through other organisations and many through community activism. We don’t see these things as contrary at all, but complimentary.

  11. I know a few people like that, but I know a whole lot more who have pretty much given up activism for a paid job with the party or who are largely focused on keeping the party going. I’ve been told several times that “we are focused on changing the legislation rather than campaigning on specific issues” but even when the legislation does change, it never seems to do us much good.

  12. Activists need jobs too. So much the better if that job is working for the Greens rather than McDonalds

  13. “So much the better if that job is working for the Greens rather than McDonalds”

    Yes, but not if they come to believe (or pretend to believe) that their job is activism.

  14. I know a few people like that, but I know a whole lot more who have pretty much given up activism for a paid job with the party or who are largely focused on keeping the party going.

    Don’t know who you’re talking to, but there just aren’t that many jobs available. Outside those directly supporting MPs, the Party has only 3-4 paid staff. I imagine those many hundreds volunteering consider themselves activists and why not. These are the same people who are also often actively volunteering at a community level as well.

    I’ve been told several times that “we are focused on changing the legislation rather than campaigning on specific issues” but even when the legislation does change, it never seems to do us much good.

    I don’t agree with that statement, because I can’t see where issue campaigning ends and legislation change begins. It is all part of the whole to me. Certainly MPs would say their job is to do both.

  15. “Outside those directly supporting MPs, the Party has only 3-4 paid staff. I imagine those many hundreds volunteering consider themselves activists and why not. These are the same people who are also often actively volunteering at a community level as well.”

    Why do those supporting MPs get excluded. Actually when you add up the MPs, parliamentary and party staff, and all the volunteering hours that go into keeping MPs in parliament, it’s a pretty big resource that’s being taken away from the “community activism” the Greens say they support.

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